Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hide The Keys!

It had been a long day. Lori was very sad  after receiving news about a family friend who was struggling to stay alive after being hospitalized. Her focus on her daily activities had been thwarted by this news and she was thrown off of her care giving routine.

The day proceeded normally with cooking, cleaning, making sure her mother took her medications, driving her mother to see her doctor, running daily errands, walking the dog, bringing her mother to her hair appointment, and seeing to her daughter's school activities. But Lori made a mistake, and the mistake could have had serious consequences. Very serious consequences.

 By 8PM, Lori was in her mother's room watching a home improvement show, and woke herself up with her own snoring. She quickly remembered to give her mother her evening medications, tucked her mother in, and then decided to go to bed, herself. "Good night mother, I love you, " said Lori to her mother. "I love you, too Lori, " said her mother. Lights were turned off, and Lori went to bed.

Then it happened. It was 5:30AM, and Lori heard the sound of the front door opening and closing with a "CRASH."  Lori's husband slept through this, and Lori noticed that her dog was still asleep on her daughter's bed. "MOTHER!" Lori thought as she ran into her mother's room.  Her mother was gone and the sound of the engine turning with a loud "VAROOM," sound was heard coming from the driveway. Lori realized that in her exhausted state of mind the night before,  that she had mistakenly turned in before hiding her car keys!!

 Lori flew out of her house, just in time to open the passenger door of her car. And there sitting with the determination of a WWII fighter pilot was Lori's mother, "I've gotta go now Lori, before they find me.  They're after me and they WILL FIND ME and force me to go back with them. I need to go NOW!"  "I don't know why so many people are after me, or what I ever did to deserve this, but they are on their way, and I am NOT going to let them catch me!"  Lori was just flabbergasted, but had to think of something to say, and it had to be something that would re-direct her mother. But first she had to validate where her mother was at in the moment.

Lori was reading a book by Naomi Feil, MSW on communication techniques to avoid caregiver burnout and to handle agitation and wandering in people with dementia called, "The Validation Breakthrough," which gives simple techniques of how to communicate with people with Alzheimer's and dementia -like symptoms. Lori thought on her feet and said, "Mom, this sounds serious. Let's go inside where it is safe, so we can come up with a plan." Lori's mother immediately turned off the car and gave Lori the keys. "But we need to get away NOW Lori, NOW!!!  They WILL find us." Lori matched her mother's emotional intensity and said, "Well, let's go inside so we can be safe, NOW!  Right NOW okay? Come on mom, follow me!!" Lori's mother looked around, and with the grace of a dancer, moved quickly, and followed Lori's every step.
 
  Lori and her mother went back into Lori's house, and after moments of of pacing back and forth in the living room, Lori's mother decided to join Lori for hot chocolate in the kitchen.  "Who are we running from, mom?" Lori's mother was very frightened and confused and while she stirred her hot chocolate said, (looking around, so no one else would hear),   "My cousin and his friends, and they won't give up, Lori until they find me!"  Lori was concerned about her mother's heart which was weak, and her cardiac condition which could worsen under stress, so she tried to keep her calm. Validation has many phases which Lori was just learning, but she remembered to ask her mother "Who, What, Where and How," questions along with prepositions and numbers which she learned from studying Validation techniques.

 "Where were they going to get you?" "Outside, Lori." "Well, mother, it is good that we are inside now, isn't it?" Lori's mother looked puzzled, but then after pausing answered, "You are right , Lori." "Mom, what did they look like?" "They looked just like monsters, Lori. They had monster faces and human bodies."   "That sounds scary, mother. How many were they?" Lori, there were two of them," "Could you check the doors, Lori?"  "Would you like me to check the doors to make sure they are locked?" "Could you, Lori?" "I will, mother." And as Lori got up from her chair to check the front and back door, Lori's mother also requested the family dog. Lori said, " I will also get the dog and have her come downstairs so she can sit with you." Her mother said, 'I always feel safe with the dog." Her mother patted the dog on the head while the dog wagged her tail, leaning against Lori's mother's frame. "We are going to be okay," she said to the dog. "We don't have to worry at all, because we have eachother, okay?" Her mother put her eyes directly in front of the dog's eyes, and gradually looked more relaxed. After checking the locks, Lori told her mother that the police patrol the area every few hours.

