has been published in March, 2010. I invite you to read two of the many stories contained in this wonderful resource for family, friends and caregivers. I have also included a copy of the Table Of Contents so you can see just how valuable this book will be to you and your loved ones.
"If you prefer an autographed copy of this book, you may purchase it directly from the author using this PayPal button. Then, it would be $16.95, plus $5 S&H. Cindy
“I Just Say What’s On My Mind”
Bea was an 81-year-old woman who only stood about four feet tall. She was always a whirlwind of activity and used to having her orders obeyed or she could escalate into anger or aggression to get her way. Her philosophy seemed to be “if you want something done, you need to just do it yourself because if you wait for someone else to do it, you’ll be disappointed.” If she encountered a situation where she felt an injustice was being done to anyone, she wouldn’t hesitate to speak up to correct it. This was an admirable trait, but when dementia damaged the social barriers in her brain, her inability to reason and act appropriately in social situations resulted in a rather volatile personality.
I recall the time a staff worker came to tell me that Bea had just loudly cursed at her because she had started to vacuum the hallway where Bea had apparently just run the non-electric sweeper broom. Bea felt insulted that this worker would want to vacuum the same floor she had just cleaned and she didn’t hesitate to tell her so. The staff worker knew that if she didn’t apologize to Bea and plead ignorance, that Bea’s anger would escalate to where she would physically attempt to restrain the worker from continuing to vacuum that floor. So the apology was made, and the vacuum was put away until later after Bea had forgotten she had just cleaned the floor.
In this dementia-dedicated assisted-living facility, we were fortunate to have a psychiatrist, Dr. Iminna, come to see his patients there on a monthly basis. I would meet with several of the direct care workers a day in advance of his visits in order to get valuable input on the status of his patients. Dr. Iminna would then meet briefly with the residents in my office to decide if any medications needed to be adjusted.
Dr. Iminna was always extremely polite, meticulous in his manners and with his appearance, and like most psychiatrists, rarely physically touched his patients aside from a handshake. This would be the second time Dr. Iminna had seen Bea, having placed her on a medication the previous month to help take the edge off her volatile behavior.
Bea happened to be in an affectionate, kissing mood that morning; getting and receiving kisses from every staff person she encountered. She would approach everyone she encountered with an upturned face and pursed lips to receive her kisses. So, when I escorted her into my office where Dr. Iminna had just finished hanging his coat on the rack, she saw him and swiftly moved to him, grabbing him around the waist.
“Bend down here!”
“Why do you want me to bend down?”
He was caught off-guard and wasn’t sure what her intentions were.
“I want to give you a kiss!
“Oh; thank you, thank you; but we’re not going to do that right now. I would like you to just have a seat here on this chair and I’m just going to talk to you for a few minutes. Okay?”
I could tell from the disgruntled look on Bea’s face that she was not happy about this as she grudgingly complied. I was silently observing and thought he would have been better off to have just let her give him a kiss on the cheek rather than risk upsetting her. Dr. Immina began his questions to Bea.
“So you remember me, Bea?”
“Of course I remember you!”
“Good! What is my name?”
Dr. Iminna and I both gave a surprised laugh.
“Okay. Well, what’s your name?”
By now Bea had a small grin on her faceand she said, “I’m sorry, but I always just say what’s on my mind.”
Bea then settled down and Dr. Iminna went on to chat briefly with her about how she was feeling, what she did for enjoyment, and then he began to write a note in her chart. Bea, who had been sitting quietly and watching him, suddenly jumped off the chair, swiftly moved over to him, grabbed his face between her two hands, and planted a big kiss on his cheek! Dr. Iminna suffered through her attentions and we both had a good laugh about this feisty little woman’s determination once I had escorted her out of the office.
This is just one of the many fond memories I have of Bea’s time with us in that facility, and you will read more stories about her as you progress through this book. I hope you get a sense of her wonderful spirit and the boldness with which she lived her life.
Reach For The Sun, Alice
It’s 3:40 a.m. and I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye and turn to see Alice slowly ambling down the hallway toward the nurses’ station. Her white, wispy hair is pressed flat on one side of her head, and in wild disarray on the other side. She’s cold, and has her arms clutched across her chest, no slippers and no housecoat. I rise with a smile and hurry toward her: “Alice! What woke you up at 3:30 in the morning?”
“Oh, it’s not 3:30, is it? I thought it was time to get up and get ready for work!”
I put my arm around her and slowly begin to turn her back toward her room. “Yes, it’s almost 4 a.m., and you really look cold. Let me help you find something to keep warm.”
“Yes, I’m cold. How do I turn up the heat? But now that I’m up, I might just as well get ready for work. I don’t think I’ll get back to sleep.”
“Oh my! What I wouldn’t give some mornings for an extra hour or two of sleep! What time do you need to be ready for work?”
“Oh--I don’t know. I guess I’m usually ready by--by--Oh, I don’t know. I get ready early.”
“I’ll tell you what, Alice. You climb back into this nice warm bed. Here’s an extra blanket for you, and try to get a little more sleep, and I promise I’ll get you up in plenty of time to get ready, PLUS, I’ll make sure you get your favorite oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar for breakfast. How does that sound?”
“Well, I don’t feel very tired right now. I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to sleep.”
“I understand, and that’s fine if you can’t. We’ll find something to occupy your time if you’re up early, but let me put your music on and maybe that will help you. I wouldn’t want you to be sleepy all day tomorrow at work.”
I tuck her in, put soft, relaxing music on, dim the lights, and sit on the edge of her bed.
“Alice, here’s a good way to relax enough to get back to sleep. Tell me about a vacation you once took. Where did you go?”
“Oh--there were so many. You know we always liked to go to Barbados every year. The children just loved it.”
“Okay--Alice, close your eyes, and picture yourself on the beach with the children. Feel the hot sun, how your feet feel in the sand, and hear the waves. Can you see all of that?”
Alice smiles and closes her eyes. “Yes, that sun was pretty hot so I always wore a hat on the beach.”
“What a smart idea that was. Now, I’m going to leave you here to think about Barbados and what a wonderful time you had. Remember the warm sun, and the laughter of the children playing on the beach.”
I gently kiss her forehead and quietly leave the room. Alice is snoring softly when I check on her twenty minutes later.
What could I have done if Alice had not been able to go back to sleep or had resisted my redirection back to her bed? Read on.
Joyce M. Gilmour has reviewed my book and offers her opinion here:
Readers will fall in love with the stories that Cindy Keith shares in Love, Laughter, and Mayhem. If you have a relative and/or friend that suffers from dementia, then this book is a must read. I wish I had had this book when my father was alive, but the stories took me right back to him and all that we went through together. If you know any caregivers that are dealing with struggles (and who doesn’t?), please consider buying this book as a gift that will change their life and the life of the person with dementia.
Author Cindy Keith is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and has had many experiences with working with people suffering from dementia. Reading Love, Laughter, and Mayhem can help to take the “suffering” out of the patient’s life. Caregivers usually are dealing with “issues” for the first time in their life, but Cindy Keith brings her experience to stories that bring learning to the reader. You will laugh and cry throughout the more than sixty stories/scenarios. I have shared the book with several people already and they have agreed that the ideas presented within the book are life-changing, both for the person with dementia and for the caregiver.