When Dementia Gets Personal – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Brought To You

jekyll-and-hyde-web_658_375_84_c1_c_c_0_0_1

A friend for 30 years (I will use the name” Jason”) goes ballistic; Jason verbally attacks me, ranting and raving with scary yelling and gestures.  The trigger:  I have no opinions about the significance of the day after Halloween (All Saints’ Day).  The next day Jason calls like nothing happened; I remind him, he swears he does not remember; we have a normal, friendly talk, so,  I write the outburst off as several  “senior moments.”

The next week a group of mutual friends and I are at a weekly lunch meeting.  We are chatting about faux pas and embarrassing mistakes we have made.  One friend (let’s call him “Chad”) tells a humorous story about when he sent an email to his boss that was a passionate message to his wife.  We laugh and tease him, like guy friends always do.

Suddenly, Jason raises his voice and wags a finger at this “stupid screw-up.”  He rails and berates Chad until Chad gets up and walks out of the restaurant.  Then Jason follows Chad into the parking lot and beats on his window, still yelling.  Five minutes later, he comes back, smiles at everyone, and asks me if I can stay after lunch to talk about an idea he has for a photography business.  He was clear and pleasant the whole time; he was the friend I know again.

Jason’s problem becomes traumatically real to me.  Alzheimer’s, or bipolar, schizophrenia, mad cow disease, I am at a complete loss.  Does he have a brain tumor?  Has he taken some mood-altering drugs?  Is he still going to be the friend I have known all these years?  Is he some kind of hybrid being, who “identifies” differently some days, or hours?  Has old age stolen his mind?  I am confused, sad, and worried.  What should I do?

My nature is to research problems before I act.  I discover that his condition is probably medical.  Advancing age is fraught with declines, distortions, amplifications of who we are.  What people dread most, is not death; it is the loss of independence and identity.

My research yielded interesting, enlightening, conflicting, and vague ideas.  The mysteries of Alzheimer’s and Grumpy Old Man syndrome are beyond us now.  I am going to make the best suggestions I can to give Jason a chance to live independently, to retain his self-respect, and to let his friends know when he needs them.

Phase 1.  Find out what he can about what is happening to him.  Whatever it takes to know what he is dealing with.  Doctors, tests, interviews, and the lot of modern medicine.  Most likely, they will be semi-inconclusive.  Mood shifts, forgetting, risk taking, those are the symptoms.  Jason will have to choose a path, a theory, a diagnosis he can pursue.  He cannot do everything, but he can do some things.

Phase 2.  Implement the universal common denominators of healthy lifestyle.  All bids for health share wellness and mindfulness as crucial, non-pharmaceutical elements (although medication might be needed for some things).

  • Complete examination
  • Enough good:
    • Sleep
    • Hydration
    • Exercise
    • Nutrition
  • Stable daily routines
  • Thinking/learning/puzzles
  • Stress management/mindfulness
  • Social/spiritual support

Phase 3.  Comply with doctors’ orders.  Try everything long enough to be a fair trial.

  • Take all prescribed medications when and how the prescriptions direct.
  • Show up for appointments and tests
  • Give regular feedback on efficacy of treatments

Phase 4.  Accept your mortality.

  • We all exit this world, unexpectedly. Be gracious until then
  • We all get to choose our friends, revere who we love, and forgive our families
  • Acknowledge your family, friends, doctors
  • Add to that acknowledgement list
  • Do not hold back because you feel vulnerable or embarrassed

I do not think we can guess who will be our Jason, or to whom we will be a Jason.  Maybe these thoughts could help.

 

Advertisements

Would You Die to Save Your Family? – Extraordinary Measures Ruin Families

Most people say yes, when asked if they would die to save even one member of their family.  There are different kinds of saving.  The medical costs of extraordinary measures to preserve vestiges of life in terminal patients are also extraordinary.  Who wants their family members to die?  Anyone?  Of course not.  WE don’t want to die either, but we will die, even though we don’t want to think about it or admit it will happen to us.

The emotional storm which comes with the prospect of death of a loved one more than fogs intellect and reason.  The brain chemistry alone prevents most people from thinking clearly.  People die despite our wishes to the contrary.  The fear, hysteria, anger, confusion, and grief renders any normal person witless.

Historically, death, by itself, did no direct harm to the survivors outside of losing the income that person produced.  But things are vastly different in 2017, when death, especially delaying inevitable death can kill the surviving family financially.  And what is life without money in our society?

