Showing posts with label dementia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dementia. Show all posts

Monday, April 16, 2018

Health, Happiness and Approximate Conversation

          Just before we got in the car to come home from church, Jenna had asked me what was wrong.  Evidently, I was wearing an expression of sadness or despair.  Perhaps I should not use quotes as I don't fully remember the conversation, but I'm going to use quotations anyway.  This is only an approximation.

          Jenna (playfully joking):  "Are you sad because you don't have choir practice?"

          Me (sarcastically;  keep in mind that I DO NOT have a great singing voice and would rather eat than practice):  "Oh, yes.  That must be it" 

          Jenna: "What's wrong?"

          At that exact moment in time, I was dreading money spent wastefully - but I don't wish to share my thoughts with her because I know she'll feel bad, and my fourteen-year-old shouldn't be concerned over family finances the way that I am.  Not that what I shared with her was any better - in fact, it was probably worse.

          "Oh, dad and I were watching program this morning about health and happiness in the workplace.  Dad has never been happy about this job that he has currently.  I think that's why he's been sick for so long. 

          "This morning's program interviewed a man who had a job that paid good money but he was not happy.  He quit his job to become a fireman which he loves, but he isn't even making a third of what he did.  But he is happier.  We're always making sacrifices.  Dad does his job to support us.  And now he has a boss who evidently attended the school of Hitler management and feels like he is walking on eggshells all of the time.  I think that's why he's been sick for so long.  He just can't seem to shake it.

          "My health has been so much better in Oregon than it was in Salt Lake.  I have been so much happier overall.  I don't feel as much stress.  But if we have to move again so dad can get his business started, I will be the one who is sick.  Accounting doesn't make me happy.  I don't want to be part of a business.  So either he is going to be sick or I am.

          "And I just learned another great Uncle has passed away this month.  He had dementia when he passed.  Uncle Ned had dementia too.  And my grandma may have had a touch of it after she was admitted to the hospital for the last time.  She had asked dad and me to take her home, but she didn't even know who we were."

          Jenna and I were both crying.  My mom had dementia.  Perhaps it's hereditary.  I'm 15-20 years younger than mom had been when she was diagnosed, but this "goldfish memory" thing seems to be more frequent.  It's highly probable that I'll get dementia also.

          There is only one traffic light downtown and another in Tri-City.  We were at the second light when I realized what the most recent "trigger" took place.  It hadn't anything to do with our current spending or our health. 
          "I hate primary," I said.  I have been in the primary for over 40 years of my life and I'm tired of it.  I'm tired of practicing for the annual program.  I really don't mind teaching, but I am tired of babysitting the children who don't wish to be there or just have no concept of why they're there.

          "I'm going to be stuck in primary forever!  The only way a person can ever get released from a calling is by developing a love for it so much that he/she doesn't want to be released.  That is when they get released.  That is how it works.  I am going to be stuck in primary forever because I don't love it.  On the plus side, I will never be called to be the Relief Society president."

          Jenna laughed.
          "No, I am serious.  I can't be in the primary and Relief Society at the same time." 

          Just before we reached our driveway, I shared another reason to be sad.  I think I'm allergic to chocolate.  And I LOVE chocolate.  I love chocolate more than I hate primary.  How awful and sad to love something that may not love you back.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Goodness, Gracious! Where’s My Head?

One day a month, Roland and I try to set up a double date with one of our boys and his wife.  At least two have suggested that we go see a play.  But we cannot just drop by a playhouse and expect to get tickets.  They have to be reserved.

In March we had gone to the park for picnic with Tony and Rochelle. After we got home I looked into buying theatre tickets for the date this month.  I purchased four tickets to Desert Star’s “Into the Hoods” for yesterday afternoon.  I first approached Jeanie and Biff.

Jeanie declined, as she and Biff would be celebrating their wedding anniversary – ALL DAY and Not With Us.  Okay.  If they had already made plans, no big deal.  I could call Randy and Carrie and if they couldn’t go, there’s my sister Kayla and her husband, Bill or we could go with Tony and Rochelle again – though they are notorious for NOT being on time – and that could put a damper on our plans.

