Make the patient laugh as much as possible everyday!
I tried and succeeded to make Martha laugh 5 to 6 times per day. I loved making her laugh and taking her picture; which was often. I could not ask her to smile, because she did not understand my question, so I would act like an Indian dancing in front of her. Her response would always be, "What are you doing? You damn fool!" I knew she would always laugh when she said "Damn Fool"; this was my opportunity to get her picture with a smile. Most of Martha’s pictures that I took during the final years make me laugh, because most of the time she would endearingly be calling me a damn fool with her beautiful smile! Great memories!
Today, October 29th, 2011 would have been Martha’s 80th birthday.
Martha had many different kinds of necklaces; however, she always wanted to wear pearls.
We did considerable traveling with our company Davan Consulting International; Martha was the president and traveled with me most of the time.
During our travels we would purchase pearls at various places. Many of the pearls were special to the country we were visiting. Martha really enjoyed shopping for pearls and I never discouraged it because pearls were cheaper than diamonds. She never missed a day wearing pearls, except the few days she spent in the hospital. Martha had one of her favorite sets of pearls on at her funeral.
When I met Martha; I said, "I am going to marry her"! She was like a pearl to me; a valuable treasure that needed no polishing or cutting by man. That comes to us complete and lustrous created by God through nature.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13: 45-46
When Martha started to have Alzheimer's symptoms in 2004 (stage 1), I knew I had to determine how to handle each symptom as it occurred. After a lot of thought and research; I decided that I would treat each individual symptom by the following guideline:
How would I want to be treated and cared for if I had this Alzheimer's symptom?
This made my care for Martha much simpler and each decision I made would always be a compassionate one. However, as time progressed, alterations had to be made to how I cared for her. Any decision that was made would always be the absolute best for Martha. I wanted to share my experience with other caregivers, thus my guidelines were developed.
The guidelines on my website were written in hopes to help other caregivers, to not only care for the patient, but to understand them, show some compassion, use a little common sense and ask themselves; "What would I want someone to do for me?"
It's so simple…
I always had a saying that Martha and I followed all our married life –
"A small deed done is better than the greatest intentions!"
If either of us were conducting a major project the other would always do small deeds for them to help out. This would make it so the project would not be so burdensome. The small deed usually was part of the major project; but, was something that needed to get done.
I guess this helped us in our 59 years of marriage - which was a beautiful journey!
Since it is Easter time I will tell you how much Martha loves bunnies.
Cottontail bunnies were Martha’s favorite breed. Martha was always buying bunny rabbit ornaments for our home. In fact every room in our house has one, two or three bunnies. Many of the bunnies were purchased by our children and grandchildren. If you go to the picture page on the website you will see Martha asleep; holding the bunny that Zoey, our Granddaughter, brought to her on the day I took this picture. Martha was holding the bunny on her lap when she went to sleep; I decided this was another precious moment in Martha’s venture with Alzheimer’s in stage 3.
Happy Easter to all!
We built our home 42 years ago in Colorado; Martha was the one who selected our lot. When we landscaped, Martha said, "I want roses all around our patio!"; needless to say that the rose was her favorite flower.
We’ve certainly enjoyed the beautiful roses. For those of you who have attempted to grow roses, then you know what a challenge they are to grow and sustain. Out of the 16 we originally planted around our patio, 4 of them have survived. However, I have replaced the others more than once over the years.
Martha loved having big bouquets of roses all over the house during the summer months. As I have previously stated in earlier Blogs, the "Red Rose" is a symbol of love; thus we always had many red roses. We had lots of cookouts on our patio over the years. All that attended really enjoyed the rose bushes that adorned our backyard and Martha was so proud of them.
OH YES!! Today would have been our 59th wedding anniversary. Needless to say, I have red roses in our home today – even though I had to buy them; roses in Colorado don’t bloom until May.
In stage 3 Alzheimer's, Martha could not speak but only few-mumbled words.
Part of Martha's daily routine, which did not vary, was a snack at 4:30 PM. It always included orange/vanilla ice cream. I provided a snack for her so she could take her medications with food.
I vividly remember one afternoon; I was reading while sitting with Martha and it got to be 4:30. Martha looked at me and said, "It is ice cream time." This complete sentence was overwhelming to me-I said, "YES, it is!"
This was my precious moment to enjoy; needless to say I got the snack, including her ice cream, PRONTO! This also told me and proof positive that the mind is always there, it just needs something to trigger it, so that verbal expressions can come forth.
Summer is around the corner; a time to gather with Family and Friends; a time to enjoy some ice cream!
The preacher that gave Martha's eulogy asked me, "What were the best years of your life with Martha?" I didn't even have to think about this question! Without hesitation I said, "The last three years of Martha’s life!"
I defined this to the preacher: Because Martha was 100% dependent on me; I knew that I had to make the right decisions. Martha deserved the best quality life possible and it was my promise to keep.
When someone is 100% dependent on you it is a privilege to give them the best care, it sure makes the caregiver feel proud!
During the last year Martha's mobility got so bad that she could not go up or down stairs. I bought a red aluminum wheelchair, referred to as a transfer chair. It had 8 inch wheels on the front and back and weighed only 15 lbs. The scooter was ideal, since it would fold up so you could carry it like a small suitcase.
I NEVER referred to it as a wheelchair. When talking to Martha about it I called it her "Red Scooter".
I would ask her if she would like to take a ride in her red scooter; she would smile, which meant yes! When she rode in her red scooter she always had a relaxed and pleasant expression on her face, which told me she really liked it. This was because I did not refer to it as a wheelchair.
You know, "That Old Blind Hog has to find an acorn once in a while!"
While feeding Martha I would always talk to her. She could not speak but if she smiled, that meant "yes".
I always wanted Martha to feel that she was doing her part. One morning at breakfast, I gave her a bit of fresh fruit and said to her, "We take care of each other don't we?" Her face beamed and she smiled - meaning yes we do.
I continued to say this to her many times during each day and she would respond with a smile :-).
These smiles were precious moments for me; at the same time brightened Martha's day too! We took care of each other...