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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

Psychology of Aging

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Today I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Dr. Regina Koepp, below you will find info on her. The interview was delightful, we talked a lot about the important roll DAI has played in my life since diagnosis. She had read my book, she had a lot of great questions, we talked about the gift of friendship DAI has given me, about the ways it has helped me forge a new life for myself, a life filled with hope and purpose. We talked about the importance of the peer to peer support, self facilitated, where being accepted on your worst day, and your best are not something you worry or question, you just know the acceptance and support will be there. They helped me find my laughter.
It was a great 1.5 hours, it went so quick, we talked about advocacy, about the importance of enabling instead of further disabling , by allowing people with dementia do as much as they can for as long as they can, sometimes it’s easier to just do it for them, sometimes you think you’re helping them but in reality you are further disabling them.
we talked about the need for better collaboration between organizations, instead of competing, competing helps none of the organizations and absolutely does a disservice to people living with dementia. We talked about more efforts are needed to help support people to have a good quality of life, instead of just focusing on a cure. Care until cure, is the only way forward.
I am grateful she reached out to me. I’m glad there is people like Regina who are helping us have our voices heard.

please see Regina info below and check out the work she is doing.

About

Regina Koepp, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified clinical psychologist, gerontologist, and an assistant professor in the Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is also Staff Psychologist at the Atlanta VA Health Care System (VAHCS), where she provides direct patient care and consultation on the Gero-Psychiatry Outpatient Mental Health team. 

Dr. Koepp serves on several national, regional, and institutional committees aimed at enhancing care and services for older adults and their families. These include the Geriatric Mental Health Field Advisory Committee of the VA Central Office in Washington, DC, and the Georgia Psychological Association’s Ethics Committee. She is also a founding member of the Diversity Education Committee for Psychology Training at the Atlanta VAHCS and she serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee (DISC) in the Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Koepp specializes in the aging process, care of older adults and their families, individuals and families experiencing life-altering conditions, chronic and terminal illness, dementia disorders, caregiving, traumatic loss, end of life, and grief and bereavement. She is also the creator and host of the Psychology of Aging Podcast in which she discusses the aging process and its complexities.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

The Wrecking Ball

There are times, there are moments that stop you in your tracks. That was me at the start of this week, you know when your doctor calls you for an in-person visit when they are doing phone visits these days, things are somehow going to be different. You try to brace yourself, you try to convince yourself that it’s nothing to be concerned about. Yet somehow you know, you feel it in your gut, you know your doctor, you know, you just know.

So the first thing you see is the letter from the specialist that starts with the words, this is a situation where it is better to be lucky than good….and you know, beyond the good the bad will be coming, and he goes on to say that he is happy with how my cpap is maintaining me through the night. Yup, that’s the good news, the silver lining, ok well it’s something. Then comes the “regarding her remaining complicated medical issues.”

Some things were not surprising to me, and knowing all the difficulties these last ten or eleven months have presented me with, I knew in myself that there have been significant changes. Yet somehow and I don’t know if it’s just me or others with dementia, I have lived with this sort of ideal that I have been doing fairly well especially being that I am now moving into my 7th year since diagnosis, so knowing they said 3 to 8 years, but fully believing I could give myself a lot more and maybe I somehow can still have a few more. Add in the new piece regarding my lungs and repiratory issues that have been a challenge since March, upgraded to severe, shit, you can’t figure out how or why, when you have worked so hard at exercise, nutrition, all the things your supposed to do. The inflammation componenant that has been so worrisome, and there it is, Myositic syndrome, this rare, sometimes, you just feel like someone let the wrecking ball loose on you.

For all the research for all I have done, it is yet another little known component that can be part of vascular dementia. It is why I have the fatigue, why my lungs, my vocal abilities, my issue with my arm, the intermittent rash on my face and the muscle issues everywhere in my system. I didn’t see it coming, somehow, I felt like I would just somehow through all the hard work get back to feeling like I was managing with my dementia very well. And then the change in my prognosis comes, even though dementia is a terminal illness, I was considered stable within those parameters, in other words doing well. That has now changed from stable to ” very guarded”, there really is no words needed to say what that means or says. Yup the wrecking ball hit full on.

