Recently, I picked up a library book by Paolo Coehlo titled The Zahir, and read about a conversation had amongst wealthy, prominent types at a gala dinner. In the book, the narrator decided to change the typical pace of things yet figured discussing your own funeral would most definitely be a taboo.
Interested, I browsed online to see whether other people are talking of their funerals and quickly found that yes they are, and not only that but have also navigated for us the journey towards death including the signs and processes of dying, as well as an ample sharing in the fears of dying.
Why is dying – such an absolutely universal occurrence, something that not one of us can prevent, avoided in face-to-face conversation, discussed online in code names and generally seen as imparting bad luck to the sharer? Has anyone reading this blog thought about their own funeral? Have you imagined who would be there, what they would say and (what seems to be a popular comment) which music would best represent you and the life you lived?
Paolo Coehlo then writes on his blog that death is perhaps one of the most important things in life and that planning for your funeral isn’t such a bad idea:
“We are all walking towards death, but we never know when death will touch
us and it is our duty, therefore, to look around us, to be grateful for each minute.
But we should also be grateful to death, because it makes us think about the
importance of each decision we take, or fail to take; it makes us stop doing
anything that keeps us stuck in the category of the “living dead” and, instead, urges
us to risk everything, to bet everything on those things we always dreamed of doing.”
After reading this I have to say I agree with his approach that death is something that should remind us to live the life we want, now, not waiting for an “if” or a “when” to happen. That reminding yourself that death is always waiting for us, so consider the legacy you’re creating now.
If you haven’t thought about your funeral perhaps you’ll be encouraged to sit with yourself a moment and meditate on exactly that. Think of the lives you’ve touched, the differences you’ve made and the smiles you’ve shared…
By: Jennifer Watson-Choi
Nighttime is a dangerous time for the weak, the medicated and the elderly. Reduced vision, grogginess or sleepiness and disorientation are all common experiences at night for anyone, let alone the elderly. Getting out of bed in the night hours and wandering in the dark to go to the washroom or get a glass of water brings the risk of elderly clients falling over furniture, down the stairs or sustaining other harmful injuries. Alzheimer’s sufferers are especially known to become disoriented at night which leads to many potential dangerous situations for them.
Falling is the number one cause for hospitalization amongst Canada’s elderly and a fall can often be a ticket to compounding other already existing health problems, increased medication use, chronic pain, and a reduced quality of life. The Public Health Agency of Canada states that falls cause 90% of all hip fractures in seniors and that 20% of these die within one year. Forty percent of all nursing home admissions are a result of families being unable to properly care for a loved one who has fallen. Therefore, fall prevention is an important concern where care for the elderly is concerned and bed sensors aim to make bed time a safer time.
Bed sensors (sometimes called bed alarms), are used to help alert the caregiver or family member to the loved ones movements at night, or alert them if they attempt to get out of bed by themselves. A sensor pad is placed across the bed for the person to lie upon. If they get out of bed during the night an alarm sounds, alerting the caregiver in a neighbouring room. With an alarm sounding, you can easily wake to assist them with what they are in need of. Some sensors are available that not only sense the weight of the body but can also monitor blood pressure, pulse and even breathing rate!
This technology is great, but even better is that it prevents the use of harsh restraints and helps elderly loved ones retain their dignity and independence.
A bed sensor can be used in nursing homes and is very safe for use at home. They often are meant to be plugged in but many consist of a battery pack in case of electrical shortages or for when you would like to move the bed to another location. Many bed sensors are portable, so you can place one anywhere they’re going to sleep or rest. There are many kinds of sensors with different sets of functions, so if you’re looking to buy one for your loved one, shop around. Then, learn how to use it properly because preventing falls is a serious safety issue that affects your loved ones.
By: Jennifer Watson-Choi
How do you explain to your father who has Alzheimer’s that his wife of 50 years has just passed away? What do you say when he asks you everyday where mother is? She won’t be here tomorrow, or for the holidays or to bake his favourite birthday cake this year and explaining that to him every day makes the grief fresh again for both of you.
Can someone with Alzheimer’s disease even make sense of the loss of a loved one? I suppose it depends on how far the dementia has progressed. Due to the memory loss associated with dementia, every time you tell dad that mom has died he has to hear it as though for the first time, living the grief fresh each time.
So if you don’t want him to see his reaction to the news each day, should you lie and tell him she just went out for milk? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one right answer, just what may work best for your family. While browsing on the Alzheimer’s Association website, I came across some hearty advice.
From personal experience, one woman suggested you Redirect, Reassure, Reminisce and/or Lie. Perhaps lying to someone with memory loss is not lying in a wholly negative sense, instead you don’t tell the truth because in a protective and loving way you have their best interests at heart.
If you can’t imagine lying to your father in his elderly and dependent state, try avoiding the truth by redirecting his questions. Be a kind and reassuring listener and show your interest in his stories and questions until you can slowly change topics. Reminisce about fond memories instead of getting into the reality of what has happened is a great way to avoid telling him about the death.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on Alzheimer’s and grief, so please share them by commenting below.