Life is more than rainy days, running errands, comforting a friend, or finding the perfect handbag to match your shoes!
We enjoy the friendships and fellowship of the people we love. This year is my Mother's 88th birthday. We rejoice in her happiness and continue to celebrate her successes, marvelling and cheering when we see God's goodness all around. Both believer's and non-believers alike experience love, joy, contentment, colourful sunsets, disappointments, frustrations, and sadness but God alone satisfies our weary souls with His love, grace and mercy.
People with dementia need to be shown love, as well. I know people with dementia do feel love. My Mother, most days, forgets my name or that I am even her daughter, but she knows I am someone special, that I love her, and she loves me. No matter her age, she continues to need hugs, smiles, and encouragement. Dementia steals Mother away little by little. It feels like we say a thousand good byes before she has physically left us.
Many people forget or maybe they believe if a person has dementia it won't matter; so, they just don't bother to visit; and consequently never find that 'special' connection! While my Mother forgets two minutes after I leave her, I know, important parts of her are still intact and she is very much alive. Many believe, those individuals who are suffering from dementia can only live in the moment, but if, in that one moment, they feel love, isn't that the only thing that matters most?
Each and every person in this world is unique, with their own life stories, personalities, likes and dislikes. For those with dementia, it is important to focus on what that person still does have, not on what they have lost; to focus on what the person 'presently' feels, rather than on what they remember! That apparently former person, may no longer seem to exist. Sadly, dementia does transform people into shadows of their former selves. Despite all those things being lost, a person suffering dementia will still retain some of their capacities, and will continue to feel an emotional connection to people and their environment. They are still beautiful on the inside.
As dementia gets worse over time, family members, and care givers will gradually have a more difficult time understanding (someone with dementia) as well as communicating in general. My Mother can no longer string 3 or 4 words together; yet, she knows what she wants to say and often will stop talking or communicating because she is annoyed and/or frustrated with herself and others! While the general trend of dementia sufferers is in a downward decline, my family wants to have Mother's remaining years filled with love, joy, and compassion.
Understanding how to connect with loved ones through these times is important. There are many techniques you may want to learn, essential in communication strategies, for families who have a loved one with dementia. Be calm and confident, our first reaction is often emotionally charged, especially when we see a behaviour that warrants changing. We may shout at our Mother or Father to sit down before they fall, or be annoyed they are eating with their fingers! I know from experience, a warm smile, eye contact, and a light touch may make the listener more open to suggestions than if you yell, throw up your arms, or shrug your shoulders in frustration. Maybe we could practice this with others in our life, when we are in a moment of frustration with them, so we will be better at it when the time may come for someone with dementia.
When we have a sense of where the dementia sufferer is coming from, emotionally and physically, there is a better chance to redirect them. It's best to avoid arguing or using reason, it's just unproductive. (My Mother was the queen of arguments!) A person with dementia loses the ability to follow logic, and it tends to make them more defensive! Make attempts to be reassuring and agreeable, and remember it's okay to go along with their delusions, it's akin to the skill of picking your battles; this will often, bridge or allow you to redirect an activity.
Did you know boredom fuels repetitive behaviours? Three successful things for restless behaviours which worked for Mother is: listening to her favourite country and western songs; holding hands and running my fingers through her hair; and most recently, we purchased her a robotic cat. Mother immediately recognized Scruffy and thought it was her former cat.
On her birthday, Mother sat quietly as I fed her Chinese food (her favourite). Her 'robotic' cat, Scruffy, sat contently on her lap, purring, rolling, and making the odd meow. Mother was overjoyed and lavished the cat with her undivided attention. My Granddaughter, Harper, who was sitting on my lap, made a connection with both my Mother and Scruffy, both gently touching and making noises as Scruffy entertained them. Harper, who is ten months old, kept saying 'cat', then Mother would nod her head in agreement. The robotic cat 'Scruffy' makes it easier for dementia patients like my Mother to interact, because it breaks down certain barriers, not only with families but with staff as well.
