Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

I had another good visit with Mom today. She was sleeping when I arrived but woke up and wanted to get up for lunch. Even though she only ate a few bites for lunch, she did at least eat something. It was good to see her, and during the day is her best time. She had on her new shirt that I gave her for Christmas.

It is very warm here, in the 40s. My ice candles are melting. They looked very nice on Christmas Eve when it was very cold. If they aren't gone by tomorrow I will take a picture.

This Christmas has been better than I thought it would be. Maybe it's because I lowered my expectations. I'm glad that I spent it with Mom. I've spent every Christmas of my life with her and it just seemed right to spend this one with her as well.

I bought myself a Christmas gift today; Guitar Hero on Tour for my Nintendo DS. So far I really am not very good at it. But I'll keep trying as it is very relaxing to play.

I hope that everyone had a lovely holiday.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Mom and I had a wonderful time together today. Our housekeeper stopped by yesterday and left a lovely porcelain doll for Mom. Mom loves it. She also received a lovely fleece jacket from my sister, a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my brother and a fleece shirt and slipper socks from me. She ate all of her lunch including her ice cream today.

Yesterday when I visited she was sound asleep and the kitty who lives there was pushing on her door trying to get in her room. Once in there she was meowing and brushing against everything. It was quite charming to see.

I've been following one of our family traditions; watching The Christmas Story on TV. I have taken tomorrow as a vacation day and hope to spend time with Mom and maybe do a little shopping. We'll see.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mom Is Doing OK

Tonight it took two hours to get home. I haven't been to see Mom since Saturday (I took this picture) and I feel guilty about that. I spoke to the hospice nurse today. Mom was agitated today and did not eat more than a few bites of food. I hate that she is going through this. I wish I could do more to comfort her.

Today I am at peace with our decision to move Mom to assisted living. Tomorrow it may be different but today I know that she would not be getting the best care possible, let alone the fact that I couldn't do it, at home.

It is so cold here now and we are supposed to get even more snow overnight. All of this snow and cold is getting really old.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I just watched 'Mamma Mia' with my neighbor Mary. What a wonderful movie for lifting one's spirits. I definitely have needed that lately. I recommend it if you like musicals and chick movies (and music by ABBA). Mom loves ABBA so that was the one hard thing about watching this movie. She would enjoy it.
We, of course, are in the midst of a winter snowstorm today. Still, I was able to drive the 3 miles to visit Mom this morning. Mom was the same, sleeping with not so much wailing today. I fed her nearly all of her lunch and her dessert. She was directing me with what she wanted to eat and when she wanted to eat it.

I pasted pictures of her kitty near her bed and added the collage that I had made to that same wall. I hope that in some way these comfort her.

Driving was treacherous. I hit an icy patch on the highway and thought for sure I was going to rear end the car in front of me. The anti lock brakes kicked in and since I wasn't going very fast, I averted a crash. We are definitely having a white Christmas here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Alzheimer's Wailing

About six weeks ago Mom started this new thing: she will wail pitifully. Tonight at CB's Christmas party she started her wailing about halfway through the program. I'm not quite sure what it means, so I googled it and found some interesting articles including this. I think tonight she may have been trying to tell us she was ready for bed and not really in the mood for a Christmas party with music. She was awake when I arrived at dinner time but quickly fell to sleep. Luckily she had eaten most of her meal and drank most of her juice. I feel very low about this. I was sort of looking forward to spending some time with her, but I have to remember, this isn't about me, and she can't help it. It would break her heart to know that I was sad. So I'll try to be happy, because that is what she would want for me.

It's bitterly cold here; minus 10 was what the temperature said on my car tonight as I drove home from CB. This morning I could tell it was cold before I even got out of bed. Both cats were sleeping right against me and I couldn't even move!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ambiguous Loss

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's is like descending a staircase. At each step you encounter a new crisis, learn to manage it and move on to the next crisis. Each new crisis rips away more of the sufferer's independence and dignity. Mom's and my experience with Alzheimer's is no different. The first crisis occurred when Mom got lost driving to my home. She drove right past the exit and ended up miles away. Thank God she had enough of her faculties left and she pulled over at a fire station and called me. I knew exactly how long that drive should take Mom so when she hadn't shown up, I lost it. When we finally were reunited we hugged each other so hard and cried. I was so scared that I would never see her again. Several years earlier a woman with Alzheimer's had left her home for her cabin and had never been seen again. That story kept running through my mind. The next crisis for us was when she moved in with me and I realized that her dementia was more advanced than any of us had thought. We've met each crisis head on, dealt with it and moved on to the next one. The most recent crisis occurred when Mom moved into CB and soon afterward was assessed for hospice. As Alzheimer's caregivers, we experience something called ambiguous loss. As author Pauline Boss states in her book Ambiguous Loss "This roller coaster of absence and presence is a very stressful kind of loss— ambiguous loss. Unlike death, there is no closure, no official validation, and sometimes little community or religious support. You feel you are left to cope on your own; even the strongest caregivers feel anxious and depressed. The challenge is to learn strategies to cope with this ambiguity that is so much a part of memory loss." I have been reading her book and have found it helpful in my struggle with my feelings about the challenges we all face with this diagnosis. Each day is different; in the beginning, there are more good days than bad days. Then the tide turns and the bad days begin to outnumber the good. Our loved one slowly slips away from us day by day, week by week and moment by moment. It's heart wrenching to live this way as we try to keep up with the pain and emotions. And we watch our loved ones, in their confusion, try to understand what is happening. Our hearts break and we are thrust into a new phase of our life. In my case I was forced to grow up and become the caregiver for Mom, the woman who had always been my rock, my best friend and most of all my mom.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Today the hospice nurse called with an update. Mom had been ill with the stomach bug yesterday afternoon. Today when the RN stopped by to see Mom she was seated in her chair but was very upset. She asked Mom if Mom was in pain and Mom replied that she was so they gave her a small dose of morphine and put her down for a nap. She was still napping when I arrived. I kissed her forehead and she woke up and I asked her how she was doing. She was alert and fairly coherent. Tonight was the family support group meeting so I went to that. I find those meetings very helpful. It's good to discuss with others. At the end of the meeting we learned that C, who lived on Mom's side of the building, passed away on Monday. This was a shocker to me since C was always fairly with-it and also very cranky. This news made me sad even though in a way it is a blessing because she will no longer suffer from this awful disease. God bless C and her loved ones.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Candle Success!!

