Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The soothing music seemed to work last night. We shall see about tonight. I am so tired tonight. A comes next week, I hope I can get a break. I have been caregiving nonstop for 2 years now and it's exhausting. Today I checked out a website called www.aplaceformom.com. They help find housing for seniors including ones with dementia. I'm trying to plan ahead for the inevitable. I'm also looking into something called Lifeline which the neuro recommended. Mom would wear a bracelet with a button that she would push if she needed help, for example, getting up from a fall. But I wonder, how does someone with dementia know to push the button if they need help? The other thing that I am on a quest for is a good disposable undergarment that does not leak and is good for bowel incontinence. Isn't my life exciting? Oops, Mom is crying. Guess I better go find out what is up.

She was lonely as usual. Poor Mom. I think she's finally settled down or maybe the Seroquel has kicked in. I'm trying to load Mom's iPod with songs from her lifetime. I bought a Perry Como album and some Judy Garland songs. I loaded Mom's Rosemary Clooney, Barry Manilow and ABBA CDs along with Barbra Streisand's CD onto the iPod that sits in the sound dock. She listened to music all day while I was at work. There is an eclectic mix, including Linda Ronstadt and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra and lot's of classical music. That's one thing my parents both loved; music. I remember the house was always filled with music when I was growing up. Music seems to calm Mom down.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Talk about panic. Today I called home twice to check in with Mom and she did not answer the phone. I tried to control the uneasiness, figuring that Mom was probably just sitting on the patio enjoying the lovely weather. When I arrived home, there she was, coloring (she calls it 'painting') and she was smiling. I asked where she was when I called and she said she was out on the patio enjoying the weather. I guess my prayers were answered and I should trust my instincts more.

Tonight we are trying the soft music to soothe Mom to sleep as suggested by my wonderful blogger friends, Nancy and Betsy. I hope it will help. Mom said that she hates being alone in the huge bed and that she misses my dad. I can understand that, they were together for 42 years. Poor Mom.

I ordered a Verilux Rise and Shine dawn simulator lamp in preparation for fall and winter. For some reason I have this feeling that my Seasonal Affective Disorder is going to be bad this winter, and I'm going to need all of the help I can get. Amazon had a great price on it from the Sharper Image. I have heard good things about it so I thought I would give it a try.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

We met more neighbors tonight. They have a beautiful cat named Run To. Cindy brought Run To down to meet Mom and Mom held Run To. Then of course Satine came over and it was animal lollapalooza. Cindy and Jan are great. We are getting to know practically everyone on our alley. It's nice. I'm not looking forward to winter at all. Mom said the same thing.

It's 10:30 PM and Mom is weepy because she doesn't want to be alone while she's in bed. I'm not going to sleep in her room. I just spent 40 minutes soothing her. What to do? I snored in her ear and told her that I snore when I sleep. Maybe that will convince her it's better to sleep alone.
I bought a new Flip cam video camera. It's so easy to use and takes great videos. I thought I would try out the video feature in blogger and see how it is. Not too bad!
As you can see our kitties are finally getting along.
We tried out the new wheelchair today at Target. It has been a long time since I have shopped with Mom. She wanted everything on the shelves, it was like shopping with a kid! Her goal was to get something, anything, for herself. She wanted a DVD, a book, cookies. Then she was whining about how cold it was in the store. Yikes! I've never had kids but I guess I've got one now, and I had better get up to speed on my parenting skills. The difference is that this one used to tell me what to do so it's hard for me to tell her what to do. Anyway, the wheelchair was nice. It was easy to push and easy to get out of the trunk and set up. Mom said she enjoyed it. I wonder what it is about dementia that brings out the orneriness in the person. Grandpa was the same way, only Grandma had no tolerance for any of his shenanigans so I'm sure life was not fun for either of them. Luckily, to the best of my knowledge, this dementia stuff did not go on too long before Grandpa ended up in a nursing home. I really can't remember much about that time because I was so young and I'm sure that Mom and Dad sheltered me from it. Ah dementia, what a lovely thing to pass down from generation to generation. I hope that I am the generation that finally finds a cure for this awful disease.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We had just finished dinner when Mom went 'Uh oh'. She had had an accident. It was a mess. We had just gotten her all cleaned up when it happened again. She wasn't even out of the bathroom. It was basically water. I really was hoping that lowering the Aricept would help. I'm going to start writing down what she eats. Today she had 2 glasses of OJ and 2 juice drink boxes. I wonder if all the juice could be causing this?

