Sunday, October 23, 2011

Time and Stuff....

It's been several months since I last posted.  Lots has happened since June.  After I moved Mom into a local nursing home, everything changed.  I retired, we finished cleaning out Mom's house, sold her house, took my grandchildren on a week's trip, and I must say that I am tired and retired.

It seems that I have a shortage of time and an abundance of stuff.   I need more time to visit with Mom, time to catch up with grandkids and their activities, time to organize stuff and time for my projects.   Time, time, time....

Stuff...I have plenty of stuff.  Stuff from Mom's house, stuff from downsizing Mom from assisted living to the nursing home, stuff from selling my shop, stuff from my children even though they are grown and no longer at home...just their stuff.  So I'm organizing, eliminating and having garage sales.    Stuff, stuff, stuff....

And Mom....she has been doing pretty well in the nursing home.  She developed an infection in her pressure wound on her bottom and she was in pretty bad shape for about a week, but antibiotics kicked in rapidly and turned her around.  But the experience sent her spiraling into another place...more confusion, weakness and blank stares.  Many days she did not know me.  It's been a couple of weeks and she has climbed back to almost where she was.  There are still many blank stares, lags in the conversation, but almost always she remembers when I tell her, "See you later" she responses "Alligator".  Then I say "After while" and she responses, "Crocodile."  I know that somewhere in the near future she will forget that response, but for now I treasure this exchange.  

Moments, time and stuff...treasures that keep life interesting.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scary stuff...

     It has been a tough two months with my mom...trying to find the right place for her to live.  She was unable to continue living in the assisted-living facility where she has lived for about 4 years because of her disease.   She would forget to dress....who wants to see an 89-year-old woman streaking??  She had become incontinent...she would try to leave the facility or enter other residents' rooms...she would slam her door all night.  She could no longer stay there.

    So we tried putting her in a private home with an individual caregiver.  The caregiver was nice and had other people come in to help her, but my mother did not respond well to her.  There was a new doctor who changed her medicines totally.  The home was small and crowded with where to go with a walker or wheelchair.  Almost immediately, Mom started acting out...peeing on the floor, smearing feces on the wall, trying to escape and setting off the fire and police alarms, staying up all night and sleeping very little during the day.   To me, these were cries for help.

    My sister and I tried to find memory care units to take Mom.  We figured that this would offer the care and training that Mom would need.   But Mom could never pass the entry assessment.  We were told that she would need a psychiatric facility.   We knew that her meds and the private home were causing the episodes.  After 2 weeks in a private home, we moved Mom to our local nursing home.  We decide that even if it wasn't perfect, she would be close to where I lived.

    As of today, Mom has been in the nursing home for over a month.  With the help of our local hospice, Mom's meds have been regulated.  She's become totally incontinent, and she's pretty much in a wheelchair all the time.  It doesn't slow her down....she's up and down the halls all the time.  She has tried to escape a couple of times, but she now wears an ankle monitor that sets off an alarm if she goes out the door.  She constantly asks for scissors to cut 'that thing' off her leg.

    She still loses her glasses and hearing aids all the time.  In fact, one hearing aid has completely disappeared.    And I found her dentures wrapped up in a paper towel in her chest of drawers.  When I handed them to her, she said that she had been looking for those.  It's quite challenging.

    She still recognizes my husband and me, but I'm not sure she knows our relationship to her.  We are friendly faces that check on her and bring her cookies.  She has always had a sweet smiles, but it seems to be disappearing a little more each day.  I think that it's part of the disease.

    But she's somewhat healthy, somewhat happy and well cared for, but like so many folks with dementia and memory impairment, she suffers the indignity of wearing diapers, being treated like and child and more.   But what can we do?  Love them and pray for medicines, cures or some kind of answers...and I wonder, will this be my future, or will this disease happen to one of my siblings?  Scary stuff......

Monday, April 25, 2011

Getting worse....

My mom is drifting farther away, into that misty world of dementia.  Her behavior is becoming more bizarre.  I had to move her out of her assisted living facility.  She is now in a private home with one-on-one care, but she is not happy.  Will she ever be happy again?  Will she know if she's happy?  This disease is a heart-breaker.  She still recognizes me some of the time, but it doesn't seem long before she has drifted a little farther from me.  I have had all kinds of help and support during this process, but I still whine.  Please bear with me.  I just love my mother and want the best for her.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another fine mess.....

Last evening the assisted living facility called and asked if I could come visit with my mom.  She wouldn't go to her room.  She had her robe and nightgown packed in her walker and she was leaving.  They thought that I could manage her.  They gave her a snack to keep her occupied until I got there and it worked.

I asked her if we could go sit in her room and read the newspaper and talk.  She was agreeable, so I visited with her awhile.  I assured her that we were in her room, and asked her if she was ready to put on her nightgown.

Sure enough she was ready.  She brushed her teeth, and I reminded her to 'potty' before she got in bed.  It was then I noticed she has problems with her bladder and bowels.  I hadn't realized that there was a continous problem.  Earlier in the week we had noticed a problem with bladder control, but yesterday it was both.  I cleaned her up, put her to bed and told her to stay there.

