Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013!

Happy 2013 to everyone, may it be a good year for each of you. In the new year I would like some rain, enough to bust this pesky, persistent drought. I would also like it to be a healthy and prosperous one for our kids and grand kids and well...everyone.  For me I would like to find more compassion for others and to feel grateful for all that I have and not moan about what I don't have.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December Entry

 
It's December and things are going along, bumpy, but okay. My little mom has a few more delusions than before but she still enjoys eating popcicle, sitting outside and feeling the sunshine on her face, and getting hugs. Not the mom who raised my brother and me but still mom. I wonder why this terrible disease has been visited on her and thousands of others but no answer to that ever comes. We just have to deal with it minute by minute. We plan to go to our sons on Christmas Day and they are good hosts so I know we'll have a nice time.
I'm posting a few pictures that Cyndi took of books that were donated to her classroom by family and some unknown donors. The Special Ed kids she teaches will enjoy them as will others who come after them. They were donated in honor of Frank's sister Liz, aka Virginia Elizabeth Carr, who was much loved by the family.
Many thanks to Cherly, Evie, and the others who donated.

                                                               



 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

I saw this a while ago and the power of it has stayed with me. The artist William Utermohlen created these self-portraits as his disease (Alzheimer's) progressed. It's heartbreaking isn't it? If my mom who is suffering from the same disease could draw I wonder how she would portray herself.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Catch up on a hot November Sunday


Our mom Nellie, Mike, Cyndi
Cyndi, Frankie, Pam, Evie
Things are going pretty well.The mobile unit came with a group that included a doctor, speech therapist, and an aide. They ran a swallow test on mom and as suspected it showed that she has dysphagia and is at high risk for developing pneumonia from aspirating liquids and food. We had a follow up visit that gave us tips and information on the types of food and drink we should be serving her. She also had to make a trip to the dentist to repair a filling she had been picking at and finally flicked out. Since no water can be used to cool a drill, wash out, etc. they had to do an acrylic one that while not pretty at leas filled the hole left and will prevent anymore decay from setting in. She then had a blood test to check her potassium level. So it was a busy few weeks for us all. She fell last week coming out of the bathroom and Frank got to her before I did and he picked her up and put her on her bed. Luckily she did not hurt herself. She's very wobbly these days so falling is a something we have to watch out for. At a physical therapy session they showed me how to fall with her and let myself take the brunt of it. Hope I don't have to use that technique but something learned is always a good thing.
We did the early voting thing. I went by myself and then my husband and granddaughter went. Wanted to take mom and brought home a sample ballot but she really didn't know what was up. Also (and this made me cry when I saw it) she has trouble signing her name. When the physical therapist had her sign her visit paper mom was printing letters and she printed an 'n eo' and then an 'L' on another line. First time that ever happened. She also forgot how to brush her teeth. I put the toothpaste on the brush and get her started and then she is okay. The decline is slow and painful to watch but she seems happy and we are able to keep her comfy, clean, and fed. I think there are more good days then bad days.
Yesterday our grandson (who just got his Cosmetology license) came and cut my hair, our granddaughters, and mom's. He did a great job and we all good. :-)
The photos are some I found and I don't know if I posted them before but if I did just ignore them. ;-) The one with mom was taken a few months ago when they were taking her to a dance. The one of the brothers and sisters was taken in August when Evie was here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Things are going pretty much the same. No word on when they will come do the swallowing x-ray for mom but I guess it will be soon. She's doing fine, a little wobbly when she walks and a lot confused in the afternoon. I did find a new term for a phenomena that a lot of caregivers experience. When caring for a dementia patient you sometimes find that they can appear as if nothing is wrong with them in front of strangers or people they do not often see. This behaviour is called 'Showtimers'. The patient can muster up the strength to be at their best, for a while and sometimes it can appear to others that they are not suffering from dementia. My mom has done this but it gets harder and harder for her to do it these days. Again, this disease is horrendous, maddening, and frustrating. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
We got some rain and today this morning the temperature is cooler but it was around 90 yesterday. Sigh, this up and down temperature mode is annoying but it's common for central Texas.
Photos
There photos here. Frank's brother Richard came into town for a conference and stopped by for supper and a visit with us. All the men came by as you can see. Second photo is of Richard and Frank. Third picture is of the flyover of the space shuttle. Not a good photo because it was misty and cloudy that morning and the plane was already gaining altitude by the time we saw it. Still it was fun to watch it fly by.



