Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reinforcements

I've had to call in reinforcements to help me toilet Mom. Thank God for Elizabeth. She is an angel.

I have been worrying about Mom's adjustment to the ALF. I'm afraid she is going to 'flunk out' and have to come home or that she is going to hate it there and be angry and mad at me. If I can survive the next 2 weeks and continue to pray for Mom's adjustment to the ALF it will be a miracle. Please God let this adjustment go relatively well. I know she will receive better care there. If she will accept it. Outside of toileting, she is wonderful and tells all her caregivers that she loves them. Especially after the turmoil in the bath.

It's so hard to hear her say that she wants to die. I love her so much that this just rips my heart to pieces. But I don't like seeing her losing her dignity like this.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Barack Obama Accepts Democratic Nomination

Historic Moments in US Politics

Here in Minneapolis/St. Paul we are gearing up for the Republican National Convention. Next week, I fear, is going to be a commuting nightmare for me. You see I work in St. Paul, on the state capitol complex. We will have an armed state trooper at the door into our facility for the 4 days of the convention. Parking is going to be difficult. I'm worried about whether I will be able to make it home to Mom on time.

Yesterday's surprise announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate was a shocker. I do not feel that this woman is qualified to run the country if McCain wins the election and something were to happen to him in office. If this is an attempt to attract disgruntled Hillary supporters then they've blown it. My sister and I both feel insulted by this choice. I'm sure this woman is quite capable however she has absolutely NO experience in either the domestic or international arena. Sure it garnered excitement as the first woman on a Republican ticket but that's it. On the other hand, as a Hillary supporter I was inspired by Obama's acceptance speech at the DNC in Denver. It's really time for someone with his values to take command of this country. And he's right, we as citizens should not rely entirely on government; we need to help each other by volunteering and becoming involved in our communities. I'm confident that Senator Obama can help steer my country back onto the right track. I'm always proud to be an American, but I am especially proud at this time in our history.
This morning I am deeply disturbed after reading an article in the paper about nursing home aides who abused residents with dementia. I am so angry about this that I can't get it out of my head. The most upsetting part? They did this to 'make their job more fun'. I could spit I'm so angry. I think that not only should these individuals be prosecuted, but they should also have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. These individuals were teenage girls. If any of them should ever cross my path I don't know how I could contain my rage and not beat the shit out of them! And there we have it, the stigma that people with dementia are not human. But they are. And they are someone's wife, husband, mother, father or grandparent. They are loved by someone who remembers them as a vital member of a family. I keep looking at my mom and wanting to cry thinking that someone could do this to her. I would fight them to the death if they did.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Counting down the days reluctantly

Today I purchased the paint for Mom's room and dropped it off at the ALF. I shopped at Penneys and bought a blanket, mattress pads, sheets and a comforter. It seems so weird not to include Mom in this. But she would freak.

This morning I had trouble getting Mom out of bed. She ended up slipping and I had to call the neighbor to help get her into her wheelchair. Then she had a manicure and a haircut today. I used a new service that comes to the home. Mom seemed really upset throughout the whole process but when it was done she was smiling and happy with her new haircut and nail polish.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sundowning is the Pits!

Mom's sundowning has gotten worse with the shorter hours of daylight. Last night in bed she was sleeping fitfully. Olivia laid down next to her and Mom starting flailing her arms and hit Olivia several times resulting in Olivia giving Mom a nip. I think this has happened before because Mom has teeth marks on her arm that I have been monitoring. Mom denies that Olivia had anything to do with them. They are nicely healed now. Except Mom keeps picking off the scabs even though I have them covered with Band-Aids.

Today was mostly an overcast day. LaShay is back as Mom's afternoon caregiver and it went very well. In the past Mom has gotten extremely upset when LaShay showed up. Today when LaShay left Mom told her she loved her.

