The Right Chord


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With the booklet Touching the Right Chord (written for children between 6-10 years old but most adults like it a lot as well), we want to show the special bond between a little girl and her Spanish grandparents. We would like to contribute to a positive perception of people with dementia.

The books shows that a child can keep a good relationship with a family member who is demented. Next to that it shows that old people, also the ones who are not originally Dutch, play an active role in our society.

This book has been made possible by the support of LIZE, policy adviser of the central government on Southern European communities. We hope this book will help to create more knowledge about dementia, more understanding for the people who have the disease, and more support for the partners, children, friends and relatives who take care of them.

The net result of this book goes to the work of Alzheimer Nederland, a national organization which provides information for people with Alzheimer and their family and friends. The booklet is written by Yvonne Witter (Aedes-Actiz Knowlegde Center of Housing and Care) and illustrated by Yon Prüst.

The English translation is only digital available. Hard copies are written in Dutch.

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The Right Chord

  1. 1. The right chord Written by Yvonne Witter 1
  2. 2. For my loving and caring sister Monique The rightTouching the right chordWith ‘Touching the right chord’ we want to show the special bond between a little girl andher Spanish grandparents. We would like to contribute to a positive perception of people chordwith dementia. The books shows that a child can keep a good relationship with a family This is a very nice book! It is about Lola. She is fond of fla-member who is demented. Next to that it shows that old people, also the ones who are notoriginally Dutch, play an active role in our society. menco dresses. She has lovely grandparents. Anyway, we have great grandparents too. Lola’s grandma and granddad areThis book has been made possible by the support of Lize, policy adviser of the central gover- going to move. Do you want to know more? Then get set andnment on Southern European communities. go for it. We like the book. And you? Go ahead and find out. Greetings from Marisa (almost 10) and Chiara (almost 8) GubbelsText and idea: Yvonne Witter| WeespDiary fragments: Marisa en Chiara Gubbels| WeespDesign and illustrations: Yon Prüst | ‘s-Hertogenbosch | www.studyo-n.nlPrinting: Drukkerij Tielen | Boxtel | www.drukkerijtielen.nlTranslation: Jolanda van Schie | Utrecht | www.klaar-af.nlSeptember 2012
  3. 3. Lola or Maria Dolores What sounds better? Lola or Maria Dolores? Peo-ple call me Lola, but actually my name is Maria Dolo-res. I believe that’s a very old-fashioned name. So old-fashioned, it could have been a name of a dinosaur! It’sa Spanish name. Fortunately the Spanish shorten MariaDolores to Lola. En that is a very cool name of course!Nice and short. Lola. Joyful and maybe it makes you to think of a lollypop. Sweet and you can enjoy it for a long time.Well, I can. I never bite lollypops, but I suck them endlessly.Till my tongue gets the colour of the lollypop. My brother Paco thinks that is dis- gus-ting, because it looks silly, he says. But he is silly himself. Isn’t he? Okay, not always. He is a good guitar player, he learned that from grandpa. Paco is named after my grand- dad and I am named after my grandmother. Grandpa Paco and grandma Lola.That’s how things went in former days. 5 I am sure that I would neeeeeever name my kids after their grandparents.Would you? cinco
  4. 4. No, I don’t think so.Well, you should see for yourself. By grandma says. She should know. She has been a teacher in a the way, I have a double name. Maria Dolores Fernandez girls school in Spain.Years ago of course, because grandma is Lopez.That’s not cool, right? But very Spanish. Unlike me, now 73 years old. But she is still teaching you know, all the my friends at school think it’s amazing. people who want to learn Spanish. She is doing that a few For a long time I pretended that I was a Spanish princess. hours per week. Super teacher forever. My grandmother Lola, ‘Princess Lola of Pontevedra in Galicia’, a very beautiful re- she knows how things should be done! gion in Spain. My friends listened for hours to all the sto- ries that I made up.They were speechless.You know what I Flamenco dresses are really, really cool. I always want to wear the told them? That I woke up every day with sweet croissants red one with the black dots. Grandma also has a fan and special and fresh juice of Spanish oranges.That I was wearing ano- earrings. Sometimes she even allows me to wear make-up. And to use ther flamenco dress every single day with matching shoes her shoes, although they do not really fit me yet. It is all real Spa- and handheld fans. Quality fans of course, not the fake ones nish. I love being in Spain. Did you know that Madrid is the capital that break after using them twice. Every evening a handso- of Spain? Madrid is located in the centre of the country. Spain is me prince with a guitar came to sing the most beautiful about fifteen times bigger than Netherlands. Around 45 million peo- songs for me. Maybe I should reconsider and keep my ple are living there. Many of them are Catholics. The national flag double name? No, no, no, that could never be an option. has two colors: yellow and red. Have you ever been in Spain? The Especially if you wanted to work at a riding school, like weather there is mostly nice and sunny. me.Teaching little children that cannot remember my Love, Lola. name? Never! Ma’am Lola Fernandez Lopez… And to6 7 let them call me Lola is not appropriate.That’s what myseis siete
