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Transformation Story: Unconditional Love

Transformation Story: Unconditional Love

Health, is a blessing many of us take for granted until our health or the health of someone close to us begins deteriorating. Once it is affected, we realize it's importance. What if someone you loved had a lifelong disease, something that would never change for the better, only take turns for the worse... How do you think your life would be affected?

“My mom has MS. (Multiple sclerosis). She was diagnosed with it before I was born. Her disease kills the cognitive decision part in her brain. Basically, her motor skills, memory and decision making abilities are all kind of shot. She's there, but she's more like a selfish kid, than a mom.”

“How was it, growing up with your mom?” I asked her. She explained,“I actually thought she hated me. I didn't understand that it was the disease that made her that way, and that she had no control over it. She would shut me out and treat me bad so I thought I was just a horrible kid, but really she didn't even know that what she was doing was wrong.” This woman explains how she was passed from relative to relative to be taken care of since her mother couldn't. She actually cut her own finger so that her mom would notice her and have to talk to her. “The disease made her seem so selfish. I felt like I had no mom, and on top of that, she made really poor choices.” Because her mother's motor skills were effected as well, this woman encountered many traumatic experiences with her. “There were so many car accidents, she fell in the pool, she would fall down the stairs... I remember when I was 6, she fell down the stairs when I was home alone with her..she was carrying a laundry basket so I took all of the clothes that had spilled and put them under her head to prop it up because she wasn't breathing. I called my dad... I was so scared. I just wanted someone I could run to when I was sad or scared you know, someone who would hold me and talk to me, but my mom wasn't like that. I was always the one taking care of her.”

“Who was your support system during all of this,” I asked her. She said “My whole family, literally everybody.” Diseases can do one of two things to a family...either completely tear it apart, or draw them closer together. For this woman, she was lucky enough to have the second happen. “My grandma kind of stepped in as my mom, and the rest of my family was always there whenever I needed them.” She has an older brother as well, and he and her father were her rocks and role models.

Now that she is older, her relationship with her mother is very different. “With age comes understanding and I know that my mom can't help the way she is, she can't change, so I started putting my feelings aside and tried to make things easier on her.” This woman loves her mom to death. She will do anything for her. She drives her to her appointments, takes her shopping to get her out of the house, writes things on sticky notes and places them around the house so if her mom forgets things, she can look at the notes to remind herself.  She even rearranges the rooms in her home to make it easier for her mom to have things to hold onto as she is walking through.. “You know what I think changed me the most... watching my friend's mom die from MS. I realized I don't want to take my mom for granted anymore. You never know which fall will be the last fall, or how quickly her brain could start deteriorating..”

“So how do you think your mom's disease has affected you as  a person?” I asked her. “In what ways do you think this has made you a better person?” She responded, “Well I think it's made me more sympathetic, it's definitely made me stronger and know how to take care of myself..”   To end the interview I asked if she would change anything. Her response..“You know, as much as it sucks sometimes, I wouldn't change it. Without her disease, I probably wouldn't be who I am today.”

- A the word changes contributor 

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Transformation Story: Becoming a Better Person

Transformation Story: Becoming a Better Person

In one month my husband and I will be having our first child. I can’t begin to describe the whirlwind of emotions I’ve experienced over the past 9 months. There is part of you that is so excited to meet this new person but there is also a part of you that must let go of the old you. The old you that always put myself first, I didn’t have consider other people with my actions. I slept when I wanted, I drank when I wanted, and I ate what I wanted. Of course everything within reason but you had control over your life, I got up and traveled when I had the chance. All that changes when you’re pregnant, your body is not yours alone. You have to be considerate of this other precious life you are responsible for. Now that the pregnancy is almost complete I’m beginning to think beyond the physical responsibility and how to become a better person for my child.