We are going to paint Mom's room a soothing shade of pale blue-green called 'Watery'. It's nearly the same color as the one we used in her bedroom here at home. We are trying to keep things as familiar as possible for Mom's transition to her new home.

Yesterday I spoke to the Geriatric Care Manager and she helped me feel a little more at ease with this decision. I know we can never be completely at peace with this though. I feel like this person is going to be a huge asset for us. She said that she has a client at Summit Place and we could not ask for a better place for Mom. She knows many of the staff there and she said they are wonderful.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Someone at work recently told me they are a Christian. In my opinion, a Christian doesn't have to say a word about being a Christian; they say it through their actions, and through how they treat others. There is a verse in the Bible, something along the lines of God saying that when you mistreat the weakest of his children you are also mistreating Him. This person who professes to be a Christian treats the weakest of God's children with no compassion or empathy. And that is all I'm going to say about that. We all have struggles and crosses to bear in our lives. It is important that we all remember that when we interact with each other. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Mom had a good day today according to her caregivers. She is in a great mood and has been coloring since I got home. I started crying today thinking about Mom moving to the ALF. I worry about her being happy and adjusting to her new surroundings. I worry about the day when we will take her to that ALF and drop her off there. She is going to feel abandoned. It rips my heart out to think that she has to go through this. I've been praying for an easy transition for all of us. I wish someone was available to coach us through this. But it's not like we are the first family to go through this. Others have paved the way before us. I hope that I can build from that strength.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What to Do?

How do we surreptitiously pack up and move Mom's stuff without her getting suspicious? That is the latest thing that we are wrestling with. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

Mom had a rough night last night. She wanted to go to bed at 8:00 PM but then she was up at 10:30 PM and later at midnight, 1:00 and 3:00. She was up at 5:00 again. I don't know if she was dreaming or what but she was crying out throughout the night. I asked her if she was in pain or if she hurt anywhere and she would say no. I'm not sure what was going on, most likely something related to the ALZ.

We are using the wheelchair to get her around. This is especially hard when she needs to use the bathroom. She seems to have forgotten how to get up. It can take several minutes to gently persuade her to stand up. I also think she is afraid of falling. It's sort of like a kid who has hurt himself; rather then acting upset the parent brushes it off and then the kid doesn't cry. Unfortunately I tend to get panicky and freaked when Mom falls and she has chosen to remember this. This is my theory anyway.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mom has been having trouble maintaining a standing position since yesterday afternoon. She crumbled on the way to the bathroom when she let go of her walker. Then today when I was getting her up she crumbled again when I was transferring her to her wheelchair. Both times I had to call the neighbors for help. It's a good thing there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us because I can't keep imposing on the neighbors. And Mom feels so bad when she falls, she doesn't forget it. I'm afraid she's going to get hurt. Yesterday afternoon she fell in a tight space and it took several tries to get her up. She fell once onto her knees onto a tile floor so I've been checking her knees for bruises and sore spots.

The bunny in the window well was saved by Mom's caregiver. She threw a blanket over it and lifted it out of the well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Place

Today I am going to sign the paper work for Mom's room. Unlike the other facility, the marketing person played 'phone tag' with my sister until they finally connected and my sister spoke with this person for nearly 20 minutes. I think she has a better feeling about the new ALF now. The other ALF called me and apologized but reiterated that 'beds for memory care are scarce'. My sister mentioned the whole fiasco to the director of the new facility and she said that that facility has been experiencing some 'shakeups' at the top. I kind of picked up on that.

Meanwhile at home Mom has a new caregiver, Joy. She's a college student. Yesterday she gave Mom a manicure and a pedicure. She has a beautiful coral polish on her finger nails. Joy is a keeper. Once again I marvel at our luck with home health caregivers.

Last night Lily bolted to the window in my room which is in the lower level of our house. This morning both cats were glued to the window so I took a look. A rabbit fell into our egress window well! I've called our homeowners association to see if they could send someone to help get it out. It is so cute but so frightened. Poor thing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Place for Mom?

