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.
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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.


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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.