Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm discouraged by a conversation with my supervisor today. I had been working from home 1-2 days per month on days when Mom or I had doctor's appointments or other things going on. My supervisor put the kibosh on that today. I had gone in to meet with her to discuss strategies for balancing work with caregiving. Basically I walked out of the meeting with no strategies, only discouragement. But then I shouldn't have expected anything different. Our society doesn't condone anyone who departs from the work-until-you-die, total company devotion ethic. There is no support for caregivers, not only caregivers of AD patients, but caregivers in general. I take that back. I had one supervisor who was extremely supportive during my father's illness and death. But my latest job has had zero tolerance for anything outside the norm, personal illness or otherwise. Here's the clincher; my supervisor insinuated that if I can't balance my job with caregiving maybe I should think about placement for Mom. I was shocked. Isn't that illegal for her to say? I'm meeting with HR on Wednesday, but I really don't put much stock into that either. So I'm stepping up my job search and praying for some sort of guidance with this. I'd quite my job in a heartbeat if I could afford it, but I can't. Am I wrong to feel resentful and unsupported?

Mom was confused and emotional tonight when I arrived home from work. She calmed down after a few minutes. She didn't know where I was for the last 10.5 hours. Her caregiver had left out some snacks for her to munch on. She told Joyce that she was saving them for me. God, I hate this disease. Oh, and remember all the problems with diarrhea? Now we have the opposite problem thanks to the Tylenol with codeine. I gave Mom some senokot tonight. Hopefully it will help and not cause the other problem. But she is frustrated cuz she can feel something but it won't budge when she tries to go.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Annie has given me something to look into regarding Mom's sore ankle; she said that the side effects of cipro, an antibiotic that Mom was indeed given during the UTI she had, can be a ruptured achilles tendon. I don't think that it is that serious, but I wonder if the antibiotic did some damage to her tendons. I emailed Mom's doctor about this so we'll see what she has to say. Along with the pain, Mom also has some snapping and popping that can be heard as she walks. Thank you Annie!

I have to go to work tomorrow :( I'm not looking forward to it. But it's only one day then I have one day off, New Years!

Olivia had a sneezing fit this afternoon. It startled both Mom and me. Mom was upset and started to cry thinking there was something wrong with her. She seems OK though. I took a picture of Lily crouching under the tree next to my Pretty Little Mistakes book.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Twenty years ago today my nephew Matt was born in Los Alamos, NM. It's hard to believe that he's 20 years old. He's a good kid, a sophomore at Syracuse University. Today when we called him to wish him Happy Birthday, he told us that he had won a Wii, and a Garmin GPS from some contest on Comedy Central. He was pretty excited, but then who wouldn't be? Happy Birthday Matt! I love you.

Mom is coloring. She said her ankle was bothering her so I gave her some of the tylenol with codeine and she slept for a little while this afternoon while I watched one of my favorite movies Under the Tuscan Sun. Watching that movie makes me want to move to Tuscany. It looks beautiful.

I had both kitties on my lap today. That is a rarity.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fish Oil Prevents Alzheimer's Plaques

Brain Needs Fish Oil Fatty Acid to Make Plaque-Fighting Protein
By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 26, 2007 -- Why does fish oil help prevent Alzheimer's disease? Your brain needs a fish oil fatty acid to make a plaque-fighting protein, UCLA researchers find.

It's known that people who get plenty of DHA, a fish oil fatty acid, have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, note Greg M. Cole, PhD, associate director of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, and colleagues.

Why? Cole's team had a clue. People with Alzheimer's disease tend to have low levels of a brain protein called LR11 (also known as SorLA). And about 15% of people with Alzheimer's disease carry a genetic mutation that reduces LR11.

LR11 helps clear the brain of amyloid precursor protein, essential for production of the brain-gumming beta-amyloid plaque that clogs the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Sure enough, in live rodents and in cultures of human brain cells, the researchers found that the fish-oil compound DHA causes brain cells to make lots more LR11.

"Because reduced LR11 is known to increase beta amyloid production and may be a significant genetic cause of late-onset Alzheimer's disease, our results indicate that DHA increases in LR11 levels may play an important role in preventing late-onset Alzheimer's disease," Cole and colleagues conclude.

It may be too late for people with late-stage Alzheimer's disease to get much benefit from fish oil. But Cole suggests that it may be a great help if taken at the first signs of Alzheimer's.

Cole and colleagues report their findings in the Dec. 26 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cinn's Mom passed away this morning after a long struggle. I'm relieved that she is no longer in pain. But I am so sad for Cinnamin and her family. It has been a long and brutal vigil for her. I hope she can find peace in the knowledge that she did good by her mom. Even though we start saying goodbye early on in this disease, the end is never easy.

The ice candle did not, or would not, freeze. It wasn't cold enough! We sure do have the snow though.

Mom has been dozing off while she colors. The weird thing is that she continues to color during her dozing. She has been in a pretty good mood. And she REMEMBERS that the caregiver and Joyce stopped by today. Maybe she is feeling some relief from her pain. Or maybe this is just another bend in the road for us. It's hard to say one way or the other. I just grateful for the string of good days that we've been having.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas was bittersweet. Mom had a good time unwrapping her gifts. She still has a good grasp on the traditions of Christmas as well as the spiritual meaning of the season. For that I am so grateful. She enjoyed watching her Barry Manilow DVD in the afternoon. He really puts on a good show. My turkey even turned out and it tasted so good! We heard from both of my siblings which was nice.

It snowed all day long and we accumulated about 4-6 more inches of snow. Today the sun is out.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas my blogger friends. May you find peace this holiday season.

I am attempting to make an ice candle. I have a bucket of water sitting outside waiting to freeze. I hope to have it frozen by tomorrow night. I wish I had known about it sooner; it would be fun to have it for tonight, Christmas Eve. My sister and I used to put out Luminaria (and inevitably we would set at least one of the paper bags on fire). I like the idea of an ice candle, especially in Minnesota.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here. It's snowing again with near white-out conditions. Mom wants to go to bed but it's only 4:00 PM!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It just dawned on me today that I rarely post about Mom having accidents! It definitely was a side effect from the Aricept. Both of us are a lot less frustrated now that there are fewer accidents. On Thursday Mom asked Terri, her caregiver, to help her get to the toilet for the first time! That is a good thing.

Mom and I drink a lot of water so I've decided to lease a reverse osmosis water purification system. At the same time, I've decided to try a water softener. Our city water isn't that hard, but it is considered moderately hard. I figure that leasing will allow us to try it out and see if we like it. The house is 'roughed in' for it so there is not much involved with installation. I hope we like it.

Our neighbors brought over their puppy today. What a sweetheart! Olivia was quite intrigued by this strange animal and vice versa. Mom enjoyed it.
It snowed overnight, well actually it rained then snowed. The trees and bushes are coated with a light frosting of snow and it's lovely. I went to the grocery store this morning and bought our Christmas dinner. It wasn't too busy. I wish my brother in law was here to carve it for me. It certainly looks and feels like Christmas around here.

Mom is doing pretty good. Her ankle seems a little bit better. At least she's not yelping in pain too much. She asked me what I wanted for Christmas from her. I forgot to wrap something and put her name on it to me. Oh well.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tonight we watched White Christmas. I had never seen this movie before and I enjoyed it. I love this song from the movie.

Mom's ankle seems a little better today. I'm taking a cautious approach with the Tylenol with codeine and so far she hasn't been too confused. I've been giving her the Seroquel at dinner and that seems to be helping the sundowning too.

We are due for some snow tomorrow. Today it was very mild and there was some melting of our current snow pack.
Listening to: Rosemary Clooney - Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mom's ankle is not fractured, but the soft tissue is very tender and sore. The doctor prescribed Tylenol with Codeine and she said that it might cause constipation and confusion. How to tell if Mom is more confused than normal? That's my new dilemma. I've wrapped her ankle in an Ace bandage hoping that will give her some additional relief.

I received a copy of Coach Broyles' Playbook for Alzheimer's Caregivers today. I scanned it quickly and it looks interesting. I'll have to take a closer look at it as time permits.

The weather is mild today and the snow is melting a little bit. We'll still have a white Christmas though because we have lots of snow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm mostly ready for Christmas. I've got all the presents bought and sent, the one thing I haven't done is the Christmas cards. We really haven't gotten that many and I'm debating about sending any at all. What do I say? Mom is losing her mind, Merry Christmas? Most friends know that something is up, it's the out of state ones who don't.

I ordered 2 Christmas pop up books and they came today. Mom has had a great time looking at them. One is about Christmas around the world and the other is about the nativity. They are lovely books.

