Changing the story of the elderly among us: Aging Family We Love

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My Grandpa Joe and me at my wedding in 1995.

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.

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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+

or

Tweet: I’m helping change the way my loved one’s story ends, and you can too. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/V6GyI+

or

Tweet: My loved one has a story beyond #Alzheimers that needs to be told. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/w55R2+

or

Tweet: My loved one’s story doesn’t end with #dementia. Share your story. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/1448s+

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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?

Five ways to honor survivors and a book giveaway

Last evening I lost it.

See, I’d decided a while ago not to post or say anything about the whole disgusting Fifty Shades phenomenon (books, movies, all of it), because I didn’t want to give it any more air time than it was already getting. Not that my piddly little blog will add much, but even adding a little is too much. But last evening I realized that by staying silent I was breaking my promise to never be silent when it comes to survivors and victims of sexual assault and abuse. Long ago I adopted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s quote:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

And so last night I posted this online:

“I swore I’d refrain from saying a word about [Fifty Shades], because I didn’t want to add any attention to this disgusting phenomenon. But…even The Huffington Post gets it. And as a survivor and victim advocate, there is no doubt in my mind this whole book/series/movie and anything remotely in its genre are straight from the pit of hell. On behalf of silent victims, I swore always to speak when wrong is being done. This is wrong.”

Click here to read the Huffington Post article. Share it. Spread the truth about the lies perpetuated by these books, this movie. For the sake of women who are scared for their lives and who have lost their lives because of men like the one portrayed in this, and because of women who think it’s okay for men to abuse–because there are a lot of enablers around to who are excited about the sick things and porn in this series, too.

Before last evening, I had planned on writing this blog post for today, but I hadn’t planned on mentioning the book/movie. I simply wanted to give people positive, proactive alternatives to helping survivors and victims and people hurt by the sociopaths and lies that indicate abuse and porn are love. I’m not going to list the facts and reasons why Fifty Shades is wrong…because every single one of the organizations below are dedicated to saying it better.

Lest you think I’m a prude, visit even one of these sites, read the statistics, read the survivor stories, and then I dare you to come back and tell me you still think sexual deviance and the silence–or not so silent acceptance–surrounding it is AOK.

The fact is, sexual deviance starts with small, silent instances of abuse and escalates, gets covered up by money or lies or both, and then escalates some more.

We can–we must–do more.

I have three challenges for you today:

1) Read through and visit the websites of the organizations listed below. Pick one and donate whatever money you’d spend on a night at the movies to one of them. 

2) Enter to win a signed copy of my first novel, How Sweet the Sound, and if you win, give it to a friend who needs hope.

How Sweet the Sound is a modern day allegory of the story of Tamar from II Samuel 13. Tamar was raped and then abandoned by someone she trusted, someone who was supposed to care for and protect her, too. Then, Tamar was left to live out her life utterly destitute, because the crime was covered up by murder and by a King who did nothing to restore her. This is where the allegory stops and my novel starts, however. Because I know from experience that life after a crime like that doesn’t have to stop at destitute. No, I know that there is hope and healing after abuse. There is freedom from fear and the bondage of shame. And the characters in my story tell how they find hope and healing, too. 

3) If you feel led, memorize Philippians 4:8, and never forget that true love is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute. 

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Here are the organizations I find trustworthy and who are doing pretty amazing things for survivors, victims, and the prevention of sexually deviant behavior and crimes against children and women. Support one and make a positive difference in the fight against these horrendous evils today.

 

homepage-logos1. LoveIsRespect.org

Per their website: “The repercussions of teen dating violence are impossible to ignore – they hurt not just the young people victimized but also their families, friends, schools and communities. Throughout February, organizations and individuals nationwide are coming together to highlight the need to educate young people about dating violence, teach healthy relationship skills and prevent the devastating cycle of abuse. With their adult allies, youth activists achieved a major victory in 2005 and 2013 when the importance of addressing teen dating abuse was highlighted in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Loveisrespect.org is a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle. By combining our resources and capacity, we are reaching more people, building more healthy relationships and saving more lives.