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Physiotherapy is a must, my walking coach is a must, many more bits and pieces have to be looked at now. It’s very difficult because the specialist says my body is ageing prematurely, is it dementia driving it or all the other complicating bits, the truth is we will likely never know, and how quickly it will age is unknown but the last year’s setbacks have not been a good indication. Sometimes the pain is unbearable, but I soldier on. There are no magic pills or potions. The hardest part is on the outside you don’t see it, I still look ok, so people disbelieve you, it is hurtful. The invisibility is at times welcomed at others not, especially when you know people whisper and talk behind your back, because you don’t look like you have dementia or any of the other devastation and destruction that is going on inside your body.

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My quality of life is starting to be impacted more and more each day. But I believe with my strong will and attitude, I will learn to live with for as long as I’m given to do that. That I will continue to advocate for others, so that after I am gone, maybe someone else won’t’ have to deal with some of that stigma. I am writing about this deeply personal new chapter, not because I want or need anything, but so that maybe just maybe it will help others to see that you can’t always see the many many layers of things that people living with Dementia deal with, we not only have to deal with learning to live with our dementia, but we still have all the other curve balls life throws at us. So maybe just maybe this will help others see that judging because someone looks ok, is not ok.

But right now, I am mourning, yes mourning, it’s a huge loss, its a lot, it another part of me that I am losing. People often overlook the losses faced with Dementia, they add up and they can have a very real and negative impact on our overall well being and quality of life if we don’t acknowledge them, this is a case where I must take the time to allow myself to be sad, to feel the fear, and the agony of facing another huge hit. I will try to take that time so that I can get back to striving to have the best quality of life I can in any way I can.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

ReFraming how I am Viewing and Seeing and Thinking

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I woke up this morning thinking about the concept of Dementia Friendly Communities. Yes I sit on a committee here where I live to help our community become “ Dementia Friendly “.

The concept behind this is great, it’s important, it will go a long way to create awareness, understanding about Dementia, it will also help decrease the fear that surrounds Dementia, and allow those living with dementia a better quality of life while maintaining being part of their communities. It will help in the effort to stop the stigma and stereotyping that has for far to long been part of the challenges and road blocks for people with Dementia.

We ( I and many others), have been talking about the use of the phrase (“dementia Friendly”), not because the phrase itself is so bad but more because it at some levels is segregating, people with dementia from others with other types of illnesses.

Make no mistake segregation is a Human Rights issue and violation, people being housed in Long Term Care ( I refer to those as human warehouses), are segregated, locked doors, displaced from being part of the main body. It is against their human rights, but that fight is ongoing and another one I will fight to see change in.

But we often ask others to think outside the box, colour outside the lines when we are talking about dementia, and therefore we must be willing to do the same. So this morning I woke up, made that all important coffee, sat in my bed thinking about the “dementia friendly community”.
I realized that perhaps I needed to rethink and reframe how I see that terminology. This again speaks to the importance of language, which is also something I speak about often.
If I really step back and look at it, calling it “ Dementia Friendly can actually have many benefits for us. It lets anyone living with dementia know that they are welcomed, that they can and will receive the help they require, it will by the sheer efforts of implementation help reduce stigma and stereotyping. And although having a “ Inclusive Community for all “, would be the ideal, if we start by embracing Dementia Friendly Communities and look beyond just the words, we can find many things in it that will help not only those with Dementia, but anyone with any type of cognitive impairment, the aged, brain injury, stroke survivors, and truly anyone with any type of impairment. So if by using the term and language ‘“ Dementia Friendly”, we can move and improve things not only for those living with Dementia, but so many others, then I should be willing and able to say this is an instance where I have to be able to look outside the box,

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I have to be willing to see that language is important, not only for the damage it can do, but for the good it can do. Sometimes we can get stuck, and while asking others to do something we too must be willing. So today I will start thinking about the terminology around “Dementia Friendly” a little differently. For it can and does actually depict that we are welcome, something that for a long time those with dementia did not feel. I am grateful that I have the ability to step back take a look at my own thought process my own viewpoints and be willing to look from another side.
It’s a great initiative, it’s why I agreed to be part of it, being able to look at the terminology from a positive viewpoint can only help enhance the whole process.
There is much advocacy and work that needs to be done for those living with dementia, but those of us cannot and must not become and do exactly what we are trying to change.
We must all no matter what organization we are affiliated with, no matter what we must be willing to collaborate and work together, embrace the uniqueness each organization brings to the table, to learn from each other, stop competing, start embracing, and be willing to say you are so strong in this piece we will help you in it, we are strong in this piece you can help us in it, supporting and working together, because truly this is not about one organization or another this about people living with Dementia, and if we make it about our organizations then we have lost the most important element, that being that it’s really about human lives. That we must never stand by and allow.



