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Dec 242020
 

This program is so good, it’s worth a second look. 

My friend Carl is a devout Christian. Ten years ago, at a church service, he met an Army veteran named Amy and was immediately smitten. It was on this very date a decade ago, that Amy asked Carl if he’d like to go out for a cup of coffee, and so began a love story for the ages.

Amy’s pre-teen daughter, Julie, gave her mom’s new beau her stamp of approval, and they did everything together, movies, skating, sleigh rides, it was a Hallmark movie come to life.

After a long courtship, Carl asked Amy to marry him, and she didn’t hesitate. To anyone who knew them, they were a match made in heaven. They supported one another’s dreams and ambitions and as a family, couldn’t be happier.

Just before COVID-19 took its grip on the nation and Julie headed off to college, Amy began acting differently. She had a few uncharacteristic outbursts and for the first time since they met, Carl felt a little tense around his bride.

After some testing, Carl learned that Amy was in the beginning stages of dementia. Sadly, living with a combat-trained soldier, who was experiencing more frequent outbursts of aggression became too dangerous for Amy and the mild-mannered Carl. In February he reluctantly signed her into a nursing home where she could be under 24/7 observation, and he was optimistic that she would be back in his arms again soon.

Then the virus forced lockdowns across the country, and it was particularly dangerous in Carl’s state. It’s been 10 months since he’s been able to touch the love of his life, but he is still madly in love with her, and grateful that she still recognizes his face, even if she doesn’t know his name.

No matter what the weather, he hasn’t missed one of the past 300 days to drive 30 miles from their home to visit her and have a chat through her first-floor window. He’s claimed a block of land outside that window to build a garden for her with potted plants, windchimes, and seasonal decorations that he knows will make her smile. He brings her chocolate (her favorite), stuffed animals, and handmade cards, and signs declaring his love.

That is what caregivers do. find ways to keep their loved ones engaged, happy, and present.

Update: Last week Amy tested positive for Covid. She is in isolation and naturally, Carl still cannot get close to her, but, through the closed window, she told him, “You’re handsome.” It made his day. 

THAT SAID:

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or who has suffered a stroke or other debilitating event, you don’t have to figure things out by yourself.

Help is just a click away at dabblesack.com

A new business brought to you with love by local residents Robyn Martin and Rebecca Strichman, two occupational therapists with more than 65 years of combined experience caring for seniors.

The two have dedicated their lives to the specific needs of the elderly patients under their care and learned many valuable lessons on how to best meet those needs. Both have the uncanny ability to walk into the toy expo at the Javits Convention Center in New York and see the endless possibilities in an item that the casual visitor may only see as a fun little board game.

According to the website, “Dabblesack’s mission is to provide a curated collection of engaging and purposeful activities for seniors, including those living with dementia/Alzheimer’s. We have witnessed their victories and challenges, and, through it all, we have seen how purposeful activity can be a valuable tool for wellness.”
Over the years they took the time to listen to their patients as they shared their interests, hobbies, and life stories with them. This caring is the key to running a successful business that has helped so many family members and caregivers engage with their loved ones during what can prove to be a heartbreaking, frustrating time.
For more than 25 years, the women have worked in home-care settings (including visiting patients in private homes, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities). In addition, they also have many years of experience working in hospitals and out-patient facilities. So, who better to help you figure out how to interact with your Gramma now that she sometimes can’t remember your name, than Robyn and Rebecca?
What is Dabblesack?
From the website: We have often been asked about resources for senior activities, and this has also contributed to the creation of Dabblesack. We know the importance of staying active, whether you are working on a puzzle or participating in small or large group activities. The benefits are far-reaching! Sitting down to work on an art or craft project can be very relaxing. (We know why adult coloring books have become so popular!) Getting involved in a fun group game is energizing. Learning something new and challenging your mind is stimulating. Receiving a gentle hand massage with a calming scented lotion is soothing. Working on a community service project is heartwarming. We also know that visits from friends, caregivers, and family (including younger members) can be more enjoyable when activities are involved.
Instead of you running off to the store trying to find something that may, or may not engage your Aunt Carolyn after her stroke, you can confer with one or both of these two caring professionals and they will choose, package, and send the perfect games, puzzles, activity books, etc. for you.
With many responsible seniors staying home to avoid being infected with COVID, this is the perfect time for such a service, and the holidays, too, who could ask for a more perfect partnership?
On the site, you will find individual items or complete packages perfect for homebound seniors looking for something to do or anyone with mild dementia, or someone suffering from the residual effects of a stroke and feeling the need to keep their minds sharp.
Dabblesack has attracted the attention of several local homes and senior facilities, it even found a place on CT Magazine’s gift guide.
A recent relaunch of the website is designed to include a much larger audience. After listening to their clients, and hearing over and over again how “useless” some of them felt since they couldn’t go to work anymore and had nothing to do.
“We didn’t want them to feel that way, so we reached out and found Community Service Projects that were easy and could be done at home,” Rebecca said.

The women have copartnered with Enchanted Makeovers, a group out of Michigan that provides capes to children in shelters. You can make two capes and send them to the organization which distributes them to the children. Kids put them on and they feel empowered.

Operation Gratitude covers a myriad of projects. It collects letters that go into packages for those in the armed forces, frontline workers, and veterans.

If you are an animal lover, perhaps helping a shelter pet find a forever home a little faster is your passion. The ladies will hook you up with bandanas and fabric markers so you can decorate the neckerchief that attracts someone’s attention.

What’s Current?

There’s something for everyone on the Dabblesack site, virtual party kits with props and games that you can play on Zoom. What better way to enhance your socially distanced holiday celebration than by engaging everyone in a game?

Robyn and Rebecca put together packages for customers in the US and Canada to help create special moments for everyone involved.

Customers write thank you notes saying that they are thankful because Dabblesack helped create better moments with their family.

One woman said it was a gift to have her mother, afflicted with dementia, smile, and have a good time again.

A customer in Arizona said she feels guilty because she can’t be with her parents while they are on lockdown in a facility. But she ordered a package and after they received it in the mail it boosted their spirits and helps them get through the isolation.

A Dabblesack box sent to a facility in Mississippi that has been in lockdown for a long time was very well-received and helped brighten everyone’s day.

Well Worth The Cost

Visit the Dabblesack website today. The prices vary from $8 – $10 to $20, or $25 or more. Your gift will help your loved one stay engaged, be active, alert, and involved, and connected with caregivers and grandchildren.

No matter what you need or want, the ladies have your back.

If you have questions about how to play games or what would be best for your parent or loved one, just sent an e-mail and ask. 

NOTE: This is, by far the best feel-good story I’ve had the pleasure to have written this year. I think that the work Robyn and Rebecca are doing is amazing. I should have written it two weeks ago, but my own residual stroke afflictions have had me in a state of confusion and forgetfulness since we spoke. I apologize for this. Please check out their site and do some holiday shopping for your loved ones right away, and keep them in mind in the future. It is a wonderful resource. You will love working with them.

 

 

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