But, no one thinks of this when they rush to the hospital, or hear the pronouncement that their loved one has a terminal condition. Doctors do not describe anything as terminal any more.  They use euphemisms provided by insurance companies and lawyers to give doubt and hope to the family, even though the doctors are pretty sure of the outcome.

Family members ask, “what is the prognosis?”  The only answer that is forthcoming comes when the patient is dead.  Cannot get around that one.  That is the least threatening to the families’ financial welfare.

The threat arises when “extraordinary measures” keep the body warm, even though the soul has moved on.  This penchant to “heat the meat” is driven by at least four factors: 1. Doctors do not like patients to die; 2. Families do not like family members to die; 3.  Medical technology can sustain the semblance of life with heart and lung supplements; 4.  The billings are huge.

The other side of “billings are huge” is medical bills are staggering, devastating, unpayable, and strangely enough, not the obligations of the patient, but of his “estate,” which means his family.  How many families have an extra million dollars lying around to cover giant bills?  Except for exempted items, most families lose everything and have to declare bankruptcy.  Sad but true, what the insurance company will skillfully avoid paying lands on the grieving spouse, children, parents, or whoever would be a beneficiary of his estate.

The only approaches I have heard to dealing with this threat are:

  1. Amazing, triple-source, health insurance
  2. Multi-million-dollar life insurance
  3. Planning and legal documents

I can only point you to the issues.  It is up to you to do the research and planning.  If you have not considered this issue, consider yourself warned.

Public Schools Disguise Failure – High School Graduates Brainwashed & Blindsided

Ignorance is not stupidity.  Ignorance is the absence of knowledge.  Example, are baby boys ignorant or stupid?  They are ignorant, but eager learners.  They watch, copy, listen, explore, and fall down.  They must learn to control their bodies; they must learn what is good to eat; they must learn to communicate; they must learn how to ride bicycles, play tag, kick a ball, write their names, be nice to grandma, be nicer to girls, and so on.

Schools are important, because what children learn in school, they could not learn by themselves.  Schools teach them the ways the world works.  Schools teach socialization on a much bigger scale than at home or in the neighborhood.  Schools show children that their home and community are not universal, there are other people, and other places that are much, much different.  Schools teach how to answer questions and solve problems.  Schools teach English the way that gives them the best avenue to written and spoken knowledge.  It might not match the way things are at home, but awareness of the “other-“worlds outside their experience is crucial for their future.

In the most primitive societies, people learn what survival has taught.  Live or die is the standard of measure.  Children start learning as innocents:  parents give “protected” lessons, small doses of harsh truths; they provide regular rescues and frequent warnings of the dangers.  As children develop, parents and family show them life skills in increments, and let them practice within safe limits; let them make small levels of all the natural mistakes, and suffer slight versions of all the natural penalties and results.  Primitive environments offer little slack between action and consequence.

The family teaches them the practical skills of eating, drinking, bathing, shelter.  Children learn to hunt, fish, farm, gather, make and use tools.  Their family shows them how to escape danger, hide from threats, and adopt social skills.  The kids learn what is required to stay alive.  After they can demonstrate the basics, they begin to refine and master whatever they need to live and prosper as an adult.

The parents, siblings, family and tribal members know that survival demands awareness of the differences between success, failure, and everything in between. Children and adults constantly watch, listen, practice, and compete with others to improve their knowledge and skills.  They win some, they lose some, they best some, and lose to others to find their place on the scales of mastery.

They are never allowed to go forward believing they can do something they cannot.  Life hangs in the balance, not only for the child, but for everyone in the connected community.  Mistakes by one spell critical danger for them all. What you don’t know will kill you.  Ignorance is death.

I like the saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”  This is the essence of ignorance – you have no clue that things exist that could be vital to your life. You are oblivious to dangers and opportunities, because they have never been revealed to you.  You are blind and deaf to what you could have and do, if you only knew you didn’t know.  Because then you could learn about those parts of life, and add them, if you are interested.

What happens when a child is not given direct links to truth and consequences?  What happens when they get vague or misleading feedback?   How will they fare in real-life competition when they grow up, after being praised for mastery they do not have?

Today, I read about the importance of education and thinking skills when competing for jobs.  I also read about poor children drifting through public school with other poor kids, copying their buddies, or family, or neighbors, dropping out early, because their friends do, or their parents did.  Even if they stay the course and graduate, how many are discouraged and disappointed when they venture into the “real world” nobody told them the truth about?