People with dementia can no longer interact the way they used to. I was surprised next when Mother took the baby's hand, holding hands they continued watching Scruffy: it was truly a wonderful sight of bonding and love.
Life is often filled with times of hardships, frustrations, and even despair, but don't take life too seriously. Ultimately, we live for those happy moments; and happiness is true beauty. Be happy and give God thanks daily, because He created us for a purpose. Enjoy the rain, running errands, or comforting a loved one. Laugh, have fun, smile, cherish the small things, and remember to count your Blessings daily.
Happy Birthday Mom.
I understand, failure is part of life. I’ve learned failing can signal an opportunity to succeed at something else. Perhaps, something even greater than you imagined. Most people fear failure, but it is your response that makes the difference.
My mother would say, "You are not your mistakes." I thought this was a ridiculous statement, especially when getting a D on my first grade four project, after arriving here in Port Perry. I was afraid everyone would know how stupid I really was.
Unfortunately, it's children like me who got overlooked, but it's my mother's belief in the Lord which kept me moving forward; she believed my set backs weren't permanent. My mother would ask me, what's next? I could never understand that, because she was suppose to be the parent and should be telling me what to do, right? Often, she would quote scripture, (those letters in red). She would encourage me to try again, and again, and again. She said, "life was hard, have realistic dreams (as I was a big dreamer), it's never too late, and never miss an opportunity to try". She believed in me when no one else would.
Maybe your life isn't where you want it to be, maybe you haven't achieved certain things you'd hoped for, or maybe you are plagued by your past mistakes and failures, but God makes us worthy, if we will accept his transformative gift in Jesus, because he saved us through Christ. In God's eyes, success means discovering His will, or design for your life and using that purpose for the glory of God, this amounts to the highest glory of self.
Dementia has taken my mother from me but the learning lessons remain the same. Don't give up, keep trying, trust Jesus. With hard work and determination, even in failure, there can be success.
Childhood is painful, being an adult is painful, and I've learned you can't go back and change the past, but you can grow from it. What does life demand of you today? How will you meet those goals and aspirations you hid away and/or put on hold? What remains, is to find out if it is what God wants you to pursue. Then for sure, YOU can do it. The question is, have you even tried? What you need to do may surprise you, it may not make any sense, it may even offend you. Are you prepared to find wisdom, growth and understanding along the path? It's never too late.
Old age is viewed as an unavoidable, undesirable and problem ridden phase of life. How old is too old to do something new? At what age are you supposed to forget your dreams? My mother had won an educational scholarship after high school, which her father had declined on her behalf. As a result of the social climate of the times, he told her, further schooling was a waste, she was to get married and raise a family.
It was decades later, she would launch a successful tackle and bait shop in Port Perry. Learning new skills and delving into a position which men had previously held, she, never the less, was successful. After retiring, she launched another business in her late 70's. My mother continued to work into her 80's. It is never too late to change careers, or do something different with your life. At what point is it too late to be successful?
I love the quote, "No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still ahead of everyone who isn't trying.".
You are never too old to be a success, or make a difference in this world. There are things you can do to slow down your aging process, keep your mind sharp, keep learning, eat healthy and exercise, embrace technology, and use your past mistakes as stepping stones.
I know God isn't interested in our excuses because he sees in us what we don't see in ourselves. Often, God's plan will push us far outside our comfort zone, but those are the times we need to just fight through the fear and keep moving forward.
The world is full of examples of individuals who have come into their own as they aged. God will give you the courage to face your fear and win.
When our bodies are in a state of imbalance, from poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, and/or lack of sleep we can immediately feel it. I do, I feel sickly, sluggish and sometimes depressed. I have gained at least 30 pounds since my surgery last March. I know eating right will increase my energy and my mood, so why would I resist such positive changes? Why do I grab that bottle of pop and bag of chips instead of those carrots sticks and water?
