Sunday, September 30, 2007

There are frogs living in the window well outside my bedroom window. They drive the cats crazy. Lily is over watching them right now. Eww! But I'm glad it's not mice or snakes. I couldn't deal with snakes and mice, they chew through everything. I don't want them in the house, even with cats that are pretty good mousers.

It' rainy and overcast today. We have been getting a lot of rain since August, which is good since we had a dry summer before then.

I have been working on a heritage scrapbook album for Mom and our family for about 3 years. I took photos out of an old album that was not acid free and started to put them into a Creative Memories scrapbook. Today Mom and I looked at what I have done so far. She always tears up when she sees the pictures from her wedding. These pictures are so special and beautiful. They were taken by a photographer who worked with my grandfather at Sanders Confectionary. They made the wedding cake, a fruit cake. They make the best cakes in the world! The picture of Mom and Dad leaving for their honeymoon is a favorite of mine. They honeymooned at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

I've also been working on my family genealogy. My cousin Chris worked in UT and his boss was into genealogy. He asked if he could research our family and he dug up some pretty interesting stuff. On my dad's side we have traced our family all the way back to England, Yorkshire to be exact. One of my ancestors came here back in the mid 1600s and settled on the east coast. Another was at the surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga. I have been trying to tackle Mom's side of the family but their history is a little more difficult since she is only a second generation American. Her family came from Germany in the 1800s which means that I have to start digging into Prussian records.
Mom fell out of bed tonight. Again, we had to call for help to get her up. I just ordered a bed rail from Amazon. We both agreed this was a good idea. I'm afraid she's going to hurt herself so we have to try to prevent these falls from happening. She seemed to be OK, more embarrassed then anything else. We'll see how she is in the morning. I still need to get a urine sample from her too.

My brother won't be able to make it for Thanksgiving. We will miss him.

Yesterday was Dad's birthday. He would have been 77. I miss him so much.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Got the call today; they decided to offer the job to someone else. They encouraged me to apply again. OK then.

Mom was very emotional today, don't know why. Maybe because she had had an accident and didn't know how to tell me. I hate this disease, and I hate the fact that it robs people of their dignity and independence. I don't understand what the life lesson is in all of this.

It was a beautiful sunny day today. They sky was a really lovely color of blue. Friday is supposed to be even better, I'm glad I have it off.

Listening to: Bob Mould - See a Little Light
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tomorrow the participants in the day program are going to go bowling. I'll let Mom decide whether she would like to participate. I hope she goes, but we'll see.

I've received no word yet on my interview. I'm trying not to think about it, but I did email the HR employee that I met with. Haven't heard back from her yet.

We have been watching Dancing with the Stars. It beats most of the other stuff on TV and Mom enjoys it. Afterward we watched Everybody Loves Raymond, a show neither of us seem to tire of.

Lily has been lying on me tonight which makes types really hard. She is such a sweetie, I don't know what I would do without her. She's gotten me through some pretty tough times.

Listening to: Avril Lavigne - Keep Holding On (From "Eragon")
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My ultrasound was normal. Good news. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Sounds like having all my family for Thanksgiving is closer to reality. My cousin called and asked how many of us would be interested in attending a Minnesota Wild hockey game on the night before Thanksgiving. 'Course, it's not the Red Wings, but the Wild will do in a pinch. Being from Detroit means that my family are big Red Wing fans. Even my nephew who has never lived in Michigan is a huge Wings fan. If this happens, it will be the first time the whole family has been together in over 20 years. Should be fun.

Mom was happy and upbeat when I called her this afternoon. She had just gotten home from the day program and was coloring. Joyce took care of everything for her. Joyce is a treasure. They sent home a sort of note that tells what Mom did and what she had for lunch. It sounds like she got quite a bit of exercise. That's good, though it must be so painful for her hip. I called and talked to the ramp program person. He is going to come out to our house on Oct. 4 to measure.

