Sunday, August 5, 2012


I’ve never seen such rain as the winter I was in Portland with Wayne.  Nineteen ninety-six was one year that Portland was plagued with flooding and mud slides.  What a mess.  By the time I went home, I had webs between my toes.  When spring came, the rain continued but the beautiful flowers began to bloom and the city became lovely, with flowers everywhere.  Maybe it was worth all the rain to see such beauty.  I missed the tulips that were springing up in my front yard in Hermiston.  I was eager to get home to our house, where we could get things back to normal again.  At least I hoped it would be normal again.
     It’s a good thing I carry two umbrellas around in the car.  We don’t need umbrellas in the Eastern side of the state.  Eastern Oregon doesn’t get much rain, we have mostly sunshine year round.  As I looked out at the rain, I realized how lucky we were to be in a nice apartment and together.  I was alone for so long that even all the problems seemed better than being alone.
     I lost myself in my writing, and for a change of pace, I would bake cookies and give them to all the neighbors and the hospital staff.  I love to make cookies and it helped to calm me when things got really bad.  The smell of the cookies baking seemed to help Wayne too.  He would remark on how good it smelled.
     We did have a problem with the dogs during the rainy times---they didn’t want to go out in the rain to do their business.  You should have see Mother in her slippers and robe, holding an umbrella over the dog, while she got wet, just so he would do his business.  It was a funny sight, but she would do anything for her little poodle.
     You should have seen me trying to hold an umbrella over Wayne while pushing the wheelchair up the hill to the hospital.  I tried to have him hold it but he would drop it every time.  So, we both just got wet.  I will say one good thing about all that moisture, though.  My skin stayed dewy fresh all the while we were in Portland.  It was so smooth and soft, it was almost worth the rain.
     Our dog Maynard died while we were in Portland.  One morning he woke up but he couldn’t stand; his back had given out on him.  He was a miniature dachshund, and that breed seems to have problems with their backs as they get older.  It happened to our other dog last year, as well.  It was a sad day when I had to have him put down.  I cried all the way home from the vet.  I missed him so much!
     Pets are wonderful companions to the elderly.  They give their owners unconditional love, and caring for a pet gives the older person a reason to stay well.  The simple act of petting a cat or dog can actually lower a patient’s blood pressure.  Sounds crazy, but it works.
     If your patient is agitated, give him the dog or cat and let him stroke the animal---you will see a marked difference immediately.  Researchers have given animals to mentally challenged patients and observed the calming affect that the love of an animal brings to the patient.  A patient rocking or banging on the table will suddenly become quiet when handed an animal to love.  Amazing!  Very good therapy.
     There are volunteer groups that bring animals to nursing homes so the residents can spend time with their favorite animal, since they are unable to keep one on the premises.  The residents really look forward to the visits.  You can see the big smiles that appear when they know it is visiting day for the animals.  The anticipation perks them up, their energy level rises and they are far happier.  When you place a kitten or puppy in the lap of the elderly person, they cuddle the animal like a baby and the animal responds with lots of licking and cuddling.  After the animals have gone, the patients glow with love for days and look forward to the next visit.
     Older people take better care of themselves when they have a pet to care for.  They know that their dog or cat depends on them for everything.  Studies have shown that pet owners live longer and are happier people with someone to love.  I know that my mother was much happier with her little dog to care for.
Happiness is something that comes from within.  It is 
our choice to be sad or happy each day.
Happy is always better

1 comment:

  1. to read the book What to do When Mom Moves In. All about caregiving to Mom in your home.