I have been struggling with my food choices, making the wrong decisions and the wrong choices lately. I have also been making excuses for not exercising properly or avoiding exercise altogether. I'd get motivated, then I wouldn't stick with my plan. I would feel angry, frustrated, annoyed or just feel sorry for myself.
However, in December, I made a commitment to finally get Baptized. I had completed membership classes and I was waiting for my knee to heal. That decision has been life changing, in ways I cannot easily describe. I felt like I was being obedient to God, but, was I truly being obedient? Had I been fooling myself? Being obedient to God is very important in your Christian walk. True Christian obedience flows from a heart of gratitude for the grace we have already received from the Lord.
In quiet prayer I heard God urge me to get Baptized: it was a simple act of obedience that changed my life. I was more willing and ready to obey Him than ever before. This sheer act of obedience gave me more energy, a better attitude, and a closer relationship to understand God's word. The Bible tells us God blesses and rewards obedience. James 1:22 says, ''Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says . . .''
How does this tie in with poor choices. Well, I know healthy habits are hard to develop, but on that day I no longer craved caffeinated pop, and many other things started to change as well. I knew it was necessary for me to make some sacrifices. I needed to address all areas of my life. You know, God really does care what you put into your mouth because the food choices you make can restore your health or destroy it.
I read, a healthy habit is any behaviour that benefits your physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional health. These habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good. Exercising and eating a healthy diet makes you feel better, boosts your confidence and self esteem. The benefits of exercise include decreased stress, and improved cognitive functions, at any age.
Healthy habits help prevent certain health conditions, such as, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. When you eat a balanced diet your body receives the fuel it needs. I find this easier now. I know regular exercise also improves muscle strength, and boosts endurance, plus it will help with oxygen and nutrients to my body so I can go about my activities with sheer joy and excitement.
Will it be easy, no. Jesus says, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice." Luke 11:28. Whatever happens I will do it for the glory of God. I have a responsibility to do everything I can to make wise choices and obey God's commands. The Bible, is after all God's manual about how to live a successful life on earth. I will make every moment count.
They walked to church together, prayed together, raised a family together, grew old together, laughed, cried, and had fun together. So what happens after a spouse dies?
I know many seniors who live alone and miss the simple act of touch(ing) on a daily basis. I read, senior citizens receive the least amount of touching than any other group.
Touch is perhaps the most powerful sense of all. Hugging, holding hands, and other physical gestures have the potential to ease your mind, make you feel less isolated and can reduce stress and anxiety. As we age, touch continues to be an important gesture, no matter how old you are.
Who doesn’t love a back rub, holding hands, having someone comb your hair, applying lotion to your arms, legs and feet, or feeling a warm embrace? Even a pat on the back can make someone feel wonderful.
A hand on hand is a basic human need. It is as essential as food, water, or air. Feelings of affection can make a big difference, whether a wink, a handshake or an encouraging smile. It tells a loved one they are valued, it can be calming; and experts suggest, it can act as pain relief by meeting the needs of the heart.
My Mother wasn’t a person who enjoyed giving or getting hugs, but from a young age, I demanded these: she would tense up like I was exacting a punishment. Every now and then my Mother’s home support person, would lean over and give my Mother a hug. The first time, I was blown away and waited for her reaction. Mother smiled and patted her hand, I was altogether delighted, mortified and angry.
The sense of emotional touch strengthens our bonds and also our relationships. It is said, verbal bonds facilitate this, physical communication confirms it, because touching someone often conveys a message in a way words cannot. Studies suggest that insignificant touches result in bigger tips for waitresses, and strangers are more likely to help if a touch accompanies a request, as long as it's proper, of course.
