One of the things I observed last week while Lyn was here surprised me.  Lyn carries a soft, squishy ball in her purse.

It is the kind of ball that my kids take to the pool.  I think they're called water bombs or splash bomb.  The ball is made of foam and is covered in a bright, multi-hued nylon cloth.  I asked why she had the ball in her purse (because I am her nosey little sister who blogs about her).  It turns out the ball was given to her by her speech therapist.  It is easy for her to grasp and squeeze.  She reaches for it when she's stressed out.

Now, I have to admit that I had a series of thoughts that essentially went something like this:  "Stressed out?  What does she have to be stressed out about? She doesn't have to worry about bills, kids or work. She doesn't have to worry about getting someplace on time because she's taken everywhere she needs to be.  She is catered to and cared for.  What does she have to stress about?"

I kept my mouth shut and let her show me how she squeezes it when she needs to calm down.  That's when it clicked for me.  She doesn't have to have bills, kids or work to be stressed or anxious or irritable.  She's got a brain that is diseased and that is reason enough.  Aside from knowing that she has Alzheimer's, the brain itself is probably inducing the stress related feelings because, as different areas are impacted and cells die, the signals in her brain are not being sent and received as they once were.

So, while her stress is of an internal origin, it is just as real as stress you and I may feel.  Unfortunately, she's got fewer resources or skills at hand to manage her own stress.  The ball appears to be a good option for her right now.

Additional Information:
Progression of Alzheimer's disease may be slowed by stress reduction through meditation
Stress-Related Protein Speeds Progression of Alzheimer's Disease


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