space shuttle flyover-austin, tx 2012


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Time flies even when you are not having fun

Geez whatever I thought of posting has fled my mind. Guess it might be because my husband and I got to go out and eat at the Olive Garden, alone, and had a nice time. Our daughter Cyndi came by to sit with my mom and we thank her for that. Also got a break last weekend when our eldest daughter Pam came down and we got to scoot out of the house for a couple of hours to shop. It was nice.
Mom's skilled nursing is over as her orthostatic hypotension is now under control. A speech therapist came by on Friday, not to assess her speech, but to evaluate her swallowing. Mom coughs when she drinks any kind of liquids and it seems you use the same muscles to swallow that you do to talk, or something like that. Anyhow she put sent her report to her doctor and they will come and do an x-ray of her swallowing here at the house! Who knew they could do that? Not us for sure. It's better to have medical people come to the house because it is easier on my mom. We took her to the doctor this past Monday and aside from her having low potassium she was doing as well as can be expected. So I'm giving her liquid potassium once a day for three weeks and then they will repeat the test. My days are filled with care giving, doctor visits, health care nurses (now over) and the like. At least I know what is happening to my mom and she's not scared and alone in a strange place. Sometimes she doesn't think she lives here and thinks I'm someone else and I shudder to think what she would do in an unknown environment. End of life care especially when complicated by dementia of the Alzheimer's type is very hard but I draw strength from my family and that certainly helps. One thing I sorely wish for is for mom to let us bring in a paid home health care aide but I don't see it happening anytime soon. She barely let the nurse in the house and sometimes she had to see her out on the patio.
One day while helping to prepare dinner I had left mom on the patio and checked on her every fifteen minutes or so. Well while I was getting pans out from the cupboard we heard a knock on the door and it was a lady that said there was an elderly woman tyring to flag down cars (thankfully from inside the fence that had a locked gate). She told the lady she had been kidnapped and that we were going to kill her. Thank goodness the lady in question said she had gone through something similar with her dad and knew what was happening. So mom has to be watched much closer than I thought. Oh well you do what has to be done.
So kudos to all you caregivers out there. It's a tough job but one I think is doable. Just give yourself a break now and then, easier said than done, but something that is needed.
On a more upbeat note Frank's brother Richard came by for a nice visit and the two bros got to chat and chat for hours. It was fun having him here and listening to their stories. I know it did a world of good for Frank. I'll post a picture or two later on.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Quite Saturday Morning

I found this question on site I visit quite often agingcare.com. This question could have been asked by me with just a change in the wording  from 'father' to 'mother'. The answer gave me some insight, so I hope it might help others deal with someone suffering from dementia too.
The past week has had it's ups and downs. Yesterday was going pretty well until my mom started yelling and scurrying down the hall that a 'lady' had told her to come out into the hall so she could tell her that she was going to be arrested so she could get her house. Somehow the thought of losing her home weighs large inside my mom's mind and she comes out with different scenarios about people trying to take it away from her. We do our best to reassure her that all is well and most times we can calm her. All I can think is that at times it must be hell inside her mind. The 'long goodbye' is indeed a cruel disease. I hate it.
The lines marked in red are what we identify with the most in the article.
Q: It hurts to see my father with Alzheimer's deteriorating before my eyes. How can I accept the decline?
A: Many people who have experienced a loved one's dementia have said that given the choice, they'd rather deal with almost any other ailment, no matter how painful or debilitating. There's little we can do to fix the deterioration of memory, communication skills, and reasoning that dementia steals away. Few experiences are as frustrating as watching a once-vibrant person deteriorate into a confused stranger. It's not fair, it's not right, and it's hard to accept gracefully.
Try to remain calm. Pain and helplessness breed anger, and anger about the situation may spill over onto the person. Answering the same question 20 times in one afternoon or hearing your loved one recite a skewed account of events for the hundredth time can make you want to scream, but losing your cool helps nobody. Remind yourself that your father did not develop dementia to annoy you: He's not doing it on purpose, and he can't help it. And it isn't your fault, either. It just happened.
So change the subject. Suggest that you go out on the patio together and look at the flowers. If all else fails take a break, and do something that will help you regain control. Take a walk or grab a cup of tea. Call a friend. If you can keep your wits about you, remain in control, and take care of yourself, you'll be more "present" (and pleasant) for him, and you'll both benefit.

