When I am old and need extra care. . .
Recently I attended a lecture provided by an employee/administrator of a local assisted living/nursing home. It was fascinating. The lecture consisted of participation with the speaker as we filled in a four-part questionnaire. She said, “Someday, if not already, you will be impacted by dementia. That dementia may turn into full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.” The most important thing you can do is be prepared.
Since I was unprepared for my mother’s own journey down that dark road of dementia that was in the end, diagnosed as Alzheimer disease, I listened earnestly and obediently filled out the questionnaire. Someday that person could be me. I want my children to know some things about me that they don’t think about much now.
You see, last week I had the joy of visiting with a daughter who lives nine hours away from me so we see each other infrequently, although we do communicate in other ways often. Yet, there are things she does not know about me because things do change over the years. At the end of our short visit, she remarked, “Mom, you are doing very well. I am so happy for you.” Nonetheless, I did think about that questionnaire. At that thought, I also smiled.
The questionnaire was in four sections with three answers per section. By now, I hope that you are curious and continue to read.
Section One: Name three foods that you prefer. Be specific in your answer, such as—I like chips with dip. The dip is made with onion soup mix and sour cream. And as an example I put one of my favorite foods as bread. My children may not think that of me anymore because due to weight management, I seldom eat it. I like whole wheat bread, toasted, with peanut butter, in fact. For a real treat, put some strawberry jam on top. I never have cared for grape jam.
Section Two: Name three songs that make you happy. Mention the artist as well as the volume at which you like your music. Instead of three songs, I put three genres because I like a variety of music and I do not like loud anything! But for some of you, there may very well be a particular song that would put a smile on your face. Make sure you put that down along with the artist you prefer.
Section three: Name three activities that make you happy. For some of you it may be dancing and if that is so, make sure to name the dance you like best as in waltz, polka, or tango. I like to read so I put the genre I like best and suggested audio books. The Bible on audio would make me very happy. If you are happy growing things, let you children know that. Even if your plants die, let them replace them while you are sleeping!
Section Four: name the people that you like to be around. This may also surprise your children. I like to watch young children, little girls in particular, play and laugh. I don’t even need to know them.
So there you are. A little guide to use to fill out and make sure your children get copies of this. Even if dementia takes you places you do not want to go, your children can bring you happiness if even for a few minutes at a time. My mother loved to sing. In the last two months of her life, I would visit her every night and sing with her and help put her to bed. I made a song book just for the two of us and I was blessed that she always knew me, and always would sing with me. She also liked poetry and I would sometimes read poetry to her and her resident roommate. We always sang. It was part of fulfilling the commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
As a last thought I’d like to add that we are becoming who we will be. Nothing is going to change drastically. If you have been difficult in life, you will be difficult, very difficult in dementia. If you have been a flexible person in life, you will be flexible in old age. For my younger readers, I’d challenge you to remember that and change where you need to change before it is too late. If you are grumpy in youth or middle age, you will be grumpier in old age!