“We designed loveisrespect.org to:

  • Create the ultimate resource for fostering healthy dating attitudes and relationships.
  • Provide a safe space for young people to access information and get help in an environment that is designed specifically for them.
  • Ensure confidentiality and trust so young people feel safe and supported—online and off.

“We are proud to call loveisrespect.org the ultimate resource to engage, educate and empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships.

“Looking for more info about healthy relationships and respecting boundaries? Check out these pages on our site:

logo2. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), has worked since 1978 to make every home a safe home. NCADV works to raise awareness about domestic violence; to educate and create programming and technical assistance, to assist the public in addressing the issue, and to support those impacted by domestic violence.

logo3. RAINN

One of America’s 100 Best Charities
— Worth Magazine

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

images4. I Am One Voice and partner organization, OneVOICE4freedom

OneVOICE4freedom’s founder, Nicole Bromley, is an international spokesperson on child sexual abuse and trafficking. She is the author of Hush: Moving From Silence to Healing After Childhood Sexual Abuse, Breathe: Finding Freedom to Thrive in Relationships After Childhood Sexual Abuse and SOAR: A Film Series and Study Companion to Hush.

She speaks to universities all over the US, sharing her story and breaking the silence on sexual abuse and trafficking and is a guest expert for the media on such topics.For more info on Nicole’s personal story and books, visit http://www.iamonevoice.org.

Nicole began to expand her voice into the area of trafficking a few years into her public ministry after learning more about it and hearing story after story of sex trafficking survivors; she came to find a common thread—that beneath every domestic story, child sexual abuse had been occurring in the home. These trafficking survivors were running away from one trauma that Nicole could relate to and unknowingly they were falling into the arms of even further trauma by sly traffickers and those who purchase girls. Nicole felt called by God to be a voice against the injustice of trafficking as well. She stayed committed to her work as the founder and speaker and writer with OneVOICE but began to study, pray and get her hands dirty as a freedom fighter, bringing light into the dark world of sex trafficking, both domestically and internationally.

CGI-Logo-for-web5. The Center for Global Impact

This organization’s vision is to hope and pray for a future in which those we serve experience the freedom, dignity and fullness of life that comes when we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Center for Global Impact seeks to bring the Good News of Jesus to those in the grip of poverty and bondage through education, vocational training and business development. Primarily working in Cambodia, many of those we serve are victims of — or vulnerable to — human trafficking.

Visit their site to see several different ways you can get involved and/or support them.

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Book Giveaway Details

Leave a comment on this blog and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of How Sweet the Sound. One winner will be chosen at random (I put all the names in an online random name selector) and announced on Saturday, Valentine’s Day!

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Yesterday’s game to play. A poem.

Yesterday

the teacher asked my middle
son what do you want to be when you grow up
and he replied in the usual fashion of one
who believes
there is a world to grow up into
where souls don’t have to flee to mountains
and days are not filled with reminders of how things must have been for Noah
And so I smiled and nodded trying
hard to believe in growing up
and peace under
darkened suns and moonless nights

Today

I fled to my garden where mounds of hydrangea blooms cool
if only for a moment
the low grade fever of sadness spiking within me
Truth be told I’m hot and shaky and my head is filled with news flashes and the

thud

thud

thud

of boxes of food and diapers–diapers!–as they land on hills
trembling from the cries of the least of these and
despite the hydrangeas my soul screams
where
are the Bonhoeffers and Niemöllers and
why
didn’t we listen to them in the first place
but still
the bright yellow cross painted by my oldest son years ago stands steadfast beneath our river birch
and the Still Small Voice moves me like a
trumpet call and I choose
not to grow weary but to

go

keep watch and
live.

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Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away

~The Beatles

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