 Her mother then took a deep breath and relaxed even more.  "I don't know why people want to come and get me, or what I have done." "Mom, did you do something that would make somebody want to come and get you?" Lori's mother said, "No, I can't think of a thing that I could have done." "Well, mom I don't think you did anything either, but I know for sure that no one can make you go anywhere with them, unless you choose to go. Do you want to go somewhere?" "No Lori,  I am getting tired now and think I will go to bed.  I must have had a bad dream." Lori's mother started yawning. "Mom, you are safe here with us, and we will always make sure that you are safe.  How do you feel now?"  "I would like to go back to bed Lori,  because I am so tired, but I am not going to take off my sneakers, Lori.  Lori's mother nodded her head, said a prayer and with her shoes on, put her covers on over her sneakers and quickly fell asleep.

Lori learned some important lessons. Firstly, to not let fatigue cause her to forget to hide the car keys!!  Secondly, to always be prepared to handle unexpected behaviors and confusion of her mother's dementia by knowing how to ask the right questions. Lori's knowledge of a few simple questions from Naomi Feil's book,  "The Validation Breakthough," validated her mother's feelings, and offered comfort, lessened anxiety and redirection for a safe outcome, and a restful sleep.

For more information on, "Validation," and the Validation Training Institute, go to: www.vfvalidation.org

Copyright 2014 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.



Friday, November 21, 2014

Hide The Eggs!

Lori had been warned several times before having her mother move in with her to always hide the eggs if she had to leave the house.  Her mother loved to cook and eat eggs, and appeared to have not forgotten her favorite habit.  It didn't matter if they were fried, scrambled or poached, the routine was always the same. She would shuffle out of her bedroom in her robe, with her hair tastled, unmatched socks and slippers on and her teeth would be soaking in a Listerine- filled Tupperware container by the bathroom sink. It was hard to predict where or when she would get her craving for eggs.  Sometimes it would happen at 3:30AM. and other times would be after a long nap, or even a desire to have eggs for a late morning second breakfast, because she would forget that she had already eaten once before in the first place.

The fact that she liked eggs wasn't the problem, especially now since research is pointing to the health benefits rather than the risks of eating eggs. However, the problem was having her making eggs in the house when no one else was home, and forgetting to turn off the gas stove!!!  And, " knock on wood," that scenario hadn't happened yet, but could happen.  So, what was done was something everyone must do, because safety and peace of mind for both Lori and her mother were at stake.

When I was a first time mother of an infant, I maintained my peace of mind through preparation. And the mantra was always the same, "Prepare for the worse, but expect the best."  If I had to go anywhere I would not only fill the diaper bag with everything I needed, (extras included.)  But I would have a snack bag full of easy to get to and eat goodies.  I would also pack extra drinks, and snacks for me, too.  Yes, I became a pack rat, but the truth is that I rarely got stuck in a situation that would lead to unnecessary risks or anxiety ridden exchanges.

The same philosophy was adopted by Lori when she became her mother's carepartner. Lori had a strategy which worked well in her household to prevent disasters from happening at her house in her absence by her mother who suffered from dementia, and loved to make eggs.   Her strategy involved, "hiding the eggs, " only when she was not at home to supervise her mother in the kitchen. And the supervision was a very subtle supervision, because Lori's mother's dignity was at stake, too. So, Lori would quietly supervise by just being close enough to observe the egg making process as a silent safety inspector. This took some practice, because Lori's mother did not like being pampered, or nurtured. She was very aware of Lori trying to help her walk up steps, etc. So, Lori would bite her tongue, and not react when her mother would pour too much olive oil in the frying pan, or would have the flame up higher than Lori would choose to have the flame.  Her mother enjoyed the independence of being able to make eggs, all by herself. She also enjoyed making her own bed, and feeding the dog.  So, all of these activities were extremely important for her mother's self esteem.

