Thursday, February 27, 2014

Old Lost Photo's Found - Alzheimers Disease

My computer is in being repaired this week. I seem to have bit of a virus .
So today I will be repeating an old post that is dear to my heart.
If you have someone in your life that has Alzheimer's I hope this can help you deal with the trials and tribulations.
But might I add there are some lovely moments too.
It is all how you deal with it. 

I also wanted to thank all the people that commented on this post.  I was so touched by all the stories and it made me feel like I was not alone.
You all touched my heart! 
They were all beautiful stories.

These are lost photos of my mother.

She was a Raven Haired Beauty.
Look how she sits with her ankles crossed.

Well let me say they have put me in quite a tizzy!
It reminds me of what a beautiful vibrant women she was.

I know she would not like this photo of her. Especially because it was showing too much skin.

I love this picture it shows the era. I would say it was early '50s

She was such a lady. All the women wanted to be her.
So did I.

Excuse me while I lament over my beautiful mother.

This will not be my usual blog post today. I am sorry I am just hoping this will help someone who’s loved one has Alzheimer disease.

The other day my Dad pulls out a box of slides that we had never seen before. Heidi and I started looking under one of these lights that dentist use. (That only my Dad would have, that will be a story for another day). And there were all these beautiful pictures of my mother. I believe they are right after my Dad and Mom got married. I would say they are from around 1950 to 1952. It was like winning the lottery for us.

Heidi quickly got them put on disks because we wanted to see them.

When I saw them I cried. And I have not stopped crying since. I remember her beauty. Not that I forgot. But memories started flooding by like I remember she use to wear a French Twist in her hair. She was so glamorous. I remember when she had it cut off. She stepped out of the car and I started crying and shouting “That’s not my mommy” and ran into the house. She of coarse started to laugh.

There are also so many regrets that came flooding by. That I could not contain myself. I had to have a talk with my Dad and discuss all those regrets. He eased my mind. I forgot how my father could do that for me like he use to in the old days. He can be very gruff but he also has a very soft side to him. We cried together.

I remember her cute little pert nose. I remember in the nursing home saying to my father. How she still looked so pretty with her cute little nose.

She suffered in her last months but we as a family were all there for her because we all adored her. She was the center of our family. She is what kept us all together.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that robbed her of her words. I believe she knew us all in the end but she just could not verbalize it. We where her voice.

If you have a family member that is suffering from this disease get help. We went to classes to learn the do's and don’ts of how to speak to a person with Alzheimer’s.
Here are some things we learned.  I hope they help.

* Come to the someone with Alzheimer’s peacefully – Do not startle them. Prepare your heart and spirit. Be present.

* Talking isn’t the only way to communicate. My mother use to hit my father’s knuckles in a funny little love way. Or she would do this funny little popping noise with her mouth.

* Always introduce yourself; never ask “Do you remember me?”

* People watch, gossip with them, do anything that interest them. Even after my mother couldn’t remember who I was she liked to people watch. We’d sit side by side and I would comment on someone’s strange hair or how big my butt was – I would say anything that I could bring a smile to her face. That is one thing I could do was make my mother laugh.

* Smile for god sake!! Don’t go into see them and acting all serious. Or another thing don’t start yelling at them!!! Most of them can hear you….

* Don’t try to make them remember you or someone else. It frightens them because they can't remember.  The important thing is that you remember them.

* Still go and see them. I have heard people say "Why should I go and see them, They do not know who I am?"  Because like I said before...You know them.  You don't want to have any regrets.

* Use short sentences. If you have to ask them questions make sure they are yes or no questions.

* Never talk about them in front of them. They know what you are saying. All you are doing is scaring them.

* Whatever happens - Don’t take it personally. Remember their brains are going flooky!

* Read to them or tell them a story.

* If they are interested watch TV with them. I remember watching Peter, Paul and Mary special on PBS. Also the Laurence Welk show. She liked to hear music. She loved that. She loved to go to the sing alongs. She never sang but she would give me the knuckle and look at me with that smile and I knew she loved it. Music is one of the last things that Alzheimer patients can enjoy.