Randy and Carrie had committed to go with us and had been looking forward to it for almost a month.

Meanwhile, it was announced in church (several times) that we had a “golden banquet” coming up for the seniors in the stake.  Theoretically I am too young to attend by myself – but Roland is of age and so I would attend, as I am his partner.  When it was first announced, I thought: “Oh, we’ll be able to attend.  We will be home by then.”

Before we went to Oregon, I had asked a friend if we could do lunch.  I think she shared with me her free days (while I was in Oregon) and I said I would call her when I got back.

You must understand that I have always had a mind for remembering things – from the past.  Future things, I’m not so good with – and never have been to be honest.  I set up phone reminders all the time (as I seldom ever look at the calendar) 

My last phone could remind me only when the phone was turned on. One cool function of my current phone is that the alarm will go off – even if the phone has not been turned on. Sometimes I have forgotten to switch the a.m. and p.m. to where it really needs to be, and have sometimes had my alarm go off when I am sleeping. I still have to have it in earshot to make it work in addition to having the right time.

Though I had returned to Utah physical, it took me a while for my mind to catch up – or perhaps it is in Oregon still. I had totally spaced calling my friend (I referred to her as Kelly in an earlier post) and contacted her after the fact with an apology (I had fallen asleep and had my alarm on pm so got my notice AFTER the fact)

Roland said he thought the banquet was on Friday – or at least I thought that’s what he said.  We arrived to the banquet 22 – 24 hours ahead of everybody else.  Parking lot was empty.  We had already arranged for a sitter and so decided to take advantage of it and went out to dinner anyway (just not at the stake center as we had planned)

Yesterday my alarm went off about two hours before Randy and Carrie arrived.  I couldn’t figure out why I had set it up for so early

I don’t know why I somehow got it into my head that the 2:30 play started at 4:00 and so we did not even leave the house until 2:30.  We took Jenna to Sunny’s house and then went on our way to the theatre and wondered why we had to park out in the outskirts when we had given ourselves plenty of time.

When we got to the theatre we had learned that we had missed an hour of the play – rather than go in late, we were told that we could return on Wednesday if we would rather.  I liked that option.  I think so did they.  I think they had given our table away and apologized.  It wasn’t their fault.  They didn’t have to accommodate us.  I’m the one who had made the mistake.

We couldn’t return for Jenna.  She had been looking forward to her play-date with Sunny even more than the rest of us had been looking forward to the play.  Randy suggested that we check out the aquarium and so we spent our double date at the aquarium for two hours – until they closed.  


By then my mind had figured out why my alarm had gone off so early and remembered the first time I heard the announcement for the “golden banquet” and remembered thinking that we would have returned from our date by then. 

The aquarium was fun.  Spontaneous.  Crowded.  We didn’t have to have a reservation.  Perhaps that’s where we’ll take Biff and Jeanie – if Jeanie is up to it.


We will return to the theater on Wednesday for a second date with Carrie and Randy.  This time we will be taking Jenna.  It will be easier than to try to find a sitter that late in the night.  Plus I would like her to see it.  She will just have to be exhausted when she returns to school on Thursday.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Grandma Really Didn’t Jump From an Airplane

I am currently taking a family history class through the Church because Roland wants to take the class but can't always be there and so has asked me to come with him in the event that he has to miss a class.
Yesterday we shared memories of our ancestors.  I had known from the beginning that I would need to come up with something.  And I have written down thoughts here and there - but nothing major about anyway.  I finally ended up sharing three stories that mom had shared about herself and a family member's name.  Of course once the class was over, I have been able to come up with some other memories.  Here is one:

     My mom has never had a great sense of direction – at least since I’ve known her.  Sometimes she would forget small things and exaggerate about things like, “having to drive around the world” when it had taken her longer to get to places than anticipated.