Tomorrow I'm taking Mom to the doctor to find out if there is something wrong with her ankle. She has been complaining for about a week of pain and I finally narrowed it down to her ankle.
This is a sad story about an amazing young girl and a pool drain that now appears to have a happier ending. Talk about strength and courage, this little girl has it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mom is very restless tonight. She is finally in bed, but I don't know how long that will last. There are so many parallels between a person with Alz and a young child. Unfortunately, I've never had any children so like a new parent I'm learning as I go and it's not easy. Instead of looking forward to things getting better, I can look forward with dread to things getting worse. And poor Mom, she doesn't know what is happening to her at all. She kept saying tonight that she doesn't know what she is doing. She was very confused and agitated. I think that it is sundowning. But her sundowning always seems to be worse on those days when she goes to daycare. After 3 months she is still not accepting it. She still says that 'she's not like those people there'. I thought she was supposed to start accepting it after a few weeks. It's true what they say, if you've met one person with Alzheimer's then you met one person with Alzheimer's. I am quickly losing my holiday spirit. For so long I've been like the 'little engine that could' trying to remain upbeat and positive, but I'm starting to lose it. Thank God that my own depression has seemed to be tamed. I definitely couldn't deal if that reared its ugly head.

I'm sick of commuting to and from work too. The ride home at night is taking much longer and I'm getting home just in time to deal with Mom sundowning. Oh joy. She was laughing during Raymond tonight though. And she ate the big salad that I made for dinner.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I heard on NPR that St. Paul is now Hockeytown USA. Detroit has been dethroned. The Minnesota Wild sell out every game and have been doing so for years. They say babies born in Minnesota are removed from the womb by grabbing the skate blade (ouch! for the Mom's!). Several of my college peers went on to make millions in the NHL including Brett Hull. My Detroit relatives were impressed that I went to college with Brett and actually had him in a few classes. My little 6 degrees of separation, or is it 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon? I can't remember.

Tonight I talked to my uncle who is my dad's brother. Halfway through the conversation it struck me how much his voice and pronunciation sounds like my Dad's. It was comforting somehow. I miss my dad. After his passing holidays were never the same. It's like he was the glue that held us together. I always think of him but I especially think of him and remember him at Christmas. Now it's usually just Mom and me at Christmas. And Mom has never really been that into the holiday since Dad passed away. So we probably won't do anything too exciting on the day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The results are in from my informal poll: 80% report that their AD loved ones had/have a sweet tooth. Interesting. Will this cause me to stop eating sugary treats? Maybe. Ask me tomorrow.
Some of the coloring books that I buy for Mom have games such as word searches in them. Mom always asks me what she should do with those. I tell her to just go ahead an color them. It's sad. She used to do word search games with me when I was a kid. Now she can't even remember how to do one. And she usually only uses one color when she colors.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Last night we watched "It's a Wonderful Life". I love that movie. I'm a latecomer to it though, I really hadn't watched it before until about 4 years ago. Mom enjoyed it too. She has been having a series of really good days and I'm very grateful for it. It's almost like she is back to normal. But I know that's not true.

Yesterday I went out and bought gifts for Mom's caregivers. I am almost done with my Christmas shopping and birthday shopping (both my niece and nephew are December babies). I bought coloring books for Mom of course, and Sander's hot fudge for my siblings. Sanders is a Michigan tradition, specifically a Detroit tradition. My grandfather worked there for 50 years, he managed a downtown Detroit store. My great-grandfather also worked for and managed a Sander's store. The best things from Sander's include their colonial buttercream cakes and their Christmas cookies. Each of us kids had a First Birthday cake from Sander's where they put our baby picture on the top of the cake. Mom has pictures of each of us with our Sander's cakes. Yummy stuff. Another Michigan tradition is the best ginger ale in the world, Vernors. It's the best and they finally sell it in Minnesota or you can buy it online. My sister found some in Pittsburgh and bought some and hoarded it.

It's sunny but very cold here in Minnesota. It was -2 today when I got up and headed out to Target. but the sun makes a world of difference. It's warming up right now. Even Mom's mood is brighter when the sun is out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mom blew off day care again today. Her caregiver called around 10 and asked if Mom had taken her medication (she had). She said that Mom was really grumpy and adamant that she was not going anywhere. So she stayed home. She is a willful woman. It's good to see that she still has some feistiness in her.

It's cold but sunny here today. The wind has picked up and the windchill has dropped. Winter in Minnesota, never a dull moment.

Listening to: Mr. Big - Green-Tinted Sixties Mind
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mom had a really good day today. Her caregiver dropped her off at daycare around 11:00 (just in time for lunch!) and Joyce arrived just as she was being dropped off at home. My sister called and we talked on speaker phone for quite awhile and afterward Mom said "I like it when she calls". And she told me some things about her day, she rarely has the memories for that!

I had a good day too, though I was tired this morning. Some days everything just seems to click. Today was one of those days.

The sunset tonight was beautiful. Bright oranges and pinks. Very nice.

I keep thinking about Cinnamin and her vigil with her mom and praying for peace for them.
Mom did eventually fall asleep last night but she was very restless beforehand. I put on some soothing music and that seemed to help. I fell asleep around 11. I'm a little tired this morning and I'm hoping that the commute home is easier than it was last night.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mom is very weepy and agitated tonight. I'm not sure I'm going to get much sleep. She went to daycare today and seemed to do fine, but when I got home she was very emotional. She wanted to go to bed but then she wanted to get up. I wonder if it's over stimulation or the increase of the seroquel? I'm glad I've put her on the waiting lists for placement. I'm not sure if we are starting another downward trend or what.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I've added a poll after reading about a study that links having a sweet tooth with AD. They found that mice who were given large amounts of sugary pop (soda for the non-Midwesterners) were more likely to have memory issues. I'm conducting an informal poll to see if this is a possibility.

Mom seems to get more agitated around dinner time and I suppose it's sundowning. Around 4:30 PM she started wanting to go to bed today. I told her she could take a nap if she wanted but she didn't want to. I think she gets bored. Luckily my sister called and that distracted Mom. She was saying that she didn't know what she was supposed to be doing (we've heard that before, right?). She also has developed a sensitivity to the temperature of food. She used to like her meals piping hot, but now she complains. I try to make sure food is thoroughly cooked though but I let it cool before I give it to her. She also doesn't like things that are too cold, like ice cream. She used to LOVE ice cream. Her sweet tooth has pretty much vanished, though she does still like an occasional treat.
My sister and brother-in-law are going to watch the dress rehearsal of the re-enactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware. It seems that the artist embellished the event by including more participants in the famous painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mom and I saw Michael Buble on CBS Sunday Morning today and Mom really liked him and his music, so I downloaded his new album from iTunes and we are listening to it now. I will eventually put it on Mom's iPod. She's got her eyes closed. Even Olivia seems to like it.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Today Mom and I decorated the Christmas tree. It looks lovely! We reminisced about the different ornaments as we put each one on the tree. Allyson called while we were doing this and we talked for a while. Later in the day I called my brother and talked with both him and my sister-in-law. Then I handed the phone over to Mom and she chatted with him for quite a while. It makes her happy to talk to him, but she also misses him very much.

It is COLD here and the snow is deep. I'll bet we have at least a foot of snow. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.....

Friday, December 7, 2007

I've been thinking more about the life lessons to be learned from Alzheimer's. One lesson is to learn to live in the moment while planning for the future. Another lesson it teaches is learning to let go. I am/was very attached to both of my parents and losing them was an impossible thing for me to consider. With Dad, the cancer allowed us to say goodbye but unfortunately, it also made us watch him suffer. With Mom, again the suffering and loss of dignity. Every day is precious because there are no guarantees. Both diseases have allowed me to come to terms with the mortality of my parents, something that I have dreaded as they aged. Anyway, just me rambling away.

Thank you Nancy for the info about the washable bed pads. I ordered 2 today! I'm sure they will help me and Mom.

I visited the final memory care facility and met with the director and the head RN, both of whom I liked very much. I put a deposit down so that we can be included on the waiting list. Now it's in God's hands.

It's sunny but cold today. We have so much snow, it's amazing. Just one week ago we had none. The roads, however, are mostly cleared.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We received a light dusting of snow this morning. Nothing too terrible yet.

I called my neighbor who has a tall ladder and he volunteered to come down and change the batteries for me on the smoke detectors. What a great guy!