I escaped to the store to pick up some light fixtures for the ceiling fans in Mom's room and the den. Mom really needs to have lights that can be turned on at the door of both rooms. Unfortunately they probably won't be here in time for Joe to put them up for us. I'd like to get a light fixture for the fan in the LR too.

Today I was talking to one of our neighbors. Turns out they are from the Iron Range and Duluth. I went to high school with one of their nieces. Too funny. It really is a small world. Our favorite puppy came running over to say hi while we talked. Tonight Mom was hoping to see the neighbors when we sat on the patio but no one was out. It was like a ghost town. I think the people behind us took off in their motor home. I'm not sure where the puppy and Jae went.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The new wheelchair that I ordered on Wed. arrived today! When I opened it up, Mom's face lit up. Now she can come into the stores with me, and we can walk around the neighborhood together and around the lake. It will be good.

Our trip to the day program went fairly well. I really want to get Mom signed up for it. She got upset when we got there saying "These people are all old, I'm not old" and she made some comment about their abilities. She also got tearful about the whole thing. But we stayed for lunch. After lunch I told Mom I was going to run an errand and I guess she did OK while I was gone until the group got up to listen to a jazz pianist who had come to play for them. She was crying when I showed up 1/2 an hour later. I hugged her and stayed for a while then went down to talk to the director who gave me some ideas for home health care aides who have experience dealing with people with dementia. That will be useful. The director of this program is a physical therapist and an absolute saint. She is great with the people and so helpful. She thinks that attending the program would help Mom perhaps even with some of her mobility issues.

I got the 'hat' finally for collecting Mom's urine sample. Now, to make sure everything is clean for collection. UGH.
Toileting Mom is one of my least favorite, but most necessary tasks. A used to joke that I could never babysit for more than a few hours because I refused to change diapers. That rule is out the door now. I wish I had had time to practice. I end up gagging and throwing up with Mom, which upsets her. So I've asked for ways to avoid the gag, and someone suggested using Vicks under my nose. It doesn't seem to help. Today we are (hopefully) off to the day program for Tai Chi, lunch and a jazz pianist. I think Mom would enjoy those 3 things. I still need to get a urine sample from her for the doctor to test.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I really think it is important that the troops in Iraq receive the support they deserve not only from the American people, but also from the current administration. I love this idea!


By Bill Ferguson Knight Ridder-Newspapers

Every great career eventually comes to an end, and when you're the
president of these United States , you only get eight years (at most) to
accomplish everything you set out to do. Then you're an ex-president for
the rest of your life.

I'll bet that ex-presidents, like most retired people, find it to be
something of a shock to have all that time on their hands when they
leave the working world. So they find things to do. They work on their
memoirs. They build libraries. They give speeches. They support their
favorite charitable causes.

But what about our current president? His term will be up before he
knows it, and then it's back to private life. I'm afraid the transition
will be especially difficult for George W. He is a man of action, and I
worry about how he'll adjust to a life out of the spotlight.

I think that we, as a nation, owe Bush more than the customary parting
gifts of an enormous pension and round-the-clock Secret Service
protection when he leaves office. I think we can do better for him.

I think we should put him to work, and I know just where he ought to go.


There is no question that Iraq will be the legacy of President Bush's
tenure, and there is also no doubt that there will still be a lot of
work to do there when he leaves office. I believe we should allow Bush
an opportunity to stick with the job even after his term expires.

The next president should appoint George W. Bush to be a special envoy
to Iraq and charge him with the responsibility to oversee all American
interests there, advise the new Iraqi government, and maintain the
morale of American troops who are carrying out the war effort.

