If it doesn’t hurt…it just might help! Dealing with Dementia

What if there was a way to help your loved one, or yourself, suffering from the onset of any form of dementia to “cheat” this dreaded disease for as long as possible?  I have great news!  You can.  There are several “tricks” that I did when I became my mother-in-laws primary caregiver.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and I set about making life as normal as possible for as long as I could.  The results were astounding!  So much so that her neurologist believed he had wrongfully diagnosed her…which he had not.  Over the course of the time in which I cared for her, she was able to recover about eighteen month’s ability back.  I will share just one of those tips here with you today.  To find more tips and to read about our journey, order “Blue, Baseball, Virginia—The Journey of an Alzheimer’s Patient & Caregiver—A Journey of Humor, Help, & Hope!”

As Alzheimer’s progresses the patient’s ability to recall names with faces declines sharply.  Sadly, it happens much like air seeping out of a balloon, it happens gradually until you suddenly realize that ability is no longer available.  I began using this technique with my mother-in-law, Granny, the results were amazing!  Here is the advice that I give the audiences when I speak on being a caregiver… “If it doesn’t hurt…it just might help!”  Try this and then shoot me an email to let me know if you, too, can see a drastic difference.

One of the problems many older people have, not just those with dementia, is that they sometimes rarely see family members.  Granny knew exactly what her grandchildren looked like five to ten years ago because that had been stored in her long-term memory banks.  Since the part of her brain that stored short-term memories was deteriorating, those memories just could not be stored and recalled.  Therefore, I devised a “cheat” for her brain.

First, I rounded up recent pictures of all seven grandchildren.  I tried to make sure it was a picture with both her and her grandchild.  I purchased a cheap photo album and a pack of labels from the store.  I placed the older picture, the version she most remembered on the left hand side of the photo album.  Then I placed the newer picture on the right hand side.  I took the labels and clearly labeled their names by placing it on the outside of the protective sheet.  This insured I did not damage any photographs.  (Another wonderful tip I discuss in the book is that using a Sharpie works better than an ink pen.  Their brains process the “thicker” words better for some reason.)

As she sat and looked at the pictures, she could compare the “grandchild on the left with the grandchild on the right.”  This worked wonders for her ability to recognize the children as they came in to see her.  This was a task she had clearly struggled with before.

Another trick you can use is to take a dry-erase marker and label all the pictures hanging on the wall or sitting around the house.  You can write directly on the glass without damaging the photograph nor the frame.  This is easily wiped off later.  Because dementia patients tend to “read” signs continuously, you are feeding their brains with pertinent information.  Her neurologist concluded that her brain actually moved this information into a part of her brain that was able to store a long-term memory!  Remember, “If it doesn’t hurt…it just might help!”  Why not give it a try?

For more information about the book or to have me speak at an event please contact at:  lorriedavismcdonald@hotmail.com or 615-489-5743

Twelve Baskets of Leftovers

Today’s post is one that I hope will be an encouragement to you no matter where you are on the spectrum of life:  From the Cradle to the Grave.  Whether you are dealing with young children or caring for an elderly loved one, we all get to an empty dessert place.  I hope this blesses you and I hope you Share it to reach others.  Because we never know who around us is going through a hard time we know nothing about.

Matthew 14:15-21  (KJV)  Most of us who have had a drug problem know this story.  Our drug problem was that we were drug to Sunday School.  We were drug to Worship Service.  We were drug to Wednesday night Bible Study.  It’s the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  For those of you who may not have been drug to church (yes! I know grammatically it is “dragged”…move on Grammar Police…nothing to see here!) I will give you the Cliff notes version:  Jesus has been teaching and healing  scuds of people and now it’s supper time and the disciples know there are no Chick-Fil-A’s around so they encourage Jesus to send these people home before they get hangry.  It is from this story that key phrases jumped out at me today.

vs 15.  “This is a desert place,”  These people were out in the desert.  There were NO resources available to feed so many people.  Are you at a place in your life where you feel like YOU’RE in a desert place?  Are you out of resources?  Do you desperately need help and it looks like there’s no where to turn?  I have found that Jesus likes to take us out into desert places.  He likes for us to realize we are all out of options.