Robert Bornstein, PhD, is Professor of psychology at Adelphi University, and co-authored "When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home, Assisted Living or In-Home Care."

Regarding the horrific events in Aurora, CO. All I can say is that our hearts go out to the families of the victims.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

More on Care Giving

I found the following information on the Family Care Giver Alliance site. Some good information here. The sections I've put in red are some of the very things we've been dealing with. I've also found good support and help on other care giving sites. It's great because you learn how to deal with the problems you and your loved ones are facing plus you know you are not alone in this fight.
My mom has been having episodes of severe anxiety the last few weeks and first I try to talk her down but sometimes I have to resort to one half of an Ativan pill. I have an appointment set up for mom next Tuesday and have lots of questions for her doctor. For one thing mom actually didn't know who I was two nights ago and went to Frank to ask her where her daughter was. She also ask me today how to eat a peanut butter sandwich. These are all signs that her symptoms have worsened.
I must state again that taking care of my mom since her dementia has gotten worse is far harder than I thought it would be, but thanks to Krystal who helps out and my husband Frank who is as patient as the day is long with her my task is much less stressful than it would be without them. Thanks to Cyndi and her boyfriend Michael for taking her out dancing and coming in to sit with her now and then and to Pam for her expert medical advice and to Evie for her support and holistic medicinal suggestions to the situation we are all facing together. Also thanks to our son Frankie and his wife Sandy for their unwavering support and always hosting such nice family get togethers to get us out of the house and be able to feel normal for a while. I'm going to try again and get a home health care worker in here again but it's going to be difficult. Wish us luck!
My neck problem is still there but the pain is tolerable so I'm not going to go into that problem for now.
I hope you find the following suggestions helpful. I know I did and hugs and good luck to you in your quest to be a care giver to a parent, spouse, or other loved one.
  1. Being Reasonable, Rational and Logical Will Just Get You into Trouble. When someone is acting in ways that don’t make sense, we tend to carefully explain the situation, calling on his or her sense of appropriateness to get compliance. However, the person with dementia doesn’t have a “boss” in his brain any longer, so he does not respond to our arguments, no matter how logical. Straightforward, simple sentences about what is going to happen are usually the best.
  2. People With Dementia Do Not Need to Be Grounded in Reality. When someone has memory loss, he often forgets important things, e.g., that his mother is deceased. When we remind him of this loss, we remind him about the pain of that loss also. When someone wants to go home, reassuring him that he is at home often leads to an argument. Redirecting and asking someone to tell you about the person he has asked about or about his home is a better way to calm a person with dementia.
  3. You Cannot Be a Perfect Caregiver. Just as there is no such thing as a perfect parent, there is no such thing as a perfect caregiver. You have the right to the full range of human emotions, and sometimes you are going to be impatient or frustrated. Learning to forgive your loved one as well as yourself is essential in the caregiving journey.
  4. Therapeutic Lying Reduces Stress. We tend to be meticulously honest with people. However, when someone has dementia, honesty can lead to distress both for us and the one we are caring for. Does it really matter that your loved one thinks she is the volunteer at the day care center? Is it okay to tell your loved one that the two of you are going out to lunch and then “coincidentally” stop by the doctor’s office on the way home to pick something up as a way to get her to the doctor?
  5. Making Agreements Doesn’t Work. If you ask your loved one to not do something ever again, or to remember to do something, it will soon be forgotten. For people in early stage dementia, leaving notes as reminders can sometimes help, but as the disease progresses, this will not work. Taking action, rearranging the environment, rather than talking and discussing, is usually a more successful approach. For example, getting a teakettle with an automatic “off” switch is better than warning someone of the dangers of leaving the stove on.
  6. Doctors Often Need to Be Educated By You. Telling the doctor what you see at home is important. The doctor can’t tell during an examination that your loved one has been up all night pacing. Sometimes doctors, too, need to deal with therapeutic lying; e.g., telling the patient that an antidepressant is for memory rather than depression.
  7. You Can’t Do It All. It’s OK to Accept Help Before You Get Desperate. When people offer to help, the answer should always be “YES.” Have a list of things people can do to help you, whether it is bringing a meal, picking up a prescription, helping trim the roses or staying with your loved one while you run an errand. This will reinforce offers of help. It is harder to ask for help than to accept it when it is offered, so don’t wait until you “really need it” to get support.
  8. It Is Easy to Both Overestimate and Underestimate What Your Loved One Can Do. It is often easier to do something for our loved ones than to let them do it for themselves. However, if we do it for them, they will lose the ability to be independent in that skill. On the other hand, if we insist individuals do something for themselves and they get frustrated, we just make our loved one’s agitated and probably haven’t increased their abilities to perform tasks. Not only is it a constant juggle to find the balance, but be aware that the balance may shift from day to day.
  9. Tell, Don’t Ask. Asking “What would you like for dinner?” may have been a perfectly normal question at another time. But now we are asking our loved one to come up with an answer when he or she might not have the words for what they want, might not be hungry, and even if they answer, might not want the food when it is served after all. Saying “We are going to eat now” encourages the person to eat and doesn’t put them in the dilemma of having failed to respond.
  10. It Is Perfectly Normal to Question the Diagnosis When Someone Has Moments of Lucidity. One of the hardest things to do is to remember that we are responding to a disease, not the person who once was. Everyone with dementia has times when they make perfect sense and can respond appropriately. We often feel like that person has been faking it or that we have been exaggerating the problem when these moments occur. We are not imagining things—they are just having one of those moments, to be treasured when they occur.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nice Start for a Monday

