Saturday, August 29, 2015

When The Sun Goes Down All Bets Are Off

Something nearly every dementia or Alzheimer's caregiver will be forced to deal with sooner or later is "Sundown Syndrome."

The Caring.com website describes Sundown syndrom: a term that describes the onset of confusion and agitation that generally affects people with dementia or cognitive impairment and usually strikes around sunset.

With that being said let me tell you about the experiences we faced with Mom's and sundown syndrome. However, the key-word is "faced." Eventually as the dementia tightened its grip on Mom the sundown syndrome gradually faded away and it's no longer a factor.

When Mom first moved in two years ago it was tough. She still had enough cognitive function to understand this wasn't her home, but she had slipped far enough that she couldn't understand why couldn't live alone--that's really the sad part about dementia, the person doesn't even know there's a serious problem. 

Most days, during the daylight hours, I could keep Mom involved in conversations centered around the days gone by. We talked for hours about past family members, did research on the family trees and all kinds of things like that, but memories were fading fast. Back then we could even talk about current events, religion or politics.

All that doesn't sound so bad does it? Well let me tell you though when the sun goes down all bets are off. At sundown, Mom would change. She would become angry and demanding nearly to the point of throwing child-like fits, or temper tantrums. On the plus side, she never did become violent. We dealt with this anger for a good six months before it began to subside. 

If you're dealing with this, it should pass. Just remember it's the Alzheimer's causing this, it's not the person's fault. 

Moving on to Mom, she was in a great mood yesterday. She ate three solid meals and was up a bit more than the average amount of time. Overall, she had a pretty good day.

Oh I'm getting out of the house and heading to Cigar Train so I can pick up my Cigar of the Month Club cigars. I'll probably even hang around long enough to smoke one. 

On another note, the post yesterday was written to post on another forum and that's why it didn't contain any daily information. 

Again thanks for reading! Have a great day.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Coping As A Caregiver

You constant readers may not know, but then again you may, that I use this blog as a tool to help me get through the day-to-day stress associated with being a caregiver. Let me explain. 

Being a caregiver so far really hasn't been so bad once you get past the mental decline that Mom faces on a daily basis. On the physical level Mom's health is fantastic and I really think she will follow in her Mother's footsteps of remaining healthy until the very end. Personally the difficult part of caregiving is the hours upon hours of solitude and the stretches, sometimes last for weeks, when I don't or can't leave the house. When I do get away, it's either alone, to complete a task required for the household or do a task for someone else. How much fun can you have when you are alone, without your spouse? Well for me, it's not fun at all.

When I do get the chance to get away even leaving the house creates other self inflicted burdens and another layer of stress. Why?  Well, leaving the house requires another member of the family to give up their time to take my place and do my job. Sure, everyone in the house can help and they do, but every time I leave the house I feel guilt. Those things alone zapp most of the fun from any outing and I've even found myself making excuses why I shouldn't even try.

How do I cope with all of this. Well some days are better than others, but here are some examples that so far have worked well for me.

Blogging is one of the best ways. Blogging gives me a chance to express how I feel, pass along my failures and celebrate my successes. Beyond that, blogging let's me chronical and record how Mom is doing as Alzheimer's tightens its grip upon her mind. By journaling on a daily basis I can then compare how she's doing this week with last week, last month or even last year.

Reading is another great escape that serves me two fold. Being absorbed in a book gives me the opportunity to free my mind from the daily stress, plus it allows me to be in an area of the house where I can easily keep an eye on Mom. Although I'm not a big fan of ebooks they do allow access to vast libraries of free or low-cost reading material.

Don't take all of this the wrong way. With the associated stress and seclusion of brought about by being a caregiver, I don't regret the decision of bringing Mom into this house at all. I know she is getting the best of care and is living a higher quality life than she would being institutionalized.  Here she's not just a name or a patient, she's my Mom and that's what really helps me make it through the day!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Odd Tale, The Philosophy Of A Caregiver

Here's an odd one for you. A couple days ago Paula and I were talking and she suggested that some day we write our own obituaries. At first that struck me as odd, but after a few minutes of deep contemplation it actually sounded like a good idea and here's why. 

As I thought about this topic, I began to wonder if the person whom did write my obituary would hit upon the points that I thought were important. Perhaps they would, but then again maybe not. 