 However, since her mother had dementia, her mother's actions regarding the performance of the domestic activities were "out of sync" with how someone without dementia would perform the activity. As a caregiver/care-partner to her mother, Lori decided to forgo her ideas of "how" things would normally be done. It was more important for her to honor her mother's desire for independence, giving her mother  opportunities to embrace self reliance. She did this in much the same way, as she raised her child.

When her daughter was two, and made her bed the wrong way, she would praise her daughter's efforts, rather than correcting her young daughter's techniques. So, if the bed was lumpy when her mother made it, it was lumpy, and that was okay. At times, Lori's mother would question why the bed was lumpy, and then after questioning the lumpiness of the bed, after her mother would leave the room, Lori would remake the bed.  If Lori made the bed after her mother made it (but was complaining of having a lumpy bed that she herself had forgotten about creating) , and it looked perfect after Lori (unknowingly to her mother) would smooth out the lumps, her mother (in her forgetting) would say, "See how nice my bed and my room look today, Lori." And Lori would say, "Mom, you really know how to make your room look cozy."

 Lori's mother thought she herself had made the bed, and would then sit with a look of confidence and accomplishment.  She would not remember Lori vacuuming the room, or tweaking the pillows on the bed, she would only remember that she was directly involved in cleaning the room and would take all the credit for the room's tidy appearance. Lori would never lie directly to her mother about anything, but making the bed look nice for her after she  requested a lump free bed, was a way of honoring her request for tidiness.

 A decision was made by Lori and her family at the onset,  when her mother started showing signs of dementia to do all that could be done to preserve her mother's dignity, and to create a "happy bubble" of existence for her. Going with her into her reality, by meeting her at the bridge from past to present was one method that Lori used to communicate with her mother.  And following her mother's lead was another way to connect with her mother.

Lori thought of serving her mother's needs in the same way she would serve the needs of her newborn baby.  If her mother wanted to fry eggs at 3AM (which happened rarely because her mother was sleeping through the night), Lori would wake up with her to quietly supervise her efforts, and would happily serve her mother in the same way that she would wake up to care for her newborn baby when her daughter was an infant.

And how did Lori learn so much about a mother's love? From her mother!!  It was her mother who cared for Lori's grandmother through all of the stages of Alzheimer's Disease, and she never complained. She served her mother with non-judgement, active listening, a willingness to be led, a joyful spirit and with unconditional love.


Copyright 2014 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meet Me At The Bridge

"Meet me at the bridge," was a common expression that my ancestors used 100 years ago. Families would meet extended family members every Sunday after church on the outskirts of town at the footbridge by the entryway to the park. They would gather in their "Sunday best," cradling wrapped baked goods in wicker baskets for picnics by the lake. Everyone in town would do this. (There were no computers,  cellphones or TVs.)  Lawns under the oaks, pines and elms by the lake would be littered with families gathering for laughter, fellowship and conversation. They would sit in the fresh air on checkered blankets, sharing fried chicken, potato salad,  home made apple pie, bread and butter pickles and lemonade. There would be games of "hide and go seek," rowboat races, magic shows and dancing to the sounds of fiddles, banjos, guitars, ukelele's, barbershop quartets and local ragtime bands. Times were simple then, and social interactions were "face to face."

Today, caregivers also have bridges. Bridges connecting the past to the present. Bridges building a greater awareness of memories, feelings, behaviors and actions with intentions of manifesting clear and honoring pathways to spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. What is the bridge? Where is the bridge? And how do we, " meet at the bridge, " to fully express the inner wisdom that each and every soul, regardless of physical, mental or emotional limitations,  has as their unique inborn, innate capacity to express ?

These are all life sustaining questions worth pondering. And with the advent of more and more people growing into their elder years afflicted with dementia and other health challenges into their 90's, it is imperative that caregivers embrace a shift from today's accepted paradigm of control, chemical/physical restraint and institutional isolation led by medicine, into a pro-active awakening stance of collective healing wisdom. A paradigm shift from, "out-side in, " to "in-side out." Healing led by active listening, becoming present to the "presence of the moment," connecting as one through prayer, meditation, music, exercise, yoga, dance, singing and role playing. Finding therapeutic ways to use the sounds and smells of nature to create bridges from the past to the present by surrounding people with beautiful plants, trees, friendly pets and colorful landscapes. Offering healthy choices in purified water and air. Prolonging healthy living through whole food organic nutrition, social interaction and through the most potent, and primal connection of all, the power of touch.