     When she first was diagnosed with dementia, her children often wondered if it was still her personality that caused her to do things (or not do things) or if the dementia had taken over.  We soon realized that it was her dementia.

     One time Corey and Mom had gone over to Patrick and Sunnys’s house and were having dinner with the family.  The topic at hand happened to be skydiving.  Ellen and Kimball had experienced jumping out of an airplane in real life – and Candy had been saving her money so that she might go sky diving sometime in the future.  I think they said Sunny had wanted to go, also.

     They said mom all the sudden joined in the conversation.  “You know I’ve been skydiving, too.” And then proceeded to go into detail about her experience.

     Now, you must understand, my mom was fearful of heights.  She didn’t even like to ride the sky ride (similar to a ski lift) at Lagoon (an amusement park in Farmington, Utah) because her legs were dangling.  There is no way in real life she would have ever jumped out of an airplane.

     But eventually the account she related came with such superior detail that even Corey had questioned it as he looked at the others and said, “Did she?” as each of the others shrugged.

     Throughout the rest of her life she continued to tell her account of how she had “jumped out of a plane”. 

     Four months after we put her into assisted living, she met another resident of the facility.  His name was Harold Martin and he had flown in small-uncovered airplane for real.  He was fascinated by mom’s story and wish that he too had had the opportunity of skydiving.

     He must have noticed that mom’s story varied a bit each time she told him.  For what started out as a private jet with an instructor ended up a commercial airline that was going down, and the crew had insisted that each of the passengers jump out in order to be spared.

     If mom had lived any longer, I think her story would have changed to being pushed rather than jumping of her own free will.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Memories and Stages of Time

 In June 2009 we celebrated my mom's 70th birthday.  Sunny had made arrangements to invite friends and family members to a "surprise" birthday party for my mom. I don't recall how many came, but there was a lot.  Many from the ward, a few from work, and family members - Bill and Kayla had taken several pictures.  I would guess there were 50 - 70 people in all.

Corey gave a tribute and several sat in folded chairs that Sunny must have borrowed from the Church.  Mom was definitely surprised and she looked so happy.  She had already been diagnosed with dementia, but it was just the early stages.  She was well aware of what was going on.  And she knew everybody there.

Last November - before we put mom into assisted living - she was overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of people at our Thanksgiving dinner - all 18 of us.  So I thought she'd really freak when we took her to the ward Christmas dinner one month later because there were over 200 at that one.  But she smiled and pleasantly greeted everyone.  She was happy.  She was a little lost in her mind.  And the following month we put her into assisted living where she spent the next four months trying to escape. 

She was definitely happy last night. Sunny and her family had dropped by the assisted living to bring mom to the annual "Christmas in July" (which came late this year) and she was happy.  Happy to see relatives she hadn't seen "forever" or "it's been a long time" - Sunny told me that she said it had been years since she had seen me - and Sunny knows for a fact that I was there just the day prior.

Garrett received a new hair cut - causing him appear to be a tad bit older.  Mom kept commentting on what a cute little boy he is.  She also kept on asking who he was and who he belonged to. 

"That's your grandson.  That's Kayla's little boy."  

She remembers Anna.  But she doesn't often remember who Gary is.  Her dementia had taken over when he was born.  She was still living at home and had planned to walk to the hospital to see him and Kayla.  Walking to the hospital from my mom's house is possible, but not a casual walk.  It's a good two miles at least.  I tried to remind her of that.

"The hospital is not that far from my house and I can walk there if I want to!"

She was in her independent stage. A stage in which she believed her grown up children were treating her like a child.  A stage when she would wander off and actually walk that distance unintentionally.  A stage that kept all of us on our toes trying hard to watch her but allow her to believe that she still had her independance.

