Category Archives: medical field

Are You Still There?

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When author, Lisa Genova, wrote “Still Alice” she was hoping to

express the feelings of someone who had early onset Alzheimer’s

Disease. Julianne Moore is up for an Academy Award for her

authentic performance as Alice, someone who wishes to be still

heard and recognized, whether or not she is able to reciprocate

the recognition back to the greeter or family member.

Julianne is a gifted actress who studied and met many people

who were struggling with the challenge of having this disease.

There is a genuine quality I feel while watching her in any of her

various roles. I had recently watched “What Maisey Knew,” and

had mentioned this in the Golden Globes post which held a trio

of events which were meant to cheer the reader up. She played

a rock and roll star who was going on tour, putting her little

kindergartner on the back burner of her life. This has other good

actors and actresses in the movie. It is just my recent movie with

her in it. The one you may wish to seek out at the theaters is

called, “Still Alice.”

Julianne Moore, in an interview in the recent January/February

paper “AARP Bulletin,” she shared her experience of meeting both

caregivers and those who have A. D.  When she met some of the

victims of this ravaging disease she said they still had not lost

their own identities yet. “They were still present.” That is the point

of the title of both movie and book, sort of like saying, “I am still

here.”

Julianne Moore’s thoughts about “Still Alice:”

“People have been so touched by it (the film). There’s a great deal

of shame associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.” (Especially, she

focused and mentioned early onset A. D.)

“Suddenly you have your intellectual capacity diminished at such

a young age, it is embarrassing.”

On the  front page of the January/February “AARP Bulletin” there

are a series of rows of black and white photographs of famous

people who have dealt with and some passed away with, this topic

of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Here is a list of those faces featured:

President~ Ronald Reagan

Author~ Iris Murdoch

Singer~ Perry Como

Secretary of State~ Cyrus Vance

Boxer~ Floyd Patterson

Artist~ Willem De Kooning

Actor~ Beloved Jimmy Stewart

Prime Minister~ Margaret Thatcher

Senator~ William Proxmire

Singer~ The fabulous Etta James

Action Star~ Charles Bronson

Actor~ Peter Falk (“Columbo”)

“Washington Post” editor and journalist, Ben Bradley

Advice Columnist~ Abigail Van Buren of “Dear Abby”

Actor~ The legendary Charleston Heston

Go ahead and add a first or complete name of someone you know.

The numbers and cases are soaring. . . but the funding is dwindling.

Inside the January/February “AARP Bulletin,”  you will find the

devastating facts about this rampant disease.

Including an estimated 5.2 million Americans had this in 2014.

Two/thirds (2/3rds) were women.

The poignant article covering this topic is titled,

“Where’s the War on Alzheimer’s?”  by T. R. Reid.

I have not seen the movie, “Still Alice,” so I am not reviewing it

just featuring it to go along with the AARP information.

Interestingly enough, I sought out the Academy Award-nominated

historical trio of films I have mentioned in other posts. I chose not

to see (yet) “Wild,”  since Reese Witherspoon’s  mother and  the

author of the book, “Wild,” dealt with the deaths of mothers. Reese

used her own mother’s younger self’s angst and her vague childhood

memories of her mother crying over her grandmother’s death as her

inspiration for her portrayal. I was not ‘ready’ to sob or think about

the frailty of life, especially with my mother still here. It will be an

inevitable sorrow I will face someday.

My mother has not been diagnosed with A. D. but has been told her

memory loss is due to low thyroid levels. She is on her medication

and I am doubtful she will ever recuperate fully in her mind. She

is ‘still there,’ most of the afternoon and evening. Sometimes doing

strange and forgetful things so I was not yet prepared to watch,

“Still Alice,” nor read the book.   I will someday.  I  strongly will

recommend the Oscar-nominated film, as both critics and audiences

have found it a true testament to the spirit of those who have A. D.

I think the reason that I respect the movie and subject matter of

“Still Alice,” is due to my working experience of four years as the

Activity Director (1995-999) at a local nursing home. I had taken

the necessary coursework to be prepared to handle all sorts of

debilitating diseases, especially learning about aging processes,

including Alzheimer’s Disease.

I wish all people to treat the elderly, whether or not they know them,

with respect and dignity. Each has such fascinating lives, simple and

complicated lives to share with us. Their stories may not be famous

but they come to life, once you take the time to listen to them.

I still enjoy meeting the few elderly inhabitants of  my building,

having made friends with “Dee” who is in her 70’s,  yet is a helpful

volunteer driver for “Meals on Wheels.” “Delores” tells me rambling

stories about her childhood. I enjoy the one where she dressed up

a piglet to be her ‘baby’ and placed him in her mother’s perambulator

(baby carriage) to take him for a ride! My apartment building has

adults with Special Needs and Ohio Wesleyan University students

here also. I am blessed with many different people housed within.

There is a Dayton, Ohio caregiver and daughter of a mother who

has A. D. and she has a short list of good ideas, to spark ones of

your own to add here in the comments’ section:

1. To get her mother to wear disposable underwear for incontinence,

she calls this her ‘girdle.’ I can picture her saying, “Mom, let’s put on

your girdle” as she helps her to get dressed everyday.

2. She grew tired of arguing with her mother and struggling with her

to take her medicines so she pushes the pills into the soft filling of

her mother’s favorite cookies, fig bars.

