Monday, April 10, 2017

My Cup Runneth Over

This weekend we took the MIL to shop for some new spring clothes and to take her for lunch.  I usually just pick up some clothes for her but since she has been in the home and not as active I wanted to make sure she tried on any kind of pants we'd buy.
We began the day by going to a couple of places that I have had luck in finding clothes that I know will fit.  We were going up and down the aisles and I would look around and she had wandered off.  Luckily it was early so there weren't many people in the store.  She would get so easily distracted which I had forgotten.  Anyway, at one point I asked a lady for some help and she looked at my MIL and said, "I know you, don't you remember me?  I used to work at the home and you would go out to smoke with me!" OH MY GOSH!!  Are you kidding me!  Even in a small town like where we live she runs into someone she knows...not me!  Never ceases to amaze me.....we don't provide her with cigarettes because of her health related issues.....

We went to a couple of different places looking for clothes and every time she would ask about her purse.  We got into the car and she asked if she brought her purse; we got to the store and she asked if she left her purse in the car; we went to the restaurant and she asked if she left her purse in the car, did I leave my purse at your house; etc.  This went on each and every time we entered and left a building or the car.

Okay, let me get to the coffee cups.  When we picked her up I wanted to look at her clothes again just to see what she might need.  I knew we wanted to get new tops and capri pants but wasn't sure about undergarments or night gowns.  She has a four drawer dresser and a two drawer night stand that she ends up keeping her things in.  We have tried hanging things in her closet but she just can't seem to "sort" the clothes to find what she can wear.  I assume that is because of the decision making skills needed to do that and she just can't do it anymore. 

I opened the drawers and the first drawer was half full with coffee cups stuffed with various items.  The second drawer was full of coffee cups stuffed with various items like sweet and low, sugar, etc.  The third and fourth drawer were full of coffee cups stuffed with various items!  What the heck!  She did this at our house when she lived with us.  She would take cups and fill them with sugar and stick in her night stand.  We never did figure out why. But the number of cups we counted exceeded 20.

We were gone for maybe 3-4 hours and I think the sadness thing was when we were taking her back.  We drove in front of the home and made the turn back into the parking lot.  As we are driving in front, she says I think I've stayed there.  My husband says yes, that is where you stay.  She says, I don't stay there now, I don't have a room I?  He says yes, she says well I don't know where it is.  How can in three hours this disease remove your memory of a place you stay at 24 hours a day?  And three hours ago you left from there?  I don't understand what is happening in the mind.

When got her back to her room we told her we would take her new clothes home, wash them, and return them the next day. 

Sunday, we went back to the home with her freshly washed clothes and found her in her room.  Yesterday she was very happy and excited to see us.  She did not remember that we had gone shopping the day before or that we had even been there.

Today she was happy to see us but when we started moving cups out of the drawers to make room for the clothes she got very agitated.  My husband, in his ever sensitive way, asked her why she needed all those cups.  She said, very childlike, because I do.  I told her we were just moving them around so we could organize her clothes so she could find them and she relaxed a bit. But, as I began to return the cups to the drawers I made a discovery that I wasn't expecting.  In several of the cups she had placed her underwear.  I won't go into whether they were clean or not.  I had to laugh because in some ways she was organizing herself.

This week we have her care plan meeting and these are the items to talk about.  I'm afraid she is going to need more help with the daily living things like bathing, personal hygiene, and dressing herself.  She can convince you that she is doing these things but it's apparent she isn't or isn't doing it well. I will continue to say....this disease is so cruel!
7 Cups from one drawer!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Life Over the Hill Lately

Wow, where does the time go!  I realize that I have not posted to this blog since 2014!  A lot of life can happen in three years!  So it's time to play catch-up:

My MIL has been living in the a home since September 2011 and I can't believe it has been almost five years.  I am happy to tell you that she is doing great! I realize that seems odd to say but she is able to function as her own person without feeling like someone is telling her what to do.  For her, that is huge---independence is a very important core value for her.

Her social worker will contact us to check in from time to time or to schedule care plans and more times than not to introduce themselves to us because they are new.  (Downside is there is so much turnover in these facilities!)  Every time we ask how their interaction is with the MIL, they always say "we love her....she is so nice.....friendly, etc."!  When we visit, the nurses will pop in and ask if she is going to come have coffee, etc!  It's the funniest thing----you would think she worked there.

