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The way to live. With Alzheimer's.
Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, November 16, 2014 11:34 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


When visiting my Alzheimer-riddled friend Ron, I become effusive. Downright gregarious. It’s as if I’m taking full charge. Compelling Ron to get with it. The kind of good vibes that tend to stimulate Ron. I set the tone. The young student nurse. Helped put Ron in a wheelchair. Readying him for a ride. Outdoors. And when she started to zip up Ron’s jacket, she acted timidly. Too timidly. Ron resisted. Pushed her away. Acted like Mr. Tough Guy. I intervened.  Took charge. Took command. ‘Hey, Ron,’ I said firmly. ’Act like a Norwegian gentleman. Let me do this.’ I zipped up the jacket. Looking directly into Ron’s eyes. Ron got the message. I’m his friend. And he knew. We were going outdoors. He was about to be set in motion. Forward. Forward. Forward. I cajoled Ron. Reminded him. We were about to pursue one of his favorite pastimes. Sure, it was cold. About 10 degrees. A fluffy snow on the ground, too. Ron’s lap. Covered with soft, cushy blankets. A knit cap. .Drooped over his head. Mittens on his hands. And away we went. Up and down the snow-covered paved trail. Through the woods. A good workout. For me. A dazzling winter wonderland for Ron. I talked. Almost incessantly. Describing.  For Ron’s benefit. Everything that we were seeing. And experiencing. Ron was my captive audience. When we returned. To the warm comfort. of Ron’s cocoon. A five-bed residential home with no resemblance to a nursing home. It was obvious. Ron felt at ease. Laughing, Rollicking. Having a good time. No belligerence. Life. Flowing. Smoothly. Ron lifted himself. Out of the wheelchair. Walked to the dining table. About to savor.  A baked potato. With sour cream and chives. Melted cheese and broccoli, too. Everyone was happy. Ah, this is the way to live. With Alzheimer’s. –Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Monday, November 17, 2014 2:49 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


Many years ago, I avoided visits to nursing homes. Especially to memory care units. It was depressing. Bad for my morale. A funny thing has happened over the years. Gradually. I became enchanted. By the communication skills of the dementia-riddled. I learned to listen. To understand and speak their multiple and unique languages. I have a little more difficulty with the first language of my Italian true love. I resort to English far too much. Since she speaks fluent English. I rely too much on her. But the dementia speakers rely on me. I have to put forth the effort. And that’s good. Really, we all need more effort. In learning how to communicate. With each other. Anyway, I’m fascinated. That I’ve learned the rudiments of a second language. Unexpectedly. Maybe it’s that I practice. Really, dementia has become a common language. It can be learned. Even by language dumbbells like me. All it takes is practice, practice and more practice. Believe me. Dementia is a beautiful language. Maybe it’s that I have mastered the art of listening. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2014 5:19 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


Learning a language. How does one go about it? Really, isn’t it by listening? My cats, for instance, have a distinct language. That I pick up. By listening. And observing. I’ll be living in Italy. Most of the winter. Though I’ll never be fluent in Italian. I often understand the gist of the conversation. By listening to the tone. And watching very animated gestures. And by picking up familiar and meaningful words. Doesn’t matter. Whether the language is French or German or Czech. Listening is the key.  One learns baby talk that way. Political speak, too. Which is harder to understand than dementia speak.  Political speak often makes absolutely no sense. Whether one listens, or not. Yes, beyond the pale of human understanding. –Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 6:23 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


Now it's time to die. With Alzheimer's. Ron is in hospice care at his five-bed residential nursing home. And is expected to die in a week or two. And he seems ready for death. Taking it all in stride. He seems to be at peace. And knows/senses what's coming. Seems to feel that he's at home. I'll visit him on Wednesday. Meanwhile, daughter Julie seems to be pulling herself together. In a mood of acceptance. She's in her fifth day without a drink. Indeed, a good sign. Husband Rick seems exhausted by it all. In some ways, Julie is being the strong one. Maybe she knows this is the end of the long and arduous journey. Maybe it is bringing her a sense of relief. Maybe now she will be able to get on with the rest of her life. Both of her parents gone. A new era. No more responsibilities or obligations to one's parents. Maybe now she can focus more on her self. Ron would have wanted it that way. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 11:14 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


I hope dying comes relatively fast and easy and painless for Ron. I've watched people die. In slow and lingering ways. Maybe an instant death is best. With no time to think about it. Thus escaping the mental and physical pain. Out like a light. When I saw Ron today. He was sleeping. I talked to him in soft, soothing tones. Wonder if he heard me, and understood. Gave him a soft and gentle foot massage. And stroked his forehead. He was snoring for a while. His mouth open. Spent a half-hour with him. A vigil. He's taking no food. Because he can't swallow. No IV feeding planned. I'm told his life systems are starting to shut down. Apparently we all have to die. Physical deaths. I wonder. If life continues. In a spiritual realm. Maybe it really doesn't matter. Coming from nothing. And returning to nothing. So unromantic. Not the way I would have it. I have so very much business/living to accomplish yet. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2015 9:17 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


