The Creativity of Caregivers
I am always so impressed by the creativity of caregivers. Did you know that there are lanyards for people with dementia to wear to help them if they get lost or just need extra assistance?
A lanyard is one of those strings or ribbons that are worn around the neck at conferences to carry your name and id. In America, several Alzheimer’s organizations offer purple lanyards, purple being the color that was chosen as the awareness color for Alzheimer’s. In England, there is a lovely lanyard that was created in 2016 for people with hidden disabilities; it is green with sunflowers.
The lanyard has a two-fold purpose. It not only identifies the wearer as being special, and perhaps needing assistance, but it also allows the larger community to offer that assistance, especially in railway stations, airports, hospitals or other public venues where staff are knowledgeable of its meaning.
When my parents lived in Netanya, we made Mom a bracelet that contained her vital information, specifically her name and my dad’s phone number, a mini red alert bracelet. There were countless times when she would walk away from us, not necessarily intentionally, but because of some urge that would compel her to jut into ongoing traffic and cross the street.
There was also the time one Shabbat that Mom got out of the house by herself, taking along my dad’s phone and a set of keys. Daddy called the police, but they couldn’t do more than make sweeps around the city. They suggested he stay home in case she returned. He didn’t think she knew how to get back home. So he set off to find her, too. He worried that someone would call his number only to have it go unanswered by Mom. Could she even remember how to use a phone? At one point, he circled back to their apartment and went inside to check to see if she’d come home. Thankfully, he received a phone call just then from a friend who had found Mom wandering around the big Netanya square and taken her back to her house. The relief Daddy felt was palpable.
To quote Blanche DuBois in A Street Car Named Desire, “[We] have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
The idea of a community of people who care about and assist those with hidden disabilities is a powerful one. In its early stages, Alzheimer’s is like a hidden disability. The individual affected may be mostly in control of their lives, they may be able to hide their illness and forgetfulness, or converse as if everything is ok. Then it is up to a loving family member to help them overcome the possible shame or despair they feel at having received this diagnosis and give them the subtle tools to continue their lives in the public sphere for as long as possible.
That’s why I love the idea of the lanyard. It can truly help at all stages of this disease, not only in a time of crisis.
I’ve been sick again this week with strep throat. We didn’t have any leftovers on Sunday, so with a handful of items in my fridge, I made a kick-ass lentil soup that was perfect for the way I was feeling. Not to mention it was a dark and stormy night, perfect for a wholesome, hot bowl of soup.
Orange Lentil Soup
Orange soup is a winter staple in our house. Bake some biscuits or even corn bread to eat with it, and the simple soup turns into a complete meal.
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
1 parsley root, peeled and chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
½-1 cup pumpkin, cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large squash, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup orange lentils
Salt and pepper to taste
Up to 7 cups of water
In a large pot, sauté onion, leeks and garlic in olive oil. When onions are translucent, add remaining ingredients, apart from the lentils. Stir and let cook for a few minutes. Add enough water to cover the vegetables. Add lentils with an additional 1½ cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer on a low flame for up to several hours. The vegetables will literally melt in your mouth.