Blogger Lickety Glitz Invites Us into Life with Vascular Dementia in “Stumped Town Dementia”

By Lickety Glitz

I started…

… to worry that Mom’s behavior wasn’t old age quirky-ness, but possibly a much more serious problem.

I started…

… a new career that required relocating away from family, friends, and the region I loved best.

I started…

… to consult with Dad on my visits home about how long we thought it might be before he needed me back permanently to support him in Mom’s care. Another year? Three? Five?

I stopped…

… breathing when the ER doctor announced on conference call that Dad had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I could tell that those who were there in-person had stopped breathing too.

I started…

… sharing 24/7 care for Mom with my sister when Dad died three weeks later.

I started…

… blogging about our dementia adventures a year later as a way to keep far off friends and family engaged in Mom’s life. I’ve been writing for over a year now, and…

… I’ve started to realize it’s so much more.

It’s a lifeline for me. An umbilical cord to a not-so-distant universe of word-weaving creativity; now a tiny galaxy of curling and curving locution that tethers me to the world of my present.

It’s a permanent record of a journey I don’t want to forget. An autobiography of dementia certainties: misplaced items, misplaced poop, mismanaged emotions. A sweeping saga of dementia unknowns; tremendous courage, epic failures, colossal comedies.

It’s a connection to a massive universe of dementia caregivers who see their journey mirrored in ours. It’s a connection to a smaller cosmos of family and friends who can’t always be with their beloved Gloria but want to stay informed. It’s a connection to my sister, The Other Girl, a relationship sometimes fragile and strained, but united in a never-questioned bond of love for our mother.

And lastly, it’s a connection to myself; my devastating defeats, my soaring successes, my inherited joy of hilarity in the tragically absurd – a gift from Mom and Dad who shared the same comedic sensibilities. When I write a post, whether dire and dark or laugh-out-loud light, I have to relive my emotions, examine my responses, assess my behavior with unflinching honesty. If I shrink from that often-painful task, then I am doing everyone who follows our adventures a disservice in telling a dishonest tale.

A year ago, I sat down at my computer to inform family and friends of Mom’s dementia progression. A year later I rise in realization that I’m actually telling myself about myself.

About the Author

Stumped Town Dementia is a personal blog chronicling the dementia adventures of Girl and The Other Girl, sharing hilarious, heartbreaking, bittersweet and courageous moments of life with our Mom who has vascular dementia. We celebrate the insanity and relish the laughter of this long, strange journey. It helps us make it through the days when there are no smiles to be had.

Stumped Town Dementia has been featured on The Caregiver Space, Family Caregiver Alliance, Being Patient, and Alzheimer’s Society UK.

Lickety Glitz has been a former just about everything from non-profits arts administrator to cabaret performer to post-production professional to Crappiest Daughter of the Year award winner about 40+ years in a row. She recently broke that winning streak by stepping up to the plate, hand-in-hand with The Other Girl, to provide their dementia mom with the best end-of-life care possible.

Connect with Lickety Glitz

Website

Facebook 

Twitter

Instagram

Email: licketyglitz@stumpedtowndementia.com

* * *

For more vetted books and blogs about Alzheimer’s and Dementia please visit AlzAuthors.com. Reprinted with permission of AlzAuthors.

Laura Mansfield Shares Her Journey into Eldercare in “Geezer Stories: The Care and Feeding of Old People”

Mansfield Canva

By Laura Mansfield

Suddenly, five years ago, my world fell apart as my parents tumbled headfirst into old age. It was a pivotal time in my life. I was remarrying after a decade of being a single parent. My son was leaving the nest, starting college, while a special-needs stepson was landing unsteadily in my new nest. I was leaving my successful career at a high-powered advertising agency to start my own consulting business, which would allow me greater flexibility to care for my parents, my new family, and to watch over my son as he spread his wings into early adulthood.

It seemed doable. I was living the life of my generation—Gen T—the Taffy Generation, because “sandwich” just doesn’t cut the mustard. My friends and I are pulled like saltwater taffy as we have children later, our parents live longer, and we blend families in non-traditional ways. We’ve long since quit believing in the myth of work-life balance.

Untitled designI started writing about my journey into eldercare on Facebook in what I called #GeezerUpdates. The Facebook posts quickly gained traction and morphed into a blog at geezerstories.com and ultimately a book—my bittersweet memoir, Geezer Stories: The Care and Feeding of Old People.

There’s no how-to manual for taking care of old folks. We’re all flying blind here as our parents slide into their second childhoods. My book has a bite to it, with a backward glance at my own childhood. It’s a survival story about how to persevere in the face of inevitable hardship. It’s about choosing to age gracefully, despite the pain and the pathos. As my father, aka DooDaddy, famously said, “Growing old is not for the faint of heart.”

Over the past five years, my second marriage failed, my business faltered, and my son lost his way, as I found myself torn apart by the seemingly endless demands of caregiving. I moved three times and changed jobs four times, ultimately ending up back with the agency I left five years ago. And I lost both my parents agonizingly to cancer, which they faced with courage and dignity. My son graduated from college and has become his own person. My life has come full circle.

One of the many blessings of this tumultuous time was my father holding court at my Geezer Stories launch party. He had read the book—which was not always kind to him—three times. He could no longer walk or stand or even sign his name. I had a stamp made of his iconic scrawling signature, which he gamely stamped on each copy as he shook hands and gregariously greeted his fans that afternoon at Union Ave Books. It was a triumph. We sold out. It was DooDaddy’s last public outing. Continue reading

Mother-Daughter Team Collaborate on Alzheimer’s Caregiving Guide “If Only You Would Ask: A Guide to Spending Quality Time with the Elderly”

Sometimes questions about ‘food’ or ‘vacations’ or ‘school days’ will ignite a memory, creating a source of comfort and delight

For five years, Joan Berger Bachman and her 92-year-old mother, Eileen Opatz Berger teamed up to write, If Only You Would Ask, A Guide to Spending Quality Conversation with the Elderly. This easy-to- use book is a conversational resource, a manual and a tool for all those who struggle to carry on meaningful, enjoyable conversations. How did this book come about?