Does anyone but me know how much I loved the sawmill? I don't think so. It was a way of life taken from myself and thousands of others in this state due to bad laws, the use of science fiction instead of science fact and public opinion. Anyone that has flown over our forests at low altitude knows our forests are dying from severe pine beetle and tussock moth infestations. The fires that are claiming lives, property, tax dollars and public land are partially due to some of the laws that were passed over the past thirty years and with the aid of poor forest management of public lands. Anyway that's way off topic, but I did love the sawmill and I did inspire people. There was not one occasion in twenty years of sawmilling and supervision that I asked someone to do something I was unwilling to do myself.  

I've lived a good life, a full life, a rewarding life, not that it's over yet, because it's not. I feel I've been very successful, at times monetarily, at times not so much, if that's how you want to measure life. But money is not the most important aspect of life for me. To me it's who you are and what you do. I've always treated people fairly, with respect and decency; that's success in my opinion. That part is very important to me. I'm sure someone out there would call that a lie, but I'm old-school and you have to earn what you get back.

Another key point is my integrity. I looked at an online job application today and it asked the question, "Describe a time when your integrity was tested and what was the outcome? " I scoffed at the question and thought to myself, "my integrity is impeccable," and in my mind it is. Sure there are times I change my mind on things. but if it's for someone else, I tell them why, and of course I am human, I do forget things, but I try my best to always keep my word. That's important to me. That's why I'm taking care of Mom. Before Dad passed away he asked me to look after her, I told him I would, and I am. I hope this inspires others, because it's not an easy task. It would be easy to give in and put Mom in a nursing home, but that's not what's best for Mom and it's not what I promised Dad.

There's more, lots more, but these few things listed here make me feel very successful and rich beyond my wildest dreams!


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The Sky Is Burning

Due to all the forest fires burning in Washington state smoke has been a real problem for nearly everyone. The past few days the smoke has been lighter around Spokane, but today it seems to be coming back as we had an orange sunrise once again.

Mom had another good three-meal day yesterday, plus she was up several hours once again. Her mood was good and it made her laugh to see the squirrels begging for nuts at the slider--we were out of peanuts and the squirrels were hungry. Thankfully Paula grabbed some peanuts at the store yesterday so they won't be swarming the door, or me again today. 

Remember yesterday's bathroom water disaster that Mom had no part in? Well Paula found more fallout from the event last night. Mom had used two other full rolls of toilet paper to absorb the mess then put them back under the counter. I guess she was hoping they'd dry out to use sometime down the road. Remember, Mom never threw anything away when she lived in her house. 

Oh, before I forget, the "John Carter of Mars" series is finished. They were an inexpensive, enjoyable and fun read. If you liked the movie "John Carter," then I think you'd like the other tales too.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Houston We Have A Problem

Overall yesterday was a good day for Mom, but it wasn't one of my better days. Mom was up several hours throughout the day and she ate three full meals. The daily fun began and my day went south right after Mom finished eating her lunch. 

After finishing her lunch Mom headed into the bathroom. OK, no problem she does that after almost every meal. A few minutes later I was in the kitchen doing a coffee pour-over when unexpectedly Mom walked back into the kitchen. When I turned around she said, "I think there's a problem in the bathroom." Well it wouldn't be the first time she'd flushed a depends or an entire handful of paper towels plugging up and overflowing the toilet. 

As I walk into the bathroom the first thing that catches my eye is an entire roll of toilet paper sitting on the vanity. The roll is swollen to twice its original size with absorbed water and then I see there's about an inch of standing water covering the entire floor. In addition to the water on the floor, the entire vanity is covered with water.

I squished across the floor to check the toilet and it was fine, but there were about six of Mom's combs lying on a towel sitting on top of the toilet tank. Well two plus two did equal four today so it was pretty easy to deduce that Mom had intentionally plugged the sink while washing her combs. Why would she do that?  I have no idea. There's an overflow drain in the sink to prevent it from overflowing but one of Mom's hankies was lying soaking wet next to the sink so I'm pretty sure she'd used that as a second stopper. I asked Mom how she had over filled the sink and she denied she had anything to do with it. LOL yeah right Mom.

As I cleaned up the wet rugs and mopped up the water Mom stood in the door directing me and pointing out every drop of water until I was done. Thanks for the help Mom, I never would have been able to do it without you!

I'm not angry at Mom, it's my fault that I wasn't paying closer attention. It's a perfect example of how closely she needs to be watched now. Someone has to save her from herself, she can't do it anymore.