Sunny's last experience with taking her out of assisted living was an unpleasant one.  She said my mom was so distorted and unfamiliar with her surroundings and didn't know how she'd gotten to Sunny's house or why and wanted to go "home'  - referring to the assisted living.  She has accepted it as home.  That's where she lives and has for about 8 years (in her mind; seems like every month for the rest of us has been a year for her)

She excitedly told my aunt Fern about Harold - who when she first felt an attraction towards him had told Corey that Harold was a very old man - old enough to be her father.  She told Aunt Fern that she and Harold are actually very close in age.  She believes he is five years older.  (There is a ten year difference in actuality) 

It was so wonderful to see mom genuinely happy - even if she doesn't remember that Garrett is her grandson - not to mention several relatives who we actually don't see except maybe twice a year - if that.  She had a great time.  I don't know how much of it will stay with her.  I wonder what she will tell Corey about last night's events.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Look at Change

            Mom embellished on her “sky-diving” story – a bit with the realization that jumping out of an airplane is something she would never do.  In this version it was from a commercial airline with mechanical problems.  Mom said she didn’t want to, but it was the crew that had forced all of the passengers to jump.

          Harold told his story about going up in a stunt plane that did loop-to-loops.  They had fastened video cameras to each wing and had one in the cockpit.  This filmed every move that was made and then the three films were spliced together.  Harold said he had it on video tape.  But that it does tend to make most people sick when they watch it because it’s like being there.

            Corey had explained to the family that there are seven stages of dementia and that mom is in stage five.  I’m guessing Madge must only be in one or two.  Maybe it was her idea to check herself in so that she would get used to the place – so her children wouldn’t have to go through what we have gone through – to the same degree.  I don’t know.  I’d still like to have a visit with Madge and ask her questions that are actually none of my business.

            Nellie is a brand new residence.  I’m thinking she is in stage 6 as she seems further gone than mom but not as far gone as Lydia or Georgette.  Harold may just be in stage 4 and maybe starting stage 5 but I don’t know.  I’m really not as familiar with dementia as perhaps I should be.

            Corey has always been a walking encyclopedia.  I don’t know that he has an actual photographic memory, but I think it’s close.  He’s really well read.  He constantly researches matters at hand.  I think his brain holds more information than the average human being.

            The other day I joined my mom and my brother, Patrick, his wife, Sunny and their son-in-law, Nate for a pioneer barbeque.  We crowded around an outside table with mom and Harold.  I ended up giving him my plate and went back for another one as I thought it would be easier.

            Food was good.  Company was good.  The plate I had made for myself was really too large for Harold. It’s a wonder he ate as much as he did.

            After lunch had ended, we said our good-byes to Nate, Patrick and Sunny.  I told mom I would go back to her room to visit with her some more, but first I had to run out to the car for something.

           Upon my return, Nellie clung onto me.  “Are you almost ready to go?” she asked.  She was asking as though she was expecting to go with me.

           “Well, I came here to see my mom.”  I told her, wondering where her family might be and if I actually resembled someone she knows. 

          I made my way back to the court yard with Nellie only inches behind me. 

           “How are you doing Nellie” I heard someone say. 

           I hadn’t actually known what her name was until then.  I introduced her to mom and Harold and asked if they were all acquainted.  None were and Harold and mom didn’t seem interested in the least.  Actually, neither did Nellie.  She was anxious to be leaving – I don’t think she even cared who with. But then she would also stop at each chair and sit down as her back was hurting her.

Her personality screamed volumes that she was a resident there.  I hadn’t remembered seeing her before I didn’t think.  I hadn’t.  As it turned out she had just moved in the day before. My mom all over again.  Confused at being there and trying to escape.

I think Nellie is in worse shape than my mom.  But Harold seems a little more with it in the mind. Maybe not.  I think mom and Harold’s stories were both a little out there when I was visiting the time before.

It’s interesting to look at Madge and think, “My mom was there at one time.” And then to look disheartened upon Lydia and Georgette and think, “and that is where she will be someday”

Her rapid movement from stage to stage doesn’t seem as rapid since she’s been at an assisted living program and is monitored from day to day and has a better schedule there than the four of us were trying to provide for her at home.