How is that working for us?  Almost a quarter of the students entering college or junior college require remedial courses to fill the yawning holes in their high school learning.  Why do they have a high school diploma that leaves them in the ditch for higher education?  How has the freshman year in college become the junior/senior year of high school?

Public schools like DISD have 90%+ poor children to educate.  This is a daunting mission.  Leaders and teachers are both proud and embarrassed with their jobs.  The truth is they provide educational foster care for their students for 12 years. They are the substitute family for these children. They feed them breakfast and lunch.  They show them all the knowledge they know how to show.  They have after-school activities for those whose parents work, to keep them safe, so they don’t have to be alone at home. They try to widen the children’s social perceptions and self-esteem, because poverty has wrecked them; home is where learning stops.

They cannot mitigate the parents’ problems, and the environment at home.  They cannot add staff empowered to backup teachers who face “class management” problems.  The poorest public schools have given up, because they cannot win; the problems are overwhelming; every factor is against them succeeding.  So, what choices do they have?  They either quit or compromise to survive as employees of public institutions; they point to marginal gains, and use subjective standards to describe “progress. “

They are deceiving us and our children mentally, emotionally, and socially. The object seems to be to get them to age 18 alive, and teach them enough to justify sending them into the world on their own.  It does not matter that they do not know what they do not know is ahead.

The advent and prevalence of “alternative evaluation” such as “participation awards,” has deprived children of the ability to answer life’s most important questions: What happened?  Did I win, lose, or draw?  What did I do or not do to get my results?

Part of the occlusion comes from cumulative generations of parents who have no foundation in their own education.  They cannot measure or judge their child’s knowledge or understanding of subjects that are foreign to themselves. Another contributor is the deliberate removal of clear measurement standards from school.  Whether grades are A – F, or 100 – 0, they give the student a place to stand on their personal learning curve.

All the malarkey about emotional intelligence, self-acceptance, cultural awareness, instead of mastery of subjects, derails education, and generates unprepared high school “graduates.”

Such subterfuge is just a smoke-screen to camouflage ineffective teaching systems, unsuccessful learning efforts, incompetent, deluded teachers, and dishonest, political, school officials.  Federal and state money to schools can rely on reported student achievement and advancement.  When the students do not perform on standardized tests of basic subjects, penalties arise for the school district.  The incentives to “play the game” are vast.

The saddest thing about this structure is its cumulative self-perpetuation.  High school drop-outs do not just disappear, they grow up, they have children whose parents are not educated or enthralled by the school experience.  These children do not have adult models of success, and are less likely to value and complete high school.  They grow up, they have children who have two generations of parents with limited education, and success, and so on.

The answer is not to pass students from overcrowded class to overcrowded class, frustrating year to frustrating year, with phony, political, grading methods; it is not to issue them a counterfeit high school diploma, and kiss them good-bye.

What are the answers?  Cut the psycho-babble crap; forget the “participation” trophies; tell our children the truth; give them grades on a finite scale; offer them tangible ways to measure what they really know; teach them learning skills and habits.  Let them see who has learned, and who has not.  If they fail to learn some parts of subjects, show them; then let them know that failing once, or twice, or ten times is not the end, show them how not to quit, show them how to try again.  No child learns to walk or ride a bicycle on the first try.  Why should other learning be different?

Want to see motivated, determined learning?  Watch children play sports and games.  Kids will practice and practice until they find out what works, what does not, who is good at them, who is not.  Failure does not stop them when they want to play.  Golf is a great example.  Golfers are not daunted by the fact they may never be excellent.

We are telling parents and children that their only hope is college.  At best, this false notion leads many underqualified students to enter college unprepared, to struggle into insurmountable debt, fail, drop-out, or earn a useless, jobless “degree.”  College is not the only way to qualify for a respectable job.

The absence of non-college career training is a glaring omission in modern education.  Why can’t we emphasize quality trade schools as respectable alternatives to college?  Restore prestige to learning trades.  A master plumber can earn more than a poorly-performing college graduate.  Trades offer decent earnings opportunities, as well as professional pride and respect.  In addition, most trades cannot be “outsourced” to another country, or eliminated by technology.

Why not:

  • Offer trade-related courses in high school as an alternative to college preparatory courses?

  • Reinstate work/study programs related to trades.