vs 15.  “the time is now past;” Do you feel like your time has come and gone?  Is there some dream that you KNOW God put down in your heart, but it hasn’t happened yet and you fear that your time has past?  You are too old to start over.  You are too old to get into shape.  You are too old to break bad habits.  You are too old to… it’s different for each of us.

vs 15.  “send the multitude away,” The disciples wanted Jesus to send the multitudes away because they thought they had no way to feed them.  Maybe the enemy has told you that you are all alone.  You feel you have no one left to help you.  Sometimes we face things that literally we can’t tell anyone about.  Even though your “multitude” has gone away, you still have a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverb 18:24)

Here’s my favorite part…

vs 16. “But Jesus”  I have found time and time again in my life when I am at my wits end and there’s no help in sight…but Jesus.  When there is no one to turn to…but Jesus.  When all else has failed…but Jesus.  Too many times we get stressed out because we forget He doesn’t need to be our “back up plan”.  He needs to be our First Plan of Action!

vs 18.  “He said, Bring them hither to me.”  I love it!  The disciples are panicking because what they have (5 loaves and 2 fishes from verse 17) seems so insignificant.  It seems so little compared to a problem so big. (I’ll admit…5,000 peeps is a lot of mouths to feed…but Jesus…)  You may be down to your last 5 loaves and 2 fishes.  ALL your other options have failed.  Quit giving in to those thoughts of lack.  Take your problem and your meager supplies and give them to Jesus.

vs 19.  “And HE commanded…HE blessed, and brake, and gave”  No matter how much rice you and I added to the casserole, we couldn’t make it feed 5,000.  No matter how many book stores I send my book to.  No matter how many colleges you apply to.  No matter how many dates you go on.  No matter how many house plans you look at.  No matter how many assisted living facilities you visit.  No matter how many diets you try.  NOTHING is going to work as well as when we give it to Jesus and HE commands, blesses, (yes, sometimes breaks) and finally HE gives.

And you know what the result of us giving our problems to Jesus is?

vs 20.  “And they did ALL eat, and were FILLED:”  HE can do what we cannot.  It seems impossible, but it’s not with God.   Nothing shall be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)  Not only does God take care of our needs but He does abundantly more than we could ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20)  He didn’t just feed them…they were FILLED…FULL!

vs 20  “and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.”  Ok, so there are times when Jesus just shows off!  He’s done it so many times in my life.  Times when He could have just met a need, but oh, no, He went above and beyond in meeting that need.  He gave me twelve baskets full of leftovers.  🙂  I’m telling you, whatever YOUR need is…give it to Jesus…it will blow your mind at how well He can fill our deepest hungers.  No matter how big your dreams and desires are.

I know there are many people in this world who are hurting today.  Many have lost all hope.  They feel like they are in that dessert place starving to death.  Chin up, buttercup!  I know the One who delights in working miracles.  So I will leave you with the following verse.  It just so happened to be on the opposite page from the passage I read this morning.

Matthew 13:58 “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

Go ahead.  Try Him.  Give Him your problems.  Just don’t forget to bring along your twelve baskets for His leftovers!

How 4 seconds can change your life!

ut-catch4 seconds.

Do you know how small an amount of time 4 seconds is?  1.2.3.4. Boom! It’s over!  It’s done!  Most people would not give much thought to the fact that your life can forever be changed in 4 tiny, minuscule seconds.  But it can.  Ask Jauan Jennings.  He will tell you that four small seconds are long enough to change your life forever.

As I sat watching the game Saturday (unless you are completely football illiterate or was in a coma the last three days you know exactly which game I’m talking about), I went through every emotion possible in four minutes.  With four minutes left in the game, Georgia–who had been ahead the entire game–went behind.  Four minutes left?  You have GOT to be kidding me!  That’s ok…Eason has proven that he loves nothing more than to give all the Dawgs a surprise ending.    So I sat and waited.  10 seconds left on the clock…Boom, Baby!  Jacob Eason does it again!!!  Surprise!  He throws a 51-yard touchdown to Riley Ridley.  Georgia wins!!!!!!!! YEEEEES!