Weather has cooled off here and the leaves are starting to turn. It should be beautiful by next weekend. I hope to get up to the river bluff to see the colors soon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Had my ultrasound. Now I wait for the results.

Mom had a good day today. I feel so bad for her, she gets so upset that she can't feel when she has to go to the bathroom until it's too late.

Today was supposedly our last day with temps in the 80s. I think I will find that a relief.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Today we went to pick up a part for the new car. As Mom was getting into the car I caught a whiff of her and realized that she needed her Depends changed. Rather than haul her back into the house, we went to the dealer and did our errands, then we came home and took care of the mess in her pants. It was pretty gross and I don't know how clean I got her but I tried. I bought a handheld bidet which I finally installed yesterday but it's difficult to use with her because of her size. And the water is cool so Mom doesn't like it. But it helps. No wonder she gets UTIs. Even my sister said it's hard to clean up Mom. Tomorrow morning she gets a shower.

Seems like everyone around me is having problems back there. I had to take Olivia to the vet to have a procedure on her behind. Since she was due for shots soon, we also had that done.

Monday I have to go for an ultrasound because I've been having a slight pain in my abdomen. I'm not looking forward to it at all. I want to take the tranquilizers that the doc prescribed but then I have no one to drive me home. I hope this turns out to be nothing.

It's a beautiful day here today, sunny, breezy and cool.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm glad this week is over. It has been a hard week in which 2 of my blog friends lost their loved ones to AD. Participating in their vigils from afar was difficult, but not as difficult as what they went through with their loved ones.

I have to become more disciplined. Tonight after dinner I suggested to Mom that we change her underwear. She readily agreed but as she was walking into the bathroom a deluge let loose and her Depend couldn't hold it all because it was most likely already soaked. I should have done this sooner. On the plus side, the diarrhea problem is gone, I think it really was due to the Aricept. I've heard varying opinions about Aricept, from it doesn't work to it's helpful. I think it's based on the individual.

We went to have her INR checked and it was low. I also have to get a urine specimen from her this weekend so that I can drop it off on Monday, or sooner. I hope that the infection has cleared and that Mom will not have to have a pelvic exam. Even her doctor is not looking forward to her wrath and opposition if this happens. I dropped of the paperwork for Mom's disabled parking permit too for the doc to fill out.

No word about my interview yet.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mom rolled out of bed again last night, at 3:30 AM. She is definitely more with it now, but she could not get herself up and back into bed on her own so we had to call for help. I checked on her this morning and she said she was fine, no aches or pain. I will check again when I get home for bruises or soreness. We were both able to fall back to sleep and she was still sound asleep when I went in to kiss her goodbye before leaving for work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Joyce picked Mom up again today and took her to the day program. I think Mom is starting to get used to it. My friend Beth-Ann told me about a ramp program that has a manual/VHS/DVD that one can purchase for building/designing a ramp. We need a ramp desperately at the back door into the garage. Took Mom for a haircut today. Her hair has really gotten thin; she used to have such thick, full hair. I wonder if it's one of the meds causing this hair loss?

No word on my interview, but I heard from another recruiter today who has a job close to home that sounds interesting. Seems like the job market is really strong, at least here and in IT. I've read that it takes an average of 17 interviews before one finally gets a job offer. Yikes!

Have been thinking about Nancy and Russ, and Lori, hoping things are going OK for Russ and that Lori is coping with her grief. Also Flinty and Betsy. AD is a sucky disease and a sucky way to watch a loved one slip away. It really is the long goodbye.

Now playing: Dixie Chicks - Not Ready to Make Nice
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chronic Stress Can Steal Years From Caregivers' Lifetimes

Science Daily The chronic stress that spouses and children develop while caring for Alzheimer's disease patients may shorten the caregivers' lives by as much as four to eight years, a new study suggests.

The research also provides concrete evidence that the effects of chronic stress can be seen both at the genetic and molecular level in chronic caregivers' bodies.

