The Story of a Life Time, My Last Soundtrack

An E-Legacy

Today, you’d be hard-pressed not to find traces of someone on the internet.  People will share just about everything with the world allowing each of us a brief glimpse into their life. I’ve often wondered what happens to these pages if the person who owned them passes away. Would the last post or image they share reflect how they would want to be remembered?

What if there was a place that allowed us to record our own story? Not by the everyday musings of our social media pages, but rather by a space designed for us to share our e-legacy with our friends and loved ones our favorite songs, write our most meaningful memories, or display our precious photos. A place that we could feel confident that if we were to pass away the story of our time here on earth would be written by none other than ourselves.

My Last Soundtrack (MLS) has done just this.  Through their innovative and thoughtful lens, My Last Soundtrack has created a safe and welcoming space for anyone wanting to share their story, leave a legacy, or give the gift of collective memories to family and loved ones.

#Disrupters

Founders Carl Hammerdorfer and Joe Cannon began MLS as an opportunity to personalize the music played at our funerals or memorials. Since its conception, however, it has grown into so much more. And through a new lens of the dying process created an opportunity for family and loved ones to better prepare themselves for the end of life.

Last week I had the exciting opportunity to speak with Sue Kemple, the CEO of MLS, and Ally Cannon, Director of Marketing, to learn more about the site and the goals and solutions it seeks to offer the field of aging. Having already written a book on her own experience with grief and intrigued by the idea of applying digital solutions for individuals to cope with death and grieving, Sue saw an opportunity to expand the scope of MLS to individuals on Hospice. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.01.58 PM.pngA welcoming and customizable platform to share our story, MLS also becomes a tool, which will allow end of life conversations to occur more organically. MLS is committed to the idea of living well, dying better, and being remembered the right way. Their platform disrupts sterile conversations we have around the dying process and creates a gateway for people to better prepare for their advance directives in the comforts of home with close family and friends.

My Last Soundtrack

In addition to connecting with Sue and Ally, I was able to create my own Last Soundtrack!  I was pleasantly surprised about how easy the site was to use and customize. And the end result was a beautiful design, which I can continue to add and change as needed! The best part is I can also share with those closest to me who I think would appreciate such a personal gift.

 

 

As I was customizing my own site, I couldn’t help but think of what a great tool this could be for family caregivers caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  In Nursing Homes, the Activities Department is often required to conduct an assessment on a new resident’s likes and dislikes.  It becomes a helpful tool if and when the same resident is no longer able to express their interest we have a record and can quickly adapt activities to their past preferences.

An MLS site has the fantastic potential to allow families to collect their loved one’s favorite songs, their hobbies, or even memories and use them as reminiscing activities while providing future care.

Dying Better 

No matter what stage of life you are in My Last Soundtrack is a unique and fun way to tell your life story. However, through the lens of aging, MLS has created a space where we can forget about the concerns and fears we hold towards dying and refocus our attention on what matters: the life we have led, the music we loved, and the people we have been blessed with to share the journey.

To learn more about My Last Soundtrack and to create your own site check out www.mylastsoundtrack.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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Look for their logo Ed The Raven

 

A Year in the Upside to Aging

designers don't actually solve problems.they work through them.

A year ago I came up with the wild idea of starting a blog. As if six years of writing research papers and projects wasn’t already enough to last a lifetime.  But, I wanted to take these important conversations occurring in the field of aging and bring them to the people who were living through them every day.

Over the past year, I’ve connected with so many inspiring people working and living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  I’ve been humbled by the sheer enormity of the community affected by these diagnoses. And the unique and innovative ways they continue to bring awareness and support to the cause.

I was honored to write and collaborate with Sixty and Me, whose mission is to empower women to embrace and thrive in their sixties and beyond.

I joined the ranks of AlzAuthors, a community built from shared experiences and understanding of the ups and downs of Alzheimer’s. Whose great authors share personal stories and resources in hopes to help others with similar experiences.

And sat down with Meg LaPorte whose new series Age in America is sharing the stories and perspectives of residents living in nursing homes.  Whose mission is to reframe perceptions of aging in America with oral histories, storytelling, and images that illustrate the positivity, diversity, and value of being older.

I am thankful for the support I’ve received over the past year and motivated to continue to share the upsides to aging.  I’m excited to announce the launch of my new website is coming soon and will continue to share exciting projects in store for the year ahead.

When I started my career in activities, I had training…lots of it! My relationships with those living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s was built on fun and laughter, not sadness or confusion.  And for that, I will always be grateful because it has given me an alternative understanding and awareness of the needs of our older adults that I hope to share with all of you.