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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia

In the world of film making

I wrote in a recent blog about four films I had recently seen and how for the many good things they brought to light they were overshadowed by the underlying continued stereotyping which keeps stigma around dementia going. Today I am happy to share another brilliant blog written by a friend snd fellow advocate from Singapore. Doesn’t matter the country the picture greater continues to showcase the very things we want to be changed. Thank you, Tan Tan Ong (Emily) for this great blog.

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It is so important that filmmakers remember that they have a role and influence how the world views things like Dementia. If they always show only later stages of the illness, they never show the true depiction of living life with dementia before we get to those stages. I am grateful others like Emily are taking up the charge and demanding that they start to see us with a different lens. The lens they have been shooting through has become as outdated as the views they are putting up on the screen. We hope they will start working with more of us to make films which depict things that are important through the eyes of those living with the illness.

I am grateful that our voices are getting louder on many fronts where Dementia is concerned.

Thank you again, Emily.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

My UFA guest piece

blogs.ufv.ca/chasi/2021/01/22/guest-post-living-with-dementia-during-covid-19/

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

Being Brave and Advocate to Advocate

Today I’m writing about two things, the first being about being brave. I had to learn to be brave after my husband died 15 years ago, I was young, it took a lot of bravery to wade back out into the world, to re-invent who I was, to build a new life a solo life. It was not at all what I wanted to do, I wanted to hide, I didn’t want to do life on my own, but finding my way to be brave, I eventually did, or at least felt like I was.

Then came my Dementia Diagnosis, again, my world was shattered, again, not wanting to do this journey, again having to face that the only way was with bravery. So finding my brave side scared much of the time, I put on the brave armour and sought out a new life once again, again as when my husband died, I was no longer the same person, dementia diagnosis did the same thing, how could it not, life as I knew it ended that day. ( I believe with 100% certainty that if and when we finally see the delivery of diagnosis change and provide the support given to others with serious illness and when we start helping people live with their illness instead of telling them to get ready to die, we will then have the ability to have our lives change at a slower rate and we can grow into living with our illness) but at this time that is not the reality, you are told get your affairs in order, there is nothing we can do. ( Those of us living with the illness now that is not the reality, there is much we can do, much that can help slow the progression, much that can help us live independently and maintain our lives for longer.) But instead, we are left to figure it all out on our own, which usually means a time of depression, fear and anxiety, but most ( sadly not all) find our way and find our way to brave our new reality. I have never met a more resilient and brave bunch.

I had to be brave again, this time on a much lesser degree, but still having to find the will to be brave enough again to wade into unchartered waters. I think maybe the pandemic will find many finding themselves in places that require them to go beyond what is comfortable and try and do things that require them to be brave. Today was that day for me, I managed one haircut in over a year, for me, who’s hair is baby fine, ( always has been), growing my hair to any length is near impossible. So today with inspiration from Susan Macauley and encouragement, I summoned up my brave and I cut my hair, After the first chop of the scissors, it was actually a freeing feeling, total abandonment. The results are the picture at the top of this blog.

I love it, it feels great, I was elated. Yes I know all the hairdressers out there are cringing, but with an immune system that is compromised, living in my bubble of one, means a trip to the hairdresser was not and likely will not be in cards for me for a long time to come. So I feel uplifted knowing that if I just am brave many things can happen.

Secondly, I want to talk about the advocates and all the great work they do. There is no glory in it, there is just the knowledge that maybe you can help make a difference for others.

It does provide hope and purpose, which is important for anyone, it is rewarding when you meet someone who is struggling and you are able to support them to finding hope and purpose. It is rewarding when you see any small and usually, they are small incremental changes happen. It feeds that part of ourselves that we all need and want to feel that we are of value, that we are contributing to society in a positive manner.

