Between the Dots
Between The Dots is our blog and stories section. Here you will find
articles written specifically for Dots, blog postings by our staff, and
videos from real people sharing their stories, insights, and suggestions for
healthy aging and caregiving.
** Dots, Inc. does not provide professional advice; rather we share
personal insights and relate ideas. If you are seeking professional guidance
please seek certified services in your area.
Carl Jung was once quoted as saying “that which seems
so unfamiliar is often most common.”
It’s natural for us to fear new situations or find ourselves in new
surroundings. I remember when my parents
first moved to a senior living community, Mom was still alive then, and the
first time I had dinner with them I was overwhelmed by the number of, frankly,
really old people there. It seems
obvious, and intellectually of course I got it, but I remember thinking “how do
I talk them, what do I say, what don’t I say?”
I met a daughter of a neighbor of my Dad’s today. Her mother moved in 6 months ago and hasn’t
been eating in the main dining room. She
is no longer married and felt like the 3rd wheel eating with new
people. Her daughter said she is becoming
more familiar with the people there now and starting to eat dinner more
regularly in the dining room.
This group of people is one of the kindest, smartest,
and funniest groups I have come to know.
I don’t know all of them, but I know many. They are sort of my extended neighbors that
just happen to live several miles from me, but the conversations are the same –
how are they today, how’s the weather, what’s new and the one I like best when
we are sitting down – so, tell me a story.
An amazing recount of life adventures unwinds and I discover something
amazing I never knew before.
They are no longer unfamiliar to me. I look forward to seeing them each day when I
am there. Any uneasiness I had has long
disappeared and when I sit amongst them at dinner, I smile and think…..my
peeps. My slightly elder peeps.
President& CEO, Dots, Inc.
It was a Saturday morning like so many of them. I headed down to my father’s senior living
community to spend time with him. Our
activities vary depending on what the week has been like, or what projects we
are trying to accomplish. We have a fairly
predictable schedule we follow; Saturdays from 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Sundays 10:00
– 1:30, once a week I have dinner with him and watch a movie, and so on. I have been doing this for almost four years
now. We have a rhythm to our life.
After four years I have developed strong friendships with the staff as
well as other residents and their families.
This Saturday I went over with some groceries I had picked up, a letter
I needed him to sign, my computer to check his e-mail and a map to see where we
were going to travel to on Sunday. I
bring stuff in and I take stuff out.
There’s a rhythm to it.
I was walking out this past Saturday and as I rounded the bend in the
hallway I ran into Mary’s daughter coming in, followed by her husband. They had their arms filled with bags and
items. I suspect they have their own
rhythm. I looked down the long hallway
and saw professional care givers entering and exiting a few apartments, other
adult children coming in or leaving, the residents of the community rocking
gently on the porch, and the front desk staff member putting things into each
resident’s mailbox. Rhythm.
I stopped for a moment and it struck me that all the movement that was
occurring was almost like an orchestrated theatre production. If you put the right music behind it, there
was a well-rehearsed event unfolding each day.
It’s the rhythm and heartbeat of his community.
& CEO | Dots, Inc.
I grew up as a ‘free-range’ child, spending my summers
hiking, biking and playing outdoors. I
remember as a young child going hiking with my father and siblings. While we didn’t have a lot of time to wander
on The Long Trail in Vermont, I do have memories trekking through the woods
together as a family-pack. Being the
youngest, I also had the shortest legs and sometimes struggled to keep up. When I was six I can recall trotting behind
my Dad asking, “how much farther until we get there?” “I think it’s just around the next bend”, he
would say, and so we would trek on.
Either around that proverbial bend, or on top of the next knoll that
provided a view, he would pause thoughtfully and then look down at me, smile
and say, “Hmm. Must be the next bend, Lizzie. On we go.”
I would take a deep breath and just kept trotting along behind him. Of course he knew well it was a longer
journey, but to keep it manageable for me it was always, “around the next
As I watch him navigate his own map of dementia and
Alzheimer’s it seems that the roles are reversed and I am now the one who
offers the manageable amounts of information as we trek down a path that on
some days seemingly has no map. I
honestly don’t know if the answers he seeks, or that I seek, are around that
“next bend”. There are days I feel as
though I am relying on navigation by the sun, moon and stars alone when it
comes to thinking of ways to change a behavior, communicate a situation, or
think of ways to simply communicate that creates the sense of comfort in the
moment. It’s a very personal journey.
When I first started talking to other caregivers, I
frequently heard them say, “I had no idea what it really takes until I was fully involved; and each time I think, OK,
this has to be the really tough part, some new situation presents itself and
redefines what I thought was difficult.”
I love my father and the time I get to spend with
him. As I have said before, it’s a
gift. And, I am a person who doesn’t
mind getting lost along the way. Matter
of fact I rather enjoy it. It always
presents something new to see. When I
have days that I feel I am lagging behind, I just remind myself …. the answer
is probably just around the next bend Lizzie, just around the next bend.
Written by: Liz Vogel, President
& CEO Dots