Mom is in a good mood today, but then I'm home so that helps.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More snow! Tomorrow. Ick. It's pretty and everything, and it really gets me in the Christmas spirit, but it slows traffic to a crawl. Today it wasn't even snowing and it took 1.5 hours to get home.

Speaking of Christmas, I ordered a 24 inch teddy bear for Mom for Christmas. It might help to calm her down to have something to hold. I also ordered a Barry Manilow concert DVD for her. We were watching his show on PBS the other night and it really made Mom happy. She is a big fan. For her sake, I can put up with it. I just hope it doesn't turn into something she wants to watch all of the time like Everybody Loves Raymond. I think I know each show by heart now.

Why do builders put smoke detectors so far up that you have to have a cherry picker to change the batteries and test them??? The one in Mom's room is chirping. Did I mention that we have vaulted ceilings? I had called to get someone to change the battery and they wanted $110.00! What?? To change a BATTERY? I'm buying me a huge ladder and going into the business! Anyway, tomorrow I get to try to find someone to change it or disable it. I'm going to start with the fire department. I pay taxes, shouldn't they come and change a battery? We'll see.

Mom was frazzled this morning when Terri came. She had soiled herself and her bed again and she was confused about how to clean herself up. Terri came to the rescue, got her in the shower and then got her settled in. Starting tomorrow Terri will be coming for 3 hours each day. That should give us some better coverage and help me out a little. I'm sure all my caregiver friends can relate to this scenario. I've washed sheets every night after work this week and I'm tired. Especially after a long time stuck in traffic in the middle of a snowstorm.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Traffic was horrible tonight, but we made it home safely. It took 3 hours to get home. I called Mom 3 times but she still was confused. When I got home she was getting ready for bed. I convinced her to stay up until 9:00. I'm happy to be home safely (thanks for your concern Annie). And it's still snowing.

Rick mentioned on his blog that his mom said she didn't know what she was supposed to be doing. My mom has said that exact same thing on several occasions. Mom also thinks that she's 'been bad' if she soils herself or some other such thing. I do everything I can to assure her that she is not bad. I wonder if this is something cropping up from her childhood? I may never know. I just know that it breaks my heart to think that she thinks she is bad.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The neuro appointment went fairly well. I think the doctor could see the decline. It's hard to believe that her first neuro appointment was only 2 1/2 years ago. She has declined so much since then. Mom drove me to that appointment. Now she can no longer drive. Anyway, the doctor the upped the morning seroquel dosage. She is concerned about all of the time Mom spends alone during the day, on the days when she refuses to go to day care. She tried to reinforce with Mom the importance of her daily attendance.

Meanwhile I talked to my aunt and uncle tonight. My uncle said auntie fell twice in the department store when they were out shopping. I worry about uncle, he has his hands full too. He is in pretty good health and I'd like to keep it that way.

I hauled the tree up from the lower level today. Now I need to decorate it. Mom will help do that, I hope.

We are due for more snow, around the evening rush hour tomorrow. Yuck.

I finally scanned in the one group shot that turned out. Here is the whole motley crew from Thanksgiving.

Joyce stopped by and Mom insisted that I hang with them. Joyce is a retired cop and boy does she have the stories, especially ones about local sports stars. Before she retired she dealt with a lot of stuff from these guys, including our old friend Kirby Puckett. She was involved in the investigation at a local restaurant for good old Kirby and his 'groping' incident of which he was found innocent. She pretty much said the same thing; the evidence was not very substantial on the alleged victim's part.
Today I am witnessing what Terri goes through to give Mom a shower. She started around an hour ago trying to convince Mom to take one. Mom is screaming and yelling all through the process. Even the cats want nothing to do with it. Olivia is hanging out with me in the basement. Poor Terri! After all is done though Mom is grateful and glad she had the shower. Darn this AD. I hate what it is doing to my mom.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Yesterdays storm dropped about 6-8 inches of snow on us. We didn't have any freezing rain, we dodged a bullet. Today I went to Target and the roads, once I got out of the neighborhood, were just fine.

Olivia has figured out what the word 'chickadee' means. She will come running when I say 'chickadee dee dee dee' right for the window to stare out and see the birds. It's really quite amazing. Lily knows what the word 'outside' means. Her ears will perk up when she hears that word or her name. Smart kitties. I could never part with them. I'm a firm believer that adopting a pet means that you've adopted them for life. That means providing for them when one can no longer take care of them. I know it would break Lily's heart to be separated from me. In fact, knowing she needs me has helped me get through bouts of depression. She is my baby.

Tomorrow we have an appointment with the neurologist. Mom will probably not want to leave the house. I'm going to have Terri come, as scheduled, in the morning. I don't want to get Mom out of that routine. I will work from home. We don't have a lot to report to the neurologist other than the fact that Mom seems to have declined quite a bit this autumn, both mentally and physically. She also may need to have her med upped so that she is less tearful at daycare and with Terri.

We still haven't put up the tree, maybe this week. I've got the snow village up though.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

You know you're a true Minnesotan when:

1. A snowstorm sends shivers of excitement and anticipation up your spine.
2. Camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness is your idea of a vacation.
3. Going to the beach means a trip to Lake Superior.
4. There are only 2 seasons; winter and road construction.
5. Driving in 10 inches of snow is not daunting.
6. Fire hydrants in your neighborhood have tall stakes which allow them to be easily located when they are buried in several feet of snow.
7. You're sick of snow by February and are ready for the next season (road construction).

This photo was taken at 12:30 PM in the middle of a Minnesota snowstorm. You might be able to notice the little flags that mark the curbs and driveways. My sister claims these flags are not nearly tall enough.

Friday, November 30, 2007

It was a whopping 6 degrees this morning when Mom and I headed out for her mammogram appointment and protime. It takes such a long time to get Mom out of the house and into the car with her mobility issues. When we got to the appointment I was told that it had been canceled on Wednesday. What must have happened is that they called our house to confirm it, Mom answered the phone and canceled it. I mouthed the word 'Alzheimer's' to let them know that's why Mom didn't know anything about it. Luckily they fit us in and Mom had the test. Now I hope that it comes back negative.

A winter storm is heading our way. It's due to hit at around noon tomorrow with accumulations between 4 to 8 inches. Strangely enough, I'm sort of excited. I plan to put on Christmas music and haul up the tree to decorate. I bought some evergreen branches that I would like to put in a basket in the den. They smell so good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Today I found out that giving Mom her seroquel before I leave for work makes a big difference for the home health aide. Today I forgot, and Mom was difficult to say the least. Terri said Mom was really angry, agitated and vocal. She refused to go to daycare. She had an accident in her bed and she didn't want Terri to clean her up. Eventually Terri did get her cleaned. Afterward, Mom always feels sorry for her behavior.

Mom and I watched the finale of Dancing With The Stars last night. I was glad that Helio won the competition. Although the Spice Girl was great, it wasn't much of a stretch for her to become a ballroom dancer in my opinion. A race car driver that can learn ballroom dancing, that's a stretch.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I was not prepared for the cold this morning. It was 10 degrees when I drove to the vanpool. It didn't warm up much at all.

For some weird reason I'm not feeling a Thanksgiving let-down, though I think Mom is. Perhaps that is because I experienced my let-down before my sister left and now I have pulled it together in order to accomplish all that I was assigned to do.

My aunt called twice today. I think she is really worried and upset about her sister. Amazingly, when I called Mom this afternoon she told me her sister had called. I usually take this with a grain of salt but sure enough, her name and number were on the caller ID for today. Way to go Mom remembering this! I wish I could have prepared auntie for Mom's AD progression better.

I am on the waiting list now for one of the memory care facilities, I'm touring another on 12/7 and I need to get a check to the third one. I feel good about the places my sister and I chose, I think they will take good care of Mom when the time comes. But I know she will pitch a fit.

Joyce stopped by for an hour just to make sure Mom was OK and to chat. She said Mom was in good spirits. Terri also said that Mom was in good spirits this AM with her. And she took a shower. Bu she didn't go to day care. She was too tired.

Friday she is scheduled for a mammogram. I hope it warms up by then.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This morning Mom asked if anyone was still here and I told her they had all left for home. She was sad. But, she went to daycare! And it wasn't even a scheduled day so we have been scurrying around to get her a ride home. And to top it off, one of the Memory Care facilities called to say that they have an opening for an apartment December 3. We are going to wait, but I am going to put Mom on the waiting list for that one and a couple others.

Mom came home on the bus from day care, only stupid me gave them the wrong code for the garage door. They tried to call me but couldn't reach me so they called my sister who knew the code for the lockbox. Thank God I told her that on Saturday. Anyway, they got Mom into the house and settled into the den. She was very anxious and tearful when I got home, but she calmed down after a while.