Moving on to the next reason my day went south. The buyers for Mom's house are trying to get another extension so their inspector can finish his inspection. Why they want this I don't know. When I was up there on Friday they came out and looked at everything they were curious about, saying they were satisfied and we could close.

We really robbed from Peter to pay Paul this month to cover the added expense of four trips to Colville and all the dumping fees. If it doesn't close on September 1st, I'll hire someone to cut the saw logs off the property and raise the price back up since it's cleaned out now. Cleaning out all the crap from the house was a positive but the stress this has created is almost mind-numbing for me. Some days I just don't know how I get by. Sleep is practically non existent again the past few days from all of the stress and the lack of sleep just makes things worse. Ugh, it's a vicious circle.  

On the bright side, yesterday was a huge traffic day for both blogs and today is starting out with another mad rush. On the down side, I finished my last coffee sample and am now out of coffee to review. That makes me sad for a couple of reasons. First, I love good coffee! Second, with Mom's current schedule it's way easier to review coffee than it is cigars. If Mom gets up while I'm reviewing a coffee, I just make another cup to sample. If it's a cigar, the review is blown because I think letting a cigar go out then re-lighting it changes the flavor and it's not a fair review. Another Ugh! LOL

Well, that's all for now. Have a great day and thanks again for reading! BTW, please share these posts and visit my sponsor below. 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Where's The Man That Left My Lunch

Yesterday started off as an odd day. Around 9:00 I was in the kitchen washing dishes when I heard Mom's door open. She came clomping down the hall sounding like she was wearing a pair of  size 30 clown shoes instead of her slippers. Instead of turning into the bathroom, she came into the kitchen with her hair in wild disarray and started digging through a bag of items we were saving for Layla (which Kel forgot to take with her today). When I asked what she was looking for she replied, "I'm looking for the lunch the man left for me."

Holding back a laugh I told her that I'm the only person here and I'd be more than happy to make her breakfast if she were hungry. She said she was starving so I made  her some coffee and started her breakfast without further incident. 

Mom had a pretty good day, she was up for several hours and ate two solid meals with a light dinner and then was off to bed for the night. It's getting pretty hard to guess what she will eat besides eggs. I'm trying to keep her diet varied, but other than breakfast foods it's getting more difficult with each passing day.

I finished the tenth John Carter of Mars book and am now halfway through the last one. I'll be sad when the series is over since it's been a quite enjoyable read. I have a couple hard-copy books to read then I'll be on quest for more material, perhaps "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury. I'm kind of digging these Mars stories right now.

Some of the big Alzheimer's blogs are looking for submissions from caregivers. I've been thinking about writing a couple of posts in the style they like to use as tool to increase traffic on this blog. I'm not really sure if I can write that type of article, but I am going to try.

On another blog a few days back I read a post about how wonderful a caregiver's experience with Home Health Care turned out. I commented on that post with my experiences that weren't quite so positive and how they dealt with Mom and her dementia. Sadly, my reply was never posted.

Before we started down this road of caregiving, Paula and I both read a great deal about the subject. Looking back, everything we read had a positive spin about doing this. Along with that information there was tons of easy to find information about help for caregivers. In a nutshell nearly everything we read made being a caregiver look like it would be a breeze.

Now don't take that the wrong way. Not for one minute do I regret bringing Mom into the house and providing her with better care and a higher quality life than she would receive in a nursing home. Even Though being a caregiver is much more burdensome than I ever imagined, I still know it was the correct decision.

With that being said, that's why I started this blog. No, not to scare other caregiver's, but to give them a real-life look at the highs and lows as a caregiver for a person with dementia and show how the disease rips away not only the mind, but the identity of those affected. Additionally, telling this story really helps me conquer the daily stress that comes with the job. 

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Monday, August 24, 2015

A Long And Winding Road - Is It Friday?

Over the weekend, and oh-boy, it was a long one, we finally finished cleaning the house. What a job it turned into. Over the past fifty years I don't think Mom or Dad threw anything away. The amount of busted-up, worn-out, useless-crap was nearly overwhelming. With lots of help from the kids, we were able to pull it off and it feels good to finally be done. 

Completing this project has been a long and winding road but, after finishing this up, Paula and I have vowed not to do this to our kids. I understand it's human nature, well at least for some of us, to keep things we may use in the future, or may repair some day. No, in all reality, it probably won't get used down the road, nor will broken items get repaired. 