Health

I’ve always been semi-health conscious, making sure I have vegetables in every meal and eating 7 grain bread instead of white. Small adjustments to get extra fiber and lean protein to maintain a healthy diet, but I do have my weaknesses. My husband and I enjoy desserts and fast food on a regular basis. We are not avid sportsmen so maintaining a healthy weight is a struggle. Now that we are adding to our family I feel an overwhelming burden to be a good example for our child.

You are your child’s first exposure to the world, he looks to you for answers and watches how you respond to everything. It’s not enough to preach about being healthy, I recognize there must be a general shift to becoming healthier. That means I’m eating my fair share of healthy snacks, buying organic or straight from the farm. This also means being more active and setting an example that physical exercise is essential to a healthy body and mind so I’ve hired a personal trainer.

Politics

Politics have never been a great interest I’ve mine. It never seemed that the people representing my community ever made a difference. This year all of that changed. I sat and watched how racist rhetoric was being justified and how violence against black men was so prevalent. This was not the country I was so proud of or wanted my child to grow up in. I knew then that my vote in the primary and general election meant something and I needed to get out to vote and campaign. I was responsible for the world my child grows up in and I could not afford to be a bystander any longer. Having a child is making me a better person by making me pay attention to how we treat other countries and foreign people.

God

How to begin to introduce the concept of God into my child’s life? My husband and I have different views on the matter but I think it’s something that should not be glossed over. First I will tell my son God is all around us and a part of each one of us. I will introduce to him nightly prayers to open up the dialogue of being thankful and forgiving. Eventually I want him to make his own decision on what God means to him and how he should go about praising him. I will introduce it to him and make sure I am a constant representative of the good person I know God wants me to be. This is more than going to church; it’s about not gossiping or being overly negative. It’s also about being forgiving and understanding everyone is not as close to God and has their own burdens. I aim to show him how to be closer to God with his actions and with mine.

These are all ways that I am becoming a better person for the sake of my child; please feel free to share how your family has made you a better person.

 

- A the word changes Contributor.

 

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Transformation Story: Optimism

Transformation Story: Optimism

Optimism

On the outside, her world seemed perfect. Highly intelligent, beautiful, charismatic...she lived in a picture perfect home with a picture perfect family. If you weren't already her friend, you wanted to be . Positivity oozed from her pores and affected everyone that came into contact with her. Her friends told me, “We called her Miss Sunshine back in highschool. You know those people you run into that are always smiling, everything leaving their mouth is dripping in positivity.. well that's her.”  I had the pleasure of talking with both the woman and her friends, and this allowed me to see into two sides of her life...

I asked her friends to explain what her life looked like to them. One friend told me, “When we first met in highschool, I thought her life was perfect and I was actually jealous of her, but then she was so nice I couldn't even be jealous. It was almost annoying because you wanted to hate her for how perfect her life seemed, but you couldn't because she made you feel so much better about yourself just by talking to her,” the friend explains laughing. They explained how when this woman was around, life just seemed brighter. She would be the first to find solutions for problems, the first to cheer up someone who was down... I asked if they ever wondered how she did it and one responded “Well her life seemed perfect, so we figured it was easy for her to be so happy and cheerful.”

Out in public this woman came off as strong, incredibly confident, and very very happy. Where did this optimism come from? Did she really just have this picture perfect problem free life like her friends thought? When I spoke with the woman herself, she opened up to explain that behind the closed doors in her home..her life was from far perfect. She explained that her optimism started as a facade back in high school actually. In the morning, she would leave the house in tears. but by the time she arrived at school she had wiped her eyes dry, slapped a smile on her face and whipped up the best positive attitude she could muster. “Back then, my home life was a mess. I tried to be a rock for my family but I couldn’t fix them. I had this epiphany one day that 'ok I might not be able to change my home life, but outside of my house, I could be anyone I wanted.' So basically I decided to become the person I wished I could be at home.. for everyone around me outside of my house.”