I mentioned Mom's problem to the caregiver as I left and she said that has been a problem the past couple of days.  We checked her for a urinary tract infection, but she was fine.  It seems that she has slipped a little further into the world of dementia.   Drifting away from me more and more....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Secret hiding places....

My mother continues to find unusual places to hide things.  This time we searched for her watch for two or three days.  She kept telling me that someone had stolen it.  We found it inside a vase full of potpourri--under the potpourri--covered with the oily residue from the potpourri.   How she managed to get it under the potpourri I'll never know.  The vase was sitting next to the plant where we found her hearing aids.  Creative hiding....

Monday, March 28, 2011

All fall down...

In the last month, my mother has fallen four times.   She hasn't broken anything...yet.  She has had some rather nasty bruises.  The latest fall was last night.  The assisted living facility called 911 because they thought she might have hurt herself.  When my husband and I arrived at the ER, she's all glad to see us, even though it was 3:30 a.m.   She told the ER doctor that I'm her baby.   I am a really large and old baby, but her baby never the less.   Everything checked out okay, so she was released quickly.  We wrapped her up and delivered her back to the assisted living facility.  "Am I staying here?" she asked.  Oh, yes, and please stay in bed.  Back to bed by 4:30 and up at 6.  It's going to be a long day....

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hearing aids and telephones

Mom's phone skills are disappearing, and I hope to eliminate the phone from her room.  She is a demon on the phone.  She calls WalMart to see if they have her hearing aids batteries, despite the fact she doesn't know what size or any necessary information. I'm sure whoever answers the phone there thinks it's a prank call.   And she's constantly trying to call her parents who have been dead for over 60 that's long distance. She tells me that all she gets when she calls them is someone named Harassment.  Is she driving someone crazy?  I don't know.   I have removed her phone book, her personal phone book, and disconnected the long distance service to slow her down.  She cannot carry on a phone conversation anymore.  She doesn't understand who's on the phone and repeats herself continuously. Often she doesn't recognize me on the phone.   I hate to get rid of the phone in her room because my siblings all live out of town and this is the only personal contact that they have. 

On the subject of hearing aid batteries,  I have put them in the office at the assisted living facility, and they will give them to her when she needs one.  Prior to this arrangement, I gave her a care of 10 batteries, and she used them up in a week.   Every time she thought about it, she replaced them.  Too expensive, so now when she calls me, I send her to the office.

Oh, how I hate dementia!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How does she lose her teeth?

I don't know how she did it, but she misplaced her bottom denture.  She couldn't remember how long it had been missing, but it was gone.  My husband and I rushed to the assisted living facility because we thought she might have taken it out for breakfast or lunch and the teeth might be in the trash bin.  I searched her room...the dirty clothes basket, trashcans, drawers, pockets, cabinets, closet, under chairs, bed...everywhere.  My husband and facility manager took the central trash bin.  My husband said you wouldn't want to know what was in the trash at the old folks' home.  Then I started searching her room again with the help of the staff.  I was going crazy.  I didn't want to have to buy a new set of teeth, but, of course, I would because she has to have them.  But how would she manage sitting in the dentist's chair?  What a nightmare!

Amazingly, one of the caregivers found the teeth in a coffee cup, hidden under a paper towel and a bunch of footlets stuffed in the cup.   The cup was in her chest of drawers in the back of the second drawer.   All of us had looked in the cup under the footlets, but not under the wadded-up paper towel.
I washed them and gave them back to my mother.  She tried to stick them in her ear and tells me that she has her hearing aids.  I tell her that the teeth go into her mouth.   Oh-h-h-h.  She walked me to the door, points to her ears and tells me thanks for finding her whatever.   It was sad, but funny, too.
Hiding and hoarding are classic symptoms of dementia.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Some days I love mornings...and this is one of those days.  Hot shower to begin the day.  Fresh spring for Texas anyway.  Beautiful sunrise on the way to work...hint of pink and gold in the clouds.  Trees sprouting brand new, bright green leaves.  People who love me...husband, children and a mother.  Being able to see and feel the new day.  Small things, big things and feel-good things.
Thank God!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Will I follow her down the dementia road?

I am the caregiver of my mom.  I have siblings but they don't live close, so decisions and care are left up to me with the help of my husband.   After my dad died in 2002, she continued to live at her home alone.  In 2005 she suffered a bowel obstruction and required two surgeries and a month of rehab.  We noticed changes in her mental condition after that experience.  Several times we hired caregivers to come and stay with her so she could stay at home, but she would run them off almost as quickly as we hired them.  We brought meals in, but she fed them to her little dog.  We divided her medicine into little compartments, but still she would forget to take the pills.  In 2007 her little obese dog died, probably from all those extra meals. No food, no medicine, no pet, we began to worry even more.  Early in 2008 we moved her into an assisted living facility.  She's eating meals and taking her medicine, but her mental condition continues to diminish.  We know that her father and his sister both suffered from dementia.  Will I follow my mother down that dementia road?