But wait.

Tennessee will get possession of the ball with 4 seconds left on the clock.  No.  Big  Deal.  4 seconds?  What could possibly happen in just 4 seconds?

The rest you might say…his history.  UT’s quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, throws an incredible Hail Mary straight into the hands of Jennings.  What? Ummm…that did NOT just happen.  Good grief, you could hardly see his orange in that sea of red…and yet it happened.  I have the 78 text messages in the following 5 minutes to prove it.  4 seconds and destiny was changed forever.

My lesson to you, Momma?  You have four small seconds with your children.  Quit wasting time doing things that really don’t matter!  Start spending time with your precious children.  Get off Facebook.  Stop Googling your symptoms.  Stop pinning your dream home and check back into your “here and now” home.  You are going to blink (4 seconds) and your children are going to be gone.  Your small window of opportunity to make a difference is going to be over.  Just.  Like.  That.

Take advantage of this GORGEOUS weather and take them for a walk in your neighborhood.  Look at the trees and ask them if they know Who made them? Share a memory from your childhood.  Gather up sticks in your backyard and build a little bonfire tonight.  On a school night, no less.  The grass you kill will grow back stronger and your kids will grow stronger from it, too.  4 seconds.

Sons? Daughters?  Your sweet Momma that is sitting over in the nursing home or assisted living…you better go see her.  You better call your Dad that is living alone now.  4 seconds.  That’s about all you’ve got left.  You’re going to look up from your Bunco game and they are going to be gone.  Call them.  Even if you just talk to them 4 seconds.  It can be a game changer and make their entire day better.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Jauan Jennings.  4 seconds…what are you waiting for?

James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, (4 seconds) and then vanisheth away.”      (Parenthesis added…duh.)

The Sweetness of the Lips

Proverb 16:21  “The wise in heart shall be called prudent:  and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.”

As I prayed about what to share with you, this verse just kept coming back to me over and over again.  As with most training techniques I utilize with small children, this too applies to the aging.  If you ever get a hold of this principle I am sharing today, it won’t just change YOUR life, it will literally change the lives of those around you.

One of the things I get more compliments on than any other is how much my kids show their love and respect for me.  I am blessed beyond measure by this, but… it did NOT happen by accident.  If you have all the right ingredients and follow the recipe you will always turn out with a perfect cake.  But you first have to start with the right ingredients.  I have used Scripture to help me formulate what has proven to be a pretty fool-proof plan when raising kiddos.  God’s ways are often filled with seeming contradictions.  (ex:  “The first shall be last.” Mark 9:35) I am a firm disciplinarian.  But…once I learned to implement the “sweetness of the lips”…WOW! What a game changer!

This principle was evident multiple times this week, but two stand out it my mind vividly.

First, I was at the gym working out with my group when I noticed a fourteen year old young man sitting in the corner watching us.  (He may need counseling for that someday…just sayin’!)  My buddy walking warm-up laps with me jokingly nudged me and said, “Somebody needs Camp Cha Cha!”  I watched him for several laps and noticed two things about him.  1. He had a sweet spirit.  2.  He looked very embarrassed about having to be there.  So I approached him and asked was he there as some kind of punishment having to watch middle-aged women do bootcamp? (You can see the future need for counseling.)

I was shocked when he replied that he was there as punishment.  Sorry, little man, but this may verge on “cruel and unusual punishment.”   Turns out, he got in trouble on the bus and he and the boy who started it (yes, I believe him) both got three days suspension.  His step-mom had no choice but to bring him with her.  I asked him what happened and listened without judging him.  He told me the story and also how he was struggling in school and was afraid this was going to set him back further.  When he was finished I simply told him that he needed to apologize to the bus driver and to the teachers whose classes he had missed when he goes back on Monday.  Then, I told him to go up to each teacher and talk to him/her privately and tell them he is an “A” student and he is struggling in their class.  What can he do to bring his grades up to an “A”?