The findings, reported recently by researchers from Ohio State University and the federal National Institute of Aging, were published in the Journal of Immunology.

These are the latest results from a nearly three-decade-long program at Ohio State investigating the links between psychological stress and a weakened immune status. Previous studies have examined medical students, newlyweds, divorced spouses, widows, widowers and long-married couples, in each case, looking for physiological effects caused by psychological stress.

In their recent study, Ronald Glaser, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, and Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychology and psychiatry, teamed with Nan-ping Weng and his research group from the National Institute of Aging.

Earlier work by other researchers had shown that mothers caring for chronically ill children developed changes in their chromosomes that effectively amounted to several years of additional aging among those caregivers.

That work, remarkable as it was, looked only at a broad community of immune cells without identifying the specific immune components responsible for the changes. The Ohio State-NIA team wanted to identify the exact cells involved in the changes, as well as the mechanisms that caused them.

They focused on telomeres, areas of genetic material on the ends of a cell's chromosomes. Over time, as a cell divides, those telomeres shorten, losing genetic instructions. An enzyme – telomerase – normally works to repair that damage to the chromosome, Glaser said.

“Telomeres are like caps on the chromosome,” said Glaser, head of Ohio State 's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. “Think of it as a frayed rope – if the caps weren't there, the rope would unravel. The telomeres insulate and protect the ends of the chromosomes.

“As we get older, the telomeres shorten and the activity of the telomerase enzyme lessens,” he said. “It's part of the aging process.”

For the study, the researchers turned to a population of Alzheimer's disease caregivers they had worked with before, and compared them with an equal number of non-caregivers matched for age, gender and other aspects. They analyzed blood samples from each group, looking for differences in both the telomeres and the enzyme, as well as populations of immune cells.

“Caregivers showed the same kind of patterns present in the study of mothers of chronically ill kids,” Glaser said, adding that the changes the Ohio State/NIA team saw amounted to a shortened lifespan of four to eight years.

“We believe that the changes in these immune cells represent the whole cell population in the body, suggesting that all the body's cells have aged that same amount.”

The caregivers also differed dramatically with the control group on psychological surveys intended to measure depression, a clear cause of stress.

“Those symptoms of depression in caregivers were twice as severe as those apparent among the control group,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

“Caregivers also had fewer lymphocytes,” Glaser said, “a very important component of the immune system. They also showed a higher level of cytokines, molecules key to the inflammation response, than did the control group.”

Other experiments showed that the actual telomeres in blood cells of caregivers were shorter than those of the controls, and that the level of the telomerase repair enzyme among caregivers was also lower.

Kiecolt-Glaser said that there is ample epidemiological data showing that stressed caregivers die sooner than people not in that role.

“Now we have a good biological reason for why this is the case,” she said. “We now have a mechanistic progression that shows why, in fact, stress is bad for you, how it gets into the body and how it gets translated into a bad biological outcome.”

Much of the Ohio State work is now shifting to studies on how to intervene with that stress in hopes of slowing the weakening of the immune system in highly stressed people.

This research was supported in part by both the National Institute of Aging and the National Institutes of Health. David Beversdorf and Bryon Laskowski, both at Ohio State, and Amanda Damjanovic, Yinhua Yang, Huy Nguyen and Yixiao Zou, all with the National Institute of Aging, worked on this study.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Ohio State University.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Now playing: Mindy Smith - One Moment More
via FoxyTunes

Mom went swimming today with the group from the day program. She liked it I think. Joyce left a note that said "Your Mom went swimming and she floated on her back and on her front!". It makes me happy to know that Mom had a fulfilling day. I'm trying to set up a routine so that Mom goes to the day program twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I hope that it helps her to have some stimulation. Mom has always been a social person though a little shy so I think this is good for her. Plus, I really don't want to have her spend another winter alone for 10.5 hours with no stimulation at all. Plus, it means that when I come home exhausted she won't be starving for attention leaving me feeling like I need to entertain her.