As an example, we have a full storage unit that we've been paying rent on the last seven years. Yes, seven years! Other than my entire Stephen King book collection and a boxes upon boxes of '90-91 baseball cards, how important is the rest of it? Not very or we'd be using it. We've spent $7000+ over the years to keep a bunch of crap that didn't even have that much value new. It's crazy. 

Since I was gone Friday and Saturday I didn't get to see Mom much until yesterday. It was passed along that by Saturday she was getting pretty rude, she can be really good at that, but I was able to spend yesterday with her and I think it helped. Overall she wasn't too bad, but we had to go over the entire "where's my car," ordeal, which she handled it pretty well, plus she even knew I was her son. 

Last night we made her  tomato soup and a fried egg sandwich for dinner. When Paula put the sandwich on the table she told Mom it was a fried egg sandwich. To this Mom said "Is it Friday?" It took three tries for Mom to understand fried egg instead of Friday, but once she realized the error she laughed for several minutes about. It was nice to hear her really laugh. 

Well that's is for now. I pretty much missed three days and need to get some other stuff done. Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What A Wild Ride

Most days this is me!
Mom was in rare form yesterday. She came out on her own around 10:00 yesterday for breakfast. I was outside having a smoke and Amy, the cat, was standing at the door wanting outside. Once I noticed Mom walking toward the screen door I had a pretty good idea what was in store for me. Little did I know that it would last all day!

There is a sign on the door that says "don't let the cats outside," and this has always gone against Mom's philosophy. 

After a ten minute argument about does the cat have food, water and a box. I finally won and got Mom to the table. But, it didn't end there. When she was done with breakfast it started again. When she came out for lunch it was round three. By this time I was ready to throw both her and the cat out the door. lol

Letting the cat out is fine, but the first thing she does is hop on the roof via the hot-tub then straight to Mom's window. When Mom sees the cat outside she tears the screen out so the cat can come inside. It seems like a real no-win-scenario but Amy sleeps with Mom during the day and does provide her with some companionship. 

Other than that things went well yesterday. I got Mom to eat 2 1/2 meals in, but in the process she was up a bit late. For some reason if she's up late, she's up early the next morning. Sure enough that held true today as she was up at 8:00. She looks good today. Her eyes are bright, she didn't argue about the cat and she ate a good breakfast.

Well, so long for now. Have a great day!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Wheels Are Spinning...

But I'm stuck in the mud.


Ugh! I have so much to do today, but for some reason I just can't get going. I did sleep better last night so that's a big plus. But the stress of getting the house finished this weekend is getting to me and now I have to make another trip up on friday to get salvage title for one of my brothers cars he left in the back 40. I should get him to do it, but I can't count on it getting done. Along with all that, there is still the unknown if the house is really sold and will close on the first. Quite often I honestly do wonder if Mom is going to outlive me. 

Speaking of Mom, while she did sleep a great deal yesterday, she did eat like a horse when she was up. Last night at dinner her eyes looked brighter and she seemed a bit more in tune with the world. It makes me happy to see her more aware. 

More often than not, when Mom gets up for breakfast she has a real dazed and confused look about her. Sometimes that glazed-over look passes during the day, sometimes it doesn't.

I did finish the ninth book of the John Carter of Mars series yesterday and started on the tenth. It won't be long now before I'm finished with all eleven.

What's up with the jar you ask? Well even if you didn't ask, here's a quick tip. 

A while back I reviewed the Collar Cold Brew Coffee Starter Kit. The kit came with a twenty ounce ball jar, a lid and a straw. 

I drink quite a bit of green tea so an idea popped into my head. Why not use the jar for sun tea. Well I gave it a try and it worked so well that I moved up to a quart jar. Now I drink a quart of green sun tea almost every day. I know many of you probably already do something like this, but hey, I did figure it out eventually. 

Well my friends thanks again for reading and have a great day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Long And Winding Road

Where do I even begin today? Well let's start with Mom.

Since I didn't want Mom to sleep the entire day away yesterday I woke her for breakfast around 10:30. Well that didn't work quite like I'd planned. She awoke not knowing who she was, where she was, or how she got here. After a short conversation we had things straightened out fairly well, but it still took her over an hour to get out of bed and come out for breakfast. 

It appears that the time is coming when I will need to help her out of bed or she'll just want to stay there all day. 