For nostalgia sake here is my very first post 4 meaningful ways to spend time with a loved one living with Dementia

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4 meaningful ways to spend time with a loved one living with Dementia

Spending time with a parent or loved one living with dementia can be a worrying experience.  “What should I say?” “What can I do?” or “What if they don’t know who I am?” are all completely normal questions you may ask yourself. Not to mention, if you weren’t that close before their diagnosis, the task of getting to know them now might feel overwhelming. Fortunately, with a little preparation and patience, you will find there are many ways to engage and even have fun with your loved ones.

Below are just a few ideas to get you started!

  1. Music will almost always awaken the soul.

Create a special playlist with all of your loved one’s favorite songs and listen to them together. If you don’t know all of their favorite songs here are a few Patriotic songs and other popular sing-along songs they might enjoy:
Alexander’s Ragtime Band
• America
• America the Beautiful
Bicycle Built for Two
• For Me and My Gal
• Give My Regards to Broadway
Hail! Hail! The Gang’s All Here
• Home on the Range
• I Love You Truly

And don’t be shy, it is okay to tap your toes and sing along. They may be sitting in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t always mean they can’t tap their toes and swing those arms like the best of them!

Watch as Henry’s caregivers reawaken his soul with some of his favorite songs (An excerpt from the documentary – Alive Inside):

  1. Go outside – Don’t forget to bring the snacks and something to read!

Whether your loved one is living at home or at a nursing facility the chances for them to spend time outside are often limited.  Take this opportunity to get some fresh air and Vitamin D.

It might be nice to just sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet, but bringing a long a pack of snacks and water makes the whole trip feel more like a picnic.  And if the quiet gets to be too much bringing along reading material and reading aloud to your loved one provides a meaningful and engaging experience for you both!  I always like to bring short stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul or articles from whatever magazine or newspaper I have on hand.

Safety and Comfort first: If it is sunny bring a hat and sunblock to protect them from the sun…and don’t forget their sweater! That cool breeze might feel heavenly to us, but it could make your loved one feel extremely cold and uncomfortable.

3. ZZZ… It is okay if they fall asleep!

It is important to note that it is okay if your loved one dozes off while you are with them. This doesn’t  mean you are boring them or that they want you to leave. There are some reasons why they may be feeling sleepy…Whatever the case try not to take it personally! Your presence is making them feel less alone and more secure even if they aren’t able to express it. Stay there and hold their hand while they nap or make them a card while you wait for them to wake back up.

4. Take notes and Keep track!

It might be helpful to take a notebook with you every time you visit your loved one. The entries can be as brief or as detailed as you would like. But, a good starting point for your entries is the date, the time, the activity, and a note of your loved one’s mood (i.e., mom was smiling as we listened to her favorite songs or mom dozed off as we read from the paper).

At first, this might seem a bit much but after a month or so you should begin to see patterns in your loved one’s routine.  For instance, when tracking, you may find that during your afternoon visits mom is always sleeping or is hard to engage in conversation, but when you visit in the mornings, she is wide awake and smiling. Once you’ve noticed the pattern, you may decide that morning are a better time to visit. And the same goes with identifying what activities they would prefer to do…are they always awake and smiling while listening to music?  Then finding ways to incorporate music in your visits will help them feel more engaged!

As adults, we are always being told to live in the moment. And when we are with our parent or loved one who has dementia this sentiment couldn’t be truer.  As caregivers, you are often the unsung hero’s for our aging population and will spend most of your time focusing on the medical care your loved one receives.  But you also deserve to be able to spend time with your loved one and to get to know them during this new phase of their lives.

Enjoyable Eats: 10 Tips to Make Mealtime More Enticing for Someone Living with Dementia

Eating
Image Source: Pexels Images

Weight loss is a common and harmful symptom for those living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, meal times for our loved one can be stressful, uncomfortable, and even embarrassing.  Coupled with a loss of appetite, ensuring our loved ones eat enough calories in a day becomes a top priority to maintaining their physical well-being.

Make meals more enticing and enjoyable for someone living with Dementia by doing these 10 things:

Eat sweets!

The “no dessert before dinner” rule does not apply here.  Sometimes dessert is the only thing your loved one will be willing to eat, so a double scoop of ice cream is sometimes better than practicing a balanced diet.

You can also, make dishes more enticing by adding a sweet touch.  For example, instead of plain green beans jazz them up with some butter and brown sugar.  Not only are they more likely to eat them, but you’ve almost doubled the calorie intake they would have otherwise eaten.