It is a gorgeously sunny day here today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Today we visited 2 more memory care facilities. Both of us liked these 2 as well as one from yesterday. The big dilemma now is to decide how many waiting lists we would like to be put on. Each facility charges to be put on the waiting list.

Last night Mom awoke at 12:30 AM with some weirdness going on. I'm still not sure what the problem was. I had given her half of a muscle relaxant before bed (I cleared this with the pharmacist based upon all of her medications first), I wonder if she had a drug interaction. I won't be giving her that again. It was scary and we were up until 4:30 AM. I gave her a banana just in case it was a muscle cramp (she hasn't been eating her banana daily).

To top things off, Joyce let me know that she needs 24 hours notice when Mom is going to cancel. I guess we will be using the bus sooner than I thought.

This sucks so much. I feel a gamut of emotions, but I know I can't go on like this much longer.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today my sister and I visited 2 memory care facilities. It was difficult. Now I need to figure out which ones to put our names in for the waiting list.
Mom has been very emotional since her sister left for home. She keeps thinking that she didn't know it was her sister when she was here. And she wants to know when she is coming back for another visit. We took lot's of pictures, but Mom usually cries when she looks at them. It must be so hard for her, but I'm so glad that we got nearly the entire family together for this holiday. My uncle is my aunt's caregiver and like so many other spouses, I worry about him and hope that he accepts some help. He's too important to lose to caregiver burnout.

My sister and her husband are staying until Monday which is nice. I glad that people are leaving in waves and not all at once. That would be so hard.

It is finally sunny here. We had a light dusting of snow on Wednesday into Thursday. It will probably warm up a little now that people are gone.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving went well. Mom stayed with the crowd until the end. I think her sister was a little upset by her disease progression though. We all had a wonderful time looking at photos and reminiscing. Here are the two sisters along with their daughters. I've also included a photo of Mom and her sister at their grandparent's summer home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So far so good with Mom and the relatives. They are all here now and on their way to a Minnesota Wild hockey game. Mom and Auntie and I are home together enjoying each other's company. Tomorrow will be the big test. It must be hard for my auntie to see her sister like this. Mom is busy coloring away and watching the news with auntie, and I'm making quiche for dinner. Mom seems very happy to see everyone which is good.

Lily has taken this opportunity to come out of hiding. She's very shy and likes to hide. Olivia has been socializing all day.

It is COLD here in Minnesota, only in the 30s. We picked up the dinner this morning. Everything is already made, we just heat everything up.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in blog land.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another blogger acquaintance has lost their loved one. I knew of Stef, and her wise-beyond-her-years posts, from the Alzheimer's boards. She is an amazing young woman who showed such incredible love and devotion for her beloved grandmother. She has been such a supportive member of the ALZ community through her blog and her posts on the web board. Today I learned that she is from Syracuse. My beloved nephew attends Syracuse University. God bless you Stef. You have been an amazing support for so many people.
I've included a link to Martha Stewart's blog. Love her or hate her, you've got to admit that she handled her recent incarceration with grace and dignity, and she has moved on. I think she has also acquired some humbleness. I like her by the way. Martha lost her Mom this past week. We all know how hard that can be. Earlier this week, I think it was Friday, she mentioned that her Mom was in the hospital and one could see the tears in her eyes. Godspeed Big Martha.

This version of I'll Be Home for Christmas is a wonderful tribute to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wish they were home.

Listening to: Josh Groban - I'll Be Home for Christmas
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mom's sense of time is totally gone. Sure, we mark off days on the calendar and circle important dates, but that no longer seems to help. She is aware that we are having lots of people for Thanksgiving. Tonight was the night she thought they were coming. Even though I tell her they are not coming until Tuesday, she thinks each day is the day. When they don't show up it is like she feels betrayed. She says that she knew they weren't going to show up. And she gets confused about who is whom. I'm not sure what to expect from here once they all get here. My sister isn't sure that they are prepared for Mom no longer being Mom. She's different. She looks the same but she's not the same. AD has robbed us of our Mom. But I think that once they are here she will realize who they are and will be so happy to see them. Damn this disease.

Today we received a certified letter from Mom's clinic. It was time for her mammogram back in September. I dropped the ball, mostly because if they do find something, what are we going to do? Can she withstand the treatment? She can barely withstand the mammogram. I talked this over with my sister and we came to the conclusion that I should make the appointment so I will.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Today was a quiet day. The nurse from the agency visited and checked Mom's vitals. Her BP was 100/62. We talked about the 'incident' on Wednesday and they still aren't sure what happened; they just know that someone dropped the ball. But now they are aware of an issue and they will be making sure that it doesn't happen again.

The light fixtures for our ceiling fans have finally come in (I ordered them in late July!) and I will pick them up tomorrow. Hopefully Joe will be able to install them while he is here. I don't want to have too many things for him to do, I'm hoping he will be able to have some enjoyment when he is here.

This is a picture of me, in my crib!, with my very first kitty cat, Muffin. I think I was about 3 years old. I still have my Raggedy Ann doll pictured here. I have been trying to scrapbook. I have hundreds of photos that I ripped out of those sticky 'magnetic' albums. Now I need to put them all in acid free scrapbooks. It's a long process. Tonight I was able to get one page done in my album that I am trying to put together, that documents 2 trips that I took with Mom and Dad on ore carriers. I've lost my creative-ness or something. Digital scrapbooking is much easier, but then I would have to scan all of these hundreds of photos into my computer. Ick.

Listening to: James Taylor - Carolina in My Mind
via FoxyTunes
The local NBC affiliate is running a story on Alzheimer's (thanks for the heads-up Annie!). It's so sad to see this disease and the people it robs. Last night they showed June as she was 2 years ago. I am not looking forward to seeing how the disease has progressed tonight; she was such a lively, vivacious woman in 2005. AD SUCKS!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today was Caregiver's Day at Mom's daycare. We arrived promptly at 11:45 for lunch. It was really crowded! There were about 30 people there. It was nice to meet some of my fellow caregivers. After lunch, they had a jazz band play. The band was comprised of older men and they really played quite well. Mom really enjoyed it and so did I.

Mom gets squirrelly sometimes from the AD. Darn that disease!

I am addicted to snow villages and snowbabies. Last year was my first year of collecting snow villages. My nephew gave Mom and me an adorable cottage that is part of the Dickens village. I, on the other hand, bought some pieces from the New England village. I like both the Dickens series and the New England series. I was initially attracted to the NE village because the first piece I purchased had kitty cats in it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This morning I gave Mom her Seroquel before I left for working in hopes that it would help calm her for Terri and daycare. Tonight when I came home, her pills were still where I had left them, Terri didn't come. I called the agency thinking maybe I had screwed up and told them not to come today, but they had Mom on the schedule. They weren't sure what had happened. I was concerned that something had happened to Terri. But it turned out there was a mix up and she thought she was supposed to come tomorrow, but not today. Meanwhile, Mom went without her pills and had no food for the entire day. Not good. The agency said that their system should have notified them that no one showed up on a scheduled day, but it didn't. They apologized over and over, and they said that Terri felt awful about it. She feels uneasy about leaving Mom home alone on days when she refuses to go to daycare. Mom was very confused and teary of course, she hadn't been fed and she hadn't taken her meds. And I was quite alarmed. I will now leave a snack out for her just in case. I will also be calling to make sure that someone shows up.

She felt better though after I gave her dinner and her meds. Tonight we watched the Osmonds on Larry King. She enjoyed that, and she seemed to be calmed.

I am on vacation until the 26th. I'm looking forward to some time away from work, guilt free.

It has turned cold here, it was 38 tonight as I drove home. That's the one downside to having a temperature control on my dashboard; now I know the actual outdoor temperature. Ick.

Tomorrow we are supposed to go to the daycare for caregiver's day. I hope I can get Mom to go. Then I am getting my hair colored. I need to cover all of the gray hair I've gotten.

My mood has evened out. I feel less overwhelmed and depressed. I've also noticed that I am not as irritable. That is something that I need to keep in mind as a possible indicator of a breakthrough of my depression; I get irritable.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mom did not go to day care today. She refused. I guess that she had an emotional morning. Terri did get her to take a shower though. And she left her a snack so that she wouldn't be starving. Terri is a treasure and an angel.

We are gearing up for Thanksgiving and our houseful of relatives. I can't wait to see everyone. It has been several years since I've seen my cousin Jill and her family.

