Delivering Bad News in Dementialand (Or Do I Tell Mom Her Sister Died?)

What we want to avoid is inflicting pain unnecessarily. If a person will not be able to process and remember that a loved one has died, giving them this information causes them unnecessary pain. If you must tell them repeatedly because they are not able to store the information, you are causing pain with no purpose. It’s like poking someone with a needle but not giving a shot.

Spring Break in Dementialand

I’m not writing a blog post this week because it’s my spring break. Although I wish I was basking in the sun in a tropical destination like Cancun, nothing could be further from the truth. I am sitting in my living room in Cedar Falls, Iowa, while we experience winter’s last hurrah. We are expecting […]

Playing Dear Abby in Dementialand (And My Overdue Apology to My Muscatine High School Peers)

This Dear Abby thing isn’t new to me. I wrote an advice column in my high school newspaper. In four years of high school, only one person wrote me for advice. (And I remember the letter vividly. It was from an anonymous kid who thought he might be gay. My friend Lory who is a counselor helped me write a response. I still think about that guy and hope he’s doing okay. If you’re out there, please tell me you’re okay.)

Shrinking and Cluttered Closets in Dementialand

Whatever life throws at you, may you keep your closet full but not cluttered. We can’t control everything about our lives, but we can control where we invest our time and effort. We can’t invest time and effort in everything. We may have less to invest than we’ve had in the past. Invest it in the right things for you. Don’t let how other people organize their closet make you feel like you’re organizing yours wrong. They aren’t you. They may have a bigger or smaller closet, and they may have different priorities.

Two Damn Nancy’s in Dementialand: A Love Story

I met John and Lynn (not their real names–and I’ve changed some details here) at a nursing home that I visited to do a series of trainings. John was in his late 50’s and had younger-onset Alzheimer’s. Lynn, his wife, had married him only a few years early. A second marriage for both of them, they had looked forward to retiring together and traveling the world. Instead, they sat in the lounge at the end of a dim nursing home corridor. She was watching Judge Judy. He was sitting in a wheelchair holding a stuffed bear like a baby.