Dementia stages are a chiasmus to our birth to death.  We start out totally dependent.  Someone else has to feed us and change our clothes and bathe us and clean up after us. 

We learn to walk and talk and learn and collect things.  We make discoveries.  But still we need guidance to keep us safe – someone to make certain that eat, reminding us to put on our coats and shoes, and stop us from climbing or wandering near something that could be potentially dangerous to our health.

Eventually we grow into teenagers who think they know it all and don’t wish to be told what to do.  We would like our independence and treat guidance like interference.  We still need someone to teach us how to drive, save money, make wise choices, etc.

The older we grow, the wiser our parents become – until we are the caregivers due to dementia.  Their wise words are only memories and may somehow be twisted in their heads.  Eventually they go through stages.  They rebel.  They hoard.  Sometimes they wander into danger.

Eventually they forget how to walk and talk.  They forget.  They become like newborns and are dependent on someone else to feed them, clothe them, bathe them and make sure they are kept safe.

Full Circle

Friday, June 7, 2013

It’s Okay if You Want to Celebrate her Birthday Twice This Month

          I’m not really sure why I was the privileged one put on the mailing list for Alpine Ridge.  Perhaps I had made the request – but it would have been over four months ago.

          I received a letter last month informing me that I would have the opportunity to meet with a director and nurse if I had any questions concerning mom.  I assumed that my three sibs would be getting the same letter.  They never did.

          And just the other day, I received a calendar schedule for this month – first one that has come in the mail since January when we took mom there to live.  Really?  I remember asking about them back in March – but I never received a hard copy of one.  I did find one on the web and have looked at it and will still refer to it as I sometimes misplace my hard copy – but I am still puzzled at why I would receive these things and not my sibs. Surely they have that information for my brothers.

          I may have given my address to the director back in December – before we had even moved mom in.  Though I don’t remember having provided them with it.  But still.  That was six months ago!

          Anyway, the calendar has my mom’s birthday marked on the calendar for yesterday – but really it isn’t until the end of this month. I mentioned it to the activities director – just in case there was a mix up on her paper work.  Right now I don’t guess it really matters much when her birthday is celebrated or if celebrated at all. 

          Last month mom told me that she decided she was 62.

          “Oh, you decided that?”

          “Yes.  That is how old I am”

          Great.  That means she gave birth to me when I was only eleven.

          Yesterday she informed me that she is 174.  That is the same age at Harold.

Friday, May 17, 2013

thoughts concerning mom and Tony

Yesterday I took mom to the hairdresser.
She said it was nice to see her hairdresser again as she hadn’t seen her for a long time . . . which she hadn’t.
As I drove her back to where she lives, she kept on asking who it was that had fixed her hair.
At Alpine Ridge she was greeted like a celebrity.  Everybody LOVED her hair.
She had to check the mirror again as she couldn’t remember.
“Who fixed my hair?” she asked again.

There was a noise coming from the next room.
The noise reminded me of a single bowling lane. 
Mom said she didn’t think that’s what it was.
Well, I knew that! That’s just what the sound reminded me of.
Mom tells me about the woman in the room next to hers.
Apparently they were the first two to live there.  No, not live.  They worked.  But Helen is getting slower.  She has . . .  well, she has . . .  she’s just slowing down.
“You’re all slowing down,” I thought..
Mom couldn’t remember the word “dementia”

Tony and Rochelle have been visiting.
They have to spread their time between two families.
They don’t always show within the hour that Tony says they will.
Usually not within the first four.
It’s not Tony’s fault.  But it is hard to make plans.
Plans for pictures and photographer.
I had made plans.  But Tony said there was a change.
So I decided that we would try again in February.
Evidently I hurt Tony’s feelings. I didn’t mean to.