When the facility recently sold to a new company, they asked my husband if they could move her to a new wing with more "highly functioning" people and after visiting further agreed it might be okay to try.  She really didn't fit in with the patients on the Alzheimer's floor who had limited functionality and some were confined to their bed.  Shortly after moving her, we went to visit and realized they had moved her by a door (unlocked) and we said that wasn't a good idea.  They told us they had placed a Wandergard on her ankle and would know if she tried to exit the building. Well, they obviously didn't know who they were dealing with.  She would march right up to the nurses desk, ask for scissors, and cut that bracelet off her ankle on about three different occasions.  After they complained to us about it and we promptly reminded them we were not in agreeance with her placement, they moved her!  She kept telling us she didn't know who kept putting that bracelet on her but it wasn't hers so she cut it off!

On another occasion, we found her in the dining hall with three other ladies and went in.  She jumps up and begins to introduce us......"Suzie, this is my son and his wife....."; response from Suzie, "my names not Suzie!".....this goes on through three introductions.  Her response, she grins, chuckles, and walks off.

It's hard to watch her when she seems so "normal" and you just want to move her back home until you are reminded how cruel the disease is.  This Christmas was another one of those occasions when you are reminded that she is not how she used to be.

My husband went to pick her up so she could spend the day with us while I continued to get lunch ready.  We learned over the years that its easier for us to open presents with her by herself because she gets so confused by a holiday that she loved so much.  I could tell this year was going to be a little different.  Before everyone arrived for Christmas lunch my husband returned with his mom and I could tell the drive over must have been a little tricky.  She came in the kitchen asking if she could help and I responded with the usual, "no we are good...just have a seat", etc.  She walked into the living room, saw the tree, and came rushing into the kitchen in a panic----"I can't believe I walked out of my house and left your presents under the tree....I guess I'll have to mail them"; next version after going back into the living room, "I guess I walked out without ya'lls presents and left them on my bed....I can't believe I did that".  This went on for about six to ten different versions of how she forget to bring presents.  It was the saddest thing.  Nothing we could say could get her mind off of it.

But the saddest thing she said to me was her response to a question.  My husband had told me when they came in that she was way off today but couldn't really explain why he said that.  I asked her how she had been doing and if she had heard from anyone (meaning Christmas card in the mail, etc.) and she said, "well I guess this is going to be the first Christmas Mother & Daddy are going to be by themselves" and of course I just nodded and went on.  Her parents have both been deceased for many years.

She had lunch with us but immediately began to get antsy.  She started walking upstairs and when asked where she was going she said to her room.  When my husband took her back to the home she went through the whole, who lives here? where are we going?  I don't live here, etc. She doesn't know where her room is, etc.  Why does this disease do this to someone?  It just doesn't seem fair.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Where have you been?

Oh my, today is November 11th of 2014!  It's been 2 years and 234 days since I last entered a post to this blog! Wow!  I didn't realize it had been that long!  I won't try to use this post to bore you with all the details but here is a laundry list of significant events that might explain where I have been:

Summer 2011:  The neurologist that diagnosed my MIL told us that it was probably time to consider different living options for my MIL.  It became apparent that she needed more care and supervision than we could give her in our home so the time had come to make that difficult decision......

September 2011:  We moved my MIL to a home with a specific floor for Alzheimer's patients.  It wasn't our first choice but the upside was she had her own living arrangement with only 16 other women residents; there is a common living area, kitchen, and outside sitting area.

January 2012:  We got the news we were going to be grandparents!!  Woohoo!
April 2012:  Our oldest daughter & her husband moved back to Texas from Pittsburgh, PA!

October 2012:  Our first granddaughter was born!

September 2013:  My 96 year old grandmother passed away---she influenced our family in such a profound way!  I was truly blessed to enjoy her fully for 40 plus years of my life!

October 2013:  My husband's biological father died from a long battle with cancer.  My husband was able to reconnect with him, a step-mom, & two siblings before he passed---this too was such a blessing.  He got to hear firsthand from so many people at his father's funeral how much he loved him and how much he talked about him!  Wow, it was very overwhelming but again another blessing from God! 

May 2014: Our youngest daughter graduated from college!

August 2014:  Our youngest daughter got her first teaching job!