Annie has a link to an entertaining blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. The woman who writes this blog is very good at telling a story and her photos are great. Thanks for sharing this link Annie!

Not much else going on. Downloaded a few Led Zeppelin songs from iTunes. I'm not a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I just have fond memories of trying to learn Stairway to Heaven on my guitar. That song about killed my fingers.

Listening to: Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 12, 2007

I took Mom to get her hair cut tonight. This is always a trial. Mom is in pain from her hips so she's not very mobile. I purposely made an appointment for mid afternoon so as to avoid the sundowning that occurs in the evening. The salon called early this morning and asked if we could move Mom's appointment to 5:30.The stylist's daughter was sick (a stomach virus like Mom had last week!). OK, I said. Mom acts like she is being tortured the whole time. I try to keep a grip on my patience knowing that it's the disease. I'm getting tired of being patient though. Tonight she started in about me having work to go to and she has nothing. Well, she has daycare so I guess she just has to accept that. After nearly 2 months she still complains about having to go to daycare.

My cousin called tonight. They will be here next Tues. They plan to drive to Madison, WI the first day. It will be nice to see them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Our neighbors have started to put out their Christmas lights and decorations. In Minnesota you have to plan ahead. Today it is 65 degrees, lovely weather for hanging lights. Tomorrow it could be freezing and snowing. I, on the other hand, still have my autumn mums growing in baskets outside. I experienced a whiff of Christmas; I went to the local nursery/garden center where it seems many were buying their winter greens. It smelled lovely with all of the evergreen branches. Come to think of it, I think most of the customers where football widows who were out shopping while their husbands watched the Vikings get slaughtered by the Packers. I myself was there to check out the Department 56 village buildings, and I ended up buying a Snowbaby and a village building. I've got quite a collection of Snow Babies; in 1995 Mom was struggling to figure out what to buy me for Christmas. Dad suggested she buy me a snow globe. She found one in the Snowbabies collection and that is what I received for my present that year. Since then she and my sister have bought me snowbabies. That is until about 2 years ago. Now she can't remember that she had been buying those for me. That upsets her. Anyway, the Snowbaby I got is really cute, it's called Girls Night Out and has a snowbaby and a kitty cat dressed in pearls.

Tomorrow is a day off for me in honor of Veterans Day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tomorrow is the 32nd anniversary of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I remember this event quite clearly. Mom says she remembers my dad coming home from work and stating that a ship had been lost on Lake Superior. It hit home for him because Captain McSorley of the Fitz was a member of his shipmasters' lodge in Detroit and he knew him. Later in life we would become good friends with Captain Jesse Bernard Cooper, who was the master of the Arthur Anderson, the ship that was following the Fitz. He was the last person to speak to the crew of the Fitz. There were many theories about what caused the vessel to sink. My dad's theory was that the ship bottomed out on Caribou Island, tore a hole in the hull and then foundered soon afterward. The official theory was that the hatch covers were not secure causing the hatches to fill with water. The wreck has been located and the ship's bell was removed and placed in a museum in Whitefish Bay, MI. The Fitz is probably the most famous Great Lakes shipwreck of all time, perhaps helped along by the ballad by Gordon Lightfoot. A friend told he that when he went to buy Lightfoot's album he was told by the clerk at the record store that the 'ship was carrying Christmas trees'. Not true, it was carrying taconite. Mariner's Church of Detroit is the 'musty old hall' sung about in the song. The rector at the time, Father Richard Ingalls, rang the church bell 29 times for each man lost on the ship. My father would sometimes attend the service for the crew of the Fitz, and he would always attend the Blessing of the Fleet service every spring as shipping season began. One of his memorial services was held in this beautiful church on the Detroit waterfront.

If I won the lottery, I'd give money to Mom's day program. They are located in a church basement currently. I'd also make sure that home health aides had health insurance for themselves. This is my dream. I'd also make sure that Mom was well taken care of. And guess what, my sister would love this, I'd move closer to family, I'd buy a summer house on Mackinac Island (which is heaven on earth to our family) and I'd have a place in a warm climate for winter. That's what I'd do with my lottery winnings.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Here's an interesting article from WebMD. Boomers not Planning for Parents' Care
I am still home. Now I have a cold and feel miserable. But on a good note, I was able to meet Mom's home health aide Terri. She is awesome! She's really good with Mom too, though Mom refused to take a shower or go to Prairie today. I guess that's OK though since I'm home anyway. She likes kitties too which is good since we have two. Terri didn't realize we had two since Lily hides. I showed her Lily hiding under the sofa.

I also had a psych appointment. I am switching meds and may end up upping the dose too. She also wrote me a note for work so that has lifted a weight off of my shoulders. Unfortunately I don't really get much support from work and I feel like they think I'm just slacking off. But between caring for Mom, dealing with my fibromyalgia and depression it's hard. I have to put Mom and myself before my job. I've taken up the slack for others my whole career so now it's time for me to receive the same kind of understanding that I've given to others. I don't know how many times I've picked up the workload of people on maternity leave or surgical leave. Because I'm single, I've always volunteered to work overtime or holidays without nary a complaint. Now it's my turn for some understanding and support.

Mom is feeling much better but I'm still feeding her the BRAT diet just to be sure. Last night I gave her plain white rice for dinner and she couldn't finish it and got a little sick. Today she seems better though.

It's sunny today! YAY!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Here is the completed ramp. Pretty nice!

I'm in drama queen role big time. I've been crying and feeling low; I think my SAD is kicking in. It didn't help that Mom was sick and I didn't sleep much and now I'm stuck at home and it's cloudy. Mom is doing much better, drinking 7-up and eating some Jello. I feel so alone though and there is no one to turn to. It's a good thing I'm going to the psych tomorrow cuz I think I need to up my meds. Or switch meds. I hate antidepressants. But I can't function without them. I've tried. I think that underlying all of this drama is a fear that I have missed too much work between my issues and Mom's and there may be repercussions.

On the plus side, the home aide wrote in her report that Mom was combative and teary yesterday. She was still sleeping when the aide showed up and confused. I called the agency and told them Mom felt bad and the social worker said there was no need to apologize, they deal with that type of behavior all the time with ALZ patients. I am impressed by this, since the last agency just wanted to push meds on Mom for this behavior, and several of them quit because of it. If you're going to deal with ALZ patients you have to know that this is part of the disease. Today Mom was smiling when I came into the den. She has a lovely smile and I almost feel like my old Mom is back when I see it. I love to see that smile.
Mom called out for me at 12:30. She was vomiting and had diarrhea. I'm not sure if it's food poisoning or just something didn't agree with her. She finally fell asleep so I thought I would come back down to my room. I called the nurse line to find out about what to do. They said to give her small sips of water in the morning and if she can keep that down, to give her larger sips. The key is to keep her from getting dehydrated. I am worried about her. I hope that what I gave her for dinner didn't make her sick. But I'm not sick. It maybe didn't agree with her or she caught something somewhere. This sucks so much. I've never dealt with sick kids so this is my first time dealing with someone who's sick. It's probably a good thing that I never had kids; I'd be a basket case. I wish there was someone close to me who could help me out with this. I probably should have moved Mom and me to PA to be with Allyson. But what's done is done.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I am feeling better now. Our nightly ritual is to get into Mom's bed and watch TV. Tonight, Mom was ready at 7:45 so off we went. Mom fell asleep holding my hand. I kissed her goodnight and told her I love her. She's sleeping now. It's so cold here tonight, I left an extra blanket along with her down quilt on Mom's bed.

Lily and I are cuddling and watching Dancing With The Stars. I hesitate to vote for the celebs who having dancing as part of their profession. I'd rather vote for someone who has no dancing in their background. It makes it more interesting to take someone who's never danced and turn them into a dancer. That's my philosophy anyway. I also think that the choice of music makes a big difference. Last week when Jane Seymour danced, I think it was the jive, to David Bowie's Modern Love, it just didn't do it for me, mostly because of the song. Tonight someone danced to Jeanne, Jeannie, also a weird choice. Oh well.
Tonight I am irritable. I think it's the fact that it is getting dark earlier now that we are off daylight saving time. Or maybe it's because Mom is whiny. I got her to get up and go see the ramp in progress in the garage, and that seemed to help her mood. It, the ramp, is going to be nice. All that is left to do is to add the railings and put the steps in. It is really cold here today so around 2 PM the guy left to go work on the modular steps at home. Speaking of cold, I saw SNOW FLURRIES flying around this afternoon. ICK! I'm definitely NOT ready for that. I think my seasonal depression is starting to kick in too. Think positive...

