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Posts Tagged ‘#caregiver’

I find myself in the same place every time I write a blog post. With too much time elapsed and too much to say. So much has happened and there’s too many words to squeeze into one blog post. There’s also no time to do multiple posts. So what do I do? Just dive right in without a care for length or coherence. Grab a life preserver so you don’t drowned.

Since I last wrote, my 10 year old Toshiba laptop finally died. It was about a month ago and it wasn’t even that upsetting. I never back anything up. Crazy, right?! A lot of stuff on our phones goes automatically to The Cloud for preservation. My laptop would have to manually be backed up and I’ve never gotten into the habit of it. I’m sure I’ve lost a lot of things that I probably don’t know I had or didn’t know I would ever need. The first few times I lost everything on a computer, I was devastated. I thought my life would never be the same. I was turned off computers to the extreme and didn’t feel they could be trusted. Now it’s happened so many times, it’s like the basement flooding. It sucks but you just deal with it and half expect it to happen.

Today is the first day I’m using an HP laptop that my husband got over 2 years ago. It had the Windows on it that everyone hates. My husband was trying to lure me away from my old laptop before it went. As anyone who knows me knows, I love what I have and hate change. So I wouldn’t even think of using this one until I had no other to use. It takes me forever to get used to new things and I’ve been dreading actually pulling this out to use. Hate is a strong word but I kind of hate it. The keyboard placement is all wrong so my hands don’t sit right when I type. I’m used to typing very fast and not looking to see where my  hands are. Now I’m making so many mistakes and concentrating on typing instead of what I want to say. But instead of complaining,I’m going to be thankful for having a computer to write a blog post on. I’ve been missing my blog so much. Just bear with me if the font is huge or the paragraphs are off. This is going to be a necessity to learn since I have to figure out how to do Etsy on it, too.

The end of April we took Mom to the audiologist for her new ear mold which didn’t help a bit. It fits better but she doesn’t seem to hear any better or comprehend what is said. I’m sure that’s more from the Alzheimers than anything else but I had to try. Same with taking her to our regular doctor on April 28th. He said she looked good and I was doing everything right and just keep doing what I’m doing. He listened to her heart and lungs and looked at her ankles to see if she was retaining fluid (she wasn’t). He said the organs begin to slow down with Alzheimers and they begin to fail 7-9 years after initial diagnosis. Mom was diagnosed not quite 4 years ago so the thought that this could go on another 3-5 years gave me a wake up call. After her doctor’s appt. we went out to eat for the first (and only) time this year. We went to Sweet Baby Ray’s for barbeque and she ate her whole meal and loved it. This is never a problem since she’s always had a hearty appetite. She made such a mess of her hands and face which is typical of her eating anything now.

We went on vacation to Green Bay, WI from May 12-21. Hubby wanted to go early and miss the crowds that go out for the Memorial Day holiday. We had about 4-5 days of unusually cold weather and then the rest was beautiful. Due to having the wheelchair for Mom, we took her with us all 4 times we went gambling that week. We actually had more fun doing it than we have in awhile. A lot of the time we all played one machine together. Mom tends to hit the MAX BET button by accident so we have to watch her like a hawk. The last night we were there, she fell asleep while we were gambling. She talks less all the time and when she does speak, it’s gibberish, not in full sentences. It was much easier to push the wheelchair in the casino so now I’ve figured out it’s the sidewalk and street that make it hard to push, not that I’m weaker than I thought.