The position should be a permanent one, and he would not leave until the
"hard work" of helping Iraq to establish a working democratic government
has been accomplished. Or until he leaves this mortal coil. Whichever
comes first.

But surely he needs some trusted advisors by his side at all times, and
the first two names that immediately spring to mind are Dick Cheney and
Don Rumsfeld. These men have been instrumental in the planning and
execution of the Iraq campaign from the beginning, and I can only
imagine how much more effective their work could be if they were onsite
24/7 right where the action is, getting their hands dirty in the cause
of spreading freedom to that dark corner of the world.

I know this assignment would be dangerous. The three senior freedom
fighters would be huge targets for the forces of evil in Iraq , and
there is a real possibility that one or more of them might meet with an
untimely demise in that chaotic environment. But as Bush has reminded us
time and again, the price is high but our cause is just. Freedom is not
free. I expect that all three men would be ready and willing to
undertake their assignments in the battle zone despite the extreme
danger they would face.

This would be a chance to show the world that they are willing to put
their own lives, and not just the lives of others, on the line for what
they know to be right.

So let's start a campaign to send the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld team to Iraq
in 2008. They deserve the opportunity to "finish the job" in Iraq , and
I think that the sight of the three of them tooling around the streets
of Baghdad in a lightly armored Humvee would do a lot to improve the
morale of all Americans.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Today's neuro appointment went pretty well. I really liked the neuro. She was very nice to Mom and included Mom in all of the discussions. I talked to her about the diarrhea problem and she thought we should cut the Aricept dosage in half to 5 mg to see if that makes a difference. She did not feel neuro psychological testing is necessary. Poor Mom, about the only question that she could answer was that the season is summer. Oh and she knew who is president, she said "That doofus". That got a chuckle from the neurologist. And for some reason her feet were really ticklish when the doctor checked her feeling in her feet. I guess she's never really liked people tickling her feet, Dad used to try to do that and she would get so mad!

I also went to the doctor today for my UTI. It was not cured by the last round of antibiotics, and in fact I was running fever today (100.0 degrees). That might explain why I've been hot and sweating like a pig, and tired and sort of depressed. That, plus the humidity here is unbelievably tropical. It's awful. Minnesota, the land of fire and ice.

Mom LOVES to color, she will sit for hours at the dining room table 'painting' as she calls it. I try to buy her coloring books for adults, she likes to paint Mandalas but just about anything will do. Right now she is coloring in her Hello Kitty coloring book. Some of the kids coloring books have word searches and sometimes Mom will try to do those, with my help. Mom was always very creative so the fact that she loves to color is no surprise. She also enjoys playing the piano. She plays one particular song from memory, but that song is starting to fade. Then she will play scales. I don't know if she can still read music. I've left some of her sheet music out but she doesn't pick it up and play it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's one thing to hear the words "I just pooped" from your toddler. It's quite another thing to hear it from your 75 year old mother who has memory loss. Cleaning up after such an accident is frustrating and embarrassing for both of us. Mom usually cries; these big, gulping sobs (like Dad used to do when he was sick) and keeps saying she is sorry while I try to soothe her by telling her I love her and that it's OK (all this while I'm trying not to gag or vomit). I feel so bad for her. Dementia SUCKS and I HATE IT! I don't know what the life lesson is in this for either of us (OK, I think this is to teach me responsibility and to help me overcome the fact that I've always been protected, but I don't know what the message is for Mom). Mom has an aversion to all things related to nursing homes and the elderly who are sick with dementia. I don't know why this is, probably something from her childhood. This is why I think it is not a good idea to protect your children from death and dying and the grieving process. It is a fact of life that each of us is going to die and experience the death of a loved one. It's best to start out at a young age I think. I was sheltered from death and dying and sickness. Dealing with Dad's illness and death and then the death of Sammy really was hard but it made me stronger I think. It prepared me for my role as caregiver to Mom. But it's still hard.