3. She incorporates her mother’s past interests and occupation into

her daily routines, crocheting and using a simple math workbook,

(she had been an accountant.)

4. Her mother and she enjoy lighting the candle she bought at Yankee

Candle, called “Sparkling Snow.” It also masks odors at certain times

of the day, she delicately added.

The article inside Jan./Feb. “AARP Bulletin,” was the source for this

information, along with several other suggestions called,  “Being a

Family Caregiver Isn’t Easy.” You will find more to read there. . .

I am encouraging an Open Forum for discussing about anyone

you love or care about, those you have contact with or have

experienced dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease.

I would also like to mention a fellow blogger who writes about this

very subject. Marylin is someone who shares daily wonderful and

meaningful activities she participates with her mother. She writes

such lovely posts about her mother. Her mother has dementia and

her father had Alzheimer’s Disease.

Thank you, Marylin Warner for the gift of numerous special posts.

Marylin includes links to articles and is very informative, while

being a warm and caring blogging friend to many. I am sure she is

a source of comfort to many who have been dealing with elderly

family members with different varying degrees of memory loss.

http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com

Her blog is called, “Things I Want to Tell My Mother.”

And due to not being able to produce another award nomination

post so quickly after my last one, I would like to thank Rashmi for

her nominating me for “Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.”

I encourage you to read about her perspective, positive and poetic

writing along with her international travels. I have enjoyed her

safari posts immensely! Thank you for taking us on your travels,

as well as lifting our spirits, Rashmi!

Please check out, Soul n Spirit, if you have not already done so!

http://soulnspiritblog.com

A sincere thank you for giving me the award!

On a lighter and happier note about those who are ‘still here’

sending a huge hug, big smiles and lots of love out to

BETTY WHITE!

Happy 93rd Birthday, dear BETTY!

I had a comment that Ian made about a poem/story about

a couple who met in a nursing home. They shared so much

of their present time, although the woman could not tell much

about her past due to her memory loss. It was such a well-

written post that I would hope future visitors will check it out:

Please read Ian’s post titled, “George and Marg” on:

http://aussieian.wordpress.com

Thank you, Ian!

Let’s have a conversation here since it is the weekend.

I plan on being able to respond on Sunday

after the library opens at noon!

Loss of a Fine Crime Novelist: age 94

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Famed detective crime novelist, P. D. James passed away peacefully

in Oxford, England on Thursday. This was in America, Thanksgiving

Day- Phyllis Dorothy James White lived from August 3, 1920 until

November 27, 2014. I had always been fascinated by Phyllis’ personal

life details. She had some similar paths which I had taken, eldest of

three children and having been on her own for quite some time. Her

husband, Ernest C.B. White and she had married while she was 22

years’ old, so had I.

From her father’s civil servant position, to my father’s government

job, the differences became much more apparent when she grew up

to age 16. Phyllis left school at the Cambridge High School for Girls,

choosing jobs at hospitals. When her husband went off to join the

war, (WW II) she had children. The obituary says she had two girls

along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I had just mentioned to someone in my comments’ section that P.D.

James had re-imagined a sequel to the wonderful “Pride and Prejudice,”

with Jane Austen’s characters, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, having become

estranged from her sister and husband, they were arriving through the

woods to a Ball planned. Murder in the forest, led her sister’s husband

to be accused while Elizabeth worked on solving the mystery. This

was on PBS “Masterpiece Theater,” in October, I believe.

While Phyllis’ husband was a doctor, Phyllis became a medical

administrator with the National Health Services in England. Phyllis

took three years to write her first book, “Cover Her Face,” which may

make some take comfort in their own writing and publication pursuits.

Her next three crime novels, focused in on medical terminology, hospital

setting and procedures.  In 1963, “A Mind to Murder” had these medical

details, along with 1971, “Shroud for a Nightingale,” which had realistic

plot line, and the last medically based novel, “The Black Tower,” included

the hospital setting. Certainly, Phyllis D. James White utilized her 19

years of being an administrator to her advantage in crime-solving.

 

P.D. James wrote thirteen novels about murder and mystery, seven of

those books became part of “Mystery!” series episodes on PBS. Adam

Dalgliesh, her most familiar character, was a Detective of Scotland Yard.

His introspection and inner poet made this him a complex and intriguing

man.

When her husband, Ernest, died, she was only 44 years old and she spent

the next 50 years beloved by family but never remarrying.

 

We shall all be mourning the loss of P.D. James. We may be happy that

her life was filled with many years of successful parenting, writing along

with contributing to England’s National Health Service with her fine

even-handed administration.

 

A life well led, she included a sense of humor in her personal interviews.

P.D. James’ favorite line was that from childhood on, after hearing the

old Nursery Rhyme of,  “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty

had a great fall. . .” Phyllis said, “When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty

fell off the wall, I immediately wondered, ‘Did he fall or was he pushed?'”

 

How fortuitous, or showing quite some premonition, to the craft of her

morbid story-telling. P.D. James was one of my favorite female authors

who could draw me into her webs of complex characters and dynamic actions.

Her ability to continue pursuing learning, outside of schools, along with her

accomplishing so much after leaving academia at age 16, all make P.D. James

a fascinating woman who should motivate us all.