Mom has gone down hill just in the 11 days since we got home. She’s pulled down the towel rack in the upstairs bathroom and hubby glued it back on. We had to take the one in the downstairs bathroom down all together since she kept knocking it down. Mom fights me everytime on the toilet. She no longer knows what the bathroom is for! I told that to Greg and he said, “She thinks it’s the room you go in to yell at her.” That is so true. I don’t like to yell but between the hearing loss, the Alzheimers and how easily she’s distracted, there’s no choice. She can fiddle with the drawstring on her pants forever or fold and refold the toilet paper until my patience runs out. When I take Mom to the toilet, she doesn’t pee on it at all anymore. No matter how much I yell, plead or beg, she won’t pee. I even run water but nothing helps. She’ll go on the couch or in bed or in her chair or as she’s walking. It doesn’t matter if I take her earlier or later, it’s the same. So far, she has bowel movements mostly in the toilet. I have to bend her over on the toilet to have her stomach push out whatever’s ready since she won’t. The doctor tried to explain to me how her mind no longer reads her body’s signals and her body may not be sending signals anymore. Anyway, she fights me as I try to bend her over and she pushes on the wall in front of her and I am leaning on her with my hands on the wall behind her pushing with all my might. This stubborn old woman is stronger than me! I’ve tried explaining sweetly why she has to bend over but it does no good. I still need her to bend over so I can wipe her butt, too. This ensues another fight. Lately, I feel like I’ve gone 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather (famous boxer). I am battle worn and don’t see a way out. I don’t think they’d be able to care for her better in a nursing home but I find myself getting so upset I’m afraid I’ll stroke out.

Yesterday I came downstairs from taking a bath to find a big turd on the kitchen rug. At first, I couldn’t tell if it was from a dog or a human??? If that sounds familiar, it’s because in the past it happened in almost the same place and was human. This time  it was from Ivy, our basenji dog. Mom rarely gets up unaided so she will be wherever I leave her until I come to move her. In any case, I took a pic of it to message to Greg but ended up posting it to Instagram instead where it got very few likes. I was surprised to see there’s a hashtag #mylifeisshit. That’s what my life has been reduced to but I guess people don’t have to like it… 🙂

We had a pretty good vacation since our expectations were low. I had done a lot of cooking before we left and so we ate leftovers in the RV all but one night. We got beef lo mein from Noodles in the casino and brought it back to eat. We read some in the RV and I finally finished The Mutiny On The Bounty trilogy from 1932. It was scrumptious! We haven’t gone to any estate sales in our area for over a month. We did hit one while on vacation and also went to our usual treasure hunting haunts in the north woods.

We’ve had so much to do since we got home. Between laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, cooking and yard work, there’s not been a spare moment. On Thurs. May 26th, we went to Sears in search of an 11.5 ft. offset umbrella for the deck. We’d seen it online but wanted to see it in person before purchasing. We had bought one about 10 years ago from Sam’s Club and it was glorious! Made of heavy wood with a stunning green canvas, it lasted intil last year. It’s much too hot to enjoy being outside without the shade it gives. A decade ago we paid $300 and it was worth every penny. The umbrella we ended up getting was $300 also but is just “ok”. It was on sale down from $500 but it seems inferior. It is made of metal and plastic with an almost opaque fabric in a blah tan color. That’s the only color it came in. Since it was the start of the holiday weekend, we knew we had to get it Thurs. or they’d be gone. They showed 2 in stock but had sold one that morning so all they had was the display and they weren’t selling. So we had to buy it and drive to another store to pick it up. They no longer will send it to the store of your choice for pickup. So we went and got that and Greg was able to get it assembled before nightfall. I also got a pair of slippers and Greg got a pair of much needed sandals. I got to thinking how everything we’ve ever boughten at Sears is just ok. Never anything we’re in love with. Just something to get us by until we can find what we really want. That’s pretty sad. Somebody needs to put a fork in  Sears because they’re so done…

Thurs. we also went to Pesche’s to get our plants. We bought 2 cucumbers (different types), 13 tomatoes (4 types), 30 peppers (5 types), zucchini, yellow squash and 4 herbs. Then we had to come home and weed the garden and then get the rototiller out. Meanwhile it was raining off and on all weekend. Not much or long but enough to keep us from spending much time outside. Friday we started the actual planting and finished up on Saturday. This is the latest we’ve ever put in the garden! Everything looks great and has already grown quite a bit. To me, that’s half the fun–seeing the plants soar to the heavens and produce such lovely goodness. The other half is eating them. I also picked my rhubarb and have to do something with that shortly.