The ice candle is perfect! It is supposed to freeze with a hollow spot in the center and mine did. The walls around the center are about 3 inches thick. I'm quite pleased with it, so much so that I'm going to make several more (since the weather seems to be cooperating and staying well below 32 degrees) so that I can line my front sidewalk with them on Christmas Eve.

I still haven't gotten the urge to put up the Christmas tree. Today I took a nap with both kitties sprawled on me. That was fun. And of course it was snowing this morning. It's very Christmas-y around here in Minnesota. I have been shopping on line and have all of my shopping completed except for something for brother and his wife. And maybe something more for Mom.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mom and I had a lovely, long visit today. I stayed with her through lunch (she ate all of it!) and then we held hands and just enjoyed our time together. Mom still gets slightly agitated but for the most part she was pretty good.

I'm going to try my second attempt at making an ice candle tonight. I have a bucket of water outside and I hope it will freeze leaving space in the middle for a candle. Cross your fingers.

Friday, December 5, 2008


It started snowing tonight on the drive home from work. Luckily the roads weren't slippery. Tomorrow I plan to spend some time with Mom. I hope she is having a good day, but even if she isn't, it will still be good to spend time with her. I wish I could bring her home to help me decorate our Christmas tree. CB is decorated for Christmas. They have trees and lights throughout the building. I hope Mom enjoys that.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Deeply Disturbing

This story is appalling beyond belief. I've been haunted by this since it broke in late summer and it made me very upset and even more reluctant to place Mom. I would find it hard to control my rage around these individuals. They should be forced to register as sex offenders. The fact that they believed this treatment 'made their jobs more fun' angers me to no end.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My heart is heavy tonight. I spoke with the hospice social worker and asked about Mom's deep sleep and disinterest in eating. She said that in patients with dementia this sometimes signifies the brain and the body shutting down. This is very hard for me to hear. But as my sister would say, it is what it is. Mom doesn't want to live this way, I know that for a fact.

She was sleeping tonight when I stopped by. Sleeping deeply, but she awoke when I whispered in her ear. I asked her if she wanted to get up and eat some dinner and she said yes and then she said no and fell back to sleep. She roused a few times and even spoke my name. I turned on 'Everybody Loves Raymond' but even that didn't rouse her. I stayed for a while and she continued to sleep. I feel so sad.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ta Da!

Here they are, the very first pair of mittens that I have ever knitted. They look like mittens, and not some misshapen monstrosities. I'm quite pleased! and surprised by that. These were fun to make and of course the yarn is from Annie! They turned out pretty good. The color is lovely and will match my snow jacket quite nicely. And I finished them just in time for the cold snap we are experiencing.

Sleeping Beauty

Last night I visited Mom after work. Evenings are not her best time of the day. She had just gotten up from a nap and was sitting at the dining room table snoozing. Only this was a deep sleep. I couldn't rouse her. She opened her eyes when I first got there but then she continued to sleep right through the meal. One of the nurses on staff stopped over and tried to rouse her by saying her name. She awoke, saying 'What?' then fell back to sleep. While there I noticed one of the residents was scratching at a rash on her arm so I mentioned it to the caregivers and the nurse took a look at it. I hope I'm not labeled a butt-in-ski for this but I know that the caregivers are usually pretty busy with so many residents to keep an eye on. I still am not aware of the events of Mom's day; when she gets up, how well she eats, who comes to visit. Except for hospice visits. They keep a log of visits and each visitor leaves a note their visit with Mom. My mom's sister left me a message telling me that she had a wonderful conversation with Mom on Monday. Of course, conversations with Mom are usually indiscernable but she tries so hard to talk and make us understand what she is trying to say. It's so hard to know that she can't really express her needs and wishes, but I think that Hospice helps because she gets extra attention. I have been trying to read as much as I can about how to understand and communicate with someone who has Alzheimer's. But it's still hard. Mom is a trooper though and a fighter. I wish I was able to stop by during the lunch hour but my job is not close to home. That is a disappointment for me because I know that Mom is usually more alert at that time of day. I guess it is what it is.