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alzHACKer’s disease:  Helpful hacks for improving your communication efforts

Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17

Bobbe White

                                                                                                                                                                You’ll eventually know someone with Alzheimer’s disease (A.D.).  Percentages are expected to increase exponentially.  Watching Dad succumb has been educational, at best. At worst, “It aint’ purty.” A day doesn’t pass, when someone doesn’t mention their family is dealing with A.D. Check out these hacks for improving communication.

A dopt a smile before entering their room. (Fake or real, they won’t care.)

L et them lead the conversation, even if it’s nonsensical. If Dad mumbles, I either answer randomly or agree with him. Nobody insists it must make sense.

Z ip your mouth when you get the urge to argue. It’s not worth it. Nobody wins.

H ave your phone handy. Show photos. Play music. It possesses power for persons with various dementias. Select hits from their 18-25 adult years. Observe their reaction. Some music sparks happy memories, some triggers sad ones. Note bobbing head and tapping feet. With Dad, it’s not a tremor. It’s his mojo!

E ngage in conversation around someone with A.D. Even the sound of your voice can be soothing.

I nvest in a baby doll.  Watch someone with A.D. cradle, rock and love it. It’s soothing. I believe there’s an innate sense to feel needed. Even better, bring a real baby or puppy!

M ake eye contact. (Not with the puppy…the person!)

E ncourage staff to share funny situations you may have missed. “Laughter is like a dry diaper. It doesn’t take care of the problem, but it makes it bearable for a while.” Michael Pritchard.

R esolve to sloooooooow your pace. Especially if feeding them! They can’t go from 0 to 110 anymore.

S o, they don’t know you. It stinks. It’s the disease. Dad thinks I’m a waitress. He calls me, “Babe.” (He knows me!) Then I realize he calls everybody, “Babe”. (Sigh…)

The Newlywed Game – 40 years later

Written for WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES

3/09/17

Bobbe White

Forty years ago today, on March 9, 1977, Jeff showed up at my Florida apartment in the middle of the night, with a Buick Skylark full of his stuff. And a ring. I was finishing an internship in Winter Park, FL. I figured if went far enough away from ISU, (Illinois State) my supervisor wasn’t likely to pop in on me for a surprise observation. I was correct.  Dr. Meyer never popped in on me, but I never expected Jeff to pick up his life in Quincy and PoP the question at 2:00a.m. We returned to Quincy and a smattering of family and friends, for a living room ceremony March 26, 1977 (yes, three weeks later); then high-tailed it back to Florida for our obligations.

We had a great run those first couple of years. We moved about every six to eight months, by design. When else can you live in multiple cities and move everything you own in two cars?

Along the way, an extra passenger hopped into my car, uninvited. The passenger would hang out in the back seat some of the journey. Sometimes it even in the trunk, and we didn’t know it was there. About 6-8 years later, my extra passenger hopped into the front seat and sometimes, insisted on driving. The extra passenger -or baggage- however you care to look at it, was depression and anxiety. There. I’ve said it. It’s very scary to admit. But it’s very burdensome to not admit. Do you know why? Those of us who have suffered are deathly afraid of the STIGMA. Especially in a small community, where everybody knows your name. Especially somebody like me: high school cheerleader, long-term career gal, the motivational humorist speaker and author, on my own time (a/k/a known as a laughter therapist). Who’d have thunk it?

We’re happy to announce that I’ve been a recovering train wreck since about 2000. If you do the math, our married and family life was burdened by my affliction, or illness, or whatever you want to call it, for years.  To celebrate our anniversary, we will exchange the Hallmark cards and I’ll unwrap a crown of rubies, diamonds and sapphires, no doubt. We’ll take a week-end trip at some point. But, here’s our REAL gift to each other: we’re collaborating on a book about my depression and how it affects the spouse and the house. If you, too, suffer, it’s not just you who suffers. We think we hide it pretty well. Right. It takes a village to move a family through this muckety-muck. Thankfully, with a lot of help, we’re on the other side: still married, still learning about how it’s even possible and with terrific kids, who, thank God, I didn’t damage as much as I’d feared. Our message to those who may read our book someday is a simple one.

There is hope.  There is help. We’re proof.  bw

The Comfort of Travel Routines

Bobbe White

3.2.17

written for wtad.com

itll-do-motel

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there are limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, before working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I have saved the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. (Drive on.)

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. (Still not tired.)

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. (We’re a little tired.)

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “But that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there’re limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I save the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. Drive on.

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. Still not tired.

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. We’re a little tired.

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “but that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-“Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.”

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

Colorado: Giddy-up! We stop at the first and only gas station in the Colorado plains. The Rockies are still hours away. Looks like Kansas. We request the restroom keys. It’s seriously attached to a billy club. I feel like a Bobbe, the London Bobby, with a billy. “Who’d want it?” we ask the clerk. She says we’d be surprised.

Fast forward three days and the man at the Denver Residence Inn desk asks, “Leaving already?”