  • Offer trades training to undereducated parents

  • Let parents and children see that most trades require knowledge of basic math, language, and science.

  • Offer trades-enhanced GED diplomas

  • Let parents bring their children to afternoon and early evening classes.

Think about the stages of human mastery:

  1. Discover something you want or need to learn

  2. Test your current knowledge

  3. If you fail, analyze, learn, and adjust

  4. Retry, analyze, learn, and adjust

  5. Once you learn the basics, practice, analyze, learn, and refine

  6. Practice, analyze, learn, and refine until you excel.

What might happen if we taught this mindset and process?

 

Sports We Learn to Play & Live

Perspective makes a huge difference.  Most men get their attitudes towards sports from their fathers.  As boys, Dad is the first, safe, ball-playing partner.  As babies, we learn to track a rolling ball with awkward, sometimes amused, unfamiliar, jerky head and eye movements.  At some point, Dad encourages us in high-pitched, baby talk, big smiles, gentle hands, giant gestures, by rolling the ball towards himself, and closing his hands on the ball in broad, wide, exaggerated pincer movements.

Then the light goes on.  We try to copy him.  Wobbly little fingers reach behind, miss, deflect, miss, and finally connect with the ball, grasping it swiftly to our eager mouths, inspecting it for edibility, like everything else at that age.

Once we discover, with some curious disappointment, and numerous bad tasting attempts, that this round thing is not good to eat, we find out its true purposes – toy, play, fun, and time with Dad.  Boys would never learn the skills they need to practice and play without their Dads.

Much of growing up as a boy relates to balls.  Nothing surprising about this, as balls connect us to our earliest ancestors’ relationships with eggs, skulls, bladders, and rocks.  Balls to roll, balls to throw, balls to catch, balls to dodge, balls to bounce, balls to kick, balls to hit with one kind of stick or another, balls to hit other balls, balls to run with.  Big balls, little balls, hard balls, soft balls, pellets, and even balls that are not round, like footballs and rugby balls.

Aside from natural sports, like wrestling, fighting, racing, catching, and spearing, almost every other “sport” involves a ball variant, (e.g. I consider a hockey puck a flat-earth-equivalent of a ball;).  Sports are mostly derived from instinctive self-defense, and evolved hunting/fishing skills. Team sports grow from coordinated hunting/fishing efforts.  Boys learn how to play as part of a team when their Dads show them the power and fun of coordinated efforts in sports.

Until our recent era, spectators were limited in number and influence; pretty much participants only. Sports “reporting” started as the successful hunter/fisher displaying the game/prize, bragging about prowess, belittling the losers; the unsuccessful quietly moaning excuses, and looking for a rematch.

The paucity of witnesses to most events led to plenty of fireside tale telling, and retelling embellished, detailed descriptions of heroic sacrifices, powerful portrayals of excruciating pain, encounters of life-threating dangers, frightening exploits, arguments about winners, extended “if only’s,” and “if it hadn’t been for’s,” bets and guesses on next time, and other highly imaginative exaggerations.  Today, a large part of male friendship still lies in the modern versions of these rapport-building exchanges.  Sons still need to learn the important, intimate skills and secrets of play and sports from their Dads.  So, let’s “Play Ball!”

Stephen Hawking 100-Year Horizon – Human Nature Will Not Let US Survive

The most sacrosanct assumptions in projections of the future pertain to the uninhibited “right” to have children.  Arguments galore might pan the notion that having children is not a right, it is a luxury the future may not afford.

Ask yourself:

What is the source of pollution?
What is the source of famine?
What is the source of war?

The answer to all the problems posed by fatalists is simple:  people.

People, from birth to grave consume and emit.  Without technology, with technology, it does not matter.  Being alive adds to the problems we work so hard to offset.  Yes, you and I demand food, water, clothing, shelter, and many products and services that require resources.

In the extractive era, all we had to do was harvest.  We fished, hunted, drank water, felled trees, built fires, made tools, developed agriculture, and diverted rivers to allow us to harvest even more from nature.  And what did we contribute in exchange for the bounty we consumed?  Effluence.

So vast was the trove of resources, we had the energy, tools, and bodies to plant and husband, delve and drill, sail and dive, smelt and forge ourselves weapons and consumptive infrastructures.

The constant threat of extinction was real and constant.  The rate of mortality for mothers and babies was daunting.  The mortality of hunters and soldiers was also constant.  Not only was procreation allowed, it was demanded of women by men, relatives, and religions.