Visited my neurosurgeon and got the good news that while my stenosis will not go away my damaged nerve was healing and my tricep was not as weak as it had been. A good check up but better yet no surgery for now. He'll see me again in 6 weeks and hopefully I'll show more improvement. In the meantime I'm not to lift anything heavy, nor do any exercise that causes me to twist my neck (turn with my torso) or put any pressure on it. I'm to protect my neck he said for the next six weeks. Better than learning I have to have a cervical disectomy with fusion!!!
Summer television is more of a wasteland than it normally is but I did like the ending of The Killing. It tied things up nicely. The haters won't like it of course and I wonder why they watch a show that they hate. I'm satisfied with it and now those detectives can get some sleep and get out of the rain! I've also watched America's Got Talent and am becoming convinced it doesn't. So You Think You Can Dance has some good dancers but the little tableaus they set up are annoying and boring. Let's see more dancers dancing please. That's all for now...we're celebrating my no surgery for now with some Chinese food. Yum. Have a good week!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lazy Hot Day

A hot Saturday but it's nice and cool in the house so yes I'm staying inside. Did I mention I hate summer time? ;-)

My mom is sleeping. Once again I've talked to the doctor (I think he's going to disown me as a patient or a caregiver) about my mom's meds. I truly don't like how the anti-psychotics affect her, any of them, but I do want something to calm her down when she's really upset. They prescribed a med just for that and it's to take as needed. A couple of days ago she thought someone was coming to kill her and we should call the police and then she didn't eat her food but said she had put something in it to make the people sick and for us not to eat it. We just roll with the flow with these delusions. I just don't like to see her upset and it worries me. The next day she usually doesn't remember them but last night she asked if I was her daughter and who was the man she saw in the hall...he was my husband. It was late in the afternoon though so I think it was a bit of the sun-downing effect..