Make a home cooked meal

Preparing a meal at home is a fun and engaging activity that leaves the entire house smelling delicious.  The smell of dinner cooking is a great way to stimulate your loved one’s appetite and will help orient them to meal time.

Pick out the recipes together

If they are willing and able to help,  go through old family recipes together or scope out new ones online or in a magazine. When we allow them to have a say in the menu plan, there is a greater chance they will enjoy the meal as it promotes their independence and autonomy.

Cook Together

Baking and cooking activities can be a ton of fun, but they also require the use and practice of motor skills. Have them assist in mixing in the ingredients or stirring them all together. These steps require minimal assistance while still essential to the process.

Eat Together

Eating is a social activity, and your loved one is much more likely to eat if someone is sitting there eating and talking with them.  Try discussing some favorite meals you had as a child or other priceless memories that occurred around the dinner table.

You Learn Alot About Somebody When You Share a Meal Together

-Anthony Bourdain

 

A friendly disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The goal of this site is to promote broad and more positive consumer understanding and knowledge of various aspects of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Let’s Celebrate Our Timeless Family Traditions. They Matter!

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First Posted by Sixty and me
The kitchen is often known as the heart of the home, and it has always been my favorite place during the holiday season. The hustle and bustle start shortly after Halloween as the grocery lists get started, and the famous family recipes emerge from their recipe boxes.

 

From Generation to Generation

These recipes are handed down from our mothers’ grandmother to her mother, to her, and now to the new generation of women starting a home and new traditions of their own. Just like the women before her nervously attempting the recipe for the first time.

Cooking becomes a catalyst for something even greater than the meal itself. It is a chance for women to come together to share stories, embrace experiences, and to impart the wisdom to others that only age will allow you to gain.

As we gear up for this holiday season, let’s remember the women who came before us – those who started our beloved customs.

Grandma’s Apron

“The Apron” is a powerful symbol that for many women evoke memories of the time and women who came before them. In the poem “Grandma’s Apron” Tina Trivett tells us how the use and meaning of an apron far exceed its purpose as a clothing protector:

The strings were tied, it was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.

For Grandma, it was every day to choose one when she dressed.

The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;

The things she used it for, that made it look worn out.

She may have used it to hold some wildflowers that she’d found.

Or to hide a crying child’s face when a stranger came around.

Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth.

Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.

She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire.

To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.

When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow.

You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.

She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside.

Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.

When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest.

I’m sure the apron that she chose was her Sunday best.

Stories as Gifts to Each Other

This seemingly ordinary item can hold a very special place in our hearts. Sharing the stories of the women in our lives who wore them is an excellent way to both honor them and to keep their memory alive.

Our mother’s apron, or even a new apron, is a wonderful sentimental gift to give during the holidays. And it will surely be put to good use once all of the family recipes are shared.

Family Recipes

Almost every family has a famous recipe that has been handed down through the generations. Whether neatly displayed in a cookbook, placed on cards in the recipe box, or collected as handwritten notes on scraps of paper mixed with magazine clippings in a shoe box, those sought-after recipes are a window to the past.

My favorite bits are always the handwritten alterations that turn an ordinary dish into a staple at the holiday table. And, as the extended family comes into town, the holidays are a perfect reason to get out those family favorites.

My Great Grandmother’s Raisin Pie recipe is a family favorite, and with special permission from my Grandmom I’d like to share it with all of you:

Granny’s Raisin Pie

1 cup raisins

2 cups water

¾ cup sugar

4 tablespoons flour

1 beaten egg

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

¼ teaspoon salt

pre-prepared pastry (pan and to cover)

First, wash raisins and place in a bowl covered with the water. Let soak 1 to 3 hours.

Mix sugar, egg and flour, stirring in lemon juice and salt and mix well.

Bring raisins and their soaking liquid to a boil for 5 minutes and add to mixture.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour filling into a pastry lined pan. Cover with top crust, seal edges and cut slits in the top.

Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

I remember as a child mimicking the process of measuring and mixing and how excited I was when offered the chance to stir the batter. Even still today, stirring is my favorite part!

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Traditions

These time old traditions offer a unique chance to make new memories while we cherish the old. So as the smells of gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce fill the room, and the sounds of Miracle on 34th Street play in the background, let’s take a moment to reflect on all of the special family customs we’ve maintained after all of these years. Let’s be thankful that we can share them with the newest members of the family.

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Authors collaborating to provide resources for those living with dementia and their caregivers.

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