Love is in the air!
One of my Grandkids celebrated his 3rd birthday last Saturday and his family and friends were there to demonstrate their love and celebrate with him. We are fortunate that all our family lives locally, so my eldest Grandson, seen in the picture, and my Grand Daughter were also present to share in the fun. All three of my Grandkids have spent time in the Memory Matters program and classes. The elder two especially have become regular volunteers when school is out and are proud to have their own name badges now. When you witness the kids with our participants you can feel the love that young and old create in a palpable way.
As I reflected on the birthday party I looked ahead to Valentine’s Day this week, and as a Memory Matters volunteer looked back at a terrific first five weeks this year. I have continued to attend both our Compass Program and newly refined Connections Class and I like what I see and hear.
Memory Matters has also been gearing up for our annual Board and Staff retreat where we review progress against the strategic initiatives put in place last year. As a precursor we recently concluded a thoughtful look at a series of questions that included our perceived “values”. Not surprisingly “Passion” and Dedication” were high on the list, but one person concluded that our principal value is “Love”, yes, with a capital “L”!
I was also reminded today about love being in the air when I read an article by Maria Shriver, the well known TV personality who is the leader of an organization called “The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement””
It is worth remembering that of the 5.4 million Americans who suffer Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million are women! Here is what Maria said:
What I do know for sure is that we all need love. We all crave that feeling. And yet, we don’t always know when someone is really in need of it most.
We never know what someone is going through or what they are feeling at any given moment. That’s why the best way to approach every person or situation in our lives is with love.
Love is a gift. In fact, it’s the best gift that each of us can give to one another. That’s not just true on Valentine’s Day. It’s true each and every day.
As my readers know, the amazing people who attend our Connections Classes are there because “they want to show up and trust Cathee” (our Senior Program Director and Memory Care Specialist). They want to keep their brains engaged and stimulated with not just socialization, but healthy debate, and leaning new things. This group of achievers are definitely learning and it is evident that they love doing so!
Since studying the “Art of Forgetting” (my last blog) a few weeks ago our Thursday Connections class has debated the true meaning of optimism, taken a personality test and shared things they enjoy doing and the reasons why. They have shown compassion in the way they help and support each other in our failure free environment. I loved that at home they were encouraging their care givers or spouses to not complain if they forgot something! Some of them said that they encouraged forgiveness.
This group of people debated why, if they were an animal, they would in most cases choose to be a dog! The conclusion was that dogs are focused, go after what they want, are smart, and would be loved unconditionally!
They also debated what it was like to be 15 years old, 30 years old and then, what it is like to be 65 plus. I could write a small book on this conversation, but suffice to say that eagerness and career and family building transformed into wisdom, helping hands, no alarm clock, medicare and Grandkids to love.
Love often brings families to Memory Matters. A husband or wife realises that a memory is a little impaired and the sooner they make contact with us the more we can help. Although I focus many of my words on the people who have memory loss, frequent readers of these chronicles will know that I have often described the really difficult and most important work we do is with the care giver. I have some personal experience in this regard and once explained in this blog that taking care of my Mum in England was the hardest thing I have ever done. For these reasons I was delighted to recently be invited to a mens caregiver support group, superbly facilitated by our Licensed Counselor – Ashley. She was supported by Chuck, who doubles as the Memory Matters Board VP and who knows what it is truly like to have a spouse suffer Alzheimer’s Disease. Chuck understands the “longest journey”. There were two other Board members present. Both have wives or mothers in care. One of them a 96 year old lady who still attends our Compass program.
On the day I attended there was a room full of care givers, all passionate about their loved ones and there to learn and support each other. It was an interesting and heartening experience for me and I definitely felt the love and empathy in the room. I came away wanting to return and learn more in the future.
Now the musician and Beatles fan in me has to finish with a song:
All you need is Love, Love is all you need.
Happy Valentines Day to Everyone!
If you know of someone who has a slightly impaired memory, don’t delay, come and see us for a confidential baseline memory test. Or just call and make an appointment to speak to one of our professionals. Call 1 843 842 6688