July 16, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

More about aging with dignity and relevance

Shirley Vogler MeisterMy previous “Faithful Lines” column introduced Please Get to Know Me, a book written by a nurse, Virginia Garberding, and a pastor, Cecil Murphey, published by Pleasant Word, a division of The Wine Press Group. However, the book contains more information than one column can hold so I am discussing the same subject this week.

Helping families know what to do when elderly loved ones struggle is one of my later-in-life goals. My Meister-Vogler families struggled mightily because we didn’t know what we needed to know when caring for our dear mothers.

On the upper right corner of the book’s cover are the words “aging with dignity and relevance.” On the back cover, the question asked is, “Does life inside a nursing home seem frightening, unappealing and mysterious?”

How I wish I had known years ago what is in this book for it is truly an insider’s guide to everyday life in a nursing home.

Garberding’s experience, both as a professional and family member, equips other families “to resolve issues lovingly and proactively.” If our families had read such information when we were trying desperately to do all the right things, we wouldn’t have “hit so many brick walls.”

Goals in the book include helping elderly loved ones find comfort, safety, relevance and respect no matter how frail the loved one is. The following questions are also asked:

  • What is the promise that parents ask of their children?
  • How can I communicate effectively with the health care team? Who are the significant members of the health care team?
  • What are their responsibilities?
  • Why does the quality of life depend so much on the family when we have selected the best facility?
  • How can I visit meaningfully when the elder has Alzheimer’s disease?
  • How can I “let go and let God,” and be able to say that last goodbye?

Those who know me well understand the difficulties that our families faced when caring for our loved ones over a long period of time. This book would have helped us immensely and, fortunately, there are only 92 pages in Please Get to Know Me. Not only that, there is an appropriate Scripture citation at the start of each chapter. For more information, log on to www.pleasegettoknowme.com.

As noted in my previous column, Garberding is not only a registered nurse, but also certified in restorative nursing. She works at The Wealshire in Lincolnshire, Ill., a pioneer facility for the care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Co-author Murphey, a former pastor and hospital chaplain, has written more than 100 books, including 90 Minutes in Heaven, My Children: Spiritual Help for Caregivers and Aging Is An Attitude. He and his wife, Shirley, cared for an elderly relative for more than seven years.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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