What else has gone on lately? Sat. May 7th I dropped my iPhone in the toilet! I wasn’t even using it, just had it in the too short pocket of my shorts. I was pulling my pants up and it fell out and splash. I reacted quickly and grabbed it. It was barely wet and I put it in rice immediately. I left it overnight and then took the case off and cleaned it thoroughly. It’s worked fine ever since. It just goes to show no matter how careful you are, things like that happen to the best of us. And the worst of us! 😉

May 7th we also went to the library book sale in our hometown of Park Ridge, IL. They only have it twice a year and it’s always worth going to. I think about it for weeks ahead of time and look forward to it. It’s funny how that day I forgot all about it until noon! I was at home and I saw a pic of some book on Instagram and the person said they got them at the library book sale and I was like, “Was that today?! Holy smokes!” So we ended up getting a few things even though we have too many books already. Part of my joy lately is that I’ve gotten Greg back into reading. He is enjoying it like he hasn’t since hew as a teen! It’s so relaxing and turns out to be a good stress reliever and way to unwind for both of us.

I’ve rambled long enough to scare everyone away all over the Internet and within a hundred mile radius.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alzheimer’s disease is a lot of things. But mostly it is sad and awful. Sometimes it feels like my soul is being sucked out of me just being around it. The burden of caring for someone with it is one thing. The loss of that entire person’s being is another. Not only am I no longer her daughter, she is no longer my mother. Physically and legally, yes she is. But emotionally and mentally, she is a stranger. Today I asked her again, “Who am I?” She said with utter confidence, “My sister!” I left it like that. I don’t bother correcting her when she thinks that. It wouldn’t do any good. I just accept it and it doesn’t even cause me that much anguish anymore.

I don’t know this woman who refuses to answer me when I ask her something. Who when she does answer uses “I don’t know” as a reply. Many articles about Alzheimer’s disease address the patient’s not knowing those closest to them. That isn’t even the half of it. The fact that my mom doesn’t know me or what I do for her on a daily basis is heartbreaking. But the worst is that I don’t recognize the person in front of me. The spark that was in her eyes, her quirky wit, her generosity, her curious and adventurous spirit are all gone. Vanished into thin air like they were slowly let out of a balloon. I miss the woman who loved to read recipes and sew. I miss the woman who’s eyes lit up when her favorite tv show was on or she got handed a bowl of ice cream. I miss the woman who spent hours weeding the garden and would come in with a bouquet of flowers she’d grown for all of us to enjoy. I miss the woman who would tell me I looked “clean from home” when I got dressed up. I miss the woman who loved petting the dogs more than just about anything else. Now she doesn’t know the names of any of the dogs or whether they are male or female. They love her all the same.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to keep her with me as long as I can. However, when she finally dies, there will be nothing left to mourn. I feel like I’m mourning her a little bit each day. I’m not crying, more like numb at what this horrible disease has reduced her to. Nothing really makes her happy anymore, no matter what lengths I go to. It was the oddest thing that on vacation, she didn’t take a nap once. When she’s home, she usually naps every afternoon and part of the evening. It’s like her body doesn’t even tell her when she’s tired anymore. Or hungry. Or thirsty. I have a bottle of water next to her at all times. She goes days without drinking hardly anything. Then one day she’ll drink 2 bottles in a few minutes.

 It’s funny how things happen in life and they change your entire perspective and outlook. I was Judgey McJudgeypants when I heard of people putting their parent with dementia in a nursing home. How could they not look after their own flesh and blood? Well, I guess if the person doesn’t even realize WHO is caring for them, it really doesn’t matter. Why put yourself through the work, frustration, sacrifice of caring for another person who is virtually a stranger? Because I can. Because it’s the right thing to do FOR ME. Because I wouldn’t want to be turned over to the care of strangers if it happened to me.

On a day to day basis, there is enough involved in getting myself ready to face the day. Between hygiene and grooming, it is no easy feat. And I’m pretty low maintenance. Imagine having to remember to comb someone else’s hair every day, even if she’s not leaving the house. Imagine having to test the temperature of food before giving it to someone because they have no “sense” or ability to tell if food is hot or cold until they’ve burned themselves. Even if I give her hot food and tell her not to eat it right away, she will immediately grab the spoon and shove it in her mouth. Same goes for the need to always be cognizant of if the person you’re caring for is hot or cold and dress them accordingly. That means putting a sweater or cover up on when there’s a chill in the air. The Alzheimer’s patient will not tell you they are cold. They won’t tell you when they need to use the bathroom. They will start squirming or moaning and you have to figure out if it’s time to get them to the bathroom or if they’re in pain.