The job interview from hell continued today. I had a phone interview with the hiring manager's manager who is in CA. He asked me many of the same questions that the others asked, plus he called just as I got home from work. I'm glad this is all over, it was stressful and exhausting. I'm not sure I'm cut out for all of this rigmarole. I like working quietly in my cube maintaining things for the babies. I don't feel good about my chances after this phone interview, but I have to remember that everything happens for a reason. It's in God's hands now.

It is hot and humid here today, just ripe for storms and tornadoes. This morning on the weather report that is exactly what they were talking about. I hope we don't get them though.

Prayers for Lori who lost her friend Helen today. God bless them.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I saw this quote today and I liked it so I thought I would share it.

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail!

Muriel Strode

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Now playing: Carrie Underwood - I'll Stand By You
via FoxyTunes

This morning's sunrise was glorious. The sun illuminated a patch of clouds and sunbeams were radiating from it.

Mom slept all day I think. She was tired from 2 full days in a row at the day program. She was groggy when I called to check in this afternoon.

It has been a busy and stressful week both at home and at work. Mom is going back to the day program on Monday, they are going swimming and I think she will like that, and Wednesday. I talked to the director and she was both OK and upset while there. But then who wouldn't be, it was all new to her. Add in the confusion and it must have been really difficult for her. Hopefully it will become routine for her soon.

Tomorrow I have an interview which starts at 8:00 AM and is supposed to finish up at 1:30 PM. I hope it goes well.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mom fell out of bed again last night around midnight. This time she was able to get up and back into bed on her own. And she was laughing. She doesn't seem to be hurt and this morning, she remembered the incident and laughed again about it. Don't ask me how someone who sleeps in a king sized bed can possibly run out of room, roll over and fall out. She sleeps on the edge. I really think that UTI took it's toll on Mom and now she is feeling lots better.

She was emotional about the day program yesterday when I got home but she said it was better than sitting around the house all by herself. On Monday they are going swimming, which she loves.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Joyce just called and said Mom was home and that she seemed to have a good time. She played Bunco and won! Then I called Mom and she seemed really happy and told me that a lady came and picked her up and they had fun. Thank you God. And thanks to everyone for their prayers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Deception. That's another thing I'm not good at. And with AD there is a lot of deception. Trying to get Mom to go to daycare involves a lot of deception. I haven't mentioned it at all tonight. Tomorrow I'm going to go to work as usual and Joyce will show up (will Mom remember her?), take her to daycare and drop her off. Under normal circumstances, this would seem ludicrous, but AD is not normal. Sometimes it's hard to separate the AD Mom from the normal Mom. I feel like I'm betraying her by 'forcing' her to go to this place. I hope that she won't be angry with me or feel abandoned. Will her confusion cause her to feel alone and abandoned? God I HATE AD! These are the times when I want to be the Disney Land daughter, the one with whom Mom only has good times. There is no deception or betrayal. Let go and let God, Robyn.
I think I've figured out why I'm so nervous about this daycare thing for Mom; I don't want her to be mad at me or for me to get into trouble. Silly isn't it? But I really think that's it. I don't want the wrath of Mom to come down on me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mom finished up her antibiotics yesterday. I hope that the UTI is cured and that the diarrhea will now cease and desist. I think some relief from that will do us both a world of good. This morning I had to strip Mom's bed and wash the linens because of an accident. I also scrubbed down her bathroom with Mr. Clean. This routine is getting very old as she gets very upset and emotional about it. Something in her childhood must have affected how she views this because she now thinks that she is unclean when this happens. Baggage sucks.

It is a beautiful day here today, sunny and in the 60s. Lily and I are laying in front of the sliding glass door enjoying the cool breeze. At least until Mom pages me and demands that I spend every waking moment with her.