A hug or appropriate touching can have a powerful impact on the human psyche. It makes us feel happiness, joy, and internally it doesn’t matter if you’re the one being touched or the one relating in this manner. It triggers a release of neuro-hormones which can calm our mind, and help ease sadness, tension, and anxieties when you connect with others. The benefits of hugging include measures of: relaxing the body, increased bonding, relief of depression, elevation of mood, easing stress, improving heart rate, and boosting of your immune system.
Mary B., a long-time friend and neighbour growing up, stopped me, to say how much she and others enjoy reading my articles in The Standard. Then she leaned over and kissed my cheek. Unknown to her, my day had been a difficult one, and she absolutely made it so much better. Our words and actions can be a powerful tool to cheer and encourage someone when we are feeling down.
Proverbs 25:11 tells us, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver, is a word spoken in the right circumstances” by offering words and a gentle touch we can help discouraged people face their present, and future, with courage and a positive outlook.
There is a great deal of healing in a touch. Humans are wired so hugs make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Have you ever wondered why Jesus often reached out and touched people who were considered outcasts and sinners? Many seniors lose the option of daily contact with friends and family, and disabilities or depression may prevent them from reaching out to others, but remember a simple hug could prevent or even reverse this despair, and allow them to live a fuller and happier life.
Life is full of all kinds of strange and wondrous things.
On a visit to my doctor, I discovered the hard callous on my heal was actually a plantar wart! You get them when a virus enters your body through broken skin. A plantar wart is a rough, spongy surface and it can only be found on the soles of your feet. Clustered plantar warts are called mosaic warts. Some people mistakenly think plantar warts are malignant, in fact they are not harmful but can cause irritation or minor pain, depending on their location. A person's risk of getting a wart varies and those with a weakened immune system are more susceptible.
I learned warts grow in the epidermis, the upper skin layer. A typical wart has a raised, rough surface. I know warts are generally harmless and do disappear over time, but for me they're unsightly. I have one on the sole of my foot, and it makes walking and exercise even more painful, plus I find it extra challenging with a bad knee!
Getting rid of warts can also be a challenge, but fortunately, the most effective treatments are the least invasive. Upon closer inspection, the center of my wart had dark flecks, looking like seeds. I discovered these are capillaries that supply the wart with blood. Since I cannot even bring up my knee to see this wart, my husband has been caring for them diligently.
Warts occur when skin cells grow faster than normal, because they are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). I read, all of us can come into contact with HPV repeatedly, when we shake hands, touch a doorknob, as it is spread through skin-to-skin contact, on surfaces in places like a locker room, or shower floors, but only few develop warts. Yet, approximately 70% of the population has this virus, and science can't explain why.
There are many folk remedies for treating warts, and there is no single treatment that works every single time. I will mention the top three.
1) Applying a topical solution of salicylic acid. They suggest soaking your foot/feet for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day, then filing away the dead warty skin with a pumice stone, and applying the salicylic acid ointment, lotion or gel. This is the main ingredient in aspirin and this will cause the wart to gradually peel off, if this treatment is continued for approximately 12 weeks.
2) The second option is freezing, also called cryotherapy. A clinician swabs or sprays liquid nitrogen onto the wart and around the surrounding area. The extreme cold, will burn the skin, causing pain, redness, and usually leaves a blister. Getting rid of a wart(s) with this method usually takes three or four treatments, one every two to three weeks.
3) Duct Tape! This is the option we are presently using, since my husband is such a handy man, and we have dozens of rolls, rolling around. This is low risk, and a low tech approach I could appreciate, and besides what harm will it do until my specialist appointment!? Not that I am a coward, well perhaps just a little, and besides, results showed duct tape is about 45% more effective than cryotherapy.
Martin put duct tape over the surrounding wart area and changed it every three days after a soak, always sterilizing the tools (tweezers etc.). After the dark specks appeared, which look like seeds, he removed patches of dead skin, as he debrided the area he applied polysporin into the large craters which had developed, then he reapplied new duct tape. We have been following this regimen for almost two weeks and there is such a marked improvement, as new skin growth has appeared over the craters. They are almost completely gone after just 20 days of treatment. Why duct tape works isn't clear, perhaps it may deprive the wart of oxygen, or perhaps dead skin and viral particles are being removed along with the tape?
