Psalm 23-an Alzheimer Journey by Sue Scoggins

Precious friends.  Thank you for your many messages and calls. Will be back after this beautifully tearful time with our dear Jerry.  Love you all.  We are so blessed.

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Psalm 23

King James Version (KJV)

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Birthdays - an Alzheimer Journey by Susan Scoggins

Tomorrow is Jerry's birthday.  On February 27, 1948 a beautiful little baby boy was born.

From the Psalmist David:

Psalms 139:1-6. O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, Oh Lord.  You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand and upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  

Some wonder why I feel the need to go see Jerry on his birthday.  After all, he does not know it is his birthday.  He does not know who I am.  Any day for ice cream, is a good day.  So, why ON THE DAY.  

I suppose it's because, I believe that God knows exactly what our days will be like before we are ever born.  Jerry's days are numbered, as are all of ours, and he is still with us.  Jerry cannot communicate and is not aware in MY/OUR world, the world outside of Alzheimers, but his life still has meaning.  His life has GREAT meaning, beyond our small little minds, and his Heavenly Father is holding him close.  According to scripture, God knows Jerry's thoughts.  He is familiar with all his ways...whether I know them or not.

So...tomorrow, I'll drive to New Bern to celebrate Jerry's life, his meaning, his contribution to this world.  Happy Birthday Jerry.

 






A Difference in My Life - an Alzheimer Journey by Sue Scoggins

Today was an opportune day to visit with one of Jerry's staff.  

For those staffers who answer this call of service, I admire you.  It's such a thankless job and NOT a pretty job.  Many of you hold down two jobs and take care of your families...some are going to school.  I honestly don't know how you do it.    It is the utmost of compassion and service.  

I was at the end of a sweet time with Jerry, walking arm in arm and hugging.  He seemed happy.  As we walked, I noticed one of the staff setting the tables up in the dining room.  I love chatting with those beautiful people.  She greeted us with a warm smile as we entered the room.  I commented about Jerry's new haircut and how he was always such a heart throb and how I always had to keep him under guard.  I could tell he heard me because he smiled when I mentioned his "bedroom" eyes.  That, although he was a wild man in his youth, he always knew his limits because of his foundation in God.  He had a great respect for the elderly and such compassionate for the down trodden.....  a real softie. ..and when it came to protecting his family or protecting justice.... he was a roaring lion not to be crossed.   

I commented on how Jerry's skin was like a smooth baby's bottom today.  He does not have ONE wrinkle.  Not one!  Not even those little crows feet.  SO NOT FAIR!  Anyway, one comment led to another while we were talking about caring for Jerry's skin.  She mentioned how at the nursing home (her second job) she encourages people to moisturize and apply lotion to the skin of her patients.  She said, "Think about it, Miss Sue, we all put lotion on after we bathe.  Dry skin hurts."  For Jerry, applying Vasoline after he is shaved seems to help.

As she now began to sweep the floor, her eyes began to tear up as we continued to talk.  She mentioned one of her patients who passed away last week.  Against her better judgement, she had become so attached.  "Miss Sue.  So many family members do not come see their loved ones.  WE become their family."  She hears comments like, "Well, she doesn't even know me.  Why should I come?"  or "She never says anything.  I don't know what to say."  So the family members just quit coming.  She said, "I would just put lotion on her feet and legs and talk to her.  I was all she knew. I told her if she didn't want to get up and eat...it was ok.  She could just rest."  "Miss Sue, it just hurt so bad. I don't necessarily make a difference in their lives but....caring for these people....it just makes such a difference in my life."

Oh.  If we could all learn from this!  What a better world this would be.  For this staffer and many others, who's lives are impacted so deeply.  I thank you.  I thank you, from the bottom of my heart,  for how you care for Jerry.  I thank you for how you care for those who are alone.

Matthew 25:31-46

English Standard Version (ESV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Thenthe King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me,I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’



Supplies and Things - an alzheimer journey by Sue Scoggins

Just tidbits of information for those of you who have loved ones in a facility.

I've found that when providing supplies, such as shampoo, razors, toothpaste, undergarments (diapers), it's best to send them in limited supply.  Even though everything is labeled, sometimes supplies get "moved" to another room.  Diapers disappear more quickly, for example.  Think about it.  If a resident goes through 2 diapers per shift, that makes 6 in one day.  Multiply by 7, that's 42 per week.  Times 4, that is 168 per month. 16 Depends at $20, that's $210 per month.  (on top of the $4500 that you are already spending on the facility. Yikes!) Those little things are made of gold  (not to be confused with yellow, ha.)  So, hand them out with caution.

Clothes are good to refresh every season.  Even though the temperature is constant, it's still nice to have a change of seasons...colors..and shoes from time to time.  However, too many clothes just end up being wadded up and not worn.  At Jerry's facility, the laundry is done daily.

When Jerry first went into the facility, I kept a supply of Oreos in those mini packs, a can of peanuts, and some snickers in his drawer.  We don't do that anymore.  We also had CD's of his favorite things, like: Carolina basketball, Alabama football and bluegrass music for his room.  He rarely stayed in his room, however, so eventually he didn't even need that.  I brought the TV home, because he stays in the main activity room and sits with his new friends.

Stay, Montana!  Stay!  

Stay, Montana!  Stay!