It also makes us vulnerable, if we are not willing to follow the scripts many organizations want us to we can be subjected to some hurtful discouraging remarks.

This is when it becomes so evident just how important our fellow advocates are to us. It is far more than just discussing the issues, planning what’s next. It is about friendships, laughter and tears. It’s about picking each other up when we no longer feel we can keep fighting for the change we so desperately need. It’s about being each other cheerleaders when we get those small wins, and being the mentors to those diagnosed who join us in using our voices and it’s about being that shoulder when we feel the weight of it all sitting on us.

I know I could not continue doing what I do without the support, compassion and caring of all those advocates I stand with. I only hope that I can give them as much as I have received.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

Trying to Understand and Being Somewhat Afraid that I Already Do

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For days now I’ve been sitting thinking about and trying to understand why it seems so difficult to get organizations to work together particularly dementia Organizations. there are organizations that do some things very well, while others do other pieces well, but instead of working collaboratively, there are very few and very seldom where they work for the betterment of those living with Dementia.

The point, in fact, last year before the pandemic I was at our local Alzheimers meeting for people living with Dementia. As a person living with dementia, I can tell you that although they try, there is nothing about those meetings that make me want to attend, other than the fact that I like the people, but those meetings are dismal at best. On several occasions, I brought forward the idea to introduce or zoom meetings so people would have an alternative to the only once a month meetings and it would enhance the local meetings because people could meet others in various areas, and would have much to bring back to the local group. It would also fill the need for those who needed more than just a monthly meeting. This was not at all well received and there were no further discussions, I have since then brought it to various levels of which there was no interest.

So then I would wonder why? What would stop them from actively looking at how they could collaborate and together bring more to the quality of life for people with Dementia.

So then a couple days ago I am sitting at home, and they call to tell me that because the groups have been cancelled for almost a year, that they were going to try to put together zoom meetings if they could. I just about fell off my chair, here we are already having something in place, and it won’t be considered, so again I am asking myself why? So all those people had no supports all this time during the pandemic, when had they looked at what we did, they could have partnered with us and those people could have had support until in person would happen again. It breaks my heart, that people’s and Organizations’ egos get in the way, of truly helping support people living with dementia.

We don’t need to nor should we be reinventing wheels that are already in place no matter which organization, instead we should be working together to optimize and help each other. When this finally happens we will see true change for people living with dementia.

They could make it out to be too complicated, but it’s not, we find often things are over complicated unnecessarily. I go through many different scenarios and pictures in my mind, many different conversations with myself about all the why’s and why not’, I cannot come up with a could reason.

And then the light bulb moment, this has nothing to do with what would work and enhance the quality of life for people living with dementia, this is about money. It is about the fear that they may lose funds, by all those who donate to them, if they are engaging with other organizations. If we look at how much of the funds raised actually trickle down to help those actually living with Dementia, then it becomes clear.

There are some organizations that are trying to work and collaborate with each other with great success. But breaking through the old school way of doing things is a huge challenge and unfortunately, it is why we see so little change after years and years of advocating because sticking to the old school thought process and ways, is what brings in money.

It is why the stereotype and stigma still remains, it is why we have yet to change how the education facilities deliver their programs around dementia. It is why we still see human rights violations around dementia.

What we really need is a conference with people from all the various Organizations sitting at the table to look at how and what we can each contribute, and get to the business of actually bringing some tangible results for people living with Dementia.

They say money is the root of all evil, but truthfully it has the ability to do a lot of good if it is used as and for what it is meant to. One thing that Covid has shown us is that a lot of those fancy office buildings that eat up such a huge chunk of money that so generously gets donated, is really not needed, so maybe its time to rethink, how these Organizations are operating, and reallocating funds so they actually have to ability to do they good they were given to do.

We cannot nor should we sit back quietly accepting that it’s the way it is, it’s time to open up the box, colour outside the lines and find new ways so that we finally see the change that is years past due.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia

Tired but not in the way one would think

My soul is tired, my heart is tired, physically I am getting stronger every day, it has been an exhausting 11 months, trying to regain so much that was lost during my illness unrelated to my dementia that struck in March. So although I am regaining physical strength, it is my heart and soul that are feeling a real deep sense of tiredness.