As I contemplate this laundry list, I realize there been several significant events in our life over the last two years.  The cycle of life is good! 

I'm back.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Postcards from the Past

Yesterday, my MIL got mail from an old high school friend.  She stood in the kitchen and read it.  It was like watching a school girl get a love note from her boyfriend.  It was from a high school sweetheart who sent her a picture of them at prom.  I'll have to admit it was kind of random since this person is married and not someone she talks to on a regular basis even before she got Alzheimer's.  (that is that we know of....!)  Anyway, she went in and out of the kitchen carrying that card/picture saying she just couldn't believe he sent that saying....."oh, I should have married him"....."he was very handsome"......"I'm not calling him (he gave her two numbers for her to contact him)"......"he's married"......"he was such a nice boy from such a nice family".....and it went on and on like this for quite sometime that evening.  She held onto that note like it was her most treasured possession!

It dawned on me that she would get more enjoyment from this piece of mail than out of all the contact she has had with family & friends in the last 4 or 5 years.  Because she could look at the picture and remember that happy time and place from her past!

Life is Good!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus

Independence has been a big issue with my MIL since she came to live with us.  The doctor told her she could not drive several years ago and then she was told she could not live alone.  Being a woman who was used to coming and going as she pleased when she pleased hasn't always sat well with her now that she has been "immobilized".

The opportunity to "ride the bus" to the Senior Citizen Center every day has allowed her to feel as if she is in control of her coming and going!  This week while I was off for Spring Break I had another look at the bus ride.  Now, mind you they used to pull up out front and honk and she would come a runnin'.  But now she sits in the kitchen watching for them out the window, they pull up in the driveway, and she runs out.  Everybody on the bus greets her (I can only imagine what they are saying!) and they roll off!

Life is good!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Going Green

Just the other day we got our electric bill and were so excited to see that it had gone way down in price and overall usage!  Now that our girls are not at home I am amazed at how much water and electricity they were using!  Reliant Energy just installed the smart meters in our neighborhood so we are getting into "reading the meter" and studying the "KWH usage".

Now, I have not always been a "go green kind of gal" but my husband and I are starting to get on that band wagon.  I call it getting old more than I call it going green.  I remember being somewhat offended when my paternal grandmother, God love her, would recycle things like tin foil and the vegetable bags you got at the grocery store.  My maternal grandmother, who is 94 years of young, had a drawer designated to saving plastic butter dishes, twist ties, plastic bread bags, paper bags, and jars!  Oh, my gosh, she saved jars! I remember thinking, I don't think you have to save all of those----because how could you ever use them all!  Instead she would fill them with leftovers after our Sunday dinners at her house and send them with us to take home.

My MIL, however, was definitely not from the generation of recycle.  I don't know if she was ever frugal, thrifty, or saved anything! When she lived by herself she had a TV in every room, left lights on in every room, and kept the A/C on about 60.  When you stayed with her you froze!

Okay, so let me return for a minute back to our Reliant electric bill.  As we were analyzing usage and trying to figure out how to set the smart meter, my husband looked at the daily usage.  Guess when our peak usage was?  It was from 1pm (my MIL gets home at 1 from the Senior Center) to 5pm (we get off work at 5).  Not from 5-10pm when we are home but when my MIL is home alone!  Cracked me up!  How can one little 74 year old use the bulk of electricity in four hours a day?  She just has one lamp, a closet light, a room light, a TV she doesn't watch, our TV downstairs, and several lights in between........!

Maybe we need to teach her about "going green"!  It is what it is...... but Life is good.....over the hill!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sunrise or Sunset

You know I have always been told that Alzheimer's patients have difficulty with short term memory but not their long term memory.  We have seen that in my MIL----she can recall details from her past to some degree but can not remember what she ate 20 minutes ago.

Yesterday my husband turned 50!  A landmark birthday!  My MIL did not remember that it was his birthday.  I noticed that she had it written on the calendar we gave her to keep in her room.  But yesterday came and went and she did not acknowledge her son's special day.  We understand and don't say anything to make her feel bad but it's still hard to know that your parent can't remember the day they brought you into the world. 

A calender is filled with twelve months that have thirty or thirty one days in each month but to an Alzheimer's patient there are no months or days just sunrises and sunsets. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease.

But, it is what it is good!