It has become all consuming. I really don’t like talking or writing about it. I don’t even like living it. The times when I’m able to get away because she is occupied used to be my respite from the stress. Now I spend most of that time talking to my hubby about how bad she’s getting and what might happen next. What scenario I’m dreading or what strange thing she just said.

After we were on vacation for a few days, she said, “Let’s go home”. Well, she says this when we’re at home too. It still can’t help but feel like a kick in the gut. Things have now reached the point that I need to accompany her to the bathroom EVERY time she goes. I can no longer send her in and hope for the best. I need to be there to remind her to change her pad, use toilet paper and wash her hands with soap. I need to be there to turn the light switch on at night. The computer games are becoming too difficult for her. We have it set up so that she no longer has to use the mouse, only push the space bar. Even with that she can run into difficulties. On the ipad, if any message pops up, it screws her all up. Also she’s not careful when she hits buttons and will hit anything.

My mom was somewhat of a perfectionist prior to her descent into the Land of Know Nothings. She used to have to have to have her clothes all ironed and everything “just so”. Now the only thing she is precise about is how her toilet paper is folded. I’m not even kidding. It is the oddest thing. I usually fold it for her and hand it to her and if it’s not completely straight and even, she refolds it! She also takes great pains to do it herself. It makes no sense to me since she’s not careful about where she wipes her hands or puts food.

I cut up half of a tiny apple into itty bitty pieces for her on vacation. Then we left to run errands and came back. When we left she was shoveling the pieces in her mouth as fast as she could. When we came back, I found the plate with the cut up apple pieces (all brown) under the pillow on the couch. I wonder if she took them back out of there mouth. A few were on the floor.

This woman could eat steak “without teeth” ever since her teeth were pulled in 1988 and she hated her dentures. Now she suddenly can’t use a knife and can barely feed herself with a spoon. She claims everything is too tough for her to eat. She can eat everything up until the last bite. Then she leaves it in her mouth chewing on it FOR HOURS unless we have her spit it out. I’ve tried to ask her why she can’t swallow the last bite when she ate the rest. She doesn’t answer. If I ever badger her for an answer and say, “You have to answer,” she mockingly replies, “You have to answer!”

People tell me she’s lucky to have me. My husband says he wishes she knew everything I did for her and appreciated it. So do I but it’s not going to happen. We never did have a talk about the possibility of her getting Alzheimer’s. At first it just seemed like typical loss of memory as happens with aging. Then it got worse and after her diagnosis, it seemed already too late to have a conversation about it. The concept was beyond her grasp already. I don’t know if it would’ve changed anything anyway to talk about it. We used to have conversations about EVERYTHING. I can’t imagine how we never got around to discussing the memory thief and personallity burglar that is Alzheimer’s.

I sometimes wonder if she’s lasted so long because I take such good care of her. None of us know when our expiration date is but we certainly don’t expect to live past it. We do the best we can and hope for the best. Whatever other cliches we have handy, we use those too. My dad’s aunt, who was ancient when I was a kid, used to have a saying she said so much, she wore it out. “That, too, shall pass.” I don’t doubt it for a minute. Mom’s memory may be mush but I still remember the love we had between us. It’s hard to love this stranger but I still deeply love the mother I had.

 

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This time of year is hectic for everyone. Add in trying to catch up from vacation and a bunch of appointments and it makes for an even busier few weeks.  Tues. Dec. 3rd, I took Mom to the ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor to get the wax removed from her ears. The next day I took her back to the same office, at the same time to see the audiologist who works on her hearing aids. They are never there on the same day, hence always 2 days of going. It went remarkably well. I stayed calm and felt in control the whole time. I made sure we were up in time so we wouldn’t be rushed getting ready. Mom didn’t remember ever being at the hospital/doctor’s office before. I’ve been taking her there for at least 10 years. She asked me a bunch of questions in the waiting room about why she was there and if I was coming in with her. I always do. Not surprisingly, she didn’t remember ever seeing the doctor before. The fact that the 2nd day she went, she didn’t remember we’d been there just the day before was sad. She didn’t remember the audiologist either. Unless something happens, she doesn’t have to go back to any doctor for at least 6 months. This morning she asked me if she was going to the doctor today. She doesn’t remember going last week at all.