  5. 5. at noon Every Tuesday I am with my grandma Lola and my grandpa Paco. Specially for me they are having lunch earlier than normal. My grannies are born in Spain you see.There they always have lunch at two o’clock and it’s a hot meal. Not bread like here. I always tell my friends that my grandparents used to live in a palace, but in rea- lity they were living in a small village. In 1960, more than 50 years ago, they came to Netherlands. Grandpa had the opportunity to work in a car factory. He loves cars, so he found that awesome! Grandma was happy to come along, because she felt her little village was quite boring. Ne- therlands sounded cute and adventurous. But when they came it took a long time to get used to everything. Such a horrible cold, such grey houses, such a difficult langu- age. Grandma still shivers when she talks about it. She felt completely lost and lonely in the beginning. Eveybody was staying inside the house all the time and8ocho 9 nueve
  6. 6. grandpa was working all day. Duh! Bóóóring! But grand- Every now and then I bring other friends and sometimes a ma was strong.You know what she did? She went to friend of my granddad is coming over. Grandma loves to cook school. She learned the language and became a teacher. for guests. Bread, water, salad, fish or meat and the dessert: Flán. A teacher who knows how things have to be done. My That is kind of a yellow pudding with a layer of sugar on top. grannies have lots of stories to tell. About their youth So delicious! Jummie! in Spain, about the war, about their trip to Netherlands But very often I end up coming too late for school.The lunch and what it took to get used to their new life. And about break is only one hour. Is that the same in your school? If I how happy they were with the job and that people were bring friends, they always want to try on grandma’s flamenco actually very nice here.That they met many other Spa- dresses. Grandma has so many and they are so beautiful! Most nish people in The Netherlands and were able to speak of the time she is also putting on a dress when we are there. She in their own language with them, eat Spanish snacks and had to remake it, otherwise she would not have fitted into it listen to the music they grew up with. anymore. My grandpa always gets a huge smile on his face when I hear all those things on the Tuesdays when I visit them. he sees her in the dress.Than grandma turns on Spanish music Then I eat a hot meal at lunch instead of bread like on and grandpa starts to clap.Well, and then time flies of course, the other schooldays. At first I did not dare to say that bet you understand that. Grandma always directs us to school: to my friends at school, because everybody else is eating “Come on ladies, run”. Because she was a teacher herself, she bread at lunch. But when my best friend Cindy came knows that teachers don’t like kids coming late… I always tell with me to my grandparents, she was so surprised when her this when I start running: “It’s all because of your delicious she tasted the Spanish food. She liked it so much. Now food and wonderful dresses.You know that, right?”10 11 she is almost always coming with me to have lunch.diez once
  7. 7. Flan is jummie! how to make fLan I often make flan with my grandmother. That is a delicious dessert. Do you want to make it yourself? It’s so easy. But be careful with hot water, so please Spaanse Caramelpudding ask somebody to help you. This is what you do: • Heat 0,5 litre of milk and 2 small packages of vanilla sugar in a pan. met caramelsaus • ake another pan to melt 200 grams of sugar until it has turned into T (voor 4-6 personen) caramel. You know caramel, don’t you? • ut the caramel into the milk. P Bereidingstijd 30-60 minuten keuken Spaanse keuken smaak oet Z • han you stir everything. T techniek akken in oven soort gerecht Nagerecht B • eave it for a while and take a bowl and four eggs. L • Mix those eggs. ingredienten 4 eieren, 0,5 l. melk, 200 gr. suiker, 2 zakjes vanillesuiker (16gr.) • dd the caramel-milk to them. A Most of the time that’s when I get tired of the whole cooking thing. But now Hulpmiddelen Steelpannetje zonder steel (13cm diameter), steelpannetje met steel, you have to hold on. kleine (beslag)kom, braadslee, kokend water, oven • ut the mixture in the pan in which you made the caramel and put the pan P in the baking dish. Voorbereiding Verwarm de oven voor op 175°C • dd hot water to the baking dish and bake the flan in 25 minutes till it is ready. A I believe it has to be done at 175 degrees. Let it cool down and put the flan12 13 upside down on a plate. Enjoy your delicious own flan! Love, Lola.doce trece
