Monday, June 16, 2014

Around and Around and Around She Goes, Where She Stops Know One Knows

Yesterday was one of those days. Normally I'm up before the alarm rings at 5:00 AM, but after a restless night I slept until the alarm went off. For some reason I didn't go out the back door, instead I walked in to kitchen to put on a pot of coffee.

That's when my day really began. As I reached the end of the hall I could see Mom at the front window peeking outside and trying to open the curtain. At that moment I knew it was going to be one of those days.

I asked Mom if she wanted some coffee, which she did, then I asked if she wanted breakfast and again she did. So I made her some coffee, went out and retrieved the paper and made her some breakfast. With Mom's hunger needs satisfied I went out side to enjoy a cup off coffee. After about ten minutes, needing a refill, I came back inside only to discover Mom had eaten about two bites of her breakfast and then quietly crept back to her room. Well OK, it was about 5 hours early for her to get up so it didn't surprise me that she went back to bed. I cleaned her leftovers off the table and put them in the fridge for later. That ended up being a pretty darn good move. For some reason Mom only stayed in bed for about ten minutes and came out hungry and looking for food again. At that point she actually seemed pretty sharp and she stayed up a couple hours reading the paper. It seemed today would be good day. Boy, was I wrong.

I had an appointment in town so one of the girls stayed with mom while I was gone. She went back to bed and got up again a couple times during my outing and was sitting in her rocker by the window when I came in. I hadn't been in the house two minutes and she tried telling me about, something, what I didn't know. I had no Idea what she was trying to say. I heated her up some coffee and after a few minutes of probing her for information I found out she was telling me about an article that I had written in the daily paper. It's been 20 years since I'd done anything like that, but she didn't believe me and kept telling me her thoughts. Finally frustrated, she shuffled off to bed. I didn't know it, but this was just the tip of the iceberg compared to what was coming.

Since Mom had been up about four hours longer than normal, I figured she would take a nap. Oh no, not today. She was only in her room about ten minutes this time. She shuffled over to her rocker and picked up the paper. I asked her if she was hungry and would like something to eat. Wrong question. She looked up from her paper, glared at me and snarled, "it's about super time isn't it"? I told her dinner was about two hours away and this time I asked if she'd like a snack. Wrong question again. She s snapped at me again and informed me sternly that she would wait for supper. Things went pretty smoothly after that, well until dinner was over.

Once dinner was over the real fun began. First it was her Mother had been here and just left. Then it was aunt Laura's house was just around the corner, she had been there, went inside and it was empty. Next it was " where's my car"? Followed by "it's almost winter, it's time to go home". So that's not so bad. Well it ended up as a  four hour circle of the same questions over and over again. At one time as Paula and I were explaining that her mother had passed away 19 years ago, Mom became angry and said " NO, NO, NO, NO, I just talked to her"!

Finally around 10:30 Mom asked us how she had gotten here today. We again explained that she has lived with us for a year now. With that she said, "OK, then I'm going to bed". And it ended as quickly as it started.

It has taken me a few days to write this post, but as a side note, Mom slept 22 hours the next day. It took me almost all day to get her out of bed once for dinner.

Friday, June 13, 2014

And Who Do We Have Here? I Act Like I Know, But I Don't

person in fog
Last night after dinner one of the kids mentioned that she thinks Mom doesn't like them since she never talks at dinner until they are done eating and have left the table.

I know and understand, it seems like Mom really doesn't like anyone in the house but me. In reality I think it's just the opposite. The real problem is Mom's memory, or lack of.

At the dinner table Mom really has no idea who anyone is, other than me, and at times even that is questionable. She looks around each night trying to figure out who these strange people are sitting at the table with her. Then once everyone is done eating she will talk because she's no longer sitting with strangers.

Quite often, but not always, the only reason she knows who I am is because I call her mom. We've had many discussions over the past year that I can't be her son, I am to old, her son is just a young boy that she hasn't seen in ages.

When we moved Mom in with the family, we brought most of her belongings along hoping they would help feel more at home. That ended up being a mistake. It's not so much the furniture, although she fusses and gets possessive over it, it's the photos, family photos to be more specific. She looks at those old photos and Alzheimer's throws up the fog and tricks her into thinking they are her current reality.

I was hoping to get more interaction with this blog. If you are a care-giver or had similar experiences with a family member please feel free to comment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Like Sand Through An Hour Glass, Wait, What Time Is It?

Wrist watch
I've been wondering for a few days now, but yesterday it became clear, Mom can no longer tell time.

During breakfast Mom asked me what time it was. I told her it was 10:20. Mom replied, " oh I thought it was ten to four". "I thought I had slept all day". Then she gave a quick laugh and started eating.

Then last night at dinner she looked at her watch and again asked what time it was. Paula told her the time and Mom gave Paula a look like she was a blooming idiot and asked again.

Needless to say, by the time Mom was done asking what time it was, setting her watch and winding her self winder, everyone else was done eating.