Her home life consisted of a workaholic father that valued money over his children and spent any free time he did have, with a bottle of whiskey in front of the tv. Her brother was severely depressed, rarely left his room and was on suicide watch many nights. Her mother did her best to make the kids feel loved, and to hide the fighting with her husband, but she was worn down and almost completely emotionally drained. “I actually got the idea of putting on this positivity facade from my mom. I would hear her crying in her room but when she came out she would have a smile on her face and would fill us to the brim with compliments, making us feel like we made her whole world better. I knew my mom was in pain and I wanted to fix hers, but since I couldn't, I figured maybe I could make other people feel the way she made me feel, and then if I could do it for others, maybe eventually I could help my own family.”

This woman ended up putting on this facade day in and day out.“In trying to mask my pain I threw myself into being a person people would love by basically enacting who I would be if my life was problem free.” By faking it for a while, this woman actually grasped that optimism is a choice we all have. By grasping this, the “optimistic act” turned from a facade, to her greatest asset. “You can only fake a smile for so long, eventually it turns real.” she says, while smiling. “I learned, we choose to cry and sit in our own misery ...or we can choose to try to move forward and make other people happy.” In choosing to be optimistic every day regardless of her home life she made a difference in the lives of so many around her.

Optimism is birthed from pain, just as strength is. Sometimes the seemingly perfect lives we are envious of, are actually harder than our own. This woman could have easily become depressed and withdrawn, yet she chose to show up everyday and smile, and treat others the way she wanted to be treated.At a young age, she learned one of the most valueable lessons of life... we choose our outcome and our choice affects the lives around us as well. Choose to make a difference!

- A the word changes contributor 

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Transformation Story: Belonging Part II

Transformation Story: Belonging Part II

 

The last article explained a young man's journey through adoption. It spoke of the struggles and adjustments he went through to get to the happy place he is at today. Now I would like to share the adoptive parents side of the story...

            I began their interview by questioning what made this couple begin to take in foster children in the first place. The parents tag-teamed back and forth as they explained a day many years ago where their daughter came home almost in tears explaining how she met a new friend that day, that didn't have a mommy or daddy. Their daughter asked them if the girl could live with them because she hated the home she was staying at that moment. “It broke our hearts to see our daughter's heart so broken, so we agreed to take this little girl in. We had no idea how hard it would actually be, but something about that little girl permanently opened a place in our hearts for orphans, and the children with no voice.”

            This little girl was the first of many to pass through their home. They explained the struggle of worrying about their own children, if they were safe, making sure they did not feel replaced. They explained how emotionally taxing it could be most days, “It can break you sometimes. The kids will push and push and say they hate you, and you aren't their parents, and while you know they are only doing this to see if you actually care about them...it still hurts. I will admit, with the first sets of foster children, we did not know how to handle this but each child taught us a lesson and now because of all of those lessons, we are blessed to have one of our foster children join our family for good!” She says, while grinning from ear to ear.

            “What was different about this boy that made you want to turn from foster to adoptive parents?” I asked. The father chimed in saying, “I believe God gave us a new level of patience, understanding, and love just for him.” They explained this boy came into their lives older than most of the children they had taken in. He had experienced things that the family had no idea how to deal with. The mother said, “From the very moment I met the boy I felt something special. I saw past his hurt to his huge heart, and I wanted to find a way to take away all of the pain so his heart could fully show.” After she met the boy, she sat down with her family and discussed the possibility of him living with them. She explained her fears to the family, how different this boy would be then the rest that had moved in, but she kept saying how special he seemed. It only took her a couple of days to convince the whole family to let him in, and this was the start of their new family.

            “It was not easy. He pushed extremely hard when we first got him,” the mother explains while looking to her husband and laughing. “There were many times I wanted to give up but my husband would be my rock and stand firm, then we would reverse roles and he wanted to give up, but I would stand firm.” They explained how hard it was to try to parent when the child had been so hurt he can no longer trust people. First, they gained the boy’s respect by just loving him unconditionally and listening to him, letting him know he was valued. Once they earned his respect they began to really teach and parent him. “They tell you going into adoption about how hard the process will be, but I think they need to explain the rewarding side of it more. Once the child begins to feel loved and starts crawling out of the shell they have been living in, you get to see the real person minus the pain and that person is pretty incredible.” This boy came to them broken, distrustful, angry, quiet and rarely smiled. The parents explained that today, this boy volunteers with others, does not immediately judge, he is calm and engages with people, is an incredible listener and wise beyond his years, and it is rare to seem him without a smile on his face.