  8. 8. Forget gran nd sticky notes On Tuesdays I also visit my grandmother after school. I am allowed to walk there alone. I am really not going with Paco. Bet you understand that. He comes after me. He always hangs out with friends, he likes waveboarding and chilling. Duh! I can al- ways bring friends and everybody wants to come.That’s because grandma has prepared some doughnuts. And at five o’clock we eat delicious snacks, she calls them ‘tapas’.Tapas means something like ‘cover’. In the past people used to cover their glasses with them.That is with a piece of sausage or cheese.To prevent bugs from falling into their drinks. I often try the same, but most of the time the sausage falls into my lemonade and that’s disgusting. After finishing the lemonade me and my friends go to dress up in flamenco dresses. Grandma is even bringing het jewellery boxes.There are long earrings inside and roses to put in your hair. Grandpa is always joining is.With a big smile on his face and shiny eyes. ‘Grandpa does not know a lot anymore’, says grandma. ‘He lost everything, words, things, what to do.’ He has14catorce 15 quince
  9. 9. the disease of Alzheimer. It sometimes happens when I like it there.We sing songs and do some kind of gym- you grow older. He is often just sitting in his chair. ‘Two nastics. Cool! days in the week grandpa goes to school’, says grandma. Everybody speaks Spanish at grandpa’s school. Piece of ‘A granny nursery, for old people who are forgetting a cake for me, I know many words already and the forget lot.There he meets a lot of forget grannies. ‘It’s a nice grannies don’t talk a lot.That makes it easy.You know place for him’, says grandma. ‘And I can clean the house what helps as well? In grandma’s house there are a lot of or go to the market alone, without having to hurry or to sticky notes with words on them. On the kitchen door worry about him.’ you find ‘cocina’ which means kitchen. I know how to I like the granny nursery.You know why? One day pronounce that.You should say ‘kosina’ and not ‘cocina’! grandpa walked out the door of the house and got lost. The whole house is full of those yellow notes. Grandma is He totally forgot where he was living! I often go with doing that so that we can learn Spanish and grandpa can him to his school. During the holiday season and when remember what is what.This way we kill two birds with my school is closed, on those days when my teachers one stone, grandma says. Once a teacher, ever a teacher. are studying themselves. In grandpa’s class there are only At grandpa’s school I also learn a lot of words. For old people.They are sitting at a table. I help to read the example when we sing. I like that very much.What is newspaper to them.When I am ready the lady who a bit awkward, is that my gran sometimes gets up from works there always asks me to read it again. After that I his chair and wants to see his mum. But she is dead for hand out cookies to everyone. But my grandpa always a long time! Well, anyway, grandpa has forgotten that. I forgets his cookie and than I am the one to eat it ha ha. know what to say to help him: ‘Mum is working and will16dieciseis 17 Diecisiete
  10. 10. el o la gu mesa gat the gitar tarrai- lasresthe cat flo caeflé the flowers the door come anytime to pick you up’. It really works. He al- la the coffee puerta ways replies: ‘Really? That’s nice!’Then he sits down and una una silla mesa is okay again. I really love my granddad. He has those shiny eyes and he smells like a grandfather. Sometimesthe chair table the he suddenly starts to cry, even in school. I always tell him: ‘Don’t cry, they will laugh at you.You taught me that, el ro remember’? I always sit down next to him and put my lib the bed head against his arm.Then he feels better quickly. Oh, unaa the book I love him so much. He will not forget that. And if he does, I will tell him again and again! ca m l vena el o Mi o tan - the window a perr the dog laera nev abuel the refrigerator18 19 el el baño jardín the bath the garden dieciocho diecinueve
  11. 11. Noo!Grandma is going to move Eew. Grandma wants to move to another place! I feel like dementie: crying. She is moving.To some kind of community. At first I did not know what that is. A community, what is that? ‘It means Somebody who is demented, slowly by slowly starts to that you live with a group of people in a big house’, says granny. forget everything. My granddad is a forget granny. But ‘I will have my own room,’ she assures me. ‘But you share the it is not only about forgetting. You also don’t remember kitchen and a big living room, the garden and the washing ma- where you are and how to do things. Like getting dressed. chine.’ Sounds pretty cool. But you know, she is going without But if you have this disease, you still have feelings. Peo- grandpa! That is not fair.You know what she says? Grandpa is ple who grow old, sometimes get it. But not everyone. My forgetting more and more things. He will even forget who I am! grandpa has it. In the beginning he knew that he was But they must be able to teach him again at his school, right? demented. He was extremely unhappy about it. Now he Otherwise it is a bad school. But grandma says that you learn even forgot about that. In The Netherlands there are about something in the granny school, but that the granny’s keep on 250.000 people who have this. And more people will get forgetting it.That is because of his brains.They are acting strange it. Because people grow older and older. Grandpa does not and different.They are old and tired and are starting to sleepwalk use any medication. There are different forms of de- or something like that. mentia. The most well known is Alzheimer. That’s all I Grandma is going to move and she will live in a nicer place. know about it. Love, Lola. Hmmm. One of the good things of that community thing is20Veinte 21 Veintiúno
  12. 12. that I get a small room there and I can keep on visiting grandmum. And I can keep on trying on the dresses with my friends. Granddad is going to move to a community for forget grannies! He will leave his school (cool!) and live in his own group. A group for forget grannies only! With five other forget grannies! That is quite something. There is somebody who will take care of him all the time. Day and night! Granddad can help with cooking, can listen with others to music, go out for a stroll and the good thing is, only Spanish people are coming to live there. Grandma is sad too you know. It is not only nice. They have been together for 60 years and will now be apart. Can you image? Sixty years sounds like ages.That’s a really long time. Grandpa used to be a street artist. He was playing mu- sic and told us many stories about it. He could talk for hours. Really interesting. He played the guitar. En grand- ma was dancing on his music. Ze was wearing a beau- tiful dress with those shoes that make a clicking sound.22Veintidó s 23 Veintitres
  13. 13. That is how they met, grandma told me. In a small bar in a neighbouring village. Granddad played a wonderful piece of music and grandma danced. ‘Grandpa never tal- ked a lot, even then’, grandma said. But one day he gave her a red rose.To put in her curly hair. She put it in her moving: black hair. Her cheeks got more red than the rose itself, grandma said. She laughed out loud when she told me. So, my grandma is moving to a place where she will live with a Since then they are together. Grandpa kept on playing group of people. There you have your own room and toilet, but the guitar and grandma kept on dancing. Grandma still you can eat and watch TV with others, if you like. Grandma will loves to dance in the livingroom. She is saying ‘oe’ and go to a vegetarian group, because she does not eat meat. And ‘aiaiai’ every now and then, but I believe that is part of the other people in her group also don’t eat meat. .. the dance. It is common if you play Spanish music. I am fLexitarian myself (nice word, isn’t it?). That means that I eat hotdogs and hamburgers and sandwiches with ham and cheese. But no other meat. That is sad for the animals. You don’t see anything special about grandma’s group. It is just a house in a street. Actually they have a great garden. And they are taking care of it themselves. Quite nice. Love, Lola.24Veinticuatro 25 Veinticinco
  14. 14. dont cry, or else everybody in the room was clapping. I will never forget what happened after that. Listen. Grandpa wal- Tomorrow grandma is going to move. I am happy ked slowly towards the stage and stayed there. Really! Grandma that we had something else to think about yesterday night. said:‘Just leave him and look at his shiny eyes.The music reminds It was the night of Paco’s farewell musical.When you leave him of his own performances.’ Grandpa was wavering in front of primary school, you perform a play together with your class. the stage. Paco looked at his friends. But they were still watching. He did not want me to know what was his role. Silly. Phew! The headmaster encouraged Paco to move on so he kept But I have been listening at his door, when he was practi- on going. Grandpa went back to his seat.When the musical was cing in his room.That is silly too, right? But it was great to finished and all the children who were going to secondary school listen and giggle with my friends. Of course he must have got a rose and lemonade, I saw that grandpa was still sitting close heard us.When he was trying to play guitar, he made the to the stage.Then he stood up.You know what he did? He took sound of a sick chicken! Awful. At the farewell party he was Paco’s guitar! He climbed the stage and sat down on the chair playing too. Actually it sounded quite good.You know what there. He started to play softly. Everybody turned around. And happened? Grandpa recognised the song that Paco was stopped talking, the room was noiseless. Grandpa kept on playing. playing. He got up from his chair and kept on looking at It was the song that Paco had played just before. the stage where Paco was performing. He kept on focusing Grandma walked towards grandpa and for a moment she did not at Paco. And he started clapping! Nobody said ‘ssssttt’. know what to do. Neither did I. Paco was staring at the wall. I Even I started to clap, it was automatic. I told my friends saw a tear on grandma’s cheek. And even one on grandpa’s cheek. that in Spain everybody claps, that is cool.That’s how I I had never seen that before. I was really trying hard not to cry26 27 convinced them.They started clapping and eventually myself. Paco hissed: don’t cry or everybody will laugh at you! ButVeintiseis Veintisiete
