Decision time: go back the 3 miles to the house and arrive at Daddy's a little later, or proceed onward, "unfinished?" I drove back, retrieved the bag from my bathroom counter, and left feeling much better. Our shopping trip was slow and consisted of several back & forth searches through the store, despite Daddy and I both having lists. (Like father, like daughter, everything planned out). I hadn't shopped there before, but figured the layout would be like the one in the neighborhood where I last taught school, gang-infested Rubidoux. Not so. Nor was it like that chain's older store in his area that Daddy was used to. At least those were our excuses!
I give these illustrations of senior moments for both of us, though we are 24 years apart in age. I had another one later this afternoon, leaving my cellphone at home on my way to visit Steve.It was dicey, but survivable! Ever since yesterday, when I viewed Dr. Teepa Snow's video clips, I've been pondering where those of us over 50 fit in the second video, "Senior Gems," where she compares the brain to beautiful treasures at each stage of aging, even to an area that prayerfully most of us won't reach--the final stage of dementia. Let's dive in!
Dr. Snow takes the approach in a positive direction before diagnosing the point of an individual's disease progression by asking:
- What can they do now?
- Are there unmet needs?
- What environmental helps can be utilized?
- Are they ill or in pain?
- Do they have a urinary tract infection, which 60% of seniors get, due often to dehydration?
Sapphire: the brain is aging, but not abnormally. We are slower. It takes us longer to learn new information. Sometimes reminder props are needed in the environment. Don't overwhelm them verbally. I noticed that I was asked to "slow down" twice, while speaking to a former high school teacher of mine the same age as Daddy, on the phone today. That's a hard one for me--information just bursts out! (Better not lose too much)!
Diamond: Still sharp, but has become very rigid. They talk about older stuff, real stuff, but decades old. May not take in new information about situations or people. Diamonds have many facets, so others see different facets than you do. (I notice how differently my kids see their grandpa than I do, given the same events and conversations). Use their rigid habits in a positive way. Let arguments go. Remember that diamonds are very sharp, and, as many of us have experienced, they can cut you!
Emerald: They are now going back in time--getting very vague. They think they're in another place and time. They'll say, "Gotta get home!" when they are home. Poor personal care begins at this stage. They might skip meals, or double-eat. Be friendly, use humor. Do tasks alongside them.
Amber: softest of the gems, changeable. Changes take place in a moment in sensations and exploration of the environment. Repetitive noises appear at this stage.
Ruby: They lose fine motor control, can't use utensils, tools, or engage in tabletop activities. (Steve can't understand or physically pick up markers to play Bingo, for instance, and must be fed). Dementia victims have large motor skills only at this stage, big movements, like walking. Much resting. Have about 16 waking hours. Need physical assistance, as I've seen with Steve, for every activity of living, ie., dressing, bathing.
Pearl: like an actual pearl, the person is now hidden deep inside the physical shell. The sensory and motor strip explained in Part I now dies. The muscles contract, seize up; they can't swallow. Caregivers must modify touch, warmth and comfort. With great support and care, you may have wonderful moments of connection--that can change in a moment. But you can't change the outcome.
Tragic as the final stage was for my mother-in-law, and then my sister-in-law, to see their husbands take that final fetal position, they knew that Lorenz and Larry had the assurance of salvation that I plead with you to take for yourself: the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! Ask Jesus into your life right now, by confessing that you are a sinner and asking Him to forgive your sins and come into your heart. Jesus said, "the one who comes to Me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). Your Savior awaits you with open arms!
Please do me the honor of contacting me if you have prayed the prayer of salvation. Welcome into the family of God!