The fingers on my right hand are still numb and the muscles in my arm were jumping. Guess I'll find out Monday what's going on with the nerves in my neck.

Did enjoy most of the season finales. NCIS writers are bat rastards for leaving us to worry about the fate of Ducky lying alone on the beach. Sigh. I think the last scene in NCIS:LA was a set up to get the bad guy. No way would G shoot a man in cold blood, at least not in front of thousands of people watchin it on TV.  I really like The Mentalist but I'm sick of the Red John villain and want him gone, gone, gone. Thought it was funny that Hawaii 5 0 and Grimm had the heroes end the show with the same word, "Mom". Once Upon A Time was great and we can look forward to all manner of magic in the next season. Person of Interest and CSI were good too. Now for a summer filled with mostly crap but I do enjoy So You Think You Can Dance and The Closer. Since The Closer starts in July and runs six weeks we can then enjoy football that starts in August!

That's about all for today. Hopefully Ill have something to write about my nerve problem in a few days.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Quandary

MRI revealed that I have cervical spine stenosis (stenosis meaning a narrowing) with nerve encroachment. Have to make an appointment with a neurosurgeon to get his opinion (I'll tell you right now no surgery for me unless it's a last resort issue which it isn't right now) for the best course of treatment. My symptoms are what I wrote about before so I"m thinking it'll be physical therapy or a watch and see what happens kind of thing. I'm just wondering if I'll be on the gabapentin for a long time and what will happen if I go off of it...like will some pain come back. Tis a quandary for sure.
Mom is still not taking to well to the home health aide but I must admit I like having her here and having a few hours a week where I don't have to worry about taking care of my mom. Still some guilt about that but if I want to be healthy and take good care of her I have to take care of myself and this requires some time to myself. With a few health issues of my own that I have to attend to this is important. After reading countless articles on the Internet about taking care of an ageing parent with dementia (or just an ageing parent) I learned that care giver burnout is a huge issue that thousands are dealing with. Somehow it just makes me feel better to  know I'm not alone on this issue. There are rewards though. I find that my mom is a funny lady and there are more fun and happy moments then there are low disturbing ones. I wonder sometimes about my grandchildren's generation and what will happen to them since some studies have shown that they will live shorter lives than their parents. What will become of them?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quick Sunday Update

I know I'm putting some personal information on this blog but I'm hoping that if someone is experiencing the same thing that some of what they may read here might help them as they assist their loved one in coping with this scourge.
First week with a comfort care lady and it's so so. Mom does not seem to care for some stranger talking to her and she won't let her wash her hair or help her in the shower. And mom is talking to herself again even when someone else is in the room with her.  She had been doing that at the dances she went to but I did not find that out until she stopped going to them. One of the ladies who missed her coming called and told me about it. The doctor doesn't like to keep her on the dementia meds for long periods (other than aracept...which I don't think is working anymore) so things may or may not get dicey again. Guess we'll have to wait and see. TV seems to be a puzzle to her too and she does not read much anymore. Just a few headlines here and there. I put the Lady Horns softball game on today and while she seemed interested at first she dismissed the game and went to sleep. I guess as long as she is talking to herself she is entertained and in a world she can control. I can't imagine what's going on in her once sharp as a tack mind. I've been told by many that watching a loved one with dementia is harder for us to watch than it is for them to experience but I'm not so sure of that information. My mom knows something is wrong with her but she's just not sure what it is.
Tomorrow I have to get an MRI and long ago when I took one I found I was a wee bit claustrophobic towards the end of the test. I hope they drug me up or I might freak out this time. Stupid pinched nerve, it's more trouble than anything I've had in a long while. Bah.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A First For Us