“We only reserved two nights…”

“Hmmmm,” he says. I just remember you two. (Really?) We blink at him.

“I remember people who talk to me.” He says to us. We love this place.

“We’ll be back!”

We head home and stop at the same cafe near the Colorado-Kansas border. I don’t even recall the town, at this point. All we know is, the woman who is owner/waitress/cook is still crabby. But the eggs are good and the bacon is crisp.

Nice to know some things never change.

bathroom-keys

NO TABLE FOOD! (Okay, maybe just a little).

wtad.com- WHITE PAGES-2/21/17

Bobbe White

NO TABLE FOOD!!! (Okay, maybe just a little…)lily-sushi

Ten years ago, my son, Nick, and I brought home a free, scruffy-eared puppy. She was a mix between a Llewellyn Setter and a Labrador. The breeders hadn’t planned on such a mix and couldn’t jeopardize their reputation by selling anything less than a purebred. Like we cared. Jeff put his foot down on several house rules. The one of which he was most adamant was, “NO TABLE FOOD!”

Four years later, that changed and we weren’t exactly sure why. Then Jeff told this story. In the dog days of August, Jeff set out for the duck camp to treat the American Water Weeds on the lake, with chemicals. One can never begin preparing too early for the duck season, you know.  (It lasts about thirteen months in our family…) Jeff hooked up his chest waters and entered the deep water. The bottom of the lake was thick silt. As he stepped through a known low spot, he felt his boot sink into the silt. It literally grabs and holds your boot. The pressure was similar to quicksand, except he wasn’t being sucked down. He was just stuck in the mud. He was in deep sh*t, you might say. Lily White, the black Lab was swimming and playing, as usual.

Jeff weighed his options, none of which were viable. If he didn’t figure out something soon, he’d be a stick in the mud until we started looking for him. That would likely have been hours and hours later. There wasn’t anyone else around to help. Except for Lily. My guess is that Jeff’s voice, normally strong and resonant, had a tone of alarm to it. She dog-paddled back to him and made a 180 degree turn. He grabbed her collar. She started swimming furiously towards the shore. He pulled back against the resistance until his boot popped out and away from the silt trap.  Jeff was then able to make it easily back to shore.

Lily is ten now. She still loves the water, but tires more quickly. Her coat is still soft and shiny black. Considering she’s 70-ish in dog years, she really doesn’t look it, aside from some gray on her muzzle. Jeff thought Lily deserved whatever food she wanted after this rescue. This dog now enjoys occasional table leftover treats. No doubt, the leftover salmon is good for her (and her coat!) as is chicken. Boneless. Last night took the prize however. Lily actually liked a couple of remaining pieces of sushi. California and Philly rolls. She insisted on chopsticks.  Anything, Lily, anything.

 

ONE ROSE, COMING UP!

WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES 21517

Bobbe White

The red crush of Valentine’s Day is over.We all somehow survived. It’s always interesting around an office, even if you’re not a fan of the holiday. ESPECIALLY if you’re not a fan. Why? Because we performed complicated algorithms on how many floral orders were delivered in direct correlation to total number of possible recipients. For those who can’t remember basic mathematics (who can?), an algorithm is a set of detailed instructions, which results in a predictable end-state from a known beginning. In other words, I have no clue what that means. In other words, the total number of bouquet deliveries I observed was 2.75. Odd number? I think not. Two bouquets were legitimate, obligatory Valentine’s bouquets: one newlywed and one newly engaged. Those are obvious.

The third recipient’s bouquet celebrated not only Valentine’s Day, but also their wedding anniversary, which happens to be Valentine’s Day. She gets a ½ point, since Hubby was double-dipping: ½ Valentine, ½ Anniversary. Still, I’d give him a high five for picking this date.  He’ll never, ever, ever forget.  That leaves ¼ of a bouquet. There, on one desk, was one lovely red, variegated rose. The card read, “And you thought I forgot!” That was my desk, my $4.00 rose and my handwriting. Yes, I bought my own. I did last year and will again next year. Big deal. My husband doesn’t do flowers. So what? I just wanted flowers on my desk. Ladies, if you are feeling glum, because you were flowerless in the public arena, take control, stand tall next year at the floral desk and shout, “ONE ROSE, PLEASE. IT’S FOR ME!” Sometimes we need to complete our own darn selves. Besides that, the algorithm proved that we are in the 90th percentile. So there’s that. The bottom line?

“Teach your children well”.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

They’ll thank you one day.

ICE, TRIPLE LUTZ and TUTUs

WTAD.COM- WHITE PAGES-1/19/17

Bobbe White

Friday 1/13/17, before multiple inches of ice rained on our world, thousands of residents created the grocery stores’ version of Black Friday. The entire Midwest vicinity would be eating mountains of French toast for days, with their apocalyptic purchases: bread, milk and eggs. Oh, and beer. The store lines replaced the ice threat in the headlines. I wasn’t worried. We’d be fine. We had enough dog food, Oreos and Jack (Daniels) to last a month. There was Halloween candy, somewhere in the freezer.