So important for me. To be focused on living. Even when watching someone/Ron die. Celebrating his wonderful and blessed life. And the fact. That I'm alive. Capable of celebrating. Rather than mourning. I'm still here. And will be. For a while longer. Able to keep Ron and so many others. Alive. In my memory. Amazing. That I am able to give them spiritual life. With thoughts. With pondering. With musings. Maybe that's the closest I come. To having the divine powers of a/thee creator. For instance, Jeanne is still with me. Seven years after her death. So many others, too. Friends. Acquaintances. Anyone I choose. Is kept alive. By me. Mozart. Haydn. Beethoven. Shakespeare. I have direct access. To all of them. They have found ways. To leave their spirits. Here. With easy access. To the living. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Friday, September 4, 2015 11:51 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


I connected with a spirit today. Belonging to Alzheimer-riddled friend Ron. Seems that Ron's spirit is hovering. Half in the spiritual realm. And half in the physical world. Or so his spirit told me. While I was out for a walk. Waiting for Ron to die. He's barely hanging on. To his physical life, that is But his spirit is very much alive. Now that it's ascending. Separating bit by bit. From his physical being. The transition will be complete. Very soon. In a few hours. Or a few days at the most. There will be no more physical Ron. Only spiritual Ron. With a new-found clarity of mind. Already, Ron's spirit has found a way to communicate with me. While I was walking. On a trail. In a woods. Where I used to walk and wheel Ron. Seems that Ron's spirit was drifting. Overhead. Near the tree tops. He asked. That I tell his daughter Julie. To stop lamenting. Instead, she's to rejoice. And celebrate his physical death. And to get on with her own life. In exuberant and kindly fashion. By being happy. No matter what. To find ways to savor life. And especially the precious moments. Better that. Than to stay in depression. And drunk. Ron's spirit said it's time for Julie to get on with living. A joyous life. That she shouldn't even come to his bedside any more. To watch him die. Because there are better things to do. Such as living the rest of her life to the utmost. Perhaps as a romantic idealist. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015 5:39 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


I encourage my friend Julie to think more like me. As a romantic idealist. In order to climb out of the doldrums. And onto the plateau of happiness. It's real easy, I tell her. By looking at life from a romantic perspective. By refusing to be unhappy. By insisting on being happy. Every time that I feel unhappy. I refuse to go to bed. Until I find a reason to be happy. 'Nobody thinks like that,' Julie replies. My immediate response: 'I certainly do. And you know it. Because I have a compulsion to be happy. I'm addicted to happiness. Unfortunately, you are addicted to unhappiness. And to red wine.' I remind Julie that she was once addicted to exercise. Mainly swimming. She once upon a time was able to swim across Forest Lake. Virtually every day. And that's a mile and a half swim. She could assume the romantic role of healthy mermaid again. If she set her mind to it. And more than that. She could become a happy human being. Yes, by setting her mind to being a true blue romantic idealist. --Jim

Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 12:10 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


Ron died today. Just as well. Because he was Alzheimer-riddled. No reason to mourn or grieve. Because Ron's spirit has been freed. And remains alive. After being shackled in his physical body for 87 years. I'm celebrating Ron's physical death. Didn't make sense. For Ron to linger on and on. With a physical mind plagued by dementia. Fortunately, the spiritual mind isn't physical. Which means, it's free of dementia. And functioning with remarkable clarity. In a spiritual dimension. I'm connected with Ron's spirit. Which is possible. When one truly believes in spiritual existence. I'm able to listen to Ron. And he's able to listen to me, too. Meanwhile, I'm encouraging Ron's loving and devoted daughter, Julie, to jump high and click her heels. In celebrating Ron's new and lofty existence. Really, there's no reason to grieve. After all, Ron's spirit keeps him very much alive. Forever. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 5:19 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


Daughter Julie isn't taking her father Ron's death well. That's to be expected. Because after years and years of care-giving, she's distraught. Exhausted. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. She's in the throes of depression. She's drinking. Her favorite beverage, red wine. She's become an alcoholic. That, more than anything, exacerbates the situation. Makes everything worse. She's lucid. When not drinking. For periods that seldom last for more than three or four days. That's when I talk to her. About going in for treatment. But she never does. Instead, she takes to drinking again. In order to forget. Her unhappiness. Her instability. Her inability to cope. If I had my way, I'd force Julie into treatment. For a sustained period. She's in dire need of psychotherapy. The rest of us are celebrating Ron's demise. We are happy for him. For his escape from the ravages of Alzheimer's. I'm sitting in a lawn chair. Chatting with Julie's husband Rick. About Ron's wonderful and long life. Yes, we are celebrating. Not mourning. Not grieving. We did that long ago. Before Ron died. But Julie has been mourning and grieving. For years and years. Non-stop. Makes me wonder. If Julie will grieve herself to death. Yes, some people die of grieving. Rather than getting on with life. It's just a matter of time. For Julie. Unless she gets help. To stop her slow and methodical march to suicide. When that happens. Rick and I will grieve and mourn. For a day or two. About what could have been. Then we'll get on. With living life. The way it should be lived. Living. Happily ever after. With fond memories of Julie. When she was the real Julie. Before she got lost. In the labyrinth of despair. --Jim


w/e
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 10:42 AM
Joined: 3/7/2012
Posts: 1750


