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.
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.
OK…how could you NOT have cried???!!!! Good Lord!!! How AWESOME!!!!
I could feel the prayer, love and energy just reading this!!!
Prayerfully, the bear will remind herbif you AND Daddy because it truly DOES represent you both as the bear is so integral to who you are and that my Dad’s skin has an orange hue – LOL!!! Of course, there’s no way she could’ve known those things about you before meeting.
Every presentation, you go higher and deeper!
Thanks Kim!! YES they had all colors of bears, and I picked the one that had the orange and blue for both of us!!! You’re so smart!!! She won’t remember, BUT I know and that’s good enough!!
Remember the “Village” concept as you go on your journey this weekend!! I’ll be with you in spirit!!
Loretta… reading this and sitting here crying. What an experience and how awesome for you to share your experience in a way that is bound to help so many other caregivers. You’re a true inspiration, my friend.
Thanks Ann!!! You’ve been a wonderful inspiration for me as well!!! Fighting this fight against Alzheimer’s every day to keep your Mom’s memory alive!! I know your Mom is so very proud of all you’ve done. May we both keep fighting until this horrific disease is no more!! You Rock!!
This blog was wonderful! What a great thing they are doing there Ret. It sounds like they could show a thing or two to other areas. Love the bear idea, it shows their commitment to their villages and their people. How wonderful that your Mom will always have a part of you, even when you can’t be there to all the great work you are doing with your book!
Thanks my sister!!! I’m so very encouraged by this work I’m doing on the road!! And YES I agree that other villages and towns could learn a few things from them!! Hope all is going well with Dad!! I’m thrilled to be a part of your village!!
“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.” THIS is the golden nugget, my sterling “take away” from this your latest post. No matter how much goodly wisdom professional caregivers possess through years of experience and, even more, through their depth of kindly care, no one can know the breadth and bond of understanding that is wrought through the reality of BEING a loved one caring for a loved one afflicted with dementia. Now, do I know and can I believe that there are family and friends of stricken loved ones who do not and will not care for their loved ones (and without making ANY negative judgment, i ask this question)? Yes. In this light, Loretta, you stand as a beacon of one who has done, is doing, and will do “all (she can_ to serve (her mother).” And in this, you are gospel – good news – witness incarnate and writ large. Praise be!
YES Paul, that WAS the golden nugget for me too!! I was a little intimidated at first because so many of the folks in the audience were wearing name tags with their titles and name of their company on them. I was thinking to myself “where are the regular people?”. Then one of the nurse practitioners, dressed in scrubs who came with her entire office staff said to me “we can’t wait to hear you, we’ve been looking forward to this all day!” and her entire team nodded. All the intimidation I had felt melted away right then! They all hugged me when it was over and said how much they had learned.
Thanks for your kind words about my being a Beacon! Never really thought of myself as that, but you’ve certainly watched my work since the very beginning. I appreciate your support more than you know. You’re definitely a huge part of my Village.