 Leading us from past to present into the hidden passageways of elder wisdom and healthy aging is one woman, Naomi Feil, MSW. Naomi Feil was born in Germany in 1932, and grew up as a child in a home for the aged where her father was the administrator, and her mother was the social worker.  After graduating from Columbia University in the 1960's and getting fed up with the traditional ways of communicating with very old, disoriented people, Ms. Feil developed her own therapeutic model called Validation. Validation is used to enhance dignity, reduce stress, and improve well-being.

 Validation theory, which borrows from psychology ( Carl Rogers, Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud),  NLP and Akido (going with the flow),  explains that with an empathetic attitude, if one can, "step into the shoes," of another human being, and "see through their eyes," then it is possible to understand the sometimes, bizarre behaviors of very old disoriented individuals. And the basic premise of this model is that if we as individuals spend our lives suppressing our strong emotions, and never work out what we need to work out as things come up for us when we are younger, then these strong emotions, (ie: anger, hate, greed, love, passion or jealousy, to name a few), will dramatically be expressed in old age.  As Naomi Feil, MSW, explained this last week in Atlanta in a workshop of hers that I attended she said this: "The most important principle in "Validation," is: When you swallow strong emotions, they come out strong in old age!"  She also explained that there is ALWAYS a reason for bizarre behavior, and by knowing someone's life history, it is possible to use techniques to lessen anxiety when these strong emotions are triggered, and to create a better quality of life. Using Validation communication as it is intended to be used, according to Ms. Feil, causes the sleeping brain cells to wake up, and the old person never becomes a sleeping dead person.

I truly believe Validation is a VERY IMPORTANT step that humanity must take, in order to understand a rite of passage that brings with it, wisdom, truth, love and surrender as a pathway into a higher level of being. This can only be found by crossing the bridge that leaves limitations, judgement, control, separation, and fear behind. We can then embrace our highest good of living a quality life well into our elder years and leave this world ( when we are called to go), surrounded by loving support, peace, understanding, contentment and dignity.

For more information on Validation go to: www.vfvalidation.org

Copyright 2014 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Grandma's Kool-aid And Toxicity

I must have been 6 years old, and my grandmother (in my opinion as a youngster), made the best orange kool-aid on the planet.(Alright, I know kool-aid doesn't make the top of everyone's list when it comes to healthy beverages, but as a little kid in the 1960's, kool-aid was my favorite drink!)

 I watched grandma make kool-aid once, and found that it wasn't the kool-aid at all that I liked so much, but the water she was using from her well.Whenever we had family gatherings we would gulp down grandma's tasty well water which was filled with rich minerals from the earth that had a delicious, taste of it's own.


 One day, upon arrival at my grandparent's house,  I took a big swig of water and immediately spit it out. It had a plastic, chemical flavor. "Grandma, what happened to your water?" ( I was in shock, "Yuck!" I thought while crinkling up my nose.) "Our water now has fluoride in it so we can have healthy teeth," was my grandmother's reply.

 I was ticked off. This didn't make sense to me. The pure flavor of the water was gone forever,  and my grandmother's water tasted like chemicals. "How could that be good for us,  I thought as a 6 year old?" And I was right. Fluoride is a toxin, and it's use in our water supply as forced medication against dental caries has been controversial for years,  causing many countries around the world to ban water fluoridation due to health concerns. (See fluoride.mercola.com for more information on the dangers of fluoride.)