Mom is coloring now and we are watching Raymond. Dancing with the Stars will be on in about 40 minutes. Mom has already said she wants to go to bed. We need to get more coloring books. Watching Raymond always makes Mom miss Dad.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mom has been sneezing a lot. I hope she's not coming down with a cold. I bought some Zicam rapid melts for her. That's the only problem with the day program: Mom is exposed to more germs. But if she's happy there then that is OK. It's a beautiful sunny day today, but chilly. The lumber was delivered for our low rise steps bright and early this morning.

At 1:30 this morning I had both kitties on my bed. Lily seemed indignant that Olivia dared be on her bed. Olivia, like a bull in a china shop, was climbing all over, knocking things off the nightstand and jumping on me. She's still a baby relatively.

Gasoline is over three dollars a gallon again....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I downloaded Carrie Underwood's new album Carnival Ride from iTunes on the day it came out. I have listened to exactly 3 songs. They all send shivers up my spine and I choke up with tears. One is about daddy's little girl, and one is about a young woman who loses her husband in the war. I can't listen to the rest of the CD, it's just too sad for me. And it's called Carnival Ride?? This song, All-American Girl, is for all of us who are Daddy's girls (I'm a Mama's girl too though).

Mom is in a good mood today, she is coloring and watching the Hallmark channel movies. It is slightly overcast and chilly. I cleared out the right side of the garage in preparation for the new steps. I hope they make it easier for Mom to get in and out of the house. Then I did a Target run, to Super Target, and I killed two birds with one stone; I bought groceries and other things. But boy that store is huge, and it was busy!

Mom made a funny comment today. She said she's not ready to die. I don't know what brought that up unless she was retaining something from my conversation with Allyson about how my blog friend Betsy had lost her mom. This is a strange disease. Mom will start out saying something completely lucid only to end with something completely off the wall. Usually all in the same sentence. I try to be patient and let her express what she is trying to say. But it's hard. I'm so grateful for every minute that we get to spend together. Even though it's hard, and I get tired and inpatient, I'm glad that I can be with Mom. She is so important to me and she's a good mom. I'm not ready for her to leave me.

Listening to: Carrie Underwood - All-American Girl
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 2, 2007

And then there was one.

My friend Betsy posted today on her blog that her Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep last night. Her battle with the enemy that is Alzheimer's is over. I am so sad for Betsy and her family, but I am also relieved that her mom will no longer suffer and decline into the abyss that is Alzheimer's. God Bless you Betsy. And Godspeed to your Mom. has an excellent Alzheimer's Blog. It seems very interesting, but not much different from the Alzheimer's Association boards.

They are going to begin work on the low rise steps in the garage on Monday. The lumber will be delivered either Sunday or Monday. Should be interesting. I need to clear the stuff off that wall before Monday.

Today is a beautiful sunny day. Mom and I need to go for her INR/Protime at 2:15. She doesn't want to go and I can't say I blame her. I wish there were nurses who visited to do this.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November is National Family Caregivers Month.

1 in 7 over age of 71 has Dementia
I found this interesting statistic on WebMD.

Mom talked a lot about the day program today. It's hard to tell what she means most of the time but I was able to discern quite a bit of what she said. So, she attended 3 days this week. That is a milestone. We had a different caregiver today. I was a little concerned to find my bedroom light on when I came home. I don't think either of the cats turned it one and I KNOW Mom didn't. Hmm. Maybe I should invest in a web camera after all. Actually, I need several, one for Mom's area and one for my area.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

During the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 the upper Midwest was dumped with snow. On the east coast, it was dubbed the Halloween Nor'easter, and was The Perfect Storm. This was the last major snow event that I can remember. Minneapolis received 28 inches and Duluth, where my parents lived, received a whopping 36 inches of snow. Mom has pictures of this that Dad took. They have a picture of a yardstick in the snow, which is buried nearly to the top. I remember being trapped in my apartment for days. I was able to work from home though, using my trusty little Mac to connect by modem to the computer system. The temperature turned very cold after this storm. The roads were icy for the entire winter, I don't think they ever really melted until spring. This year Halloween was cold, 48 degrees. We had a few trick or treaters, maybe 10 total. Mom LOVED seeing the kids in their costumes, and the puppies in their costumes. The neighbors brought over their puppies. They know how much Mom loves them. She was cuddling with Bailey for quite a long time. And now she wants a puppy....

I also had a note from Joyce which said that Mom found a friend at Prairie. Her name is Ruth. Joyce said she has never seen Mom happier than today. Also on the daily report that Mom gets from Prairie, it said something about how great it was to see the joy on her face as she listened to a music concert at Prairie in the afternoon. That makes me feel so very happy, to know that she feels some joy while at Prairie.

It was a low key day for me. It took extra long to get home tonight because traffic was heavy for Halloween. But all in all it was a good day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mom's home health aide Terri called this morning. I was a little startled to see our home number on the caller ID at first. She was trying to figure out how to work the remote for the TV. We have 3 remotes, one for the TV, one for the cable box and one for the DVD player. I try to keep them all hidden except for the one for the cable box. Terri wanted to know how to work the remote, so I explained over the phone. She said (and this I already knew) that Mom likes to watch 'Ellen', she will laugh out loud. Mom hasn't lost her sense of humor. We laugh a lot about silly things and she loves to watch situation comedies. Terri was a little doubtful that Mom would want to go to Prairie, but guess what? She went! I'm glad. Terri seems like a good person. She said that Mom gets really agitated and will cry, so I have called the neurologist to see if we should up Mom's seroquel. Mom is fine with me though so I'm not sure about this. I really don't like to overly medicate either myself or her. In the meantime, I've added a fourth day to the schedule for Mom so that she will have someone with her on the mornings when I go to work. This gives me some peace of mind. Now I've got to get my rear to the ALF places from 'A Place for Mom'. I'm procrastinating though.

The November issue of National Geographic has a story about memory; how we keep it and how we lose it. They have a picture that compares a healthy brain to one ravaged by AD. It's so scary to see, and it really portrays just why our loved ones lose memories and other functions, slowly but surely. It really is an awful thing. Mapping Memory

This is from my sister. Makes you think.

AARP Study Finds US Has Much to Learn from German Long-Term Care System

Monday, October 29, 2007

I found this on in an Alzheimer's Blog. I wonder if Esther from the Alzheimer's boards is the author (the blogger on the Mayo site said someone named Esther wrote it)?

Declaration of Independence For Persons Living with Alzheimer's

Look at me as someone very, very special with personal accomplishments only I have accumulated throughout all my years of living; I am different from anyone else, unique and precious because I am the only one who has lived my life.

I cannot be duplicated, and what I am, what I know, what I have done, what I can become belongs solely to me. While I am here, I am still being, still becoming. I am irreplaceable and invaluable, the only one of a kind, ever, before or after.

The community where I live will grow only as I grow. Don't discard me as a worn-out, useless finished garment. Wear me out in honor and pride and don't ignore me, talk down to me, over me, or around me as if I am no longer there. Be careful how you label me and please don't call me a senior citizen, you don't call your teenagers junior citizens. When I am lying ill in bed, don't come in and say to me shall we have our bath now? There's no we or our, it's my bath.

I don't want to be humored, babied, or pampered, patronized, exploited for your advantage. I want to be regarded, not someone at the end of a journey, but, rather as one still vitally involved in the living of life in all of its possibilities, good to the last drop.

Enable me through your wisdom, to experience a 'doing', a 'being,' a 'becoming' every day of this life so that I am what I was intended, in my creation, to become, to hear my calling, and to live out my destiny in all of its fullness, expected of me. Don't waste me and make me stand with empty hands and unfulfilled hopes before my creator at the end of this life.

Help me to grow and achieve all that I was potentially able to be with your help. And give me a sense of worth, dignity and achievement, for there is so much to do, use me!

Remember, I go this way but once. Want me, love me and let the ending be as gracious and living as it was in the beginning when I first arrived.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Today was a puppy extravaganza. Mom even ventured outside to see it! But it was pretty cold so she didn't stay out very long. This is my neighbor Mary holding Bailey. Bailey and Satine are playing. They bite and chase each other around. Mary has a dachshund, Rusty, who tries to avoid the puppy extravaganza. It was a nice, sunny day, but chilly.

Mom had a good day today, but she gets whiny and crabby at bedtime pretty much every night. I don't know if this is sundowning.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today was a low key day. We had our flu shots and we went to the car wash. I did our grocery shopping in the morning. Now we are watching Everybody Loves Raymond after light dinner. It was sunny off and on all day. There was rain southeast of us. This has been the cloudiest month of October in nearly 50 years here. It felt like it. I only hope that November is better.