Today a home health aide is coming in for the first time. She will be here for hygiene, company, respite care, etc. Hopefully mom will accept the care and not be freaked out by a stranger coming into the house to help care for her. She'll come for four hours a day, two days a week if all works out. Keep your fingers crossed for us that all will go well. I really need the help to get over the pinched nerve thing and to take care of myself. I have cardio-vascular disease, moderate, am pre-diabetic, and it takes some doing on my part to beat these diseases back and keep them at bay. Poor mom, she's had to suffer indignities this past week with her constipation problems that resulted in a mild impaction landing her in the ER where she had to wait 4 hours for treatment. I believe this problem might have been avoided had I known what signs to look for and how to treat it. We did call the doctor's office and get advice but I think by then the problem had progressed to the point where immediate professional help was necessary. I've had to do things for my parent that I never thought I'd have to do and it's certainly been a learning experience for me, well it has been one for all of us here at home. I guess girls do take care of moms and boys take care of dads which is good because there are things only a daughter or woman can do for a mom and I'm sure that only men can take care of some things for sons and dads.
Speaking of my pinched nerve. I'm coming off of my second round of prednisone therapy and I feel like a puffer fish and look like a chipmunk with his cheeks full of nuts. I was told that the swelling will go down now that I'm finished with the pills. I hope so. I worked to get my weight down and now I've gained 8 pounds since I've been on those pills. Weight, so easy to put on so hard to take off! Well the puffiness takes away the wrinkles. ;-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cute pics

First picture is of a cheeky squirrel who found the nuts on the widow ledge. He (or she) was not at all afraid of Cyndi who was taking the pictures on the other side of the window. Second picture is of a black and white woodpecker who is king of the backyard. Small but with a mighty beak. The last one was supposed to be a picture of mom but my camera was set on video which I did not notice until later. But all is well that ends well. Hope you enjoy!

video

3 or 4 more weeks

Yesterday was busy. Took my mom to the dentist where they fixed a broken tooth of hers the best they could (and it was expensive) but they could not crown it because she can't take the amount of water and saliva that happens when they are drilling and doing tortuous stuff like that. Her swallowing reflex is delayed and she chokes really bad if a lot of water is used.So they roughed up what remained of the tooth and built on it with a resin compound. It's weak and may break at which time they will only have one solution for it and that is to pull it.  She did well for most of the visit but was really tired when we left. She didn't sleep though. She sat out on the patio and listened to music. We had hoped that the new med she got which looked promising was all that we had hoped for. Alas she had an auditory hallucination and that was upsetting, for her and for us. As long as the delusions and hallucinations are not scary we won't worry about it. We thought maybe the stress of the dental visit got to her and we're hopeful that things will settle down for her.
Later in the day I went to my doctor and he decided to put me on one more round of prednisone and gabapentin. I improved (in his opinion about 40-50 percent since my last visit) and they took x-rays and didn't see anything but some arthritis around the neck area. If I don't get back to 100 percent after this an MRI is in my future because then they will want to know if I just have a bulging disc or a ruptured disc. My arm still hurts (but not crying hurt) and tingles like you would if you hit your funny bone. This feeling is from shoulder to fingers with the fingers still being numb. This makes me cranky so I try not to let anyone suffer for it. Wish me luck!
It's hot here and the air conditioner is on. I hate summer and oh yes, I hate my pinched nerve!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just Posting

Wow, I haven't posted here since March. Time certainly does fly, especially when you're not having much fun. I've been treating a pinched nerve in my neck for three weeks now. The worst pain is gone but there is still numbness in my index and middle finger of my right hand plus a stinging feeling from my neck and down my right arm. It bothers me most at night. Things are better since I've gone from crying on the floor of the living room and writhing in pain at three in the morning cursing God for my lot in life to being able to tolerate the pain I now have. It's put quite a crimp into what I'm able to do but Krystal and Frank have stepped up to help me more than they usually do, which is a lot. Tomorrow I'm taking my mom to the dentist and then I have an appointment with my doctor in the afternoon to see what I need to do next about my pinched nerve business. Next Monday we have an appointment here at home with a nurse from a company that specializes in elder home health care to see about respite care for my mom so we can get some much needed time to shop or go the movie, or just take a shower and rest, etc. I hope my mom is receptive to the home respite care but I'm not sure she will be. Wish us luck!
Meanwhile taking care of my mom takes up most of my time but she's such a sweetie and often times she makes me smile, a lot. She's taking to singing songs like Home on the Range and The Eyes of Texas. She's quite good. :-) Below is a photo of her. Her hair isn't quite as white as it looks here, she still has more of a salt and pepper color but the light was behind her and gave her this glow. I think she's beautiful.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mussings about Dementa/Alzheimer's