I understand how Julie feels.
Right now, I am crying/ whimpering/ sobbing with her.
I understand how it feels to be totally alone. Lost in the dark. Hurting from the inside out. Crushed. Overwhelmed. Not to be touched again by the beloved.

I have been mourning for 19 months. And grieving for 10+ years.
The feeling of guilt, survivor's guilt, that Death brings is overwhelming.
All the would haves, could haves, should haves. They consume me when I sense the scent of Death.

I believe it is okay to mourn and to grieve deeply. It is okay to sob. It is okay to cry. It is okay to let the whole world know how deeply we feel the pain that Death brings.
For everything there is a season. This is the season for mourning and for grieving.

There is no god that can console me!
I roam the nights looking for my husband. My home is incomplete without him.The pain of my loneliness devours me. I am lost alone without him. My soul is dressed in black.

Rationally, I have accepted from the beginning that my beloved husband is no longer suffering. His ashes at sea. Good riddance to symptoms of dementia / AD.
Yes, I feel my beloved's presence. My mind is a sanctuary of memories.
But emotionally, the waves of sorrow engulf my heart.

Recently, in lengthy conversations with my daughter, I have said to her that I will not suppress my anguish. I will not suppress my pain. She has to accept that for now, my spirit is broken. I do not need to hear the "get-on with life bull-shit." I will get-on.... when my body, my mind, and my spirit are ready. Punto final.

My immortal beloved will never again touch me. I will never again hear his voice. I long for his kisses. I ache for me.

Julie, my dear, I hear you.
My condolences.

Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 1:56 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


I understand how Julie feels, too. But find it unacceptable behavior, w/e. Thus, I am in favor of intervention. Because if Julie continues on her self-destructive path, it's really a slow form of suicide. She's killing herself. Bit by bit. And it's wrong for her friends to sit idly by. And watch it happen. In my opinion, Julie is mentally ill. She needs treatment. Psychotherapy. And maybe medication, too. Other than alcohol. Julie doesn't have to feel alone. She has others in her life. Some of whom really care. Not the least being husband Rick. And if she would believe in the spiritual realm, she could commune with the spirits, too. With all of her loved ones. Mother. Father. Everyone. She tells me she does believe in spiritual life. Well, then go to it. It's one thing to mourn the loss of one's beloved spouse. For a while. As you do. But a parent? When the parent dies at age 87? After living a full life? Sure, mourn that parent, too. But get over it. Especially if that's best for your physical, mental and emotional life. And if one chooses to mourn forever -- well, don't do it with booze. Find another, less destructive and less shameful way. I'll grant Julie the right to mourn and grieve. In a proper way. Killing one's self. That ain't proper. -By the way, w/e, you seem to be mourning and grieving in a proper way. Setting a good example for Julie. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 7:11 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


Don't know. If I should feel cheated. Because Ron became my friend. Only after he had dementia. Therefore, I never knew Ron. Before Alzheimer's. When he was a brilliant scientist at 3M Co. When he was still very much with it. Even after his retirement. When he lived in a cabin. In the wilderness. In the far north of Minnesota. But still, I've gleaned much about the earlier Ron. From his friends. And his daughter Julie. And son-in-law Rick. They loved and revered Ron. In so many ways. I've heard hundreds of fascinating stories. About Ron. Therefore, I don't feel cheated. Instead, blessed. To have linked up with Ron. In the last 10 years of his fabulous life. I was still able to grasp his brilliance. His sense of humor. His stamina. His love for life. I took Ron for walks. And wheelchair rides. We developed a camaraderie. We exuded good vibes. And made the most of our friendship. I got a feel. For Ron's endearing and sprightly spirit. So much so. That we'll be able to commune. Even after death. And bring our friendship to an even higher level. Amazing, isn't it? The power of the human spirit. Living on. Into eternity. --Jim
Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 11:21 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


They tell me that Ron 'looked good.' At the funeral home. But I have yet to see a real good-looking corpse. They all look dead. And I don't particularly like the look of death. When I go to a funeral. And there's an open casket. I don't bother to look. Better to remember the deceased when he/she was healthy and vibrant and alive. Anyway, Ron's remains consist of an empty body. A lifeless vessel. The spirit has ascended. To other environs. Another dimension. Anyway, some of Ron's family members wanted to see him. For one last time. As a dressed-up corpse. On Tuesday, Ron will be cremated. The ashes placed in an urn. To be buried. At a national cemetery. --Jim