Yesterday something happened that alarmed me regarding Mom. I was upstairs on the toilet (in disposed) and I heard her walking around downstairs. Usually once I get her on the computer to play games, she sits there until I get her up to go to the bathroom before lunch. Then I heard the front door open. I hollered down, “What are you doing down there?” She said, “I’m looking for the little girl. The little boy.” I yelled back that he was upstairs with me. He sits on my feet while I’m on the toilet because he can never be too far away from me. She couldn’t hear me say he was upstairs but finally shut the door and went back in the sunroom. We let the dogs into the backyard but never loose out the front door. It even confuses me why she was looking out there. She doesn’t like to walk or I’d have to worry about her wandering off. She doesn’t remember the dogs’ names. Yesterday she called Elvis “Charlie.” She doesn’t remember the dogs we used to have before these.

We had pizza on Tues. when Bacci had a 2 for the price of 1 special. She always loved pizza and now she won’t eat the crust. Not just the end crust but ANY of the dough base. She only wants to pick the toppings off with her fork and eat those. I don’t want her giving the crust to the dogs and tried to get her to eat some of the base. She wouldn’t. This is the same woman who used to make me sit at the table long after my food was cold if I didn’t finish my plate. I hated liver and lima beans and those things taste worse when they are stone cold. I was stubborn and would sit there for quite awhile. Eventually, I would give in and at least eat some of the dreaded food. Now to think my mother thinks nothing of “wasting” food or being a picky eater or not finishing her plate. Last night we had the rest of the leftover pizza and I didn’t even try to attempt to get her to eat it. Instead, I made her a can of tomato soup and she was happy as a toddler. I always said I would never be a short order cook and make different things for family members but here I am.

This morning before hubby went to work, we took Elvis to the vet for his distemper shot. He’s due next month for his rabies but we got that today so we don’t have to go back. Tomorrow night after work, hubby has his diabetes class at Jewel. They’ll take his blood to check his A1C. Next Wed. the 18th is the Christmas party at hubby’s work. I’ll have to make some bars or something for him to bring to share. Then later that afternoon, we both have dentist’s appts. It was the only day the dentist had openings. We’ve never gone together before but they’re only cleanings so it shouldn’t take long.

Then after that is CHRISTMAS VACATION!! Hubby’s off for 17 days! 🙂 To say we’re excited is an understatement. I’m not a Christmas person for reasons I’ll have to get into another time. If we stay home, it feels like we didn’t even have a vacation. Unless we do what we don’t normally do and make a Christmas. I still won’t buy, exchange or wrap gifts but I’m willing to put up a tree and decorate. I haven’t done that in YEARS. This means we’ll be going into the attic and pulling down boxes of ornaments and things we haven’t laid eyes on for over a decade. This could be fun but it could be a nightmare. I’ll keep you posted on what we find and what we do. The only way things could change would be if we saw on the news that Tunica was getting a heat wave and expecting temperatures in the 70’s! Then we’d pack up fast as lightening and venture forth.

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Up until this point in my life, everyone I’d known that has died did so while still in full control of their faculties. Whether it was natural causes, heart attack, stroke, suicide, etc., they were able to be recall the majority of their life experiences, up until their demise. I’ve been agonizing about whether I should write the story I’m living. I don’t know if there is anything to gain by sharing this but I feel compelled to do so.

 
The past 15 months has been a new experience for me. Dealing with an aging parent can be hard in itself, seeing their bodies become slower and more health problems surface. Dealing with a parent that has Alzheimer’s or Dementia is a whole other level of difficulty. I hadn’t really given it much thought what it would be like to live to a ripe old age and slowly, piece by piece, lose parts of your mind and memories. Of course, I’ve been fully aware that Alzheimer’s existed. Hearing about it on the news or even reading about it is totally different from seeing it on a daily basis.
 
I’m a strong believer in the saying, “Charity begins at home.” I’m not against helping others, friends or even strangers but feel that we should move heaven and earth to help out the family in our household first and foremost. We need to care for our own people and not leave the job to someone else because it is unpleasant, time consuming or emotionally trying.
 