  15. 15. what difference would it make? Crying is okay. Sometimes The farewell evening was really exciting. Sometimes, when I have dif- it is even nice and everybody does it. Grandpa was playing ficulties getting to sleep, I think about that night. It makes me to smile and playing. I was happy that all the people in the room and I am getting warm inside. Sometimes I shed a tear, but that is no were smiling. Our friends included.They appreciated what problem. Then I dream about the guitar and the red rose. happened. Grandpa suddenly stopped playing. As if he knew that he Love, Lola was on stage. He stood up and took the one rose that was left behind on the stage. He walked with it towards grand- ma.With a shaking hand he gave it to her. She smiled and put the rose in her grey curly hair. Grandpa smiled back at her.They looked at each other for a long time. It’s like they recognized the moment. Grandpa sat down and went back to play. Grandma started to dance slowly.Their eyes were shining, their mouths were smiling. Everybody was wat- ching silently. It was breathtaking. Slowly by slowly every- body started to clap and dance along. Grandpa was hum- ming while he was looking at grandma with a loving eye. Grandma was dancing and looking at granddad. I was shi- vering. But it was nice kind of shivering, maybe you know28 29 that feeling?Veintiocho Veintinueve
  16. 16. More information? AfterworD Lucia Lameiro Alzheimer Nederland •; organisation of older w Reading this lovely little book makes me remember the Spanish and • migrants in Amsterdam migrant elderly people I know, who found their homes here in the Nether- national organization which provides information for lands and would not want to age in any other place. Because they feel sur- people with Alzheimer and their family and friends. •; website of ActiZ w rounded by the warmth of their dearest and who are growing old in the way about intercultural care that suits them best. While doing so they fulfil tasks and roles that are of great •; website van het Aedes-Actiz Ken- w value to themselves as well as their kin. niscentrum Wonen-Zorg, the knowledge centre The net result of this the work of for housing and care Alzheimer Nederland! At the same time, though, I thought of the elderly people who had no one to •; website of ActiZ, organisation of w come back to, who cannot find a fitting offer out of the existing facilities, but careproviders are at the same time not able to create an alternative by themselves. I hope with all my heart that this booklet will be an encouragement to all those that •; website of Aedes, association of w care for the vulnerable elderly that were born elsewhere. An encouragement housing corporations also to keep thinking about the many possibilities of growing old in a digni- •, Geron, magazine about w fied way. ageing and society An encouragement to give vulnerable elderly migrants just that little extra •; National organisation for informal w warmth and support, that makes them feel valued and at home. carers As president of Lize, the national advocate for the interests of the southern European communities in the Netherlands, I feel proud and touched at the •; website of the Network of organisa- w same time to see Yvonne Witter, a Dutch professional, being inspired by tions of older migrants elderly migrants. She tells just this story to stimulate us to see just a little bit •; website of Knowledge center of w beyond the usual and to be yet a little more ambitious where (caring for) cohousing of older migrants elderly migrant people are concerned. Thus, this little book is a homage to the migrant elderly, their power and the •; website of the European Network on w wisdom of life they carry with them. Intercultural Elderly Care    Lucia Lameiro García, director of Lize policy adviser of the central government •; knowledge center of migrants, refugees w on Southern European communities. www.lize.nl30 31 and health careTreinta Treinta y uno
  17. 17. AfterworD Yvonne I really enjoyed making this book. It was a pleasure working with designer and illustrator Yon. And I got a lot of incredibly encouraging support from Freddy May (NOOM), Wendela Gronthoud (CABO Amsterdam), Edith van der Bent (ActiZ), Alexander van der Kerkhof (50Plusbeurs), Lu- cia Lameiro Garcia (Lize) and my family, family-in-law and friends. Next to that I got some financial help from ActiZ, the fund RCOAK and some of my loved ones. Superb! I hope this book will help to create more knowledge about dementia, more understanding for the people who have the disease, and more support for the partners, children, friends and relatives who take care of them. Yvonne Witter, adviser Aedes-Actiz Kenniscentrum Wonen-Zorg32Treinta y dos