I pretended we were iced in for two days and never left the house. It was pretty slick as our dogs slid across the deck. Lily White, the black Lab, performed a triple Lutz, landing on all four paws.  Molly White, Lily’s niece, struggled, but only from inexperience.

Being iced in was a perfect scenario. Saturday was day 14 of the Minimalist Game. In follow up to last week’s post, this meant I vowed to pitch, sell, donate or re-gift 14 household clutter items on Saturday, 15 on Sunday and so forth. The details of what was trashed would bore you, but I’m proud to say that I finally pitched my daughter’s 1995 gingerbread house from St. Peter’s kindergarten class. It wasn’t until one of my friends texted me: “THROW IT AWAY! IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU DON’T LOVE HER!” It sounds ridiculous, but after getting permission, it was easy. Now, what about those tubs of toys and baby clothes living in the storage room? Why do we keep the tutus?  Stained bibs? Baby sized rubber boots? The rootin’ tootin’ cowboy chaps? Do we fear the memories will get tossed out with the tangibles? At least we’ve got plenty of pictures and videos to assist our memories. Just think of the money savings on film and developing costs, now that we take smart phone pictures.  If we don’t have to buy or develop film, we must be saving hundreds of dollars, aren’t we?  It’s doubtful. Smart phones can cost hundreds of dollars. It’s simple:  we’ll never win the spending game, until we stop wasting money. Here’s how the inner fight plays out in me:

$50 gift card…cool!

Let’s go shopping!

Oh, rose gold bracelet I’ve wanted FOREVER!

Hmmmm, it’s $284.00.

But I can apply the $50 card…

I shouldn’t get it.

I want it.

Shouldn’t.

But I want it.

Shouldn’t.

But I really, REALLY want it!

I’m getting it, so there.

It’s an investment in gold.

(Inner eye roll, saying, “Nice try.”)

Defiance of inner eye roll.

I got it!

Exhilaration!

Later…

Buyer’s remorse:

What was I thinking?

Ugh. I didn’t mean to spend more money than the card value.

That’s the devil in the gift card. I always go over.

Shouldn’t have bought it.

Inner voice: told you not too.

But I wanted it.

So, what else is new?

I’m mad at myself.

That was stupid.

I’m stupid.
Don’t even like rose gold.

Then do you know what happened?

I woke up.

Yes I did!

It was a dream?

It was a dream!

IT WAS A DREAM!

Ahhh, relief.

The end.

Happy restraining!

 

Just Say “THROW” (it away!)

The White Pages, by Bobbe White                                                                                                              written for wtad.com  1/12/17

Just Say, “Throw!”

Have you heard of The Minimalist Game? The game is designed to help those of us with organized hoarding habits, to unburden our homes of extra stuff. It exhausts me to think about it, but I’m playing and found a friend on Facebook, Marianne Schmitt, who has joined me, so that we can be accountability buddies during the festivities. First, I watched the documentary, The Minimalists, as recommended by my daughter. Then, I found their website, with regular podcasts, books and blogs, oh my! All designed to help People Like Us (PLU) who have a tendency to keep and heap. Here’s how the game is played for a month. I started 1/1/17, but you can start whenever you like. On day 1, you get rid of one item you don’t need, wear or want. On day 2, two things. I’m on day 12, because it’s the 12th, obviously, and that’s right, I must shed 12 things. So far, I’ve been a good player and student of the game, but, it’s going to get harder. Today I threw out two broken baby gates, a gallon of Elmer’s glue, four books and five flip flops. This is kind of like the “Twelve Days of Christmas” in reverse and with giving, not getting one thing from your true love. To the giver, whatever you pitch should have no value to him or her anymore.

Another thing about PLU: this is not an easy game, as it moves into double-digit-getting-rid-of-crap-days. However, I keep surprising myself that there actually IS that much worthless stuff in this house! Sad, but true. If I must say so myself, it’s a little bit exhilarating and very satisfying.

One more point of the game that makes it challenging: PLU find it hard to purge anything, no matter how worthless it is. There are two main reasons for this:  (1) we’ve developed a bond over the years with our stuff and (2) the four toxic words of garbage giving: “I might need it!” No you won’t.

If it were nicer weather, I’d put all this stuff outside for a free garage sale. But it’s winter, so for now, I will find homes for some of the items, and the rest will be in my car for a daily drop at the Salvation Army. It’s the best service ever! You pull in and double doors

automatically open, a volunteer comes out with a grocery cart and happily hauls your hoards of stuff away.  Just. Like. That. It’s a lot like the dry cleaners, except you don’t have to go back to pick up your order. You’d better not!  If you follow the rules and I did the math right, after 31 days, you’ll have trashed 487 items! Happy purging, my minimalists!   (theminimalists.com)

Exhibit A:  contents from one (1!) closet
stuff

 

 

 

For more information, check out the minimalists.com.