I feel bad because if I feel this tiredness in my heart and soul I can only imagine what my mentors and those before me must be feeling. Although we are very good at lifting each other up and encouraging each other to not quit to not give up, at times our souls, our hearts become so tired it’s hard to keep fighting, and fighting for things that should not even be relevant today but, yet years and years of advocating have done very little to change things.

Point of tiredness, an example if you will, back in December, maybe November, forgive my recall of dates, times, etc are not very good anymore, but I was attending a meeting, of an organization I was happy to take part in and be part of, I thought we could see some great things within our community. I still believe that to be true. But at that particular meeting someone from the Alzheimer Society here in BC did something, likely with no thought beforehand, that has left me and my soul tired. It affected me to the point that I have sat down to address it multiple times and couldn’t, I also couldn’t attend the meeting yesterday although I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to, this makes my heart tired. I often can’t talk about those things at the time, and my word-finding is more difficult, so I write about how things make me feel. So what may seem like nothing to most was huge and is one of the things those of us who advocate trying to make others understand and change.

So at this moment, I was asked in a chatbox, if I felt that nutrition and exercise played a role in dementia. I stated that I did and that there is much in regards to that knowledge. The person from the Alzheimer’s Society jumped in stating there was no scientific evidence to that end, totally discounting what I had said, making me feel humiliated and shut down. Then I sitting feeling angry but knowing it is never a good idea to respond when feeling anger. It was and is upsetting that over and over again we have to fight people who think they have all the knowledge when truth be told, they are merely paid employees of an organization and only know what that organization holds to be their truth unless they are willing to look outside the box from which they are fed. I could have responded and asked if she has ever bothered to actually do any research on it if she had ever bothered to go the World Health Organizations site and read what is there about this very topic if she has gone to any of the medical journals that are showing more and more the role the nutritional and exercise component plays in helping people maintain and live well with their dementia. This is not her area of work within the Alzheimer’s Society so not sure what she was basing such a statement on. But to discount someone else’s view, and leave someone feeling humiliated is totally inappropriate. It is why I always say at these types of meetings words matter. Had she asked me to elaborate on why I felt that to be true, it would have changed how I was left to feel. But this type of thing happens far to often.

The second thing I have run across recently, which in many was fabulous was attending a film festival hosted by Dementia Advocacy Canada, there were four short films, all of which were great and evoked a lot of different emotions. there was discussion after about the four films and I felt it was a great discussion, unfortunately, there was not enough time for some deeper discussion no fault of anyone’s time is precious and I hope at some point maybe we can have a further discussion around some points that were really glaring to me. It’s something that we see over and over again, and I am not sure if I believe any longer that in my lifetime, we will see this change because it has been advocated for so long and yet it continues.

The films and the filmmakers did a terrific job in what they did, I don’t want to take away from that and the organizers of this event did a fabulous job putting it together and bringing it to light for all of us. However again we see or I saw maybe no one else did, maybe because I am tired and my heart and soul are tired I saw it, maybe because it is an area I advocate very hard to change I recognize it. There it was four beautifully done films, but again all done around the more aged, those in a later stage of dementia, feeding right into the stereotyping that we fight so hard to change. The underlying stories were great the points they highlighted terrifically, but it also keeps the stereotype and the stigma about what dementia looks like going.

Again I am grateful for those who made the films, to those who put the film festival together, but it sure highlights why we are tired.

Those of us living with Dementia are trying to be heard, trying to help those who want to help us, who say they want to learn from us, and many do and are, and for all those I am grateful.

But still, I am tired, we have had many discussions lately ( those of us living with dementia), about how so many, even many who are close to us, don’t believe we can learn new things that we can and do have the ability to retrain our brain in how to do things we once did but lost the ability to, and if we do and can then it must be because we don’t really have dementia. Yet for all of us, we are as my friend Janet says “our own lab rats”, we are the ones trying and proving not only to ourselves and each other that we can and do adapt and learn new ways to do old ingrained habits, from simple how we put our socks on or tie our shoes to the more complex how we manage to shop, and cook, etc. Somehow despite all the adverse ways knowingly or unknowingly that people affect us we keep fighting for change, for understanding for a better way forward.