* Look past the lack of expression, continue to talk to the person you’ve always known that is still in there.

* It is OK to start to grieve even if they are still alive. I know I started early grieving for my mother. I lost her a long time before she finally left this earth. It is a very slow goodbye.

* Be happy for those moments of clarity. There will be moments when they all of a sudden speak your name in a clear sentence. The last words I heard my mother say to me were “I love you” I was coming in to visit and I just leaned down and kissed her and I said “I love my mommy” And she kissed me back and said those words right back to me. (In a very perky way, freaked me out a little) Can’t get much better than that….She died a week  later...

I hope this will help someone who’s loved one has Alzheimer’s.

I also show you these photo's because I wanted to show you how a disease can rob a person of all there senses.    She was educated women , She was a Artist, Personel Directer for a Department Store, Wife, Sister, Aunt, Grandmother.  And my Mother.  NO ONE IS IMMUNED TO IT.

This is my art this week. 

This is a very important fight for me.  Both my Grandmothers had Alzheimers. One started when she was 55 she died when she was 68. The other when she was 80 and she died when she was 89.  My mother started in her 60's and died when she was 72. My Aunt started in her early 60's and died just last year at 76.  It is a long journey.

Please give donation's to the Alzheimer's Association. Tell them Heather Foust sent you! 

Lots of love to everyone this week.




Pamela Holderman said...

What a wonderful post and such a beautiful, vibrant woman. I am so glad you found those photos. My son used to cry every time I got my hair cut - just remembered that. Thanks for being so vulnerable and sharing and helping others with your words.

Carol said...

Your mother was a beautiful lady. I know you pain. We lost my Mother-in-law a year ago. She had live with us for the previous 5 years and it was difficult to watch her go away. But I'm glad we did it.

Carolyn Dube said...

Your photo treasures hit home for me. I recently found a stash of slides of my mother (who hated her picture taken so much there are very few photos of her). I spent many hours crying and remembering. This is why journaling/chronicling/scrapbooking is so important to me - so the memories are there even when memory fails.

Anonymous said...

Don't apologize Heather. That's what we are here lend support to one another. Your post is very loving. It's hard to see our loved ones fall ill and leave us. I send you a big hug.

Daniele Valois said...

oh this really just tore me all up. What a gorgeous mother and your words and love are so beautiful.

Christine said...

Thanks for this post, I have Alzheimer's in my family and my mom at the moment has moderate memory loss which is scary in itself. Thanks for the sensitive tips.

Debbie said...

This is a beautiful post. The pictures of your mother are wonderful. Women were so glamorous in that era, and she was really beautiful! I'm so happy you found these pictures and that you've shared your memories with us. Thank you for the information on Alzheimer's. I think sooner or later, everyone will know someone with the disease. Maybe you will find a way to use some of those photos in your art. They'd be fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Stay inspired!

Tracey Fletcher KIng said...

Heather this was touching and heartfelt and thanks for sharing... those photos are sooo wonderful and thanks for sharing them and your journey with us...happy ppf

Clare said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mom, you show her beauty, her life, her love. Alzheimer is a dreadful disease, my mom works in a home for people suffering with Alzheimers, I wish I could clone her and give one of her to every family who deals with this - she is amazing, the care she gives to the people with the disease and to the families. I'm going to print this post out and give her a copy. I know from what she tells me how hard it is for the families, the pain in seeing someone slowly slip away, but she also tells about the love and that is the most amazing part of it.

Elisa Choi said...

Heather thank you so much for sharing your heart about your family. My grandma has alzheimer's too or so we thought. We didn't have her checked up but we reckoned she has it since she has the symptoms of that disease. We read and researched about it. We tried to be patient. Sometimes there are moments when we lose our patience and spoke harshly which we learned the hard way.

Your mom is a wonderful woman. She is happy and proud to have you as her daughter. Thanks for sharing the infos and this could help everyone. God bless.

Kokopelli said...

