My Grandpa Joe and me at my wedding in 1995.
In February, 2012, my Grandpa Joe, a month shy of 95, suffered a fall which ultimately led to his death approximately ten days later. During his hospitalization, his short-term memory was poor, but his long-term memory was strong. Sitting with him and simply listening to his stories without trying to correct him or argue when he got little facts and names wrong over the course of those 10 days proved to be a precious healing and grace-covered time.
As a nurse, I frequently care for elderly patients who are fading. The challenges surrounding end-of-life care and elderly loved ones is daunting for everyone involved, and I detail much of that struggle in my recent article at More to Life Magazine: Final Chapters. Many of these patients have dementia or Alzheimer’s, which compounds the exhaustion and distress of caregivers and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Association more than 10 million Americans face the task of caring for a family member with dementia. This means that chances are, this sort of situation touches you or someone you love.
But the elderly among us are more than their diagnoses.
Indeed, many have stories left to tell.
In Final Chapters, I write:
“We can re-write these stories for ourselves and our loved ones. First, we need to raise awareness of the magnitude of the plight of our aging brothers and sisters and the loved ones close to emotional and physical collapse trying to care for them. Then, we need to listen to their stories, for it is through story—yours, mine, and theirs—that we live.”
While we often cannot change the progression of age and age-related crises, one of the most significant realizations besides capturing the stories within our loved ones is that we don’t have to go through these times alone. In fact, many organizations exist to help learn ways to cope, such as the Alzheimer’s Association and A Place for Mom.
Community matters in end-of-life and elderly care.
We need to start sharing our stories.
We need to start sharing their stories.
Will you join in the conversation?
There’s a new space I started on Facebook for people to come, post photos of their loved ones, tell their own stories and gather for encouragement, called Aging Family We Love.
In addition, we’re making space for people like you to post pictures and stories on social media sites like twitter and Pinterest by using the hashtag #AgingFamilyWeLove.
Do you have a story to tell about an aging loved one?
Write a post on your own blog and link to it in the comments below.
And/or, help start the conversation by clicking one of the links below to tweet:
Tweet: Do you care for an aging family or friend? Share your story. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/fbRfJ+
Tweet: I’m helping change the way my loved one’s story ends, and you can too. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/V6GyI+
Tweet: My loved one has a story beyond #Alzheimers that needs to be told. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/w55R2+
Tweet: My loved one’s story doesn’t end with #dementia. Share your story. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/1448s+
Here’s a picture of my Grandpa Joe, my Grandma Mary Jane, and my dad from the 1940’s. Grandpa Joe was the inspiration behind my new novel, Then Sings My Soul.
What will your loved one inspire you or someone else to do?