I stopped by the ALF after work and saw the room that will be available in mid September. It's a nice room, with a west exposure. It's a few doors down from one of the dining rooms. This ALF has a swimming pool and an exercise room. Mom used to do water aerobics in her former life. She might enjoy doing some exercising in the pool. They take memory care residents down to the pool a few times per week. And Joyce, the woman that I hired to be Mom's companion last fall helps with the transitions there. It would be a familiar face (if Mom remembers her). The best part? The ALF is minutes from our home. I could stop by to see Mom after work, I could go swimming with her at open swim times. The other best part; this facility seems to be very responsive to potential customers. My therapist's mom lives her and she has nothing but good things to say about this facility.My sister called the director of the other ALF this morning. She has not received a call back yet....

Life is Full of Disappointments

I am very disappointed. Yesterday I called the ALF and found out that the room which I thought had been earmarked for Mom, was actually not going to be vacated, and therefore available, after all. I really was bothered by the fact that no one bothered to call me about this, I only found out because I called them. This pisses me off and I've a tarnished view of this facility now. If they can't even get this right then how confident can I be that they will take good care of my Mom? Not to mention the fact that I passed on vacancies at two other facilities, confident that we had a room. Luckily, one of those rooms is still available. I had a gut feeling about not taking Mom off the waiting list at this other facility and it turns out that the feeling was right. So, tonight I am visiting another ALF to view an available room. It is extremely important to me that I have a good feeling about the place where Mom will live. Right now Sunrise has a lot to make up for in my eyes. And it's back to square one as far as the move is concerned.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I think the antibiotics are helping alleviate some of Mom's confusion. She seems to be back to herself and has more interest in doing things. She's sleeping through the night too, which is good for both of us.

It was a beautiful day today so we sat outside and watched the WWII planes fly over (there was an airshow this weekend at a local airport). Those planes are LOUD! But it was fun to watch them fly.

I'm sad that summer is winding down. I know it's only August but already the sun is setting earlier in the evening and rising later in the morning. The Minnesota State Fair, which is a big deal around these parts, starts later this week. I haven't been to the fair in over 15 years. I just am not that into crowds.

Yesterday was my uncle's birthday. Happy Birthday! Lucky guy shares his birthday with Madonna.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We've never used the 'A' word around Mom. She doesn't know that she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. At this point, I'm not sure that she would even grasp what that means. She just knows that she's no longer independent. She can't understand why she's incontinent. In the beginning she fought not being able to drive her car. I hid the keys during the day when I was at work. She would get angry, so very angry, at me about this. And it was so hard to disappoint my Mom (as a child it was the last thing I ever wanted to do). But it had to be done. The woman who could navigate better than anyone else I knew suddenly was getting lost and disoriented. Then we sold the car and she rarely asks about it now. One battle in the war that is Alzheimer's and the enemy was defeated. We also haven't told Mom that she is going to be moving to assisted living soon. The experts tell me that it is best not to do so. My sister has a friend who has volunteered to come out and help us take this difficult step. She's done this before. Neither of us is looking forward to this step. We know it's going to be painful for all involved. How can it not be? So on the appointed day we will somehow get things moved to Mom's new room, and then we will move Mom there. How we will do it is unknown. The facility should coach us. Once there, Mom will complain, express anger as only she can and basically just pitch a fit. Or maybe she will surprise us and accept her fate. My aunt let it slip to Mom that she is moving but luckily Mom didn't grasp what was said; she remains oblivious. Auntie was so upset, she thought she had blown it for sure. That's the thing about Alzheimer's; it's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get on any given day or in any given moment even. Mercurial doesn't even explain it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Washing machine is broken (leaking). Toilet is plugged. No caregiver showed up this morning due to a scheduling mix-up. Mom has diarrhea from the antibiotic. Repair man can't fix washer until tomorrow. Send help! When it rains it pours.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lily's calcium level is back to normal! Yay! We will continue to monitor it annually. I'm so relieved.