You should have seen his eyes when I told him to tell them he was an “A” student!  I told him, that he IS an “A” student…his grades just weren’t reflecting that as of yet…but they would!  He had told me how he wanted to go into the military when he graduates because then he could go to college on the G.I. Bill.  I told him that was an excellent choice and that he still needed to make good grades to get into the military because he DEFINITELY looked like Officer material. You really should have seen that expression!  He seemed blown away.  I shook hands with him.  I told him I was glad to have met him and that he would use this little bus incident as a growing tool.  Then I went over to my mat and proceeded to be tortured by our Trainer.

An amazing thing happened this morning.  When his step-mom came in she told me that I had sure made an impression on him.  Apparently, I was all he could talk about!  He thought I was the nicest, kindest, funniest person he ever met! (I told you this kid was smart.) 😉 Now…why did he think that?  Because I took five minutes of my day and the sweetness of my lips and I sowed a seed of greatness into a little boy I’ve never seen before.  I may never see him again.  But that seed that I sowed will take root and with enough people around him watering and cultivating it…we will be saluting him before you know it.

I CRINGE when I hear parents talk about their, “wild child”, “brat”, “little hellion”, “awful kid”, “rotten child”.  Guess what there Einstein…you reap what you sow!  (Galatians 6:7)  If you sow words of affirmation you will reap those seeds.  I told my kids a buhzillion times, “you are so smart”, “you are so kind”, “you are going to do amazing things”.  (I did this years before Aibileen came along.) 😉  Twenty years later guess what I have reaped?  Kids who turned out smart, kind, and doing amazing things! I find it intriguing that the first part of this verse says, “The wise in heart shall be CALLED prudent.”  Prudent means wise.  Since the Bible is full of contradictions, it’s safe to say, “The stupid in heart shall be CALLED stupid…”

Here is your test for the coming week:  Listen to how you speak to your kids, your mother, your father, your hubby, your wife…are you using the “sweetness of the lips”?  Or are you spouting out orders, barking sarcastic comebacks, sowing poisonous seeds?

The second incident that sticks out in my mind happened today with Aunt Mary (age 85) and her brother, Uncle Albert (age 87).  ab-aunt-mary1
I took Aunt Mary by to see her brother Albert.  In the midst of talking with her he looked at me and remarked, “My momma was the most encouraging woman I’ve ever known!  Why, when I would get discouraged as a little boy, she’d pull me up close and tell me not to fret that I was going to accomplish great things someday because I was the smartest in the bunch!  What I didn’t know was she was telling all NINE of us kids the exact same thing! Ha! Ha!”  I commented that she had been exactly right!  He had accomplished great things…all nine of them have!

As I drove away I thought about the fact that EIGHTY years later…his momma’s words were still in his heart.  Obviously, they meant quite a bit to him, as he choked up just retelling them to me.

Momma’s, our words are powerful things…let’s make them sweet!

Chats with Cha Cha

Well, I finally did it!

I have been asked for about the past two years to start this blog.  As you can see in my new logo there is “me” with one hand on a cradle and the other on a wheel chair.  (I thank Abi Provow Graves for bringing my idea to life.)  It really does encompass what so many of us are facing.  With one hand, we are busy taking care of our children or helping with our grandchildren.  With the other, we are being called upon to assist our aging loved ones.

My degree is Early Childhood Education and Psychology.  My “masters” came in the form of a baptism with fire while taking care of my mother-in-law who had Alzheimer’s.  So…I get called upon often to share what “wisdom” I have gained over the years.  It just made sense to have a localized place to share advice for both of the areas I speak on.  Perhaps while you are here learning a new method to Train Your Toddler, you might run across a post on Transporting Your Aging Parent.  We truly are the Sandwich Generation–caught between both generations!

I am Southern by birth and sarcastic by sleep deprivation. 😉  I hope you enjoy both the “Wit & Wisdom” I plan on sharing here.  Feel free to SHARE with all your peeps!  The longer I live the more I realize, we are all in this together…

Titus 2:3-4 “The aged women likewise…That they may teach the young women…”

cha-cha-logo1