It's hard to see her mind going like this. Being a care giver for a parent is rewarding, but it's a lot tougher than I ever imagined.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Oh Where Oh Where Has my Underdog Gone, Oh Where Oh Where Can. . .

What does that title tie into today's post? It doesn't. But it was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid and it just came to mind.

It's been a long day, for many reasons, but this story started last night. . .

At the table for dinner last night it was just Paula, Mom and me. We were having grilled chicken and Mom was cutting off the grill marks because she won't eat burnt food -- Paula made the mistake on day of giving her toast one day a while back that was a bit to dark, she was tongue lashed by Mom for that.

OK, back to the story. Mom looked up and told us that she had seen her Mom earlier and that she had gotten on a bus and waved goodbye to her. Mom nearly had a tear in her eye as she told us that. I asked if she knew where grandma was going on the bus, she said she didn't, but she thought she'd never see her mom again.

Now I'm pretty sure these are the memories from her childhood, probably after grandma had come to Laura's to visit from her live-in house keeper job. But then after today I really have to wonder if that's what is really happening.

So today, by 10:30 Mom wasn't up yet so I went in to wake her up. She was having a great deal of back pain and didn't want to get out of bed. I'm sure this was just the antics of a child not wanting to get out of bed, but instead of forcing the issue, I gave her a couple pain killers, some water, a bowl of fruit and left her be.

Around 3:00 I went in and actually rousted her out of bed. Wouldn't you know it, her back was fine then. I cooked her some breakfast, but had to keep reminding her to eat instead of reading the paper. It took her well over an hour, well really almost two hours to finish eating.

It sounds crazy but the day after Mom is supposed to met her mother she has a bad day. Is she dreaming about her mother or is grandma suggesting that mom come join her? I don't know and I'm sure that I never will, but the story doesn't stop here.

I've been busy, broken sprinklers, refrigerator quit working and much more. There are two more days of this continuing saga of Mom and her mother, but I'll stop here and start a new post once things are caught up.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

School's Out For The Summer or When Will Things Be Back To Normal?

Kel was down for the weekend, Madi graduated from high school Friday. Since Kel was here Mom was a bit off all day yesterday.

At dinner time everyone was gone but Mom and I, she saw all the flowers around the house and made some comments about how pretty they were. I explained again that Madi had graduated and they were gifts. Mom actually surprised me with a clear moment and asked if she had given Madi a gift. I told her she hadn't and she said that she should. I told her I'd remind her to do it.

After that moment of clarity, the next words out of her mouth were some of the most surprising yet. Mom said, "I can't wait until things are back to normal". Normal? Well I didn't understand normal so I asked what she meant. Her reply was, "I wish school would start, I'm ready to go back to school". That reply just about floored me.

After thinking about it for a few seconds and thinking about how often she talked about aunt Laura, every day still, at that moment in time, I believe she was back living with Laura, recovering from scarlet fever and wanting to go back to school.

Well schools not out for the summer but I reassured her that it will soon start again. That seemed to satisfy her so she sat down for dinner and never mentioned school again.

It amazes me just what Alzheimer's can do to a person. It's truly sad how it destroys a person a bit more every day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Around The Corner Again, Or On The Phone

So things with Mom visiting with and seeing dead relatives has been pretty low key the past week; that is until today and she hit us with both barrels.

wall phone
First, while eating lunch today Mom looked up from her plate and with a great deal of excitement said, "I meant to tell you, I talked to mother on the phone today, we are meeting at the Addy Grange Hall". I've been trying not to burst her bubble lately and just agree with her but today I couldn't control the urge to tell her that her mother passed away nearly twenty years ago. It saddened her a bit to hear that, but she finally thought it through and decided she must have dreamt it and laughed it off.

Mom unloaded the second barrel on us at dinner when she again looked up from her plate and asked, " would you like some extra income"? "I walked over to aunt Laura's house and it just sitting there empty, you should rent it out." This walking to Laura's is getting to be a bit concerning so we explained again that it was nearly ten miles away and she couldn't have walked there. This time she actually go a bit mad and replied "no, I was just there, it's just right over there, just around the corner," while pointing over her shoulder. We tried using a different tactic this time giving her street numbers so she could understand the house is about 150 blocks away. I still don't think she believed us because she gave us each a scowl and then continued on giving us another verbal tour of the house.

We're starting to get a bit concerned about this "around the corner" notion she has. What concerns us is that if she thinks the house really is just around the corner is she going to wake up from a dream some night and decide to wander over there. Plus, on top of that, what will she do when it's not there? Keep walking until she finds it? Which she never would.

Something else that's crossed my mind a few time since this "I see dead people" thing started is, is she dreaming these conversations or is she actually talking to them as preparation to pass over herself? This really became interesting yesterday when Paula told me she had been thinking same thing. I'm guessing they are just childhood memories she is replaying since she never mentions talking to or seeing Dad.

Well you can make the call yourself on this one. If you have any thoughts leave me a reply. I'd like to know what others think...