I know that eventually change will come. Mom will either end up in a memory care unit or she will pass on. Either situation frightens me. If she ends up in a memory care unit I'm not sure that I will be able to assume all of the expenses for our house on my own. The other, well, I will miss her terribly and will feel alone without her.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

There is a feisty little lady at the day program named Dorothy. She is 93 and sharp as a tack. I remember her from the first time I visited the program. She keeps everyone in line there. One of the older gentlemen burped during lunch and Dorothy told him to excuse himself. She has lived in the community all of her life. She grew up on her family's farm which used to be just down the road from our house. She is a hoot and a dear.

Today was a quiet day for us after a restless night. Mom was up twice. I think that was because I forgot to give her the Seroquel. After the first time, I did get her to take the med and she seemed to settle down and sleep until about 9:00 am. Then I helped her with her shower. She has been coloring. We watched "I Love Lucy" for a while, she enjoys old shows from when she was younger as well as new shows like Raymond. I made my weekly Target run and then came home for the rest of the day.

Friday, July 20, 2007

We spent about 2 hours at the adult day care. We got there just as they were serving lunch. Mom went right along with everything. After lunch the group sat together and played Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately this is when Mom got a little upset and wanted to go home. One of the participants, who must be in the later stages of Alzheimer's, was seated next to Mom and she was very upset by this. She said "I don't want to be with all of these old people. I know that is terrible to say, but I'm not ready for this". The director, who is an angel, talked Mom into coming back to the group and doing some coloring. Mom LOVED that. A woman and her young son were volunteering and they sat at our table and colored with Mom, me and another woman. Mom is still talking about that little boy and how happy she was to color with him, coloring away for 1.5 hours. As we were leaving she said "I could stay here all day". Needless to say we will be going back next Friday I think. It's so sad to see these once vibrant seniors devastated by dementia. And that is pretty much what all of them have. President Bush and Congress should be forced to spend time with these people and experience their needs. Maybe then they would think twice about cutting funding for Alzheimer's care and research. I can imagine the full lives these people once led and it makes me sad to see them like this. One man, Erv, seems like he was a farmer when he was younger. These men and woman have contributed so much to us in their lifetimes, it is our duty to make sure that they are given the best care possible. If only the money that has been spent on Bush's folly, the Iraq war, could have been spent on caring for these people and trying to find a cure for future generations not just in this country, but in all countries including Iraq.
Today we head to PAC for our 'volunteer' work. Hopefully it will go well and Mom will be comfortable. I have my doubts since everything I try seems to backfire, but I need to be optimistic and persistent. I read that it can take several weeks for someone with dementia to accept change. I would certainly feel less worried at work if I knew that Mom was somewhere safe during part of the day and that she was having a good time. I've moved the iPod sounddock to the dining room since Mom and I are spending more time there 'painting' and reading. Mom's love for music really seems to calm her. In fact I can usually distract her during a catastrophic reaction by playing music. It looks like we are getting a new neighbor across the driveway. Workers are over there putting in cabinet doors and stuff. Last night I went over to Jae's and she gave me a tour of her house. They have the 5 foot shower which I wish I had had put in Mom's bathroom. The jacuzzi is nice and might be a major selling point, but the 5 foot shower would be great for bathing Mom. Oh well. Live and learn.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The sound of Mom's walker scraping across the floor just woke me up and it's a good thing it did. Mom had an accident and boy was it gross. I threw up while cleaning it up. I don't know what is causing these bowel accidents and diarrhea, but I sure am sick of them and so is Mom. At least she didn't get stool all over the bathroom like she sometimes does, and I was able to clean her up pretty well. Icky, icky, icky. How do I fall asleep after this? Mom is up reading National Geographic in the den.

My friends, therapist and caregiver coach all want me to get at least one night away from Mom while A is here. I hope I can do so. A, I wish you were going to be here on Monday when I take Mom to the neuro. I hope that we walk out of there with a diagnosis; but at the same time I'm scared to hear what I already know, and I'm not sure how Mom will take it, or if it will even register with her. She keeps asking what is wrong with her; she knows something is up but like Dad she doesn't want to say it out loud. I would give anything for a hug from Dad and some of his overprotectiveness.