If you don't know anyone with Dementia/Alzheimer's disease or have  parents or another loved one with Alzheimer’s disease you will soon do so. Statistics say that  5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and another 14 million or so act as unpaid caregivers. It is a horrid disease that takes away independence, steals memories, and rips away most all  dignity. 70% of people with Dementia have Alzheimer's. It effects a lot of elderly people but is not  a normal part of being elderly.
My mother, my family and I have become part of this growing number, especially in the three years or so when our mom began exhibiting some of the typical traits of the disease.  She was no longer able to balance the checkbook or pay her own bills and started talking to herself even when people were in the room with her. The most obvious symptom, repeatedly saying the same phrases and asking the same questions came early on.
These days I've gone from being a daughter to being a caregiver, helping her change clothes, shower, brush her teeth, and get in and out of bed. Thankfully she can use the bathroom by herself as well as feed herself. There are many times when I think she won't make it another day and then there are times when I think she's getting better. This roller coaster of emotions is something I was not prepared for because I go from anger to joy to hopelessness in the wink of an eye. I have to shake myself mentally and remember that this is about her, not me, and try and understand how it affects her, a once sharp and creative woman who could do anything she set her mind to. Now I sometimes weep at the loss of my mother but am careful not to let her see the tears. Today is one of those days. She had a hard night last night, waking up three times trying to remember something that needed doing, then wanting to be in her own bed (she was), then waking up wanting to know if everything was off. Now she is sleeping and I can't get her up to go outside, which she loves to do. This worries me. To be honest I worry if she sleeps too much and worry if she sleeps too little. I fret over the fact that her appetite has become non-existent despite her medications to give her more appetite and a calmer mind. At least the horrible delusions and auditory hallucinations have gone away thanks to her meds. She is also on Aracept but I couldn't tell you if it is doing the job it's meant to do because like I stated above some days are good and some are bad. And yes I've talked to more than one doctor and nurses and health care workers and read hundreds of articles on the subject. And what I know is still not much but every little bit of information helps and you never know what tips will work to make your loved one more comfortable or easier for you to do your job. It's a pick and choose what works world.
 We no longer plan “spur of the moment” things or get away for even one night but this is the road I've chosen and most times I'm not sorry for it. She took care of me when I was a babe and now it's time for me to care for her. I will state here that my husband and granddaughter are a tremendous help to me and so is the support of the rest of our family. I couldn't do it without their help and love.
Care giving is a demanding job, a 24/7 job. Our goal is to keep Mom safe and comfortable at home for as long as we can. How long will that be? No one knows.  For now we will take it all one minute at a time. Incidentally Medicare/Tricare do not pay for in home elder care, only care that involves a medical problem like cancer or diabetes, etc. Incontinence, hygiene, feeding, etc. is all on your own dime.
I do still walk in the morning, most mornings anyway and spend some time on the computer when I can. Some days I just get to read email and once in a while I get to write on my blog. I know that it is recommended that care givers take care of themselves too but sometimes it's hard to do. Still I have a great support system and hopefully in the future we can work something out and get some professional home health care people in to help us out. 
That's about it. Remember to give your loved ones a call or drop them a postcard or a video (my brother and his wife and our daughter in Seattle make videos for my mom and she loves them).  Communication helps and it makes everyone feel like they are doing something for their loved ones.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cedar pollen on the way out!

