Who’d be an advocate…

“Who’d be an advocate . . . ” , beautifully written by Kate Swaffer, shows the side of having a Dementia Related Illness not many people see or understand.
Thank you Kate, for being a beacon, a truthteller, a wonderful human being!

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It seems I have written on

Dementia advocacy before

Who’d have known

It’s more pain than joy

It polarises people

Sadly makes it more ‘them and us’

People without dementia everywhere

Wanting large pieces of the proverbial pie

Using people with dementia

To take sides and support their business goals

Or their personal agendas

Being referred to as That woman…

Hurtful and deeply unkind

Talked about behind my back

Worse than yelling in my face

As one aged care executive did to me publicly

So please…

If you won’t say it to my face

Then please

Feel free to hate me

Feel free to disagree with me

But please keep your lips sealed

Stop hurting me

Which also hurts others with dementia

As today

Quite frankly

There is no doubt in my failing and fragile mind

That I have had enough instruction!

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Showing Up is Half the Battle in Dementialand

I am reblogging this story for it is very similar to what I go through on a daily basis, especially when it comes to giving my presentations.
The polished presenter you see when I give my presentations is not the same person my wife and children live with. I wish it were.

Welcome to Dementialand

On an average day, a shower takes me six minutes. It takes me about six minutes to dry my hair. (It used to take about nine, but I got it cut.) I can put on make up in less than five minutes. If I have a few extra minutes, I can use them to flat iron my hair…which takes about four minutes. Why does any of this matter?

Having a rough idea of how long it takes me to get ready is important because it tells me when I need to start getting ready. If I have to leave the house at 8 am, I try to be in the shower at 7:20. If I jump in the shower at 7:30, I can make it, but I’m gonna feel rushed. If I jump in the shower at 7:40, people usually say things like, “Are you feeling okay? You don’t look like…

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New Year’s Un-Resolutions

This is Ann Napoletan’s latest blog. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, I figured I would re-post her very well-written, well thought out blog entry. Thank you Ann!

The Long and Winding Road...

2016New Year’s resolutions are overrated. More often than not, they set us up to fail. I think a better alternative is to focus on smaller actions and thought patterns that can incrementally change the way you view life, yourself, and the world around you.

Here are some ideas. Most cost nothing and don’t even take a lot of time, but they have the power to vastly improve your outlook. Many of these are on my list for 2016. Will you join me?


Be kind, always.

Spend time on your passion; if you don’t know what it is, work on finding it.

Tell the important people in your life how much you love them.

Take more walks.

Spend time with friends; reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in a long time.

Worry less.

Believe in yourself and your worth.

Embrace creative pursuits.

Assume innocence in others.

Ditch guilt.

Work hard.

Take…

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My Care Partner Is My Hero

My Care Partner Is My Hero

In honor of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, I was asked by the Alzheimer’s Association to write about my Care Partner, my Life Partner, my Wife, Shannon.
This is a tribute to her for not only caring for our family, but caring for me and all that goes with it.

I LOVE YOU Shannon, more than words could ever say.
Thank you for being YOU!

I first met my now-wife Shannon at work. I was her supervisor, and since she knew the responsibilities of the department inside and out, I leaned on her for assistance.

We started to get to know each other on a more personal level and then we started dating. She asked me out – I had no idea she liked me in that way! After dating for some time, she took me to Disney World and “proposed”; we had a beautiful wedding on the sands of Pensacola Beach by the Gulf of Mexico and rest is beautiful history.

Learning of my diagnosis sticks in my mind, but not due to feelings of sadness. I was focused on the beauty of my wife. After I asked my neurologist if I had Alzheimer’s and he said “yes,” I remember crying uncontrollably. All I could think of at that moment was what my mother was going through at the time. (Brian’s mother died of Alzheimer’s.) Shannon sensed that. She took my hand and said, “I love you and you will NOT go through this alone. I will always be right here.”


Since then, she has beautifully kept her word.brisha

Before my diagnosis, we travelled a lot; short trips, cruises, trips to New Orleans (my hometown) or Fayetteville, NC (hers) and our favorite destination, Disney World. I used to tell her: “I’m your driver, you’re my navigator and we will go wherever you want to go.” We laughed a lot.

Sadly, the travelling had to stop due to finances. When both of us were working, we could basically do whatever we wanted. That changed when I was no longer able to work. Shannon became the sole financial support. We had to downsize in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle for our college-aged daughter and our son in high school. Shannon has had to adjust to my mood swings, my confusion, my argumentative moments (wanting to do the things I used to but can no longer do, like driving) and losing part of who I used to be.

She has done it all with no complaints and with only unconditional love. She is simply amazing. I’m not sure what I did to deserve her.

Shannon’s biggest strengths are consistency and loyalty. When she makes a commitment, whether it’s professional or personal, she sticks to it – and expects everyone to do the same. These qualities have allowed her to reach a position of great responsibility as an operations manager for a realty company. Her job is hard work and requires long hours but she does it in order to provide for her family. I admire her every day for her strength as a person.