Good to talk about these things sometimes, be it cancer or Alzheimer. It helps! I lost loved ones to both.
Your mother is so beautiful. Look at her! And as long as she's in your heart she'll live on!

craftattack said...

Wonderful post! Valerie

Apni Avani said...

What a beautiful lady! It was a touching post Heather....but at the same time your tips on Alzheimer's would surely be helpful to others. Thanks for sharing!

La Abela said...

Beautiful post! reached me especially, I tube to my mother for five years suffering from this disease and are very good as it is.
Loving hugs to you and all the families who go through this trance.

Crystal said...

My cousin's mother is suffering from alzheimers right now and all you suggestions are right on the spot. Sadly my mother passed away several years ago and I still miss her every day. Your mother was a beautiful person and she instilled many precious memories for you. Hold on to those forever. :-)

SHERI C said...

What a wonderful find and treasure for you. Glad you shared this.
Happy PPF!
Sheri Cook

Tammie Lee said...

such a beautiful post
it overflows with love and appreciation
i am sorry for your mother and family for having such a hard time in the end
but the love you have shared with us
and the wisdom you have offered
touch my heart
thank you~

awesome photographs, i agree your mother overflows with grace and beauty ~

Margaret said...

Very important post. Good work.

EVA said...

Beautiful mother! So sad how her life deteriorated. My Mom had Alzheimers too but died of a brain tumour (which had much the same effect on her mental capacity but took her faster...)

A very worthy cause and a horrible horrible disease.

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Wonderful loving post ~ your Mom was certainly beautiful ~ take good care of you ~namaste, carol (Share the Creative Journey)

Alicia C said...

amazingly moving post. That is the gift old photos give us - the ability to record the past. thanks for sharing! the courage to share things that can touch us and commemorate others is a huge gift.

Cameron said...

This was a good post for me. The last memories of my grandmother are of her yelling profanties and telling everyone to go away. Though, I know it was the disease's hard not to be bothered by those last thoughts.
The pictures of your beautiful mother...and your kind, loving words about your relationship with her both before and after the disease presented itself are moving and inspiring.

My grandmother was Japanese and brought back authentic kimonos for me when I was a child and dressed me up in them. I remember feeling like a princess. She spoke broken English, but loved soap operas. She never learned how to drive...
I miss her. Thank you for helping me return to the good stuff :)

Hugs to you,

Anonymous said...

Such a touching post--I'm glad these lost photos were found. What a beautiful lady.

Carola Bartz said...

This is such a beautiful post, Heather, and not a downer at all. Just last Saturday I wrote about my mom, who died five years ago. It's what is in our hearts, and why not talk about that. This, among others, is what defines us. I love your post, it is so genuine - from the heart. Thank you for that.

Catherine... said...

Hi Heather, the photos are beautiful. My mother-in-law had Alzheimers..She was a wonderful lady. It was hard to see her disappear before our eyes. She died three years ago. I miss her. Have great memories though.. :)

carlarey said...

What a treasure these photos are for you. Your mother was so lovely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings, and memories.

froebelsternchen Susi said...

beautiful mom!

Cia of Briarwood Studio said...

Lovely, and loving, post, Heather. My father has Alzheimer's so I know exactly where you are coming from. Thanks for sharing your mother with us.

*jean* said...

i see your beautiful mother in some of your work...leaning on a friend, the dark haired girl next to the first photo of your mom....gorgeous...thank you for your thoughtful post, my FIL was diagnosed last year...xo

Melisa said...

My Dad has alzheimers, so of course this made me teary, but the beautiful photos of your mother, being who she truly was, also made me smile. I believe they are still the same person inside, they have just lost the ability to express that. It's up to us to remember it.

pauline said...

So difficult... and painful, for anyone living with this disease in the family. Your mother certainly was beautiful. She looked very graceful in these photos... You gave her a lovely tribute with these words. xoxo

Pointy Pix said...

Heather, what an amazing post. i was away last week so just coming to see it now along with the newer post. Y our mum was beautiful. the 50s is my favourite era and those photos are so wonderful-exactly like i always imagine the 50s to be.

i'm so sorry that you've had to deal with alzheimers so much in your family, it must be heartbreaking to see people you love turn into shadows of themselves but your post was so inspiring and a great way to help anyone else going through the same thing.

thank you for sharing. x

faye said...