 

Hmm. What else?  There are a few things that I try to do when visiting.  Since there really isn't much two way conversation, sometimes it's difficult to keep coming up with things to say.  Reading and looking at magazines is good.  When the weather is cooperating, we sit on the patio with the other residents.  Even though Jerry doesn't speak, it still feels like he is included when we all sit an rock on the front porch together...like people use to do in the good ole days.  Sometimes I bring a small speaker to plug into my iPhone and play music.  Everyone seems to like that and sometimes Jerry's foot begins to tap.  (or at least it use to.)  For Jerry, a ball use to get some reaction: football, or big rubber ball.  Last but not least.. pets always bring smiles.  Montana comes to visit at least once a month and sometimes sits in Jerry's lap whether she likes it or not.  

Hang in there, my friends.

 

Happy New Years!!!! an Alzheimer journey by Sue Scoggins

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Some may ask....how you celebrate New Years in "the home".  Well, today was a perfect example.

Figuring a New Years Eve party was not exactly in my agenda for the day, I drove up to help out at Jerry's place.  When I arrived, there were 8 lovely Alzheimer patients seated around a table in the center of the room.  There was Sherri, trying to get them all excited about a New Years celebration.  Some were bright eyed, some were "sleeping", some were happily in their own little world.  

The table was all covered with a  New Years celebration table cloth and curly ribbon was strewn across it.  Metallic gold paper plates were placed around and a balloon was floating in the air.  Jerry was "slumbering."  Sherri asked me to pour the "champagne" (sparkling grape juice) and pass out the grapes while she explained the meaning of the celebration.  We passed out the champaign, she and I blew on the little "blow out" thingies, and we danced around the room shouting "woo-hoo!".

Now, none of the patients knew what in the world was going on, but Sherri and I had a great time.  We laughed our silly heads off, which made them smile.  You could feel the happiness in the room.  In fact, we even saw the staff dancing out in the hall!  It didn't matter if the patients understood or not.  What mattered was that they were raising their eyebrows and smiling.  Some were even laughing.  (for a second or two.)  

Sherri started trying to explain about New Years resolutions.  Most had no idea what those were.  But, they went along with it.  One responded, "Why?"  Another said, "some do...some don't".  Many sat in silence.  "Pick me, pick me" I said.  She picked me and I said, "I'm moving to France!"  Suddenly, Jerry jumped in his chair.  (not literally)  The movement was quick and gone but he obviously heard something that quickened him in response.  Talk about funny. It was!

So that's why you celebrate in the home.  To offer a few minutes of happiness.  It works.  Sometimes.  

HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE from the home.

Laughter - an alzheimer journey by sue scoggins

laugh |laf|verb [ no obj. ]make the spontaneous sounds and movements of the face and body that are the instinctive expressions of lively amusement.

Keep on laughing!  

Keep on laughing!

 

 

Have you ever laughed so hard that you cried?  Better yet, have you ever cried so hard with a friend that you broke into laughter?  What happened?

Laughter seems to relieve the tensions of stress, unlatch the chains of depression, and re-energize the last thread of exhaustion. There's nothing like a good dose of the PBS programs Car Talk or Wait!  Wait!  Don't Tell Me to make you laugh...or better yet, visualizing Jennifer Lawrence falling up those steps at the Oscars in that gigantic dress.

Today Jerry was sleeping at the lunch table.  Mary Beth and Jerry are both in their 60's and are seated together.  The other residents are in their 80's, 90's, 100's. Both, Jerry and Mary Beth  are unable to speak more than an occasional word from time to time.  Mary Beth is still able to eat with her utensils and usually cleans her plate.  "Hi, Mary Beth!"  I said. With her delightful eyes and raised eyebrows she sputtered a smile back at me.  Jerry, dressed in his maroon sweatshirt, still was sleeping with his head slightly tilted back and his mouth dropped open.  ...sort of like someone in the airplane seat next to you, head tilted back, mouth dropped open, snoring....accept Jerry was not snoring.  You wonder whether to wake them up or not.

Anyway, lunch was being passed out to all the residents.  Most of the inmates (oops.  I meant residents) were eating quite nicely, some with fingers, some being spoon fed.  Jerry continued to sleep in his seat.  Sitting next to Jerry, I chatted with the other residents and the staff  and said, "This handsome Jerry was a mega salesman back in his day. He could sell ice to an Eskimo.  Right Jerry?"  The staff smiled.  "In fact, he'd have them building fires in the snow  just so they would see that they needed ice.  Right Jerry?  Isn't that the way it was?"  I could see Jerry out of the corner of my eye, still sleeping,  "Right Jerry?"  All of a sudden he opened his eyes and, with a slight smile across his face, he leaned forward gingerly reached to pick up a glass of milk.  I said, "Yeah, Jerry.  Get that gin and tonic.  Back in the day, when we'd fly to those sales conventions those flight attendants would serve us gin and tonics with warm mixed nuts.  Look at those warm nuts, Jerry."  When I said "warm nuts" he reached over to his plate and picked up his chicken sandwich.  Doesn't that beat all!  And he didn't even know the difference.  We all howled laughing...not AT Jerry but FOR Jerry. .. FOR ALL OF US!

You see, whether the resident is aware or not, laughter sets the tone.  It determines whether its a depressing place, a somber place, or a happy place.  It seems to me a happy place would be a better place to live (or die).

Next time I'm going to try to remember the place where we stayed in downtown San Francisco while we were on a business trip. It's the one where Queen Elizabeth stayed. I remember how we'd have our G/T street side while we talked and people watched during cocktail hour.

So, try it.  Before you visit next time, find a memory or something funny to get you in the mood.  Make yourself laugh, some how, some way. Watch Alex Baldwin in it's Complicated or Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give.  Your loved one will thank you for it.......or maybe not.