All my life I’d wondered how anyone could put a loved one in a nursing home. My grandma (my dad’s mother) would’ve been 135 years old on 7/7/13. She died at age 93, when I was 9. I figured out then that our tiny house was too small for 2 adults, 4 kids and an aging grandma. She had lived about a block down the street until the time came when she must’ve broken her hip and went into a nursing home. My (now deceased) aunt had gone into “assisted living” after she decided to sell her house. For years I wondered why she couldn’t just live with one of her 2 daughters. One was widowed with 2 older kids and didn’t work. The other was divorced and lived alone. I swore that I would always have my mom with me, no matter what. It’s funny how life has a way of making us look like idiots when we get self-righteous or judgemental. The very thing we judge someone else for could very well happen to us.
 
I don’t have children but I assume caring full time for a 92 year old is similar to caring for a toddler. Except the toddler moves faster. As hard as life is every day, I’m blessed to have her with me. I just wish I had HER with me. The body/ shell is here but the person she was no longer exists. She had a mischievous sense of humor that made everyone say she was a real character. That is all gone. Her personality and everything that made her what she was, is long gone. It left slowly at first, then more rapidly. It’s one thing to forget something like a restaurant you only went to once, 10 years ago. It’s quite another to forget the last 30 years of your life. No one gets to pick which memories are stolen. It would be ideal if a person could actively forget all the painful memories and hurtful events of the past. To lose memories you at one time cherished is just plain cruel.
 
“When are we going home?” is what my mom asks every day. With all the patience I can muster, I say, “We ARE home.” When I ask her where she thinks we are, she says, “Elgin.” That is where we store our RV. So I ask her if she thinks we’re in the RV now and she says “Yes.” When she asks again later, hubby will say, “Tomorrow.” Then she’ll ask again later, “Are we going home tomorrow?” It is maddening and infuriating and beyond sad.
 
All my life, just about my favorite thing in the whole world was talking to my mom. Having long, heart to heart talks. Deep conversations where no subject was ever off limits. She always listened and offered advice or support, as needed. She shared stories of her childhood and life experiences. Now she is practically non-verbal. She doesn’t like to talk or be talked to. She doesn’t answer very often, no matter how many times I ask her something. Or she answers with something non-related. I thought for awhile it was because she didn’t hear what I said but have realized her cognition is lacking. We may be in the same room for hours and not speak. I try to engage her but no comprende.
 
She was always stubborn but now fights me about things like going to the bathroom and not picking her legs. Her body doesn’t signal her when her bladder is full so I try to time it about every 4 hours or so and remind her to go to the bathroom. She never thinks she has to go and doesn’t want to go. I have to always keep in mind when she went last and if she refuses to go before dinner, make her go immediately after dinner. This is so odd for me since all my life she’s been self sufficient. Up until early 2012, she was washing her own clothes! Then one day, she forgot how to run the washing machine. I showed her and helped her load her clothes. Then the next time, she had no interest in doing it herself so I’ve been doing it. I don’t mind. She doesn’t know where her clothes hamper is in her bedroom even though she’s had it for almost 18 years. She has always been extremely independent, wanting to do for herself. That is all over. Now she doesn’t want to do ANYTHING. She also used to have a bossy streak and would tell me what to cook for dinner or what dessert she was hungry for. Now she doesn’t care what she eats.
 
The doctor told me I’m expecting her to behave like she used to and that’s not going to happen. The greatest source of my frustration is trying to keep her from picking her legs. She has skin ulcers from congestive heart failure and they would heal if left alone. At the doctor, I got her some pills for itching. If I give her one, she sleeps ALL DAY but she doesn’t (usually) pick her legs. I’ve told her 100,000 times (no exaggeration) to not pick her legs. I put Neosporin on them and keep them wrapped up (I use paper towels instead of bandages because I’d go broke) and taped on. One was completely healed and we got the other almost completely healed. Then she started on the good, healed leg and now both of them are bandaged. It is more of a habit than anything but she either can’t remember not to pick them or doesn’t care. She does the most damage when sitting on the toilet. I don’t want to have to stand over her while she uses the toilet. In the mornings I wake her and give her her glasses and hearing aids. I do this as soon as I get her out of bed and walked to the toilet. She can’t leave her legs alone while I’m standing there OR after I walk away. I’m about to lose my damn mind. Short of handcuffing her, I don’t see a solution. I’m still afraid she’ll end up losing  her legs if they get too infected.
 