Her personality is a mystery to most but not to me. She is loving, tender, somewhat adventurous, quiet and the funniest person I have ever known. She doesn’t know she is funny, but her dry sense of humor keeps me in stitches most of the time. She talks back to the TV, she figures out who did it on the ‘Who Dunnit’ shows long before the plot is revealed and she loves the ID network. We still laugh a lot, which is wonderful.

I want to thank her and all caregivers. Caregivers – I saw how you took care of my mother, my father, my grandfather and my wife’s grandmother. It takes a certain special type of person to be able to do what you do, but you do it day in and day out. You never complain, you always wear a smile and you’re always there, taking care of your own family or of other families you treat like your own. You are unbelievably wonderful people and for those who are unable to thank you themselves, I thank you!

We can honor caregivers and care partners by giving them something they probably need or deserve – a period of time, whether it’s a few hours or a few days, to have time to relax. This could be a spa treatment, a weekend at a hotel, a manicure/pedicure. Don’t be afraid to ask a caregiver what they want so that you can give them something you know they would enjoy.

I want my care partner Shannon to know that plain and simple, she is my hero.

Shannon, I hope you never feel that the things you do go unnoticed or unappreciated. The vows we took were for better or for worse, in good and bad times, in sickness and in health. You probably never thought it would go to this extreme. Just know, if the tables were turned, I would be right where you are now. I love you unconditionally and you show me that love every day. My only hope is that you can see and feel it in return.

About the Author:  Brian LeBlanc was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014 at age 54. Hecarries the APOE-e4 genotype, a genetic mutation which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. His mother, father, and maternal grandfather have all died with symptoms of the disease. As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 National Early-Stage Advisory Group, Brian would like to raise awareness of the impact of younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease and be a positive example for other newly diagnosed individuals. His mantra is, “I have Alzheimer’s, but it doesn’t have me!”

Brian and Shannon live in Pensacola, FL. Together they have three children.

Just Another Reason Awareness is Still Needed

Just Another Reason Awareness is Still Needed

I was in a locally-owned retail store yesterday afternoon when, because I was unable to find the item I was looking for, I had to ask for help. Confused and a bit frustrated, I tried to explain to the store employee what I was looking for but the words came out stuttered and, I’m sure, unintelligible. To avoid further embarrassment, I stopped and told the very nice lady, “you’ll have to excuse me but I have Alzheimer’s and my words don’t come out right at times.” Well, she just laughed and said, “I know what you mean. I get Alzheimer’s when I drink!” and laughed a bit more.

I didn’t get mad because I’m used to reactions like that from people who don’t know about Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Instead, I explained to her that I had Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease and that it affects people under the age of 65. I thought she was going to cry from embarrassment. I told it was OK and that I deal with this type of reaction every day. It gave me an excuse to Advocate. Here I was standing at the cash register with, first just her but as time went on, a group of about 5 people, talking about Alzheimer’s.

I answered questions about how I knew to get diagnosed, what type of issues I was having, what were the signs before diagnosis, etc. After about 15-20 minutes of fumbling and stuttering my way through Alzheimer’s related information, giving them the http://www.alz.org website, telling them to look up “Know the 10 Signs,” I left.

I have to say, for the next few hours, I was bothered by what happened. Not because she made a joke, but because here was yet another person who didn’t know about Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Other diseases have no age limit. You can tell someone you have cancer and they will immediately know it’s possible. For me to tell someone I have Alzheimer’s when the majority of people think that only the elderly can have this disease, simply means that more awareness and education is needed.

Right now, you can’t watch a football game during the month of October and not see pink. I think it’s wonderful that Breast Cancer Awareness is out there and in your face. The pink ribbons and football gear works, for so many people are now very familiar with that disease. For years, Jerry Lewis used to do the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon on Labor Day, not only raising awareness, but millions and millions of dollars. Because of that, people are aware.
WHERE IS THE PURPLE???  WHERE IS THE ALZHEIMER’S AWARENESS?

The real question should be, why do other disease receive billions of dollars from the National Institute of Health when Alzheimer’s doesn’t even crack the billion dollar ceiling? Again, I hold no ill-feelings towards other diseases. If anything, being that they have now found treatments, preventions and cures, it gives me hope that one day, the same will be said of Alzheimer’s. For now, well, we keep advocating.

Does the fact that a cure/treatment/prevention isn’t even on the horizon stop me from advocating? NO!
Does it frustrate me? Yes!
But again, does it stop me? NO!

The only positive from all of this is there is a group of people (a small group) that now know about Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. If one of those people shares that information with someone who may be showing sign of Alzheimer’s and that person goes to their Doctor, well, I have done my job.

One at a time. It’s slow, but at least it’s progress.

Until next time . . . PEACE!

B
“I Have Alzheimer’s, BUT It Doesn’t Have Me!”

90 going on 3 …

90 going on 3 … what does that mean? There is a fine line for caregivers to take as their loved one’s dementia progresses.  To honor and respect the person  you want to treat them as an adult, capable of making decisions for themselves.  Reality often comes to bite you when you realize their choices […]

http://simplyhomecaregiving.com/2015/09/25/90-going-on-3/