It Takes a Village…and a little bear too!!

There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Turns out it also takes a village to care for our parents and other loved ones. When the people we love are afflicted by serious illnesses, we learn very quickly that we can’t care for them alone. It takes family, friends, church members, and a variety of service and health organizations all working together, and even then we can feel as if we come up short.

Being on the road for almost the last year since the Manor Care subsidiary Arden Courts purchased a large number of my books for their warehouse and clients, I’ve been to a lot of villages speaking about the horror of Dementia. I’ve learned so much more about all of the people that it takes working together to care for our loved ones.

Particularly on this trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, I learned how many people have teamed up together to serve several small villages. Mariemont (pronounced Marymont) and Hyde Park are villages about thirty minutes from downtown Cincinnati. My presentation was held at a very affluent Episcopal church because several churches have banded together in a Christian Health Ministry working with Arden Courts and other senior agencies to do all they can to care for the seniors AND their families in their respective villages.

At the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer where my presentation was held, they even have a parish health nurse on staff, and not just to deal with someone who may take ill during a church service. They provide all types of medical services to their parishioners and others who live in the villages of Mariemont and Hyde Park (where the church is located) and others who may not be covered by other help. The network of people I met last night was astounding. There were psychologists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners and others.

I was blown away by the number of health care workers who came to hear about my book, because I believed they probably know a lot more about dementia than I do. What I learned before and after my presentation, was that they wanted to hear my perspective as a daughter so they could ensure that they were doing all they could to serve their clients.

The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer has a ministry where they knit and crochet teddy bears to give to dementia patients and other who may need something to hug, particularly in times of high anxiety. Before I left the church, Betsy, the staff nurse gave me a tour of the amazing suite of offices on the upper floor of the church. Her office alone was larger than my basement.

Once in her office, it was clear Betsy didn’t want to show me her office at all. She wanted to show me the collection of teddy bears so that I could select one for my Mom as their gift to me from the church. But that wasn’t all. She then gathered the two Arden Courts marketing directors who were my sponsors, and we all went to the chapel together and held hands as Betsy said a prayer for my Mom, that the bear would comfort her whenever she needs it when I’m not around.

IMG_3220

I tried not to cry. Betsy said to me “well with all this good work you’re doing on the road, Doris will always have a representative of you when you’re away. We’d never have met you were it not for your book and people really need to meet you.” It really does take a village to care for our loved ones, and I learned a little stuffed bear can help too! I know Mom will LOVE the bear!! With every experience on the road, I learn a new fact and meet a new friend. As long as “my village” keeps growing, I know Mom and i will be just fine.

Advertisements

“You Inspire Me!!”

I got home from a meeting today and was immediately intrigued by an email in my inbox from an address I didn’t recognize. The email was entitled “You Inspire Me” and began with “thank you for your fabulous book presentation in NJ this week!”. Tim (my unpaid agent and driver) and I spent two days in NJ  and had a ball with very intimate groups of folks. Several people in each group had already read my book, and came just to meet and hear me, and have their books signed. I love small groups much more than large groups, because my presentations become discussions as opposed to just me sharing my story and the latest strategies for coping with everything about Alzheimer’s disease. In the second group on Tuesday, a very nice older man took a seat around the conference table and joined the dinner discussion prior to my presentation. He shared that he had just put his wife in the Arden Courts facility where I was speaking, and that his daughter and her family would probably be joining us for the presentation as well. He then shared the horrible news that not only was their family dealing with the challenges of his wife’s Alzheimer’s disease, they were also dealing with his daughter’s breast cancer diagnosis and the start of her chemotherapy treatments. “So unfair” I thought to myself as I listened to his story. Alzheimer’s is enough for a family to handle, why breast cancer too?? I was so grateful that his daughter did come, wearing a face mask to protect herself, and a fashionable scarf around her newly-balding head.

DSC_0932

She and I instantly hit it off and during my presentation / discussion and she and her entire family participated in the lively discussion. I felt like we had all shared a deeply meaningful two hours together, and we hugged and hugged as the night ended. The email she sent me today was to let me know she had already finished my book, and how much she loved it and my story. She said that I had really touched her on Tuesday, with my sincerity and positive nature and she immediately started reading the book when she got home. She shared that my book helped her to get through chemo this week, and that she was inspired by my love and commitment to my Mom and to others. Her comments are a first for me! I’ve been told many times that I’ve inspired families to tackle Alzheimer’s head on, but never that I’ve inspired those who are facing other serious issues. I’m stunned, grateful and proud! The lesson I’ve learned this week is that you never know the impact you may have on another person. So I ask you…Who has inspired you this week? Who have you inspired? Keep inspiring others, because it can most definitely help them to Conquer Life, and whatever it may bring!