They may have been on time at the park
But as they’d been wandering around, we didn’t actually see them until later.
But it wasn’t four hours later. 
But still – I can’t make plans for everybody.
I can only remind them.
I think Sunny was disappointed.  But I can’t count on Tony and Rochelle showing up on time.
And we’ve already had one family picture without Randy. 
Tony allowed himself to feel offended.  He’s trying to blame me for my comment.
And maybe I was out of line – but I also know he is hurting because there is truth in my comment.

We’ll do family pictures on Memorial Day – when Tony and Rochelle are back in Texas
But Corey and Joh will be here.  And so will my uncle.  My mother’s baby brother.  He is coming to see her.  That will be nice.  Tony and Rochelle may never meet him.  Well, not in this earth life anyway.

Corey seems more interested in family history now than he has ever been.
He particularly would like to have more information on my dad’s maternal side. 
I told him to ask our former neighbor.  Funny how George Bird would know more about our family than we do.  But his dad used to hang out with our great uncle.

I may be watching Ester this morning.  Or maybe not.  Tony may not want to leave her if he is upset.  I also volunteered to watch Anna and Garrett tonight.  If I have them all at the same time, perhaps I can get pictures of the four that I couldn’t get together in the park.  They won’t be professional like Bill’s would be.  It’s a little overcast thus far.  I may have to take pics indoors.  If I have them.  I haven’t even taken Jenna to school yet.  It’s a short day.  I forgot to mention that to Tony and Rochelle.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dilemma: Where do I start?

Today’s visit has been quite the interesting and somewhat traumatizing.  No easy way to explain it.  I have made mention of my great Aunt Gertrude in a couple of my posts – but I don’t know that I went into detail about the “great” part.

Aunt Trudy is the youngest of four children.  Three brothers: Harold, Earl and Ted.  My paternal grandfather is Earl.  He fathered three children, my dad, my Uncle Ross and my Aunt Alice.  Each child has four children – many of whom are close to Aunt Trudy and may have more knowledge of the intimate details of her life than I.

Harold had one son who in turn had four children.  It is through this line that Aunt Trudy would like to handle her affairs.  But I don’t know.  She was talking to me through medication – sounding so much more confused than mom ever has.

Uncle Ross and family had invited Aunt Trudy and Uncle Ted to an Easter Brunch.  It was during the Easter festivities when Aunt Trudy fell and was taken to the hospital.  Uncle Ross checked her in and she was treated for a hip injury and now needs rehab.  They need an answer now (well, a couple of hours ago is when the therapist said it was crucial to pick out a facility as they would like to move her there tomorrow.)

Aunt Trudy is in no position to make the decision herself as she is on very strong pain killers that seem to be removing more from her mind than her pain.  Mom, of course, has dementia and can’t even make decisions for herself – let alone somebody else.  And so I look through her list of choices and make a few suggestions but as I don’t know the pros or cons or the financial aspect of things or Aunt Trudy’s medical background  I’m certainly not in a position to make that kind of decision.

Man Confused Sad Clip ArtI know Uncle Ross’s phone number – but it escapes me as I start to dial the numbers.  I KNOW his number.  What is it?  I dial his daughter, Michelle, as hers is the only number I have programmed into my phone.  And she calls Uncle Ross and says that he and Uncle Ted will be there to visit at 5:00 today.  But that’s too late for the therapist.  She needs to find a rehab right now to make sure there’s space available.  I am at a loss.

As I’m talking to Michelle over the phone, Aunt Trudy is telling me to be sure to contact Harold’s family -   I can try (try being the operative word) to contact them when I get home.  I have to look them up first and see what options I have – perhaps facebook is not the best way, but dex is not bringing up the second cousin by her husband’s name.  I can’t seem to get a hold of her dad.  He may be a better source as he has had to go through all of this with his own mom.  But he is getting up there in years.  I don’t know if he is in the right frame of mind to relay all of the needed information.  But I don’t know that Uncle Ted is either.  But he probably does have a better handle on her health status than anyone.

Anyway, I just found it awkward, interesting, and terrifying at the same time to be a contact.  I added Ross and Michelle to the list and gave them the name of my second cousin whose number I don’t have. 

