"Gwampa, gwampa," my cute, curly-headed grandson tugged at his great-grandpa's pant leg. My senior dad was sitting in his wheelchair while this cutie pie was actively at work to get his attention – successfully, I might add. The next thing he knew, he was up on great-grandpa's lap (with a bit of help from grandma) and they were wheeling all around the house with twin expressions of glee on their smiling faces. Granted, the speed was slower than the slowest turtle, but they didn't care. They thrilled to it!
This occurred often during what could truly be described as "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." My family was dealing with the grief of having my dad in the hospice program and he and my mom were living in the master bedroom of my house. At the same time, one of my daughters was on bedrest with my future grand-twins. Each day her husband dropped her off to spend the day on my living room couch, along with their two children. My mom would take care of my dad, and I took care of the grandkids. And sometimes we would swap jobs. It was a sad time because we knew my dad would soon be leaving us for heaven. But it was a joy-filled time full of sweet smiles and laughter. It was also a dark time due to the final complications of his end stage of Parkinsons Disease, including a few awful weeks when medication issues caused full-on dementia complete with Sundowning. I spent a lot of sleepless nights on my knees praying for wisdom, guidance, and provision!
I am so grateful we were able to keep my dad at home with us. As hard as it was, it was a blessing for him, making it a blessing for me. Not everyone can do that, of course. If they had not been able to correct the medications, resolving most of the behavioral issues, he would probably have had to go to a care facility better suited to care for him. And while the hardest part it was relatively short for us, I know of many of you have been dealing for years with Alzheimers Disease, Lewy Body Dementia Disease, or other major health issues.
Still and all, having all our family together regularly then and since, and at times, even living together, has been such a blessing to our beloved seniors and such a great education for the younger generations. My senior mom regularly involves her great-grandkids in fun gardening projects. We all love to take walks together. And I so appreciate how careful the grandkids are to be gentle around her – most of the time. And all of the time with a simple reminder. What a great education we are all getting!
Y'all know I participate regularly in #ElderCareChat at Twitter and love to share great resources from that with you. Earlier this week, I was finally able to join in on another terrific Twitter chat – #TalkAlz – which is specifically geared for those dealing with Alzheimers Disease, as well as other diseases that cause dementia, such as Lewy Body Dementia Disease. It was perfect timing, as the topic was Intergenerational therapy and practical ways to make connecting generations a priority in Alzheimer’s caregiving. The tweetchat was quite interesting and I wanted to share two videos recommended at #TalkAlz starting with this interesting video on the three stages of Alzheimer's Disease from @GracefulAging
And oh my, click here to check out this encouraging video I shared at Facebook, Sparking Memories Musically, originally shared by @BrittanyLeschMT and showing the impact music can have in the lives of a family dealing with Alzheimers Disease and dementia symptoms.
Speaking of music and Alzheimers Disease, here's a lovely idea from Laura Hahn at Arthur and Bernie.
And last but definitely not least, you can read the whole #TalkAlz transcript by clicking here. It was quite an enjoyable chat on the topic of intergenerational care, which was, of course, right up my Sandwich Generation alley as my grandkids have been involved with their great grandparents all along – such a sweet joy! Also, you are warmly invited to all the #TalkAlz tweetchats, held on the second Tuesday of each month at 12 noon EST. The next will be May 8, 2012.