Even for me, because in conversations I have such trouble putting y thoughts and words together, I write, its a gift my dementia has given me, it has helped me find a skill I did not have before so that I could still express myself that otherwise I no longer can. It is the gift that I will be ever grateful for, even though I don’t know when or if it will be taken from me either.

It’s all exhausting, and I’m grateful to all those who advocate as well, they are the ones that keep me going.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

A Slip of the Cog

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In the earlier part of fall, I had new testing, or is it new if it’s done every so often, maybe not new just retesting at the Kelowna Clinical Trials. They test various areas to see where you are being impacted the most and what areas are seeing the most changes and or improvements. At that time, most aspects I have been holding steady, and by that I mean no significant decrease since my last tests, but the area that controls things like my ability to recall had taken a significant hit. Yesterday, I was once again tested, not at the same place this is testing 5hat is done every year and half approximately, it is a 2.5 hour testing done via telephone, again in many of the ares testing, and I can tell you cognitive testing is exhausting in itself.
Well the area that manages things like my ability to recall has taken another hit. I knew I have had more difficulty with it but do the degree it is now effecting me was quite unsettling. Most people don’t realize how much of their time they spend recalling things in a day. If you stop and think about it just about everything you do involves recall of some type, from the simple, where you keep your socks, to the more complex recall of things, people and places and events in your life.

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This all takes me to why I take so many pictures, they trigger memories, in essence help me recall things, events, places and people that I otherwise no longer could. At times they are what helps me build time lines, however even that is becoming more difficult. What usually happens is that looking at pictures will spark a particular feeling, anything that I connected with at some type of emotional level, good, bad, happy, sad, whatever the emotions, will help trigger the memory. Sometimes things like on Facebook will come up with a photo of a memory, it then sends me to go looking through photos to piece together what that memory is supposed to be. I can no longer tell you exactly when I ended up off work, when exactly my diagnosis was, but I can tell you how I felt at those times, I can no longer tell you when I sold my house or where I went to from there, I can tell you how I felt selling my house.
Which brings me to where I ended up again today, looking at photos, recalling a time, a place, a trip, one of great significance for me,


My trip down the Oregon Coast. With my beautiful little car which I miss dearly, and my girlfriend, who I also miss dearly, but as with all things life changes, and we must adapt, dry our tears and forge ahead.
This trip was significant because I had just recently been diagnosed, I was a lost soul in search of answers in search of who I was know and who I would become. It was a time to breathe, to exhale, to try to calm the fear that was running through me. Which of course comes with a dementia diagnosis when you’re told to get your affairs in order that nothing can be done. You are swallowed up by fear, all I knew was what I had worked, end stage, late stage dementia. Not one person I knew had an inkling about early onset. Going to the ocean was my place to figure out how to breathe again, the ocean or water of any type really is and always has been a favourite place for me to be, always where I felt the best and at that time I needed to be somewhere we’re I could somehow find a way to feel good. My girlfriend was the perfect travelling companion, exploring beaches up and down the coast.


It’s still a place I go to on my hard days like today, struggling with the realization that for as well as I’m doing there is more challenges that I deal with,it impacts me everyday, and I can’t run from it, I can’t hide from it, I feel it’s impact every day all day. It takes time to settle in with the realization that there is this new normal, somedays it’s hard, so you take yourself to a place where it felt good, this trip is one of my go to places. It was a journey to absorb something few can imagine being dealt, but it became a trip filled with beautiful moments and memories, of healing of letting go, of figuring out oh to be.

I will always be grateful to my girlfriend for going on the trip with me, I will always be grateful that I did what my soul needed me to do.
Today had been hard, it’s been an emotional day, it’s been a day of once again trying to be ok with things that’s not ok, but unchangeable, so you dig down deep be grateful for all the ares you are holding steady, and once again tell yourself tomorrow is a new day.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

A Difficult Post but Compelled to Write it

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The year 2020 ended and the year 2021 has started out like no others I can recall in my lifetime. There have definitely been trying times, scary times, and events, that none of us will forget. But none of us expected that as we started 2020, like most other years, putting our plans in place for the year, vacation planning, career planning, general family and house planning, the things most do as we move from one year to another, that things were about to change in unimaginable ways.