            You have heard both sides of this story now. On each side there is struggle and barriers to overcome, both sides had to gain the trust and approval of the other, but love conquered the fears and love won out. Humans need to feel a sense of belonging, whether you have found your place of belonging or not, there is always someone out there still searching for this connection. If you feel a certain pull towards a person, listen to that, and build that relationship because you could be that person, that will end up changing their entire world.

 

- A the word changes contributor

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How God Made Me Smile

How God Made Me Smile

I jokingly say to her, "do you have any jalapenos?" She said, "you know what, I do have something!" She came back with a small plastic bag with four hot peppers!!!
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Transformation Story: Belonging

Transformation Story: Belonging

Adoption family

 

Humans instinctively search for a place to belong. The first place most people feel this, is within their families, but some are not so lucky. I had the opportunity to interview a young man that was adopted. I wanted to understand what his search for belonging was like, and to begin to see life through his eyes.

            I began the interview by questioning the hardest parts about being adopted. I wanted to understand what went through his head as this family welcomed him in. He began to describe the lack of trust and belonging he felt. “After you have been in and out of so many different homes, you begin to believe people don't really want you. I mean they do, until things start getting hard or you begin influencing their 'real kids' lives.” The family that ended up adopting him had two kids of their own. They were a nice Christian family. He was a bad boy; he said “I remember walking into their house thinking this will be nice for a couple of weeks. I figured that's all I would last and when the mom told me to start unpacking my bags, I refused.” He's laughing as he recalls this, but when I asked him how long it took to really feel like he belonged. His smile vanished quickly and tears began swelling up in his eyes. “I'm going to be honest, because most people think that if a family adopts you, then you should feel lucky and honored because they chose you and this immediately makes you feel like a part of their family. I do feel honored and lucky; it's not that simple though. You question why they chose you. Are you just a project for them to feel good about their lives and tell their friends about? What do they want from you?” He had been passed from family to family so many times; he couldn't believe anyone really wanted him for him. “The foster families would call me their child when I was making them proud, but when I started to slip, it became 'Oh sorry we tried, you just won't fit in here.' So to fit in anywhere and truly feel like I belonged is the hardest part about being adopted.”

            This left me wondering how he adjusted and what made him begin to trust the family. He responded by explaining “Something about this family was different. It took me months before I began to believe I could stay in their life. It was because of the mom's ability to put up with anything and everything I threw at her, that I began to trust them and start to try to adjust to their lifestyle.” Because the family proved to him over, and over that they would not walk out of his life, no matter what, he began trusting them and taking steps in faith to try to make it work. He started with the little things...unpacking his bag finally, hanging up posters in his room, taking a shower without asking if it was ok, eating food from the pantry not feeling like he owed them anything. This grew into attending family functions, going on vacations with them. When meeting new people, the parents would introduce him to their friends as their son. “When they introduced me as their son, not their adopted son, something really started to sink in and I could see how hard they were trying so I wanted to do my best to make this work as well.”

            This young man was very honest in explaining that he's not sure if he will ever feel like he 100% belongs, but he tells me that doesn't matter as much as it used to him. He still has moments where he questions if they still want him, but he explained he's learning this has more to do with the way he feels about himself, than the way the parents feel about him. “I want you to know something...something I think about when I start doubting if they love or want me.”. “Ok, let's have it,” I respond. “I sit and make a list in my head of all of the things they have done for me, all of the nights they spent up talking me through hard times, all of the people they have stood up to for me, all of the times they could have kicked me out but chose to work through the problems instead, the fact that they don't have to put up with me but are choosing to remain in my life. I know that this family is what I would dream a family would be like and I am extremely grateful they chose me. I know how lucky I am to be a part of their lives and I think this is also why I doubt that I belong because why did I get so lucky?”