Plantar wart prevention: Wash your hands, wear shower shoes whenever using a public pool, wash your feet thoroughly with a disinfectant soap, keep hands and feet dry to prevent present warts from spreading. Don't touch someone else's wart and don't pick at your own! When getting a pedicure make sure your pedicurist doesn't share her tools with other people before cleaning. (I had a pedicure where she used a knife and made my foot bleed so bad. I wonder if this is how and where my wart developed?). And always consult your family doctor or dermatologist as some skin cancers resemble warts at first. Be suspicious of any wart that bleeds or grows quickly.
By Tina Y. Gerber
A follow up for my required reading of 2018, The Bible.
The Bible is unlike any other book you may read. It is our owner's manual for life. It is only through the message of scripture, in the gospel that we come to experience the transforming power of God's grace, in a relationship through Christ. We need to know God better for our relationship to grow, and scripture makes this happen.
For myself, it produces many emotional and social feelings, about how I choose to live my life, directing me, and providing lasting change. I am more aware than ever that the Bible penetrates deep within and judges our hearts and motivations. When God makes our hearts his own, he removes our sin and gives us the joy that never ends.
James 1:2 - 4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
We make our plans and God directs our steps, he shapes and moulds us, but it is our personal response and attitude that defines us.
I had lost sight of the reality that both trials and triumphs are part of the good story God is writing through me. We are currently half way through our corporate bible study. I have had many questions, which leads to more and more searching and discovery of who I am, and how I got here? When facing the storms of life, understanding the sovereignty of our amazing God is essential.
Many non-believing people refer to the Ten Commandments, as a guideline for life, I disagree!!
As a believing Christian, the judgment seat of Christ in Romans 14:10 does not determine if we go to heaven, but whether or not we receive any rewards for our Christian service.
Being part of a Bible based community is one of the best decisions of my entire life. I know I am certainly growing, growing in love, as He strengthens me as I walk in faith with my brothers and sisters. I understand I am a great sinner but He is a great saviour. God is faithful even when we don't see it, even when we are not faithful to Him!
Jesus never softened the truth, and the truth is that following Him leads to difficult choices. To truly follow Christ means we do not follow anything else and we do make Jesus Lord of our life, Romans 10:9. That every decisions, dream, vision, must be filtered through His word with the goal of glorifying Him in everything we do.
I know I am not saved by the things I do for Christ but by what He has done for me. Ephesians 2:8 - 9 Because of His grace we desire please Him in everything we do, and we must allow the Holly Spirit to have complete control of every area of our lives.
Ephesians 5:18 Our God does everything he promises, in every circumstance, at all times. When life gets hard, he is calling us to lean harder on his word.
I often wondered about seniors and their experiences as they age. A recent study found that people tend to pray more as they age, yet, research shows that the spiritual culture of the time in which a person was raised is related to their present religious activity.
In spite of changes, loss, and health conditions seniors can continue to cultivate a relationship with God, the body may breakdown, but the spirit is capable of growth and renewal.
All Christians, including seniors, need fellowship and the encouragement of other believers. Your sensitivity to a loved one's spiritual needs can comfort and provide stability in a time of change. Even in the midst of trials, God stands ready to lead us out of our suffering into His wonderful presence.
For a non believer, I pray God will give you peace, in knowing your eternal life does not rest on your shoulders, that was taken care of by Jesus on the cross. You are either saved or lost, there is no in-between. Salvation is through repentance and faith in Jesus alone. He paid the price for ALL to be saved, including you if you so choose. So choose Christ and you will spend eternity with Him and all believers.
May God Bless you and use you for His Honour and Glory.