I’d heard about people with Alzheimer’s wandering but she won’t leave the house on her own. She can’t walk far distances so I don’t have that to worry about. A few times lately, she has gotten up super early, gotten dressed and come downstairs on her own. Like at 5:30 am!! I’ve told her to stay in her room until I get her up. She also comes down in her housecoat the day after she gets a bath saying she thought she was going to have a bath today. Then on the day of the bath, when I tell her to put her housecoat on and come down, she’ll get dressed anyway. If I’m not watching her, she’ll head off to bed at 8 pm, not knowing what time it is and thinking it’s later than it is. She can still tell time, as far as I know, and wears her watch every day.
 
She doesn’t remember most of her possessions, jewelry or clothes. I’ve found her going through her jewelry box almost every night (or morning) and looking at everything like it was the first time she saw it. She also does that with every drawer in the house, every pile of papers, etc. She picks everything up and looks at it like it’s new to her. Over and over this happens. Same with certain clothes, she’s shocked to find out they are hers, even though they are hanging in her room and she’s worn them many times.
 
It breaks my heart that she can no longer remember how to sew. She was a prolific seamstress, even doing it professionally after retired. She made her own clothes and mine in the past. Halloween costumes, curtains, dog beds, there isn’t anything she couldn’t make. It was her passion and kept her going. I remember when I was working nights years ago and sleeping in the daytime. It was so hard to sleep when it was light out. The most comforting thing was hearing her sewing on her machine on the other side of the wall while I laid in bed. It lulled me to sleep and anytime I heard her sewing, I knew all was right with the world. All is not right in my world, anymore.
 
My mother was always an incredible housekeeper. I can’t say the same about myself. She always “looked like she’d just stepped out of a band box” (one of her sayings). She wanted everything clean and was strict about everyone washing their hands. I’m vigilant about handwashing too but now she’s let hygiene go by the wayside. She has to be reminded to wash her hands or she won’t do it! EVER. I feel like I’m the gestapo having to police her every waking moment.
 
The 2 things she answers to any questions I may ask, “I don’t know” and “I can’t!” These both burn me up. The funniest thing is that when I was growing up, she INSISTED that those weren’t answers. I was never allowed to say either one. I had to KNOW WHY I did things and keep trying to do things I might think I couldn’t do. She can still feed herself (with a decent appetite) and dress herself so there’s that. We keep her occupied most days with playing casino slot games on the computer. A year ago our computer crapped out and we couldn’t go long without one simply because there is no other way to keep her busy. She doesn’t want to do much else. She’s always done well with the games and for awhile I thought they kept her mind sharp. Now she’s having trouble remembering to click on the LEFT side of the mouse. I’ve told her 10,000 times (no exaggeration) and she still clicks with her right ring finger (not index). She ends up screwing it up and opening all kinds of other applications and programs on top of what she’s supposed to be playing. This is well and good if I am home (in the room). She no longer calls to me for help EVER even though I remind her all the time to just call me if it gets fouled up. Then I was afraid she forgot my name. She always called me Kitty. I asked if she knew who I was and she said “You’re my daughter.” So I told her to call out “Daughter” but she still won’t call out for help. I may have to get her a bell to ring like the drug dealer’s grandpa in “Breaking Bad” (season 2). She would probably forget how to ring it or what it was for. I’ve been lucky to be able to go on a half hour walk with the dogs while she amuses herself playing. Now I’ll come back and the game will be all messed up on the screen. It’s not a big deal in the realm of things but it makes me realize it won’t be long and I won’t be able to leave her at all. Hubby keeps reminding me that it will only get worse. Gee, thanks for that.
 
This is only the tip of the iceberg of what I’m going to be dealing with in the future. Now that I’ve broken the ice with this post about it, I’m expecting to do further updates here. Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed myself and everyone on the Internet, I’ll move on to another topic next time.
 
I still have no plans to ever put her in a nursing home but I’m starting to understand why others in my situation might. It really is all consuming. The emotional wear and tear on your heart and soul is palpable. I’m feverently wishing for a cure for Alzheimer’s/ Dementia. Hopefully, in 20 years the entire baby boomer population won’t have to go through this. I fear for myself. That I’ll end up with it as well and have no one to care for me or about me.

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