            Stay tuned next week for the adoptive parents side of the story. How did they make it work, what struggles did they face and overcome?

-A the word changes contributor

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Transformation Story: Passion Turns Dreams into Reality

Transformation Story: Passion Turns Dreams into Reality

 

Many people see thriving businesses and only wish they could have one. What they lack to understand is the person behind that business, put in hours of blood, sweat and tears, made sacrifices, and failed numerous times before their business came to life. They were not handed their dream on a silver platter, they were not dealt a different hand than anyone else in life... they just believed enough in themselves and their dream to go to whatever lengths necessary to see it come to life.

I recently interviewed a woman in Guatemala who turned her passion for doing nails into a very prosperous spa and clinique. First I need you to understand where she lives in Guatemala. She lives in a little city where the most thriving business is a Pollo Compero restaurant (similar to KFC). The rest of the businesses around this city are mostly families running little shops for close to 15 hours a day, making just enough money to pay their rent. I asked her, “What made you think you could open a spa and be successful?” She responded by telling me that, that is in fact what everyone around her was asking her as well. Her family, friends, and even important business people she spoke with, all told her the same thing, “A spa will never make it here. Nobody needs that, it will fail.” For some reason this did not deter her. She had a dream, and she wanted that dream so incredibly bad she was determined to make it happen regardless of all of the voices screaming against it.

At first, doing nails was just a hobby for her. She would do the nails of her friends and family and because she was so good at it, word spread and people began paying her for her services. This is when she decided it might actually be possible for her hobby to grow into a business. Her start was nothing spectacular. She had a little card table and two chairs set up in her grandmother's warehouse where she was surrounded by dishes and other things her grandmother was storing. She was receiving clients, but it was nowhere near enough money to make a living off. During this time she was juggling many different things. In the mornings, she was a teacher, the afternoons.. she would do clients nails, on weekends she went to school and helped run the youth groups at church.... She was saving every penny she made in hopes of one day acquiring a real building for her salon. She was exhausted, worn down emotionally and physically, yet she just kept going.

Many people tend to give up when the world around them is telling them they will fail, yet this woman remained resilient. Her family wanted her to give up on this dream and take a job in the field she had a degree in because they could see her health deteriorating. They wanted her to be happy, but healthy as well, and they feared this dream of hers might run her straight into the ground. I asked if she had anyone at all that supported her dream and she said “When I met my husband, he became my biggest supporter. He was the one that told me 'You can do this!” With the support of her husband and leaning on God, she was able to keep pushing forward.“Just because the past was tiring, I didn't want that to prevent me from trusting God for the good things He had planned for my future.”

It has been 15 years from the vision of her dream, to where she is today. In those 15 years she learned a lot. She trusted people only to get betrayed, doubted many times that she would actually make it, did not have any real schooling in the spa business besides youtube.. but her determination and passion kept her strong. She began crying at the beginning of the interview, I was a little confused..  when when we were done she explained, “I was not crying because of sadness, but I am very grateful to God to get here.” She may have endured a lot of pain in the process, but the results were more than worth it to her. Today her clinic is up and running in a big beautiful building, she has a team of some amazing girls working for her, she makes very good money and also invests into other people's businesses through her own.

Many people have dreams but few achieve them so the biggest question burning inside of me throughout the whole interview was “What made you believe your dream could actually come true, what made you actually start working towards it?” She responded “In the beginning you never know if your dream is possible, but if you don't do anything, then it never will be possible. You have to at least try.”

Thank you S.S for sharing your story. 

-a the word changes contributor

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Voting is Empowerment

Voting is Empowerment

 

Voting is Empowerment

As September begins, the nation is moving steadily towards the 2016 Presidential Election. Along with the election comes the dreaded political ads and lots of mudslinging courtesy of politicians. But the people who run polling stations in rural America on Election Day have a positive outlook on the political process. According to Deb Klingenberger, the Election Commissioner for Webster County, NE, even small town America counts at the polling booth. Webster County is mostly rural with five polling stations spread across the county and a total of 25 workers.  