The therapist gave me the impression that she may be in rehab permanently and may never return to the house where she’s lived practically all of her life (if not all her life) just like mom.  Only her mind will be there when the drugs have worn off.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could move her and mom in together?  Down the road I mean – when rehab isn’t necessary but assisted living is. 

Poor Aunt Trudy.  I feel so bad. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Complete Turn-Around

Over two weeks ago I created this post about my continuing struggle with mom and her childish behavior – which is still there – but now in a more positive light.

It was just four days ago when I posted about taking mom to the eye doctors.  It was the day that I left a sign in her room which she now reads on a daily basis and applies it to her life.  I am so completely happy with the results – as we all are – or at least all who have visited during the four days.

Mom is more than just content.  She is happy.  Her conversations with each of us have included involvement and the pluses for living at Alpine Ridge and how going “home” would not be a wise thing – after the entire house would be empty – if it still exists.

It is easier for Corey to hide his smile behind the phone than it is for me to prevent the silent giggle in person.  She told Corey that she gets three meals a day and “they’re all free.  They don’t charge us a thing.”


I remember having “free” things when I was a kid and quite surprised about the billing system and credit cards that took that “free” magic away.  Of course mom will never see the bills or would remember that they do indeed exist.  I suppose she actually could make resident of the month now.  What a complete turn around.  What an incredible change in her behavior.  Gosh – wish we would have all thought to try this sooner.  Wish we would have hung the sign up along with the pictures the day she moved in.

She reads the sign to everybody.  She didn’t make it.  She doesn’t know who did.  But there it is and now it’s a part of her.  She is safe and she is at home.  And she seems to have lost any desire she had to even want to escape.

She told me that she doesn’t even go outside anymore.  But she does.  There are scenic tours scheduled to take place at least twice a week.  At least once a month there is a special outing.  This month they went to the planetarium.

“See, there you are by the moon.” I pointed to a picture.

“Oh, yes.  And I pushed that man in his wheel chair.”

Mom always has assignment for pushing somebody.  Mom is fine physically.  She can walk on her own, shower on her own (though she needs a reminder that she needs to take a shower) and can still answer questions on subjects that were learned before high school.  Sometimes she forgets names but sometimes she remembers. 

I am so grateful to see my mom participate and be happy and can finally allow me leave the facility with an understanding that I’ll be back.  And it’s okay.  She’s where she belongs, and she’s accepted that.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Stage Five and Positive Reinforcement

I went out to take mom to the eye doctor.  She was a lot more pleasant than she had been when I took her to the doctor last week.  Instead of sulking and being angry about the circumstance, she was quite overjoyed and quite surprised that I had come – for in her mind West Valley might as well be on the end of the universe.  She thinks I am quite far away from all civilization.  She thinks I must spend all day driving as I am so far away .

Not once did she ask me to take her home but did ask “Where are we going?” and we proceeded to have the same conversation at least ten times before we arrived.

I asked her if she remembered me taking her to the doctor last week.  Of course she didn’t.  I told her that she had been quite mean to me and the doctor.  She apologized and felt just as bad about hurting me as she felt excitement in seeing me this morning.

She was overwhelmed by all the equipment.  She told the doctor (as she had several times during our drives) that her eyes were fine and that she did not need new glasses. 

I covered the smile that formed on my both when she informed the doctor that she reads A LOT – she used to read all the time.  Sometimes she’d have up to three books going at the same time.  Not now.  She will barely read at all. 

And she DOES need glasses.  Her eyes seem to work okay together, but not separately – especially on her right eye.  Her prescription had changed, but I wasn’t going to argue with her about not needing glasses.  We had already been at the doctor’s office too long.  She was anxious to leave.

Could I possibly use the same trick on her that I had used last week when I brought her back to Alpine Ridge?  She actually asked me if that is where I lived.  “No.”

We went inside.  She was greeted by those behind the front desk.  “How was your doctor’s appointment?”