I have a grab bar to install in Mom's bathroom. I need to find a wall stud though first. I want to put it alongside the commode in order to give Mom something to help her get up.

Mom was sort of whiny today. I really have to work at it to be patient when that happens. I know it's not her, it's the disease, but it's annoying.

Listening to: Carrie Underwood - So Small
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Joyce warned me. Mom was upset about not being picked up until 4:15 yesterday. She said she wasn't going today and she didn't. Sherry called at 10:00 to let me know that Mom didn't want to get out today. Still, Terri was able to give her a shower. She was up and in the bathroom when I left this morning so she must have decided to go back to bed. When I called Mom to check in this morning she seemed sorry that Terri had left and she said she hates to be alone. I reminded her that she could have gone to Prairie today. Oh well. Tomorrow we are going to get our flu shots. There has been 1 case verified in Minnesota, but that person had been traveling so our virology lab director does not feel that can be considered the 'first case of the season'.

It's another glorious autumn day here. Stunning but cool.

I was reading through my journal last night. Way back in 2004 I was worried about Mom and her memory. I think that must have been when my aunt and uncle visited and expressed their concerns too. I have several entries where I voiced my concerns not only about her memory, but also her desire to remain isolated in her home. I tried to encourage her to remain active and up until the winter of 2004-05 she did a fairly good job by doing her water aerobics, playing cards with the neighborhood ladies and participating in a Red Hat Society group. She expressed several times her inability to catch on and learn the card game 500. She said she felt 'stupid'. This was clearly a sign that something was wrong. It sure didn't take long for her to begin a rapid decline. I remember how freaked out I was very soon after we moved in together and learned just how far along her AD was at that time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's been 2 days and so far things are going OK with the home health aide. She has been leaving me a report of how things go with Mom, which I like very much. Today, Mom had an accident in bed and the aide helped Mom get cleaned up and she washed Mom's sheets. She even got Mom to take a shower! Joyce picks Mom up every day. Today she picked Mom up at 4:15 and Mom was upset that she was so late. I've asked if Mom can be brought home at 2:00 so this is an extra long day for Mom. She was exhausted tonight and went to bed at 8:00. This weekend I think I'm going to try to take her to an assisted living facility. They called me today to invite us to Oktoberfest on Saturday. I'm going to try to get Mom to go so that she will know that she won't be in a traditional nursing home when the time comes. I checked it out online and it looks really, really nice. Plus they have a dog and a cat that live on the premises.

Our weather has been gorgeous. It's a nice change after the gloominess of last week.

We watched the California wildfires on the news tonight. Those people are in our prayers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm between a rock and a hard place. Caring for Mom is the rock, work is the hard place. Today I worked from home because I needed to take Mom to have her blood drawn for her INR/Protime. I can't get past the idea that my manager thinks working from home is slacking off. But how else am I going to get Mom to the clinic? Mom's health is most important for me. And today her protime was in a normal range. That's a good thing.

I have had several bouts of major depression, the latest one was 3 years ago. During that bout, which was definitely the worst bout I've had so far, my manager was not very understanding. I admit that I felt awful and probably didn't have my heart in my work. It's hard to concentrate on doing a great job when you don't even feel like living. My manager has not gotten over that. In fact it seems like I am being held back because of it. Now, I'm caring for my mom and I feel like that too is being held against me. Luckily I've been with a great therapist for those 3 years and she has really helped me a lot.

On the plus side, today was a gloriously sunny day. The fall colors are so beautiful. And Mom had a good day too. I am nervous for tomorrow; the health aide comes and the plan is to take Mom to Prairie. I hope it goes OK. Let go and let God.

Listening to: Sarah McLachlan - Ordinary Miracle
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We are back to gloominess and cold. It's really windy today and that is blowing all of the leaves off of the trees. Very sad. I am not looking forward to winter, with the snow and cold and short daylight. Thought I would include another picture though from yesterday. This is from the bluff overlooking the river.

About 2:30 this morning Mom called out for help. She was wrapped up in the bedcovers and couldn't move. I got her unwrapped and then stayed with her until she fell back to sleep. This morning she slept until 8:00 and I helped her take a shower. I need to think of a way to warm up her bathroom. The tile floor and white walls are not very welcoming. She used to have rugs on the floor but they spent more time in the wash than on the floor so I took them up.

My coworker Nancy says that the second half of our life is about dealing with loss. True.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It was a gorgeous autumn day today. We were out early shopping at Home Depot then we drove around and looked at the fall colors. I have some beautiful pictures but blogger is not letting me post them. I've got a great one of the red maples for Flinty.

Mom was dozing in her chair this afternoon, she woke up with start, saying 'what do you want?' to someone whom I couldn't see. It's been awhile since she's done this.

Mom's appetite appears to be back. Tonight though she had a little blood in her urine from her high coumadin level. I forgot and gave her her pill last night. Hopefully she will start to come down now. We get it retested on Monday.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Today was a good day. We met with both the nurse and the social worker for the home health agency. I was very impressed with the both. The nurse took Mom's BP (102/70), pulse, listened to her heart and lungs and then checked her skin for issues. She spent quite a while here. If the aides are as good as everyone else at this place then everything should be fine. Mom had her coumadin level checked today too. It was really high due to the bactrim that she was taking for her UTI. We have to stop the coumadin for the weekend and then re-check on Monday. I think that I will work from home that day. Tonight Mom's appetite seems to be back. She had several small slices of pizza as well as several small meals throughout the day. I bought a blueberry-pomegranate juice that she just loves. She drank several glasses of that. And best of all, I got a urine sample and dropped it off at the lab.

While the nurse was here today checking over Mom, Olivia watched her like a hawk. She would jump up on Mom's lap frequently too. It was like Olivia was making sure that no one was messing with Mom. What a great little kitty.

It was a windy, gloomy day today. Tomorrow is supposed to our first peak at the sun in about a week. If the sun does come out I plan to take some pictures of the lovely red maples that line the street on the way into our neighborhood.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thank God for my sister. Tonight Mom was having an anxious time. Then my sister called and I had her talk to Mom. Mom's mood instantly brightened and she was laughing at things my sister was telling her. It means a lot to both of us to have that connection to family who live far away. AND even better news, my sister and her family are coming for Thanksgiving along with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins. It give me something to look forward to.

Mom has a ginormous bruise on her upper left arm. It must be from her fall on Monday. I keep asking her if it hurts but she says no. I'm thankful for that. I'm also glad that she only has a bruise. It could have been so much worse.

Tomorrow the social worker and the nurse visit from the Home healthcare agency. Mom will probably have a fit but oh well.

I'm feeling boxed in at work, like there is no place to go. Maybe that's ok. I don't know. I just don't like having options. Time will tell in that area. And then it took an hour and a half to get home tonight. I could find no other reason than the rain.

Today I talked to a woman who works with a referral service called "A Place for Mom". They help people find care or housing for senior citizens. I figure it's time to at least start looking at memory care facilities in the area. This woman told me that many places have waiting lists, which are months long, so it is important to plan ahead. She sent me a list of many different places in surrounding communities where I can visit on my own to weed out places that I feel wouldn't fit Mom. I found a link to their website somewhere on the internet. She had lots of advice which was helpful.