My uncle called today. He is thinking of bring my mom's sister, my auntie, to visit at Thanksgiving. In fact, he's kind of looking at it as a family reunion. His son and daughter are thinking of coming and he suggested asking my brother and sister and their families. That would be fun! We haven't all been together in a long time. I hope we can swing it. Aunt Mary Ellen, Mom's sister, has Parkinson's. She is pretty with it cognitively but like Mom can no longer drive and has difficulty walking. I will need to get going on the ramp at the back door and perhaps railings at the front door.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Well, it's set up for Mom to try daycare on Tuesday at 8:30 am until about 2:00 pm. I hope everything goes well. I'm going to try to work from home that day so that I can be there in case. Mom has been asking about it, and about the woman and seems to want to be with her. I hope Mom doesn't throw a fit though when she sees that Joyce is just going to pick Mom up and take her to the center and then bring her home later. How can I turn off my worry about this? And why am I worried so much about this? If I had a kid, and I dropped them off at daycare would I worry and obsess about it this much?

Also, Mom's appetite seems to be back. She is actually asking for lunch and dinner nowadays. It must have been the UTI that killed her appetite, or else this is just part of the rollercoaster ride that is AD.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Some days I just wish someone else would take over for me and handle the logistics of getting Mom to daycare, making her comfortable, managing her finances and medications, making sure she is clean and that her teeth are brushed. And other times I'm glad that I can help her out with this stuff.

This afternoon we went to the mall and shopped. Mom got some new clothes, she has lost weight so we needed to get a smaller size for her. We were able to pick up some things on clearance even. It's amazing how many people smile and help out when there is someone in a wheelchair. Several people even carried on a casual conversation. Once when we were out a little boy held the door for Mom and me. Is it just 'Minnesota nice' or does this happen other places too? It is astounding to me. Mom loves to see little children and babies out, but she always comments that she never took her babies out when they were that young. Somehow I don't think that is true. With 3 kids and a house to run, I'm sure that she took us with her when she went shopping or ran errands. I know for sure that my dad never ran those errands and I don't think he went in a grocery store until he was retired :)
Today we met with Joyce, the retired police office who now has a business called Whatever It Takes. Mom seemed to like her, though she likes everyone usually. Joyce volunteers at Prairie Adult Care so she and I hatched a plan to have Joyce take Mom to the day program for a few hours a day, a few days per week. Mom seemed agreeable to this, but she's seemed agreeable to lots of things and then when it comes time to do it, she loses it and gets upset. I would probably try to be home on the first few days so that Mom wouldn't feel like something weird was going on. Joyce helps out with the group when they exercise and when they go swimming, things Mom likes and needs to do. I hope this works out, I really want Mom to have a place to be, doing something she enjoys, during the long time that is winter in Minnesota.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I feel like I have a support group in my blog friends. They always have good advice. Several of them are going through a tough time right now. I am thankful for the normalcy that Mom and I have right now, and I am concerned for each of them.

I am constantly misplacing things. It drives me crazy.

My sister called tonight to tell me that they received a call from our house at 2:30 this morning. The phone rang once then rang again a few minutes later. I know that Mom was up last night and she might have been fiddling with the phone. I suppose she could have hit REDIAL. I'm not sure what happened. Or the cat could have someone done something. I don't know. My poor sister, she must have been worried.

I heard from the ex-police officer via email. She said that she has time to spend with Mom and I should give her a call. I will call her tomorrow I guess. Tonight again Mom said she wished for someone to be with her, but then she said maybe not.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

They x-rayed both of Mom's hips and the appliance in the right hip was just fine. That is good news. The doctor said Mom has two choices; become less ambulatory or have a hip replacement on her left hip. At first it sounded like Mom might consider the hip replacement. But then she wavered and decided against it. I told her we could think about it.

She seems better since taking the antibiotics. I guess it's true that a UTI causes more confusion in the elderly. Tonight she said that she would like to have someone come be with her during the days when I am at work. I got a name from my therapist of someone that her family used for her mom and they really liked this woman. I'm thinking of calling her. Or I could call the ex-police officer. That woman would just provide companionship though. Her card sounds like she doesn't do a lot with people who have memory loss, but it can't hurt to ask.