My scrapbooking stuff came today from CM. Mom opened the box and opened up the pages, page covers and the scrapbook that I had ordered. She got upset with me when I came home, put the stuff back in the box and took it downstairs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ten years. It doesn't seem possible that Dad has been gone for that long. I miss him so much. Mom seems less whiffty today. Yesterday she kind of scared me because when I called she said she was confused and didn't know where she was. But I think that I had awakened her from a nap. After nearly a week of beautiful, mild weather it is starting to heat up and get humid again. Ick. This morning when I went upstairs to get Mom's breakfast, both kitties were hanging out with her in the dining room. Lily has really come out of her shell and Olivia hangs with Mom a lot of the time. Mom is usually furred up when I come home because Olivia has been lying on her. On Friday we are going to 'volunteer' at the day center. Hopefully Mom will be more accepting under these auspices. I hope so. The neurologist's office called today to move Mom's appointment to earlier in the day because the doctor has something she has to do. That means that the R.N. won't be able to meet us. Pooh.

I really like this new blog layout. Cool.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Today Mom asked me "Is there something wrong with me?" and I asked her why she was asking. She said "no one loves me or comes to see me". I said, A, J and M are coming in August, they love you. D and his family love you too, they are just busy. She's asked me this a number of times. I think this time it might have been triggered by her conversation with A this morning. She just forgot that A is coming to visit. It's weird how the brain of someone with dementia works (or doesn't work). She's become very child-like. It's very sad to see. The hardest thing for me is the tearfulness that Mom will have sometimes. Tonight she said something about feeling like it was time for her to die. Hopefully it's just her frustration and fright talking. I think this dementia is progressing rather rapidly for her. I worry a lot about whether my care is good enough for Mom. I know that she wants to live with me, but is that the best thing for her? Especially since I'm gone to work for such a huge part of the day and she is home alone. I've been researching local Memory Care facilities and I wonder if she might have a better quality of life in such a place.

Tomorrow is going to be a hard day. 10 years since Dad died. I miss the other half of the Gruesome Twosome so much. But it would be so hard for him to see Mom the way she is now.

"If you're trying to drive me crazy, thanks but I can walk there."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Went to Home Depot bright and early, bought a sanding sponge, and other painting accoutrement and sanded then painted the newly taped corner. It looks pretty good. Man I hate Cymbalta, the slightest exertion causes me to sweat like a pig all over. I hate that. And I get overheated so quickly, I'm always fanning myself in the heat. Can't anyone make an antidepressant that doesn't cause lovely side effects like weight gain and sweating??? Hopefully there are some in the pipeline. Yesterday afternoon Mom got a letter from the department of revenue saying they hadn't gotten her check for 2006 taxes. Only I had to call to learn it was that. I panicked then and checked to make sure that the IRS and Mom's accountant's checks were cashed and they were. I think the state lost Mom's check, idiots. I'm going to call and ask them if the penalty can be removed. Why would we submit the forms without the check? Because I was agitated Mom was agitated, thinking she had done something wrong. She was crying and agitated and she tried to help me find the stuff but was too confused to know what I was looking for. She gave me a crayon and asked me if that was it. Poor Mom. It's awful to see her like this. She's not very mobile. And also the issue with diarrhea has resolved for now and she has the other problem so I gave her a glass of Metamucil, raspberry flavored. I was a little concerned because there was blood in the stool but there was also some on the toilet paper so it's probably from being constipated. We cannot hit a happy medium can we?

