Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Mimi

As I have already mentioned before in this blog here, I have grown up with what most people consider "older" parents. My parents met and married later in life than most, with my father being 9 years older than my mother on top of that. Add onto that my parents having trouble with having kids and I was not born until 7/8 years after they were married. Because of this my grandparents were much older than conventional grandparents, or in one case, already in severe failing health. By the time I was 7 both my father's parents had passed( with me never knowing his father) and before I was out of junior year of high school I only had my Grandmother, Mimi.

Now let me tell you about Mimi. Mimi is a badass. Yes, I said it. She is. My mother's mother to be exact. She is of Cherokee Indian decent, about 4 foot 10 and a ball of spitfire. She is currently 96 years young and still going strong. She lived on her own until she was 92 (with the help of nurses a few times a week) until we finally decided it was no longer safe for her to do so. Thankfully we did this in time before late-age onset Dementia set in. While most would think Dementia, or often mistakenly diagnosed Alzheimer's disease, would make us distraught or upset, but I actually feel the opposite. She is happier than she has been in years and in no way knows that she has little hearing left, is blind as a bat and cannot walk around much at all any more. She's is content in her own world that sometimes correctly includes my family, but most of the time does not. She always remembers our family yellow lab, Jackson, though. She loves her daily therapy dog visits. The Assisted Living Facility graciously allowed my mother to bring the old yellow lab for everyone to pet and love on once he passed therapy dog regulations. All the old men there can't wait to see his wagging tail and big brown eyes everyday.

But back to why I originally posted this blog entry - This morning I came across another blog here and was struck by the article posted. This article was describing my Grandmother. To the T. My grandmother has to have her daily chocolate/ice cream and is constantly carrying around "her baby" (a baby doll my mother gave her). As long as she has these, she is as pleased as punch. The article from the blog post is a must read for anyone who has does or ever had a parent/grandparent with Dementia and/or Alzheimer's.

I wish more Assisted Living facilities were more like the one mentioned in the article and the one my Grandmother is thankfully in.

An excerpt form the article below:

Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate

 PHOENIX — Margaret Nance was, to put it mildly, a difficult case. Agitated, combative, often reluctant to eat, she would hit staff members and fellow residents at nursing homes, several of which kicked her out. But when Beatitudes nursing home agreed to an urgent plea to accept her, all that changed.

Disregarding typical nursing-home rules, Beatitudes allowed Ms. Nance, 96 and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, to sleep, be bathed and dine whenever she wanted, even at 2 a.m. She could eat anything, too, no matter how unhealthy, including unlimited chocolate.

And she was given a baby doll, a move that seemed so jarring that a supervisor initially objected until she saw how calm Ms. Nance became when she rocked, caressed and fed her “baby,” often agreeing to eat herself after the doll “ate” several spoonfuls.

Dementia patients at Beatitudes are allowed practically anything that brings comfort, even an alcoholic “nip at night,” said Tena Alonzo, director of research. “Whatever your vice is, we’re your folks,” she said.

Once, Ms. Alonzo said: “The state tried to cite us for having chocolate on the nursing chart. They were like, ‘It’s not a medication.’ Yes, it is. It’s better than Xanax.”

It is an unusual posture for a nursing home, but Beatitudes is actually following some of the latest science. Research suggests that creating positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer’s patients diminishes distress and behavior problems. ...read the rest here

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