 Regardless of where you stand on the question of fluoride in water and toothpaste, or whether you brush your teeth at all,  the fact remains that we as human beings are swimming, LITERALLY SWIMMING in a sea of toxins. (Toxins in our food, toxins in the air, toxins in our water, in our shoes, cars, homes, paint, in our children's toys, in drugs, in the plants and animals we eat, and even toxins in our tissues, bones, cells, brains and entire bodies!!) Toxins are EVERYWHERE!!!  These toxins, man-made and organic,  build up in our bodies over time and can lead to disease and even death.And these toxins aren't going away, they are here to stay growing in numbers more and more every day!!

What can be done about these uninvited environmental invaders to preserve a healthy life?  Three things: 1) Reduce chemical, physical and emotional stress. 2) Detoxification  through exercise, perspiration and intermittent fasting 3) Healthy nutrition to balance the gut flora, maintain alkalinity and reduce inflammation.  Although nothing is full proof, practicing all three of the above will raise immunity, detoxify the system and increase the functional capacity of the body to preserve health.

Chiropractic, massage, meditation, yoga and acupuncture are excellent ways to reduce chemical, physical and emotional stress. Cardiovascular exercises such as cycling, race walking, elliptical work and rebounding are great ways to raise the body temperature to detoxify through perspiration. And some cultures, for thousands of years have used saunas to detoxify, but some cardiologists today have cautioned against sauna use in individuals with high blood pressure, or heart disease. Intermittent Fasting in the form of cellular cleansing is fasting that is supported by proper nutritional intake. This system can be found at: www.caregiversgetfit.isagenix.com  Watch the video called: "Are You Toxic?"

Through proactive lifestyle choices, we can become best equipped to handle the negative consequences of living in a toxic world to embrace health and longevity.

Copyright 2014 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

 



        


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teachermom Stress


The alarm sounds at 5AM. It's Monday morning and her 3 year old son has had a rough night.  She packs her lunch, hops in the shower, makes a light breakfast for her little one, and then interrupts her snoring husband's slumber to give him a peck on the cheek before loading the car.  There's her packed sack lunch, 650 sheets of colored construction paper, magic markers, two boxes of glue, 30 boxes of popsicle sticks and 6 cans of dried paint.  (All of this and more, by the way, was ordered from her own bank account, because of school  budget cutbacks.)  Then, of course a crabby little boy who doesn't want to go to daycare,  is tired from lack of sleep the night before, wants to stay home in his own bed to "sleep in, " but since his father worked the night shift (to make up for his mother's low take home pay), he can't stay home and needs someone to look after him while his mother teaches other people's children at a public school 45 mins. away from his house.

So, Johnny cries all the way to daycare, and his mother has to watch the road. It is a  dark,cold, frigid morning in "Timbuktu," (AKA a small rural town with a small population in the middle of nowhere),  where the deer population at dawn has been known to leap through the air from forest floors into car windows. She drops off her son to a display of heart wrenching screams, which pulls at her heartstrings every time, and makes it to school just in time to be the first teacher in line at the copy machine. Just when she feels her day is "going as planned," (she doesn't have the stress of waiting in line to make copies and has time to sip a hot cup of coffee in the teacher's lounge), a frantic school administrator calls her into the lobby with only 3 copies of lessons run,  completely throwing off her schedule. ""Okay, I know the weekly flyer reads "Tuesday" for you, but we need you to drop everything and pull "car duty" today, too. " "Mrs. Hornblower has the flu!"  So, with tennis shoes, (no boots or gloves), she stands in the  frigid, slush-ridden snow opening and closing  car doors for children exiting minivans at the main entrance of the school, totally exhausted and stressed out at 7:15 in the morning BEFORE  even teaching her first class of the day. And this is just another day. A typical one, too!

If we factor in pressures of ,"No Child Left Behind," "Benchmark Assessments," "Behavioral Problems, " "Overcrowding," "Absentee Parenting," and " Educational Budget Cutbacks," we have a very important profession becoming the most highly stressed profession. And as a health care professional, I can say that this dynamic of unreasonable  physical and emotional demands along with a lack of societal support, is leading to a  teacher healthcare disaster unlike any other, which may in time lead to a teacher shortage.More and more teachers are having stress-related health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression to name a few. This is not okay. There are some GREAT teachers out there who deserve better!!