Thank God for my blog friends too. I don't know what I would do without your support and advice.
Mom refused to go to daycare today. Joyce said she tried everything in her book to encourage her but Mom was adamant. No go.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I was running late this morning. I heard Mom get up and use the bathroom and I just knew that I should have checked on her, but I took a muscle relaxant last night and was still groggy. I kept sleeping. Big mistake. Mom had had an accident in her bed, on the carpet and a little in the bathroom. I sprayed some carpet cleaner on the carpet with plans to run the new steam vac when I got home. I was 2 minutes late for the van pool though, this after I had nicely asked if everyone could make an extra effort to be there on time. Guess I looked stupid. But it was becoming a habit for some, including the driver, to show up 5 minutes or more late. That was making me late for work since I am the last person dropped off in the morning. Speaking of work, we were notified today that we have a new supervisor. The uncertainty of it is making me nervous, I don't like change. Tonight I arrived home to a tired Mom. She wasn't hungry. During lunch today I talked to the registered nurse at the new agency I've chosen for Mom. She asked questions for an hour. She was very thorough and I liked her. I hope we have good luck with the aides. I explained some of Mom's issues, like the incontinence (both urine and bowel) and the frequent accidents and this nurse seemed understanding. At least more so than the one at the last agency. Speaking of the last agency, I gave them a chance to keep our service but when I called and asked about a Good Morning package they said they didn't have one so I said OK and thank you. Low and behold, the RN called later that day to 'see how Mom was doing' and asked whether she should close our account. I explained about the Good morning stuff and she said that they have a 2 hour minimum thing for $65. The new agency's package is $45 dollars. I hope that things continue to go well with this. I plan to have Joyce come as well since Mom knows her, to help with the transition. And I will continue to have Joyce pick Mom up for the foreseeable future. Mom likes Joyce and I do to. And so it goes...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tomorrow Mom will attend daycare again. After a day there, she seems tired. I'm told that this is good for her to have this stimulation. I hope so. I hope that it is helping to give her some enjoyment in this life. I miss her so much even though she is with me every day. She's not the same. This disease has robbed her of most of her personality. This makes me sad because the two of us have always been very close. I've also contacted a home health care agency to have them help Mom get ready in the morning for the day program. I hate to take Joyce out of the picture but I'm not sure that it's fair to expect her to be responsible for some of the basic needs that Mom needs met in the morning including help with toileting and dressing. The agency has something called a Good Morning package where they will assist Mom with getting dressed, bathing, personal care, breakfast, making sure she takes her meds (she forgot today and she never has before) and they will even take Mom to day care. Allyson thinks we should continue to have Joyce just be there for Mom when the agency comes. Times like this it would be nice to have a clone whom I could send to work while I stay home and help Mom.

Mom talks a lot in her sleep. When she naps in her chair she will twitch and mumble. Last night this went on while Olivia napped on her lap. I kept watching to see if Olivia was going to get hit or something, but it didn't happen. And Olivia hung right in there with Mom. She is very protective of Mom and senses when Mom is feeling down. Animals are very intuitive and Olivia has really tuned in to Mom and her emotions.

The gloominess continues. Today it drizzled and rained for most of the day. We need a good shot of sunshine to brighten things up and lift our moods.

I just read a study about workers and depression. The highest amount of depression is found to be among people who work in the personal care and service industries, while math and computer technologies employees ranked 10th out of 17 profession categories. I wonder if the numbers are lower for math and computer professions because men tend to hold these jobs and they either don't seek treatment for depression or because more women then men suffer from depression and women account for a smaller percentage of these types of workers.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today I called Mom at 9:00 AM. She picked up the phone quickly and after I said hello she said she had fallen and was having trouble getting up. I admit that I panicked. I called our neighbors, a retired firefighter and a retired public safety person and they went over to see how she was. They helped her get up and said that she was more embarrassed than anything. Meanwhile I called a taxi and 45 dollars later I was home. You see, I work 32 miles from home and commute via van pool so I didn't have my car with me.After I made sure that Mom was fine I was able to work from home. On the plus side, I've decided to add an additional day at the day care and I think that I am going to call a home health agency to help Mom get ready in the morning. She gets confused about which clothes to put on, and sometimes she forgets to put on her Depends. I'd also like her to have a shower more than once a week. She is going to fight this and my sister is skeptical as to whether this will work but thinks we should give it a try. I also have to start visiting memory care units so that we at least have something lined up for when that time comes. God, I hate this disease!!!!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

There are a lot of rewards in Alzheimer's caregiving, right there along with the frustrations and sadness. I am so grateful for the time that I am given to be with Mom. I'm glad that she is still pretty with-it. It's just hard to hold down a full time job and care for someone who has dementia. It rips my heart out to see Mom lose her dignity and independence. Today she reminded me that she's older than me; I shouldn't be the one telling her what to do. But then we have wonderful moments like tonight when Olivia climbed into her lap and cuddled (that little cat is a lifesaver, she loves Mom so much). I don't like to think about the future and what it may hold. I try to take it one day at a time and remain positive.
Mom got up before me this morning. When I came up there was a trail of poop leading into the den. I convinced her to get up to take a shower and discovered that she was wearing her nightgown, which was covered in stool and tucked into her pants. Her Depends where loaded as well. She got a little belligerent with me about taking a shower, but she did it and we got her all cleaned up. What a difference a day makes. Yesterday she got up and did her duty in the toilet with no problem. I think maybe the difference is from the fact that she had her accident while in bed and then got confused about what to do. Anyway, the carpet I cleaned yesterday has to be cleaned again :( Another day in paradise.

The weather is cloudy, cold and gloomy and the rest of the week portends the same. Eh. Not my favorite time of the year. November is usually even more cloudy.

There is one big change that I have noticed since we stopped the Aricept: Mom's aphasia is much worse. She really has trouble getting out intelligible sentences. But the diarrhea is better, at least when she's not on antibiotics.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The weather was lovely today in Minnesota. It was sunny and crisp. A perfect autumn day. Sunshine goes a long way in lifting my mood, and I think Mom is the same. I know that Dad was affected by dreary days. He used to comment on how the cold sunny days of winter were so much better than cloudy mild days. Mom had a good day too. She is starting to talk about day care a little. Today she mentioned that some of the ladies were 'sassy'. Not sure what that means. We watched 'I Love Lucy' tonight. It's nice to hear Mom laugh out loud. She loves that show. I enjoy watching it too.

Allyson asked Joe about the bid we received for the low riser steps and he thought it was reasonable so I will call and set up a time to have them done. That should help Mom so much with getting in and out of the house.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Today was a good day. Mom was less confused and squirrelly. She even ate today without too much prompting. I went to the bead store first thing this morning and bought the supplies needed to fix her Mother's bracelet. She is much more relaxed now that it's fixed.

It was cool and gloomy here today. They skies are overcast. I hope that the sun comes out sometime this weekend. We need it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I hate this disease. It is stealing my Mom's dignity and independence. Tonight she is so squirrelly. Maybe it's the weather change like Annie says. I don't know. I just know that her mother's bracelet that I made for her broke and this seems to make her really confused. She keeps pointing at her wrist and wondering where her bracelet is. I remind her that it broke and we need to go to the bead store to get a new clasp. We'll do that first thing tomorrow. She always seems to get really upset whenever something happens to her bracelet. I think because all 3 kids names are on it it equates to losing her kids when something happens to it.

Today I was feeling down, thinking about my parents and the fact that both of them have had to suffer through hell in the final years of their lives. Dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer only 2 years after he retired. He did not deal well with this news, who would? He passed away before his 67th birthday. He and I were the 'gruesome twosome'. Now I'm watching my mom slip away. My dear mother. I've always been a mama's girl. My parents protected me from pain when I was younger, but they can't protect me from the pain of watching them slip away. I just want my mom back the way she was. I know this is selfish and impossible. And I want my dad to protect me and make everything better.

It's still cold here. From 90s to 40s in one week is just too much of a temperature change.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Just got a note from the director of the day program. Mom is doing better and better each day. I'm glad. It's hard to gauge how she feels about this because she never mentions it, even with prompting. Though tonight she did say someone made her go into the bathroom 'because she needed to'. I don't know if this was someone at the day program or if it was Joyce. Tonight she seems more emotional and she was holding her head even though when I asked she said she didn't have a headache. She also didn't have much of an appetite tonight, but that is normal since she probably had a good lunch.

It has gotten cold here. I brought my hibiscus plant into the house in an effort to keep it. I also turned the furnace on.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Mom's UTI still has not cleared so we have started another course of antibiotics. Guess it's time to break out the yogurt again. I hope that this round clears it up. Poor Mom. I have to be more diligent with making sure that the specimen is taken 48 hours after Mom finishes the antibiotic. She seems to be more upbeat tonight. Tomorrow she goes to the day program. I hope she has fun. Her nose seems a little stuffy tonight, I hope she hasn't caught a cold. There is one going around.

I made an appointment for our flu shots. The soonest that we could get in is Oct 26. That should be soon enough I hope.

The weather has cooled off nicely. It was a cool, crisp autumn evening, perfect for a fire. I'd love to have a chimenea on the patio.

Lily has been talking. She's part Siamese so this is not unusual. She has always been a chatterbox and will hold a conversation with me. Olivia has not been a talker, but I think she's learning from Lily.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mom seems more upbeat tonight. She is watching Murder She Wrote and even teased me about the unintentionally blackened chicken breasts that I made for dinner. Olivia was sleeping on her lap when I called her for dinner and of course she didn't want to disturb the kitty. So I brought her dinner to her.

Nine Years and Counting

Mom has been gone for a little over nine years. This blog was a huge mechanism for helping me cope with her illness and daily downfall. I...