“You hear that small town America doesn’t make a difference. I really think it does. How do you know your opinion doesn’t matter if you don’t voice it? You can’t make a change if you don’t put yourself out there,” said Klingenberger.

Part of what Klingenberger and the people who work the polls for her enjoy most is when all their hard work pays off. When everything runs smoothly and they have a good turnout, it feels like the election is a success. Klingenberger says all of the poll workers receive training and run through every possible scenario during Election Day. The poll workers in Webster County enjoy staying engaged socially and politically through their work.

“Most of the people we have as poll workers are very social people and they like to visit with all the residents that come in. I think that’s their main thing. They really like to keep abreast of what goes on in Webster County,” said Klingenberger.

Lisa Poff, the Election Commissioner for Buffalo County, NE, feels working with voters makes a difference in her community.

“I just like working with people. I feel like they’re making a difference. They’re letting their voice be heard,” said Poff. She also says many of the poll workers she works with feel they are doing their civil duty and enjoy visiting with voters on Election Day.

Poll workers in Harlan County, NE, also share a love for the social aspect of their work. Janet Dietz, the Election Commissioner for Harlan County, says many of the poll workers feel a sense of civic duty.

“You still have this right, this duty. They feel it’s their duty and they enjoy it. It’s exciting to see the results when we get them up on our website. It’s a long day but it’s fun,” said Dietz. She says the poll workers work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. But the long day is filled with the excitement of seeing the election results first hand and visiting with long-time friends.

Klingenberger says most of the voters are rural. She says during the last general election, voting turnout for Webster County was at 60 percent. So far she has had about 20 requests for early voting ballots. Klingenberger is confident she will be able to increase voter turnout for the general election this November.

“I’m really hoping for the general we’ll have a bigger turnout. I’m going to do a few articles to try to get the vote out. I want to get out that we can cover almost any excuse. If you’re busy that day you can come [to the courthouse] and vote. We can mail a ballot and we even cover the postage for returning it to us,” said Klingenberger.

It’s easy to feel as though our votes don’t count. But what would happen if everyone got off the couch and exercised their voting power? Make sure your vote counts on Election Day.  

 - a the word changes contributor 

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Social Interaction: Key to Keeping Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Patients Engaged

Social Interaction: Key to Keeping Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Patients Engaged

How do you keep a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia engaged and positive? The disease, which greatly diminishes mental capacity, can make planning activities extremely difficult. Ranae Pool, Activity Director, at a nursing home in rural Nebraska, finds focusing on social interactions improves the day to day life of residents.

“Most of what we do is social. We do one on one and we do sensory. Something they could touch or smell,” said Pool. One of their recent activities involved a watermelon feed that was open to the community. A monthly men’s breakfast also helps male residents connect to other men in the community. Activities aimed towards the senses - sight, touch, smell, hearing - can be very beneficial for residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Dementia. For example, one volunteer brings in what’s called “flubber,” which is similar to silly putty. The residents also benefit from one on one activities.

“Once you get to know the resident, you figure out what they like. A lot of times the resident wants you to come in and just sit around and chat or read the paper to them. Or do their fingernails, that’s a big one. They really like word searches and word finds,” said Pool. Many of the residents enjoy group activities like bingo and card games.

However, Pool says sometimes a resident who has Dementia or Alzheimer’s may not have the same state of mind. For example, one resident feels like she is a twelve year old girl in her mind. So the activities for her have to be tailored for that age range. In fact, staying simple is often good for patients who are suffering from the debilitating disease.

“My biggest thing about Alzheimer’s is you don’t have to make it hard. Simple is best. Sometimes we overthink it, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes just sitting around and chit chatting is what they enjoy the most,” said Pool. She says finding out what a patient enjoyed in the past can be helpful as well. For example, one resident at the home used to enjoy working with tools. So volunteers will set up a work stations allowing him to screw a bolt on.  