Wellness programs in the school need to focus on the staff, and not just school lunch menu planning. The environment of the school starts with happy and healthy teachers in my opinion, which are directly influenced by administrative policies. How many school systems offer wellness educational opportunities for teachers? Can you imagine what it would be like to have a warm and healthy breakfast waiting for teachers when they arrive at their schools every morning, along with an onsite health club and massage chair just for the teachers???  A little spoiling in my opinion could go a long way. Instead, teachers have to be everything from their own secretaries, to parents to the few children who lack parenting at home, and who become behavioral problems that disrupt the entire learning environment of the entire classroom day after day after day!! This can be draining for anyone, but having a classroom of 3 to 5 children out of 30 who constantly act up can be exhausting!!  And depending on the support staff, whether they support the teacher or not, can cause some teachers to feel isolated, helpless and alone. I taught for one year, and was so exhausted at the end of the day, that I would fall asleep without dinner at 7PM, sometimes in my clothes!!!

How can teachers avoid burnout?  Studies prove that half of teachers beginning their career will be out of the profession in five years, and that, 25% will encounter depression, or burnout.  So what can be done?

Since I am a doctor and wellness consultant, I will speak to stress. I believe the best antidote for stress is to move your feet. Exercise works and can always be arranged around any schedule. I always tell people to get a medical work-up first,  to see what their physical fitness level is, and then to go for it!!  Walking 40 mins. a day can do wonders to clear your head, and even moderate walking can be a great stress buster. Although weight training, swimming and rebounding are my favorites!!

Good nutrition is next. Superfoods can work wonders for weight loss and sugar regulation. Undenatured whey protein, high quality vitamin and mineral support, adaptogen support, and a system of weight control. The best I have seen in years is what Isagenix offers. (I myself have lost 60 pounds on this system!) Isagenix has an entire program of weight loss, longevity products and products for athletic performance. Go to: www.caregiversgetfit.isagenix.com to order the products.

Bodywork is a great stress buster. Chiropractic care works directly with nervous system interference caused by mental, physical and chemical stress.  Massage works wonders to support chiropractic adjustments and to calm over worked muscles.

Talk and listen.  Find someone to talk to for emotional support. A group of teachers, a pastor, a counselor, or a dog. (I'm not kidding when I say a dog. ) And listen. Walk in the woods, or by water and listen to your heart.

Caregivers reading this, if you are a teacher we appreciate you!!  And if you are not a teacher, do something nice for a teacher this week, your kindness will go a long way. (I'm partial, I'm married to one!)


Copyright 2014 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

 

According to a study conducted by Resilience Education, teachers often leave the teaching profession because of depression. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that nearly 50 percent of all teachers leave teaching after only five years in the profession. Teachers, like others in demanding jobs, may become depressed as a result of workplace stress.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_6137390_teachers-depression.html


According to a study conducted by Resilience Education, teachers often leave the teaching profession because of depression. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that nearly 50 percent of all teachers leave teaching after only five years in the profession. Teachers, like others in demanding jobs, may become depressed as a result of workplace stress.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_6137390_teachers-depression.html






Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cindy Through The Glass

The plants had been watered, the wind was blowing and the clouds were moving like passing ships on the horizon. I looked through the glass on the door leading to the deck as I folded the towels, and Cindy was listening to every word she said. Her head was cocked to one side, almost as if she had questions of her own, but moaned instead,  just before falling off to sleep with a yawn and a "thump" landing with her chin on the slatted wooden floor. It was a very close one-sided partnership of sharing and listening. There was no judgement, just love and an occasional gesture of physical affection. Cindy liked to get her belly scratched, and Lori's 84 year old mother liked to lavish Cindy with ear rubs, table scraps and long winded conversations.

