Wednesday, May 6, 2009

If I forget I love you, don't you forget I do.


My gran was in the Auxillary Territorial Service during WWII, the women's branch of the British Army. As German bombers rained hell on British cities, my grandmother stood behind the searchlights and tracked the oncoming planes with that artificial moonlight so the German planes might be shot down, stopped before they hit British cities. Not a job for the faint of heart. Rather like sticking a large red target on yourself and standing in front of a shooting squad.

Gran in her ATS uniform 1940's
My Gran in her ATS uniform, early 1940s.

Gran has dementia. Along with memories and basic skills, dementia is stealing her dignity. There are very brief respites where she has some recall, but only enough to know that she doesn't remember those around her, that she doesn't remember who loves her and whom she loves. Terrifying for her and heartbreaking for us. Now, the most basic skills are disappearing, how to wash her hands, how to eat an ice-cream bar (yes, I just counted eating an ice-cream bar as a basic skill), and how to go to the bathroom . My grandmother is in a UK nursing facility for those with severe dementia where there is some, albeit limited, provision for incontinence supplies, adult diapers. Our family is able to address the rest of the need and grant her a little dignity. What happens to those whose families are not able to meet that need?

Gran & I in 2004. She couldn't recall my name at this point but she was still doing yoga.

In the US there is no subsidy for incontinence supplies, it is not covered by medicare nor by other insurances. Incontinence not only affects those with dementia like my gran, but between 15-20% of adults over 65*. How many people who are perfectly healthy otherwise become homebound, for fear of an embarrassing accident and so sink further into poverty and depression?** How many of us who have given birth to a child have an inkling of what this might be like? I'll admit to that worry and even to the fact that I know that there is a 4-5 month wait to see the specialist I was referred to on this matter. 

The Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona has just launched its 7th Annual Adult Drive, and as TucsonMama nears the end of the Mother's Day Diaper Drive, I'd like to do a little push for cash donations (Facebook Cause Page, search under TucsonMama or Diaper or on the Diaper Bank's website) that can be used toward adult supplies or a donation via the TucsonMama Amazon Wishlist in honor of your mother and your grandmother. Let me know if you do via diaperdrive at gmail dot com and I'll send a sweet little ecard for you to print out and present to your honoree this Sunday. Truly, a way to honor mothers this Mother's Day with providing a little dignity to a mother.

* &** from

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