I ordered a Hoover deep clean steam vacuum that can clean both carpet and upholstery. It had 300 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4 1/2 out of 5 stars so I figure it must be pretty good. The price seemed reasonable and shipping is free so I'll give it a try. It hopefully can help get up some of the stains from Mom's bed into the bathroom. Luckily this is only about a 4 foot space. It might also help to clean the upholstery on Mom's chair.

UPDATE: I've emailed the ex-police officer. I'll see what she says in her reply. Meanwhile Mom is up and about after wanting to go to bed at 8:30 tonight.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Mom was always the organized one in our family. She kept everything in its place. Dad, on the other hand, was disorganized and had lots of clutter. He would bring home stuff from the shipyard; stuff that he had salvaged from ships like gears or log books. When it comes time to locate things, like the title and lien release for Mom's car, it was easy to find. But after Mom's taxes were done, they were misplaced so I had to have a new copy sent to us. Mom wouldn't have misplaced them. When I was looking for them in July, Mom got very anxious and tried to help locate them but she did not have a clue what I was looking for so she would hold up her glasses (which we always seem to lose) and say 'Are these what you are looking for?'. I have to work really hard at staying organized and I also forget that Mom is not so organized anymore.

This morning we got in a much needed shower. Tomorrow Mom goes to the orthopedist to see why her replaced right hip is hurting her so much. I hope that the appliance hasn't been knocked out of place by one of her falls. The diarrhea continues, though it does seem a little better.

This is a picture of Mom and Dad that I took at Christian Brother's Winery in Napa Valley, CA in 1991. It was a wonderful trip to the Bay area and I am grateful for the great memories.

We went to dinner tonight and Mom did pretty well though she always complains that restaurants give too much food. She wanted to go to bed at 8:30 so I asked if we could change her underwear. Why? she said and I insisted. I was told that she's still the mother. And alas, the underwear needed changing. Now she is sleeping. Tomorrow I'm working from home so that I can take her to the orthopedist. She talked to her sister tonight. It's always a strange conversation where she tells people that her husband is dead. The jealousy about Mary Ellen's husband still being alive persists.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I found this picture of Mom and Dad posing in our backyard in Michigan in about 1966. I think this was a picture that Dad carried in his wallet for many years. When he passed away I found this picture and scanned it into my computer. I'm not sure why they were dressed up.

Mom is still taking the antibiotic and we are still dealing with diarrhea. I hope that this round of antibiotics clears up the infection. In the meantime, I am giving Mom the Activia yogurt.

Tomorrow is Labor day. The official end of summer. I'm not ready for summer to end so I'm going to recognize September 21 as the end of summer (because it is!) and plan on a lovely autumn. And phooey to winter!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Picked up some Activia yogurt today. I hope it will help with the diarrhea, which has not been good. Poor Mom. We took a ride in our new car, up to see Mom's old neighborhood and house. Once we hit the city limits the light went on and she remembered the place. It's a 45 minute drive from where we now live. I can't believe how often I made that drive, especially during the time of Dad's illness. Anyway, the old neighborhood looked really good, neat and trim. The driveways had all just been sealcoated so they were all taped off.

Just saw on Amazon that a new Jan Karon book is being released on Oct 30. I miss the Mitford series so I'm looking forward to reading this new series of books. I'm glad that she doesn't take years to write books like Jean Auel did in the Clan of the Cave Bear series. There were just too many years between books there, so even though I loved the books, I sort of lost interest. Currently I am reading "The Diana Chronicles" by Tina Brown and enjoying it immensely. Next up is "The Reagan Diaries" which Mom seemed to enjoy thought I'm not sure that she absorbed very much of it. Speaking of Reagan, I recently listened to Patti Davis' book "The Long Goodbye", an excellent book on her father's struggle with Alzheimer's. She is a very eloquent writer and did a great job painting the picture of her father's disease and her mother's love and devotion to him. A very touching book.

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...