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Bedtime Ritual

I had planned to take care of my dad at the end of his life.

In 2009, Dad retired at seventy-five because of Parkinson’s disease. Over the next couple of years, he lived in his own home. My younger brother Mark, who lived nearby, faced the first difficult milestones brought on by Dad’s declining health. Mark was the one to tell Dad that he could no longer drive. And after Dad moved out, Mark took

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Finding a Common Chord

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” — Maya Angelou

Before starting my dive into medicine, almost four years ago, I was an avid violinist, pianist, disc golfer and novice chef. Each of these activities felt comfortable and familiar–like “home.” But when I began medical school, I somewhat wistfully set them aside to focus on becoming a doctor.

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Where She Will Be

Francie Camper ~

City snow blankets my little mother in her hospital
bed in her bedroom, no wonder she is confused,
pointing to things in the air, on the ceiling that only
she can see. She might be hailing a cab. She raises
her head to tell me, Four members of the Isenberg
family came to visit and one was Mima Ettel,
who is already buried in the

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Universal Act of Emotion

 
Throughout most of my life, I regarded crying as a sign of weakness. Just as men often don’t like to cry, I saw crying as a symbol of sensitivity and fragility. Whenever I found myself needing a good cry, I would lock myself in my room and let it all out–let out the pain, let out the suffering, let out the anger. I would cry so much that it felt as if a gallon

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The Turkeys

Lou arrived alone when she’d come for her blood pressure and itchy skin. Sharp, funny, she told me of her daughters, grown up and far away, and her life in the neighborhood as it changed around her. She had lived there for decades, long after her husband left, long after raising two on her own, long after the cottages around her were torn down for industrial sites. Neighbors were scarce and stray dogs plenty.

When

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It Takes a Tokyo Village

Ruth Harimoto

 I have lived in Japan for more than half of my life. I first came here as a nine-year-old child, the daughter of a missionary. Later, after several years of study and work in the US, I returned as an adult with my Japanese husband. You’d think that after more than thirty years here, I could almost call myself Japanese! But no. In this homogeneous country, I’m still a foreigner.

The role

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Expectations

 
Before the start of every school year, from the time I was nine up through middle school, I would make the same school-year resolution: to become shy.

I have always been too enthusiastic. Out of all my classmates, I sang the loudest at birthdays, I laughed the longest at jokes and I asked more questions than anyone else. In fifth grade, a firefighter visited my class; after I’d asked my third question

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The First

 
I have wanted to work in geriatrics, specifically with people with dementia, since I was in high school. Over the past year, I have been able to volunteer with a program called Opening Minds Through Art (OMA). I have worked at the same site as both a volunteer and a leader and therefore have gotten to know many elders on a personal level.

A woman I volunteered with and hold most dear had

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I missed his birthday again gamblee

I Missed His Birthday, Again

Jef Gamblee

About the artist: 

Jef Gamblee is a hospice chaplain from Westerville, Ohio. He first appeared in Pulse in December 2014. Jef is a second-career ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, having spent twenty-five years in commercial and corporate television as

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Music Fills the Soul

Over the years I had come to dread this weekly chore and today, as always, it filled me with such sadness. Tuesdays, on my day off from work, I would drive to the nursing home to visit my mother. There were times when Mom would look at me with her crystal clear blue eyes and say, “Do you know when Beth is coming?” “I AM Beth,” I would exclaim, over and over again when

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Checking Boxes

Regina Harrell

I am a primary-care doctor who makes house calls in and around Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Most of my visits are in neighborhoods, but today my rounds start at a house located down a dirt road a few miles outside of town.

Gingerly, I cross the front walk; Mrs. Edgars told me that she killed a rattlesnake in her flowerbed last year.

She is at the door, expecting my visit. Mr. Edgars sits on the

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How It Was When You Stopped Knowing Me

Susan Rooke

When I cannot help remembering, I recall
that the end of your memory arrived
in a Texas spring so wet it churned the rivers,
ripped white frame houses from the banks
and sent them rampaging on the currents
like Pamplona bulls turned loose into the streets.
There were bridges on those rising rivers, and
I cannot help remembering

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