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No one saw what was coming in March when the world we knew would come to a crashing halt, how we would spend months in our homes, our work lives changed, how our children received their education changed, our health care workers worked tirelessly and under unbearable stress levels, we watched countries worldwide trying to manage the siege of the pandemic of covid 19.

We moved into summer when we became hopeful, yet apprehensive, we ventured out within our own neighborhoods and provinces a little more freely, we let out a half sigh, all the while bracing for what may still come. And come it did, fall came numbers of covid, started to climb, it seemed we had somehow become complacent about how serious the pandemic really was.

People worried about the economy, but the bigger worry was if too many get sick, and the hospitals can’t manage the load, the economy will crash anyways if people are sick they can’t work, so either we let the economy go sluggish for a time, or roll the dice with human lives.

There were and are many that have conspiracy theories about it all, but if we look to science and to the past the story is there.

I then watched as the USA, tried to navigate an election in the middle of a pandemic, we had some provincial elections here in Canada which all ran smoothly and almost seemed effortless.

I then watched as a sitting President ran amuck, created fear, and turmoil dividing a nation. I sat and watched as 2021 unfolded, a pandemic out of control, along with the President of the USA. I watched in horror as people were encouraged to fight, even though the election had been proven to be won. I watched a man whose only apparent thought was for himself and his huge ego, with total discard for the American people. I then watched as the very next day, in trying to distance himself from something he incited, he said that those who did this would be punished. I wonder if all those being arrested thought that he would come and save them, those of us watching knew he never would. He was and has been grandstanding since the election results first started to show he had lost, his ego needs to be fed, even at the cost of the country.

Please know these are fully my opinions, I don’t generally talk politics, I don’t understand how someone can jeopardize their own well being and their families for the sake of one political party or one person. I never align with any party, I listen to all and then decide who I will vote for. My way is neither right nor wrong, it does however lend itself to be thorough and thoughtful about who and what I am voting for, it is my belief political parties change along with the people in them, so I make my decisions based on who and what actions I see. So I struggle with the fact that someone would feel so compelled that they would deface and attack the very country, they say they are fighting for.

And I don’t want to get into a debate about it. Its simply me expressing my view as my heart broke and I sat and cried watching things unfold.

I had to start a meeting today, saying Politics was off the table, it was heartbreaking because I know it’s on everyone’s mind, there are some places where its acceptable our meetings aren’t, we have learned the lessons of the past, political views can be very volatile, even in the best-intended situations. Yet I knew for many it would do them the world of good to say it, let go, but doing so, could cause discord and hurt and cause members to leave due to divided views. These are not the easy moments of being the host.

My reason for writing this post is because whether we are US citizens or not, what happened the other day, impacts us all because it shows us how very fragile our own countries can be and what we believe in is. When people do not agree to disagree put stil put their differences aside because its best for the greater good or in this case the country, awful things happen.

This event along with the pandemic has shed some light on some serious issues we have in our societies regardless of where we live. I have many friends in the USA, I worry about them, I worry for them and their country and pray that going forward it can be in a way that provides room for much peace for all. I watch in our own country people who want to grandstand and sensaltionize things, to feed consipacy theories because it feeds something within themselves, without thinking or caring about whether what they are saying or doing is whats best for the greater good.

I’ve cried a good many tears through this year, for the friends who have lost loved ones, some to other things some to the pandemic, alot of losses, I’ve cried many tears for those I know who are struggling so much with all the isolation, I have cried for all those in the care homes, whose suffering we can’t imagine. I’ve cried watching the Black Lives Matter, I cried watching things unfold the other day at the capital in the US. But I also know that I live with alot of hope, that things will improve and maybe we will come out with a better world for us all.

I hope for all of us the pandemic has taught us that we need less, that material things are of little value, but relationships are the most valuable, that we must take care of each other, do a better job of taking care of our seniors, of our earth and of each other.

As the next few weeks unfold we will all be watching in hopes that all that has happened in the US can end with a new era being brought in, with healing and peace prevailing. Yes 2021 has started out with some of the worse of what we would ever want to see, but their is hope, their is light, if we remember to be grateful to be kind.