Cedar pollen is on the way out! Yea! Took my early morning walks outside all week long. Had a couple of cool mornings but it felt good. This morning it's cool but the sun is out so I imagine it'll heat up some.
Since our we've had a non-winter this year everything seems to be blooming early and it all looks pretty. This would make me happy if I didn't know that a long hot summer was coming our way. Hopefully with La Nina ending soon we'll get back to a normal weather pattern and get some more rain.
My Mom has been having some memory problems and I've been talking to people about it like her doctor and nurse and our daughter Pam who is a nurse that has extensive experience with elderly patients. Their advice is most welcome and helpful in allowing me and our family to give her the best care possible. I've found some good sites online too. One of them is shown here.
http://www.helpguide.org/elder/alzheimers_disease_dementia_support_caregiver.htm
Took some more photos while I was out and about, hope you enjoy them.
2012 Frankie with his new van and his dad

daffodils blooming in our front yard Feb. 2012

roses blooming in Feb. 2012

the park was full of runners getting ready for marathon

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Early February Updates

Not much to report. We've had some nice rain but not enough to bust the drought. Spicewood Springs, TX which is not far from Austin was in the national news this past week because they ran out of water in their wells. Lots of boat ramps sitting on the ground that used to float on 40feet of water. So sad. The cedar pollen is letting up some so hopefully it won't be long before it is all gone. We have light rain this morning and cool. It got up to 84 a few days ago. Not much of a winter around here this year.
The city finally had enough of the Occupy Austin sleeping on the outside stairs of City Hall so they rousted them. Arrested 7 or 8 of them and now they are regrouping. I think the movement has ran out of steam.
Still enjoy watching the birds outside our window. Hate the Morning Doves because they are piggies and eat until all the seeds are gone. I chase them off when I see them. The Doves try to intimidate the other birds too but have more than a match in the woodpeckers who are not afraid of them or any of the other birds that come to feed.

female woodpecker-has half of a red cap


hail fell for first time in many months


pea size-no damage done

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Still Feeling the Cedar Fever


I think I need a gas mask, this does not work.
Well here it is late January already and deep into the 'cedar fever' season. Ick! I don't like it, don't like it at all! But the nasty pollen will let up, I hope, sometimes in February or horrors early March. We'll see. Right now it is high, high, high and I don't venture out much and yep, I'm still medicated. Sigh. I did try to walk outside but my eyes paid the price for it. And as you can see my get up was a bit crazy-scary lady so I'm back to the indoor routine.
We loved the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers game and the even though the Houston Texans lost I thought they also played a good game. We were shocked by the Packers poor play an the Denver game was a yawner. Two more play off games and then the Super Bowl and football will be gone until late August. Really hate that the season is so short but it's too brutal a sport for the season to be any longer.
Happy to see a new episode of Once Upon a Time and having said that is anyone else bummed that the hot Huntsman/Sheriff was killed? Note to writers of the show; It's a fairytale folks so don't kill off anymore of the fave characters, okay?
White spot are feathers all messed up-was he in a fight?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ragged start to 2012 Walking Routine


Leaves lined with frost
Had a bumpy start to 2012 regarding my walking routine. It started off well and I got my miles in what with the lovely frost and all but then cedar pollen reared its ugly head and all was lost...at least for a while. Got an infection in my left eye and was tearing and itching and sneezing so much that it wore me down physically and I gave up and went to the doctor. She said it was an especially brutal season for 'cedar fever' and my visit resulted in my getting 4 prescription medications and one over the counter and orders to remain indoors until the situation improved.
Last night it started to rain and I thought 'hooray I'll go out and walk tomorrow' but in the morning it was more like thunder storms and while I love walking in the rain, lightning is another matter. So my indoor walking routine will have to do for at least another day. The doc did recommend that I use a painters mask when I go out for any length of time so I'll try that even though it looks strange but then again this is Austin so I shouldn't worry because people don't judge so much.  I'm not sure if I've posted the pics of the woodpecker. If I have just ignore them or enjoy them again.

Woodpecker giving us his profile

 Better look at his awesome red head