Here’s Joan’s Story:

When my father-in-law Bill was nearing the end of his life, I would visit him quite regularly. He had made the decision to stay in his own home until the end. Winters in Minnesota are long, cold and lonely, especially for someone who is afraid and/or unable to venture out. Being the dutiful daughter-in-law that I was, I felt compelled to make the 100-mile drive from Rochester to St. Paul to visit him. We would sit at his kitchen table, and I would tell him about what the kids were up to… and what I had been doing. His major topic of conversation was the rabbits he saw as he stared for hours out the back window of his house.

During this time, I shared with my mother how difficult visits with Bill were becoming. He had so little to share, and I wondered if the visits even mattered. Continue reading

“The Story of AlzAuthors,” or “How 3 Daughters of Dementia Started a Global Community of Authors Sharing their Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving Stories”

The Story of AlzAuthors

Join me as I tell the story of AlzAuthors, the global community of authors sharing their Alzheimer’s and dementia stories to light the way for others, on Friday, June 21st at 2 pm at Middletown Thrall Library, Middletown, New York. This is my fundraising and awareness effort for the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day, an annual event. You can read more about my personal Alzheimer’s story on my Longest Day Participant Page. 

eReader BHAfter publication of my novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story,  I reached out to two other authors I met online who also published books on this deeply stigmatized subject. What happened next was totally unexpected: We created a movement that includes 200+ authors, a website, bookstore, anthologies, community outreach, and more. Our mission: To bring carefully vetted books and blogs to caregivers and others concerned about Alzheimer’s and dementia and to break through the silence that often accompanies these diseases.

Sharing our stories makes us strong, but sadly too many of those with dementia and their loved ones caring for them are isolated, as shame and stigma often prevent them from disclosing their diagnosis. My  presentation will include a discussion on the power of telling our stories to make change – personally, globally, and legislatively – and how those overcoming or facing dementia and its caregiving can tell their own stories. Continue reading

AlzAuthor Daniel Kenner Shares How He Used an Oral History Project to Preserve His Parents’ Life Stories & Legacies

Kenner, Daniel

By Daniel Kenner

After many long months of exhaustive family struggles, cognitive and behavior changes, and a lengthy process of medical evaluations and tests, my dad, Buddy, received the devastating diagnosis of Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia (FTD). It was Valentine’s Day, 2013. FTD is a rare neurological disease that affects personality and social behavior, speech and language comprehension, and executive functions involved in reasoning, decision-making, and planning. Never to be outdone, my mom, Maureen, always the fierce competitor, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer only four months later.

That year, my best friend’s parents died in a terrible plane crash and that sudden tragedy struck me in such a profound way. “I am going to lose my mother and my father,” I remember thinking, “but I still have time.” I don’t know which is worse: losing parents instantly or watching them slowly deteriorate, but I knew I wouldn’t squander the chance to say goodbye.

Dad was a natural storyteller, and through that he became my favorite story to tell. He was my hero. The highest compliment I can give of my dad was he had a son that idolized him. Everything he loved I was determined to love just as much or more: Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce, Marlon Brando, absurdist theater, and the San Francisco 49ers. But dementia made him quiet and apathetic; he no longer expressed an interest in the things we used to do together. Continue reading

AlzAuthor Leah Stanley on Surviving Double Dementia Duty: A Story About Two Loved Ones Needing Care Simultaneously

Stanley Canva

By Leah Stanley

I began writing Goodnight, Sweet: A Caregiver’s Long Goodbye in 2001. For me, committing the story to print was a cathartic experience following the deaths of my grandparents two years earlier. Edward Meade had battled an unspecified dementia while his wife Clara was afflicted with Alzheimer’s. As their designated caregiver, a role which I had gladly—and sorrowfully—taken on, I walked alongside them down that tedious road while loving, caring for, and protecting them.

Every afternoon when my then almost two-year-old son would go down for his nap, I would sit at my computer and write diligently, reliving the moments which, when put together, told the full story; I would laugh and I would cry as I remembered the decisions and recalled the words, reactions and facial expressions of those around me. I felt it was imperative that my experience as an Alzheimer’s/dementia caregiver not fade away with time, but that it be shared because I came to realize there were so many others following that same winding trail I’d walked, and I remembered how I was always encouraged when I could talk with someone who had been engulfed in a similar circumstance. I believe it’s one of the ways God designed us, being able to meet on the common ground of shared events. Continue reading

AlzAuthor Julie Bigham Shares How to Create Joy Filled Visits in the Midst of Alzheimer’s

bigham canva 2

By Julie Bigham

My passion for bringing joy to the lives of seniors began at an early age, when my gramps encouraged me to entertain at his Senior Center. Fifteen minutes of stand up, egged on by applause from the crowd, ignited a spark of love in my heart for the older generation. Thirty plus years later that spark has erupted into a full flame of passion for providing support to professional and family caregivers caring for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s.

Through my work experience as an activity professional, it became evident to me that providing high quality, compassionate care for those living with Alzheimer’s takes a village, and family engagement in any setting is vital. Families can become overwhelmed with doctor visits, medication changes, increasing care needs, and care plan meetings, not to mention the emotional stress. With everything they juggle, families can forget the importance of spending quality time having fun with their loved one, often spiraling into isolation and depression. Continue reading