Friday, July 13, 2007

The drywall guy fixed the corner near the fireplace. Tomorrow I can paint it if I'd like. Weather was wonderful today.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Our hibiscus is blooming. This is the first bloom, there are several more waiting to pop. It was a beautiful day today, sunny and cool. A perfect summer day. Tomorrow the drywall person is coming to fix the tape near the fireplace. It looks awful as it is lifting again. Hope they get it right this time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another good day for us! Mom was very happy and almost like her old self. It was great. The blistering heat has left us for a while and it is really pleasant here. We've even had some rain, on Sunday, which we needed desperately. Our hibiscus plant is nearly ready to burst into bloom, I can't wait to see what color the blooms are. Went to pick up Mom's prescriptions from Target then stopped for gas -- $3.24 per gallon! What the F**&#!! The oil companies must need money. Stinky is scratching my rug again, little shitsky. She's so darn cute though. And Mom loves and defends her. Mom is back to coloring so I bought a bunch of coloring books from Amazon today. I really think she had some major depression and hopefully it's abated.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I think Mom is sundowning this afternoon. First, she wanted to go to bed and was confused thinking it was night time. She's been really tearful and weird. We are having a thunderstorm right now so it could be tied to that. It got really dark before the rain started and is still pretty dark. She had a huge accident, couldn't get on the toilet in time. Am still trying to get a urine sample. I think I'm going to talk to the doctor about getting a referral to the Senior Care Clinic. It's time and I think I might get good support there. I also have to work up some courage to get her to go to the day program or accept a home health aide. I explained to my therapist that Mom has had 3 aides in a month along with their complaints and she wanted to know what behavior was abnormal for someone with dementia. She said I had to ask the nurse that, because she didn't see any of the behavior as being abnormal for someone with dementia.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's bedtime and we had a really good day. No tears or catastrophic reactions from either of us. We spent most of the day inside because it was so incredibly hot out. Talked to M tonight. He's a great kid. Can't wait to see him in August.

Those ASPCA commercials are heartbreaking. I can't stand to see any animal mistreated. Today in our paper there was an article about a family whose cat was beheaded by some sicko in their neighborhood. These things make me so angry, I just want to find the person and pummel them. No innocent animal deserves that kind of treatment.
It is blistering hot here today. Took mom for her INR and tried to get a urine sample but no luck. Doctor wants to check for a UTI. Mom is moaning (wish she was pissing) about trying to get a sample at home. We've had a good day so far.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Today I upgraded to a new Motorola phone. It's pretty cool. Mom has been very teary lately. It might be sundowning or it might be from the higher dose of Seroquel. I've emailed her doctor to see what her opinion is. Monday night we went to get her hair permed. Mom was very teary and now she doesn't even remember it. She's also not been using the toilet but going right in her pants. That is concerning.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The latest tainted food incident in the US again involves ingredients imported from China. Perhaps it is time to ban imports of foodstuffs from that country until they can get their act together. Cheaper is not always better. It's time to bring the manufacture of products, especially foodstuff, back to the US where things are at least regulated somewhat better than they are in other countries. Outsourcing is not the answer whether it be foods or services. How many more incidents will it take before we get a clue? Then there was the story about the Chinese government asking the world bank to cover up the thousands of deaths that occur in China because of air and water pollution in their quest to achieve the industrial great leap forward. Pollution from China is now reaching the shores of the US west coast and our planet continues to slowly die from our total disregard for it's beauty and fragility. It's time to wake up folks and accept that we are smothering the very planet that gives and sustains our lives. It must stop.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I just read in the paper that most European governments and Canada mandate a certain number of days off for vacation for workers. Finland guarantees 39 days off per year while Canada 18 days and Japan 10. In some countries workers cannot trade time off for money, they must use their vacation time. How many days off are American workers guaranteed? Zero, zip, nada, bupkis. America is dead last among countries that guarantee a certain number of days off for workers. I see this as a public health issue. Americans are stressed out, obese and unhealthy in other ways. Perhaps our government needs to address this issue and allow the American workers more days off. Sure this would cut into the profits of many companies but, in an age when CEOs are making millions of dollars doesn't it seem fair to give the people who are doing the real work a fair shake? I think corporate greed is what drives this in the US. I for one do not plan to work forever if I can possibly help it.

We met some more of our neighbors. They are really nice and they knew one of the police officers who came to help Mom up yesterday. Mom did pretty well today but she was embarrassed about not being able to get herself up. I told her she didn't need to be embarrassed, everyone needs help sometimes.

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...