Individuals with Alzheimer’s tend to have limited concentration and difficulty following directions according to Susan Lonn, Executive Director of Madonna Adult Day Care. Caregivers should match an activity to the patient’s abilities. Some examples of simple activities include tossing a ball, washing silverware, planting a tree, arranging fresh flowers, and taking care of a fish tank.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends taking the following factors into consideration when planning activities for loved ones who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia:

  • Be careful to observe what makes the person happy, anxious, distracted, or irritable. Pay special attention to what the person enjoys.
  • Keep the person’s skills in mind. Perhaps they used to enjoy playing a piano. Find a keyboard and simple songs for them to play.
  • Be aware of physical problems. What are their eyes and hands like? Do they have limited mobility?
  • Encourage involvement in daily activities. Things like setting the table, folding laundry, and watering plants can give patients a sense of success and feeling valued.

If someone you love is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia, look for someone who can provide in home care. Above all, find help and a support system to help manage the stress that often comes with the disease. Try to remember what the loved one used to enjoy and find pleasure in. Keep in mind this person is feeling frustrated, afraid, confused, and sometimes angry because of their situation.

- a the word changes contributor

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Patience is Key to Handling Residents with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Patience is Key to Handling Residents with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Anyone who has a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia knows how heartbreaking and stressful the illness can be. Megan is a CNA and Med Aide at the Good Samaritan Colonial Villa. She works with residents who have Alzheimer’s and dementia on a daily basis. Even she admits when her career first started seven years ago, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to handle the difficulties of working with residents suffering from the disease. But over time, finding the positive things helped turn her job into a rewarding experience.

“You have to look at the positive. I feel like it’s a reward knowing that I get to care for these people every day. They become like family, like my second family. I do even have some residents who will tell me, I love you, and to me that is a reward,” said Megan. She says knowing her job makes a difference in their life every day is part of what she loves about her job.

But the nature of Alzheimer’s and dementia can make her job challenging. She says there are residents who are unable to recognize her some days. The nature of Alzheimer’s can also cause fits of anger. But Megan says part of staying upbeat is remembering that residents are often feeling scared because of their illness. In fact, clear communication often helps reassure residents who may feel confused or scared.

“First of all, I always explain to every resident what I’m going to do. In the middle of the care, I reassure again. I tell them I’m here to help you and this is what we’re trying to get done. I make sure we explain the process to them thoroughly,” said Megan.

Megan says many of the residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia benefit from having familiar objects in their room. She recommends using pictures to help a loved one remember family members. In fact, keeping some of the hobbies patients used to enjoy alive can help keep them positive. One resident at the home enjoys sewing while another has a favorite stuffed animal. Providing baby dolls also helps lift the self-esteem of women who suffer from Alzheimer’s.

“Ladies especially enjoy the baby, because they feel like it’s a real baby they’re taking care of. We have a lady here that does something similar to quilting to keep herself busy. It seems to work for her. Try to remember what they did before. Talk to the families and find out what they enjoyed. That’s the best thing to keep them positive,” said Megan.

What’s the final take away? Remember that someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia is not always aware of their actions. Often anger is caused by feeling scared or confused. Megan says she has to always remember that the disease is often to blame for negative behavior such as hitting. Instead she recommends remembering that a patient with Alzheimer’s is not trying to ruin your day or even aware of their negative behavior. Above all, she says having a support system is key to staying positive when dealing with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

“Make sure you have a support system because you can’t do it alone. So even if you need to talk to someone else; make sure you do communicate with people about what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. If you need a break, you need a break,” said Megan.

-a the word changes contributor

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Transformation Tuesday: Prostitute to Soul Renewed

Transformation Tuesday: Prostitute to Soul Renewed

When she realized she really could use her body to get what she wanted, she began making the men actually pay her because she was no longer looking to share the drugs. This became a terrible habit she got sucked into.

a the word changes contributor

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