Numerous times, depopulation was significant, through wars and diseases.  The specter of extinction haunted our species, and still does in nuclear and cosmic ways.

It is ironic that the solution to our fears is the source of our threats – more people. Preserving resources ranks lower than species’ survival.  Increasing consumption of resources, and the byproducts that creates, threatens our existence.

Our nature demands that we dig our own graves, rather than curb our breeding.  Is it wrong?  Define wrong.

Public School Classrooms Strip Students of Protection

Civilized societies set behavioral norms, and prescribe consequences for violating those norms.  For example, it is not okay to harm another person without cause; it is not alright to harass someone, or “disturb the peace.”  Families can set broader boundaries inside their homes, but not in public.  However, sadly misguided federal laws and rules subject public school children and their teachers to violent, threatening, disturbing, unpredictable, disruptive behavior every day, in the name of “equal education.”  This violates common sense and the rights of the other children to a peaceful education.

In the so-called “real world” normal people do not put up with violent or disruptive people.  The disruptive person is usually fired from a job in a work environment, ejected or arrested in social or public environments.  Medical treatment is indicated, to the extent emotional disabilities or mental illness are involved; punishment and fines are indicated otherwise.  In other words, society separates or isolates disturbed citizens and insulates normal citizens from their disruptions.

I do not know any normal, emotionally healthy people who are made to endure the disturbances of disruptive adults.  Why do we subject our children and public school teachers to behavior normal society does not allow?  Most teachers are not trained psychologists, and none of the students are trained to accept and deal with such frightening, threatening behavior either.  Even if they were, there is no excuse for making public school so trying, and perhaps harmful.

 The current federal laws paint children with “disabilities” and public schools with a broad brush when they require inclusion and mainstreaming without stipulation.  Do they think normal classrooms are therapy for violent and disturbed students?  Do they think the distress and disruption help normal students learn?  Disturbed, violent, and disabled students need added, special resources and treatment that normal students do not.  Why subject the whole class to special efforts that scare them, delay normal learning and deny them the knowledge they are present to obtain?

Special needs children deserve to be taught the same knowledge as other kids.  Many special needs children are not disruptive.  However, their special needs may require different teaching approaches and intensive, trained, instruction to attain that knowledge.

The advocates of “mainstreaming” tout the marginal benefits to special needs students, but blithely avoid discussion of the serious detriment to “mainstream” students and the teachers that must cope with the stress and interference required to produce those benefits.  This attempt at social engineering is so obviously lame, it cannot stand a reality check.  Does anyone remember when even whispering in class, and passing notes were punishable infractions?  They were infractions because they distracted students and teachers from the purpose of the class.  Has this idea expired from political correctness?

If the needs of the few can be met without expense to the many, I say, so be it.  Find another way to fulfill the needs of violent, threatening, and disruptive students.

The Divided States of America?

America is an idea; a concept; an agreement; a contract; not a structure; not separate from its citizens; not invincible; not divine.  America is the sum of us; e pluribus unum; one nation; under God; a work in progress.

Now, our unity is deeply wounded; the cut is painful; we blame each other; we separate; we abandon trust; we lose our faith; we suffer; we fear; we lash out; we seek redemption; we want to be healed.

Staying together as a nation is hard; we are attacked; we are blamed; we question our beliefs; we question our leaders; we question ourselves; we become angry; we defend ourselves from each other.

Our children watch us; they trust us; they copy us; they love us; they grow up; they have love; they have work; they have families; they have children; they have the life you gave them; they inherited the America of today; they do not know what to do.

Too much everything intoxicates Americans; too much abundance; too much safety; too much power; too much food; too much information; too much ignorance; too much entertainment; too much violence; too much vulgarity; too much separation; too much taking; too much hurting; too much lust; too much abandoning; too much hate; too much racism; too much chemistry; too much addiction; too much medication; too much advertising; too much preaching; too much teaching; too much attitude; too much Satan; too much to handle.

Not enough truth demeans and degrades Americans; not enough knowledge; not enough love; not enough wisdom; not enough peace; not enough grace; not enough nature; not enough helping; not enough learning; not enough vocabulary; not enough strength; not enough compassion; not enough praying; not enough intimacy; not enough sharing; not enough family; not enough courage; not enough community; not enough contact; not enough respect; not enough God; not enough to thrive.

Some wounds are slow to heal; some feuds are hard to end; but America is ours to mend.