Who were these people and how did they know she had just been to the doctor?

“Do I live here?”  She asked.



“Because  you need consistency.  You need to be safe.  And you have friends here.”

I had hung up a sign for her that let her know that very same thing and that she is home.  Five sentences all written in first person.

She wanted me to sit down and have lunch with her, but I needed to go.  I really wanted to finish hanging pictures in her room.  But I only got four up.  I had a broccoli salad and then I left.  And she was sulking.  But nothing like last week when I had arrived.

Corey and I talked over the phone several times throughout the day.  Corey was talking about the seven stages that one with dementia will go through.  At present she seems to be in the hoarding stage and resorting to a child like mind.  That is stage five.  Probably the funnest stage for the family to go through.

Our final conversation was his report about his latest conversation with mom.  She said that she thought she should stay.  She had lived in the facility before and was back.  She thinks about three years. (It’s been three months – total)

I was so happy to hear that.  We both hope so much that she will go with these feelings and continue to believe she would like to stay and not focus so much on trying to escape.  We will have to more stages to get through.  May God be with us all.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Don’t Foresee Mom as Resident of the Month

          Alice Walker is a sweet lady who likes to sort things.  She sorts buttons and shamrocks and hats and hearts and whatever other craft is offered.  She’ll talk to anyone who will ask her questions.  I don’t know how long she’s been in the assisted living program – or if she was once as resistant as my own mother.  But she seems like a very go-with-the flow person right now.  She was spotlighted last month at the assisted living center where my mom has lived for almost two months. 

          Mom’s personality is very different from Alice’s.  At least right now it is.  Mom seems very anti-social – though I know she’s made friends there – or at least one friend.  Someone she says is her friend. 

          On Wednesday she introduced me to her friend Marilyn – although when I referred to her as Marilyn today, mom said that didn’t sound right.  I don’t know.  

           In her mind mom has two LaTieshas – or at least she did today.  The other one lives quite near to the facility and she could walk to LaTiesha’s house and hopefully LaTiesha will allow her to stay.  She’s not quite certain that she would want to live with me because I live so far away – I might as well live in another state.

          I went out today with the intention of unpacking her belongings (she has filled her laundry basket and at least two tote bags full of clothes and pictures that she would like to take with her) while she was out with the group on their scenic tour and was waiting in the parking lot until the bus pulled out – only the van wasn’t there.  When I saw the activities director, I asked her about it. I was told that the bus driver’s mother recently passed away and I understood that the funeral would be today.

          So I went inside to visit.  I noticed mom walking passed the glass doors – trying to escape, no doubt.  Only she didn’t have her coat on.  She didn’t have any of her bags, just her purse. She didn’t ask me if I had come for her.  She just told me her plans.  Told me that she was going to walk to LaTiesha’s.

          “I am LaTiesha,” I said.
          “No, my other LaTiesha.”

          Oh, two identical houses.  Two identical daughters. Or perhaps we’re not identical at all.  Apparently the other one is a lot nicer.  Apparently the other one isn’t a bully who doesn’t care that mom isn’t happy.  Apparently the other LaTiesha is the only one of mom’s children who isn’t against her.

          We talked about Shirley Temple – just so I could get her in a more pleasant mood.  I think she said they were friends - or had been at one time. The activities director knocked on the door and asked us to join them.  I tried three times to get mom to leave and go out to socialize.  I finally excused myself to say I would go participate.  And then I had a coughing spell.  I ended up leaving.  I hadn’t even said good-bye.  The other LaTiesha wouldn’t have said good-bye either.  She would have extended her hand toward mom and said, “Let’s walk to my house now.”

          I miss my mom.  I hope the person that she’s become will find comfort where she’s at and will be happy and sociable again.  I hope she can find a “happy-go-lucky” kind of a personality like Alice has.  I hope she won’t be as upset with the other LaTiesha as she has been with me.  Though I don’t guess it would really matter as the other LaTiesha exists only in her mind.