Beautiful pictures, Heather, and such a touching post. You have given some excellent advice on how to visit those with alzhimers disease.

Becca said...

Hi Heather, I just saw this post and had to comment. Such lovely photographs and memories of your Mom, she was a beautiful lady! I have not had to deal with this disease with a loved one, it makes me so sad and frightened to think about what families must have to go through. Thank you for sharing this important information with us! Always love visiting here...and you look a lot like your Mom. :-)

blss said...

Thank you for your blog!!! It is wonderful to be able to verbalize all your feelings and memories. I too lost my mother to a horrible disease called Lewy Body(part Alzheimer's and part Parkinson's). She had it fornovern20 years ans I was her main caregiver for ten after my father died. It robbed her of everything. She was immobilized for the last three. My greatest fear was of her being alone when she passed on as she was was anxious. She could not talk or express any thoughts except with her eyes. I was so fortunate to be by her side holdingnher hand when she opened her eyes, looked into mine, took a deep breath and passed away! I had to put my life on hold for ten years and I developed health problems because of the stress and anxiety but I would not change a thing. I have such wonderful memories of the good times.

Joann Loftus said...

Thank you for the touching post, Heather. Your mother was a beautiful woman, like you. She would be so happy you remember her this way! I'm certain she looks down on you and guides you in all you do. Don't feel this was a depressing post. It was real, honest and authentic. My father-in-law passed away a couple years ago from Altzeimer's and it's a painful and heartbreaking disease. Thanks for helping others how to deal with their loved ones.

Gloria said...

Heather, I am so sorry I missed this post. I've been in and out of town. What wonderful pictures of your dear mother and what a great thing to on posting the do's and don'ts when visiting. I am so sorry about your loss and the pain you have felt and are feeling. You have such wonderful memories of your mom. My best to you and beautiful post.

Currie Silver said...

This was so important for me to happen upon, Heather. I just finished the audiobook, Then Again, by Diane Keaton and in it she shared so much about her mother's Alzheimers progression.

It was wonderful, really, to have your list of how to BE or NOT BE and I realised as I was reading it that it is really about loving kindness and deep respect. Perhaps even a little of that Golden Rule.

People are so much more than whatever group or circumstance we think defines them/us. What you wrote is the sort of How-To for how to really love someone throughout their Life.

I know I am late finding this, but I was wandering through CED posts for this week and yours just inspired me to scroll on down.

Nancy McCarroll said...

Most importantly, as you said, we remember THEM. Lost my Dad to AZ in April; it was a blessing he finally left us at age 94.

Twist of Pink said...

Our mothers are so dear to us! Your bespeaks of beauty and elegance and such a lady from the photos.
Holding you up in prayer.

Debbie said...

lovely tribute to your mother.

Tammie Dickerson said...

What a touching, sentimental journey you have expressed here. What beautiful memories you have, and what a wonderful way to share your experience with others who may only be starting their journey :)

Nicole Beadwright Campanella said...

Hi Heather Your mother was stunningly beautiful and you look very much like her. I have had and have right now 6 people with Alz. It is a wicked disease.
I am so glad you have these photos of your mom.
Hope you get your PC back soon. I just went through this last week my self.

Renee Dowling said...

I know what you went through. My grandma and grandpa both were struck with dementia. It is so difficult to see them wither away, when we have such wonderful memories of them when they were young and vibrant.

I used to get mad at my mom when she would ask them if they remembered something. I told her she was upsetting them, and she she should stop asking them that question. I am glad you put some advice on here.

I was very sad when they died, but I had grieved the loss of the personalities long before their lights flickered out. It felt good to read that it was okay for doing that.

Thank you for sharing your story. The photos are such treasures. May they bring you comfort!

Beth Nadler said...

Thank you for sharing your story with me and everyone else. Your tips are helpful to me now that I'm going through this with my mom. xo