Joy has the ‘Wright’ idea

I just had a delightful phone conversation with a dear, old friend of mine, Joy Wright. It’s not that I have known her for so many years, but Joy is one of those people that once you become acquainted, it seems that you’ve been friends always.

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Joy Wright pauses from sorting blankets for a photo at the Recycle The Warmth 2016

She is interesting and amusing, compassionate and energetic. Joy’s personality reminds me of an M&M (not the kind with the nut inside), colorful and hard on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside.

We met one year when she volunteered to help at “Recycle The Warmth”, an annual project that provides blankets and warm coats to anyone in need. We immediately hit it off and she has returned to volunteer every year since.

Joy, who was born in 1928, has always been a bundle of energy. She is involved in a variety of projects and volunteer activities. I knew she was a busy girl, but until recently, I had no idea just how busy. Joy operates on the principle that when she sees a need, she tries to fill it – not wait for someone else to come along. Well, she certainly filled a need at Recycle the Warmth – coming early and staying late.

Joy’s  willingness to jump in and do what’s needed even captured the attention of the Soroptimists International of Red Bluff. They awarded her  Senior Citizen of the Year 2016 at the annual Farm City Night banquet hosted by the Tehama County Farm Bureau.

Other ‘needs’ that Joy is trying to fill includes “Alternative To Violence” (ATV). She was one of the founding board members. Joy also volunteers at the P.A.T.H. shelter three times a month as well as helping with the Presbyterian Church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner they offer for anyone who might find themselves alone on the holiday.

Joy spent 14 years as the then newly–minted ‘Executive Housekeeper’ for St. Elizabeth Community Hospital where she oversaw ‘all things clean’ in her own, unique style.

After retirement, Joy returned to college and received a BA in Business Administration from Simpson University. She can be seen regularly doing various office projects at the Shasta College Tehama Campus – she began when it was on Palm Street before they built the nice, new campus on Diamond Ave. Her focus there now is proctoring tests.

But wait….there’s more! Joy is also a member of the Soroptimist International Red Bluff whose motto is: “Improving the Lives of Women and Girls” – a perfect fit for her. For over a decade, Joy has also been involved in providing the ‘building guards’ for the Tehama District Fair each year. The guards keep an eye on things and watch over the exhibits during the fair.

Wow. It makes me tired just thinking about it. I asked Joy why she is so involved and she told me about something she read on a wall in Truckee where her husband was working for PG&E back in 1969: “Not here on Earth to see through each other, but to see each other through”.

Joy is well named – it’s what she brings to those in her world. She is always at the ready with acts of kindness that will help see someone through.

 



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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Are you a Caregiver? Do you know one?

William Shakespeare wrote:  “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Most family Caregivers I know fall into that last category.

It turns out that November is National Family Caregivers Month. Caregivers are typically folks who stepped up to finishing_well_in_life_cargvrthe plate and accepted the role of caring for parents, spouse or other loved-ones.

This is a good time to celebrate the contribution of those volunteer friends and family members who care for loved-ones – not by a pat on the back, but in some concrete ways. Family Caregivers are certainty heroes, but not ‘Superhero’s (meaning they can go on endlessly and never tire).

Usually Caregivers are not complainers and are often reluctant to ask for help. Because of that, I thought I would offer a few suggestions that will provide concrete help for those who are either a Caregiver or a friend of one.

  1. Friend: provide a meal for someone who is caregiving. Caregiver: Accept/request a specific meal.
  2. Friend: Offer to sit with a loved one.  Caregiver: Accept the offer for someone else to sit with or visit your loved one.
  3. Friend: Offer to run errands.Caregiver: Accept the offer and make a list.
  4. Friend: Clean/do laundry (even taking larger bedding to a laundromat.  Caregiver: Accept the offer – you can’t do it all.
  5. Friend: Ask your friend specifically what you can do to help.  Caregiver: Accept the help, answer honestly.

Additionally, ‘Alzheimers.net’ offers some very specific ways to help the unsung heroes in our world. Click on the following link for ideas: 7 Ways to Celebrate  Caregivers 

Additional resources include:

Remember, you can’t do it all whether you are the caregiver or friend. Sometimes the best help may be a welcome visit that provides a temporary distraction.



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and  tips finishingwellinlife3Dcoverabout doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

Find our group on Facebook 

Whimsical joy

While engaging in a lovely chat with a friend of mine, I learned that she had recently embarked on a journey of caregiving. I wanted to give her a word of encouragement or comfort. She didn’t ask for advice, although she had said that she read my book,  “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey” and had gleaned some information which she felt might be helpful and ideas that she would try to keep in mind.

My heart broke with the knowledge of what would likely be a long journey ahead of her. It is no easy task. Many of our loved ones require constant supervision and need help with everyday activities. I hoped that she would have the strength to endure in the difficult times. She mentioned that this was not something she had taken on alone – which is such a blessing as it divides the load and shares both the joy and sorrow. Since she is a believer, my friend will also be drawing on the strength and comfort that comes from the Lord.

Joy is what will be needed for this endeavor. I encouraged my friend to find as much joy as possible by finding social networks and opportunities for her loved one to laugh and smile.

Look for ways to increase the music artistic expression in their world. Sometimes it will be a challenge to go out in public due to mobility limitations or possible inappropriate behaviors.

My sister, Peggy Whitten has a great saying that I love to quote when it comes to caring for a loved one: “They can’t enter your reality, you have to enter theirs.”

Some days their reality may seem like you’ve stumbled upon a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. That’s okay. Try to discover what activities you’re loved one might enjoy doing, (although this may change over time).  I would encourage you to venture out when you can. Help your loved one go to their place of worship, attend concerts, browse art galleries, feed ducks at the park, or visit a zoo.

Do whatever your loved one enjoyed prior to dementia and even add a few activities whenever possible.  When it comes to food, help your loved one share a meal with others whenever possible, whether it’s at a restaurant, with a church group, or a local senior center. Dining with others may also help promote better nutrition which is crucial.

Is there something that will give your loved one a sense of purpose? finishing_well_in_life_towelsMy Mama enjoyed folding towels. I often would bring them to her still warm from the dryer – she would hug the pile of towels and smile large. Eventually, she would begin folding and stacking them next to her. She enjoyed it so much that I must admit there were a few times I took clean, folded towels out of the linen closet to toss them into the dryer in order to give her something to fold. She also loved sorting colored beads and picking nits off of sweaters.

Anything, no matter how silly it seems, if it helps your loved one feel as if they can still do something to contribute is a worthwhile activity. Remember, the journey can be long, use your imagination to lighten the load and find all the whimsical joy you can.