Mom is back on antibiotics. Yup, another UTI. I had to follow up with the clinic to find this out. No one ever contacted me after nearly a week. I was very angry and I let them know it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The weather is absolutely perfect today; sunny with a cool breeze blowing and low humidity. Mom and I sat outside for nearly 2 hours enjoying the weather and the company of our neighbors. Even Olivia came out in her kittywalk. I think Lily was jealous, so next time I need to make sure that Lily gets outside too. Yesterday was Lily's 9th birthday. She had to go have a blood test at the vet. We are monitoring her hypercalcemia. She was not happy about it. We've also started her on Cosequin for her joints. It's a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement that is sprinkled on the the food. She's been looking a little stiff lately. She's also lost a little weight which is hopefully from all the exercise that she gets playing with Olivia.

Getting Mom to and from the bathroom is really hard. She rarely makes it on time and she complains about how much it hurts to walk. I hope I can make it. Poor Mom has lost so much independence. I think I could deal if it was just the ALZ but throw in the inability to walk and the incontinence and it's pretty much impossible for me to care for her as well as she deserves. Betsy, I understand now why your well went dry. We are doing laundry on a daily basis, sometimes more than once in a day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Smart Phone for a dumb user?

I finally gave in and upgraded to a smartphone. My Palm pilot, which I rely heavily on, died and I didn't have access to my contacts and appointments. I upgraded my cell phone to a Palm Centro which not only allows me to make phone calls, but also stores my contacts, appointments, memos and tasks. I can IM (instant message), browse the internet and a multitude of other things. Best of all I only have to carry one thing in order to do all of these things. The only thing I'm not too thrilled with is that the battery seems to need to be charged daily.

Mom is doing OK although she cries a lot. She knows something is up with her memory and it frustrates her that she can't do things like she used to. We had a really good weekend together though. Today she spent the afternoon with one of her favorite caregivers. They were laughing and chatting together when I came home. And our guardian angel Terri was with Mom in the morning. We are so blessed with the best caregivers in the world. I'm so grateful for each of them and they care that they give Mom. And me.

Our weather has taken a turn toward cool. It's still warm, it's just that the humidity has dropped to a tolerable level and a cool breeze is blowing. Our strawberry plants are thriving and we are getting more strawberries. The hydrangeas and gardenia are also doing well.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

Yesterday I was able to get a specimen from Mom so that she can be tested for a UTI. We are now waiting to hear if they found anything. Usually they call right away if the specimen tests positive so hopefully no news is good news. Keep your fingers crossed. Mom has been sleeping a lot today, though yesterday she was up and quite jovial throughout the day. There is just no planning with this disease. I was hoping we could get out and find new reading glasses for her, her's have been missing for a few days. We tore the house apart looking for them with no luck. She asks for them every day, several times per day. I've given her a pair that I use but I don't think they are magnified enough for her. Most days are tough, but some days are good. Yesterday was a good day.

Mom's sister is pretty freaked out about her sister's pending move. She knows that it's for the best but I know it's hard for her. It's hard for us all to see Mom like this.

I have been reading lot's of knitting books and I finished one of the fingerless gloves I had been making from Annie's yarn (which by the way is a pleasure to knit with). Next I need to get started on the mittens. I can't wait to start them. I found a book that has basic patterns for mittens, gloves, hats, tams, socks and sweaters which I hope to use.

Yesterday was also the anniversary of the bridge collapse. We've watched a little of the coverage which included a number of memorial services including one on the Stone Arch Bridge. Mom and I had gone out to dinner to Applebee's then to our favorite park. It was a beautiful evening. When we started to drive away the radio announcer relayed that the 35W Bridge had collapsed. It was unfathomable. We rushed home to watch the continuous coverage, dumbstruck. Many of the victims are still recovering. Many of the people who've lost loved ones will never be the same again.