Mornings were met with the same routine. A 6 AM walk and then kibbles falling hard like granite pebbles into a  round plastic bowl. A symphony of canine crunching, lip smacking, snorting and  then the worst habit of all, Cindy's unladylike elegance of always drooling on the floor.  Cindy liked to lay facing the closed bedroom door because she knew at any moment, even if she had to wait 2 to 3 hours, that Lori's mother would soon appear with her love-filled toothless smile in her nightgown, slippers, disheveled hair and half-buttoned robe. And then, a greeting unlike any other Cindy would jump, run in circles and yelp with such passion and gratefulness at once again seeing her long lost friend. It was almost cruel to have trained Cindy to not enter Lori's mother's room.  But Cindy was a very large girl weighing over 85 pounds, and would surely want to sleep in the bed, leaving very little room for a human to have a restful sleep. They were joined at the hip, two as one. An old woman and her dog!

So, was the research true about pets helping people to live longer lives? Research about blood pressure being lowered, immune levels going up, and people with dementia having better outcomes? Maybe so. And why not? What are the side effects of having pets around, as long as a caregiver is present to see to the needs of feeding and walking the animal care partner? And with that being said, is there a void that pets meet as care partners that human care givers have yet to learn?  Are we doing this whole thing wrong?  Maybe we ought to listen and observe more to what the animals are teaching us? Questions worth pondering indeed!

Lori was almost finished folding the laundry and then looked out the window. Lori's mother was pointing up to the sky, and Cindy was following her pointed hand. Lori's mother looked like she was giving a lecture to Cindy, and Cindy was sitting up and wagging her tail. The curiosity was mounting in Lori's mind, so Lori went outside and sat in the cushioned chair beside her mother.

 "Wow, mother it is a beautiful day today, and the air is so crisp. What are you thinking right now, mom?" "I'm thinking about the trees and the clouds, " said Lori's mother. "Really?  And what are the clouds telling you, mom?" "They are showing me faces, and the trees have seen so much history, Lori."  "I wish the trees could talk, " said Lori's mom. "Well, if they could talk to us right now, what do you think they would say?"( Lori was always so happy to hear her mother expressing herself, because there were many moments when her mother would just sit in silence, and would give two word sentences, "I'm fine." She would and could spend hours in the same chair looking off into space, saying nothing, but, "I'm fine," followed by silence. However, after inviting Cindy to be her constant companion, that all ended. Lori's mother had become a chatterbox.  )

 Lori's mother's face glowed in the sunlight underneath the blue, cloud filled sky. "Well, you see that boulder over there?" Lori's mother pointed to the boulder underneath the pine tree in the neighbor's yard. "The trees would tell us that there is a hidden treasure underneath that rock, buried by confederate soldiers." Lori's mother said. "And what else would the trees say?" Lori enjoyed seeing her mother come to life, and enjoyed sharing these moments with her. "I'm afraid there would be sadness, too Lori," said Lori's mother. "What kind of sadness, mom?" "Sadness of a war, Lori. The soldiers would camp underneath the trees, and would eat hardtack and beans. They would write letters to their families around a campfire, letters of "good-bye" not knowing if they would live another day, and the trees would see it all." (Lori's mother would then, without giving Lori a chance to answer shift from saying something profound, to totally changing the subject like four year old's often do. ) "You see that cloud over there?" Lori's mother had so much enthusiasm in her voice at that moment, that Cindy too appeared to have a smile on her face, and started wagging her tail, almost as if she understood what her favorite companion was saying. Lori's mother then started laughing a hearty laugh. "What do you see, mom?" Lori stretched her head up to the sky, and there as clear as a bell, was the shape of a floating rabbit in the clouds. The ears, the body and the tail, slowly moving in the clouds. "Do you see it, Lori?" I do, mother, I see it!" Lori, too was laughing. "It's a bunny rabbit in the clouds, Lori!"  "I see it mom, I see it."

Then all of the attention was on Cindy who was filled with energetic enthusiasm. "Cindy, BUNNY RABBIT, BUNNY RABBIT!!"  Then Cindy flew off of the porch and ran into the woods. Lori's mother laughed and laughed. "Well, we won't tell her the bunny isn't real, " said Lori's mother. "The trees are calling her, and she is happily living in her own world," said Lori's mother taking in a deep sigh, wearing a contented grin.  "She is happily living in her own world!"

Copyright 2014 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

 

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