Along with the other questions, she did ask what's wrong with her. She is well past the days of telling her that Alzheimer's has affected her memory, so I just explained that she's nearly eighty-nine and it's just old age creeping up on her. Even that turned around to bite me because in her mind there's no way she can be eighty-nine years old. Oh, the life of a caregiver! LOL

She was up about three hours for breakfast then slept until we woke her for dinner. By dinner time it appeared some of the fog had lifted and her brain function was bit better . How do I know? Even though I had mowed the back lawn during her afternoon nap the wind had blown a few pine needles into the yard. On her way out for dinner, she peered out the slider at the back yard and then just had to make a comment about how easy it would be for me to go pick them all up. LOL 

Me, how am I doing? I'm tired, I've had less than four hours of sleep the past three or four nights and it's catching up with me. There are several reasons behind this, but most of it's due to this house deal. The buyers requested a week extension on the home inspection, which in turn put things in limbo for another week. We gave them a huge discount on the house to clean it out and repair the bathroom floor, now we are cleaning it out so basicly I just gave money away and that really bothers me. I'm kicking myself for granting this last extension, but then the entire process would start all over again. Ugh! To steal a song title from the Beatles, the past couple of years really have been The Long and Winding Road. 

If you'd like to comment on any of these posts and aren't comfortable posting on the blog or you don't have a g+ account, hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or just drop me an email. The feed back would be greatly appreciated. 

Have a great day!


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Monday, August 17, 2015

The Things I Miss The Most

are often taken for granted until they're gone. 

What I mean is, Mom can no longer carry on a conversation and I think it's sad she lives in that state of mind. The only saving grace is I believe Mom doesn't know how bad her mind is. She does dream but even these dreams skew her vision of reality.  

From these dreams she thinks her mother is still alive and that her aunt Laura lives just down the street. She will argue both of these to the point of exhaustion because the Alzheimer's has taken hold and now has complete control. 

Beyond her dream state there's not much cognitive thought. As an example; when she looks out the front window, there are always cars parked on the street. She can see the cars, but her mind won't register the other houses in the neighborhood so she thinks every car within her view belongs to us. Which quite often leads to "where's my car?"

Yes, it's tough and this is disheartening for me as her son and caregiver. I don't know what to do other than play along whenever I can, while at the same time make her life as comfortable as possible. 

I know Mom's doctor warned me, but it's getting tougher and tougher to find foods she will eat. In the beginning she would eat just about anything, but the last two weeks she has narrowed it down to breakfast or soup and the last two days even the soup has failed. I can keep her nutrition levels up with breakfast foods, she stopped drinking Ensure a year ago, but the lack of variety concerns me. I probably shouldn't worry since she's eating balanced meals, plus the problem could be that every time she gets out of bed she thinks it's morning.

I guess that's enough for now. 

Thanks for reading and have a great day!


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Sunday, August 16, 2015

And What An Adventure It Was

Well we spent most of the yesterday in Colville cleaning out Mom's house. It's tough and I didn't really want to do it. On the bright side, if there is a bright side, we literally hauled off 1 ton of dilapidated crap. On the down side, we only got it about half done and must go back next weekend to finish the job. 

The garage was chocked full of busted up old crap that should have been thrown away twenty or thirty years ago. So was much of the stuff still in the house. Mom never threw away anything, even saving the styrofoam flats that meat comes on from the store for the past twenty years. Why did she do that? Because throwing things away cost money. That's right, she was that cheap.

For years, she would save up the garbage she didn't bury, burn or save, and bring it to my house when she came to visit just throw it in my can. In all reality, it's probably the only reason she would come to visit. 

After Dad passed away, Mom started hanging dating a man that she had known as a kid. At first she was worried that I wouldn't approve but of course it was fine with me. I didn't want her to be lonely the rest of her life. 

They soon started hanging out all the time and spent many fun filled days at the nearest casino. As time went on, Mom pretty well separated herself from her family. Even though I asked and wanted to spend holidays together, she was always to busy with her "new" family. She planned and spent every holiday with her boyfriend's family. I felt that she had just tossed us away. 

It was really no big deal, but after getting rid of lots of her crap yesterday, maybe it was. 

Well I think it's time for a Sunday morning cigar and a pour-over cup of coffee. I was hoping for a couple hours of peace today, but no, Mom was up bright and early at 7:00 for breakfast and it's kind of thrown my day off. 

Have a great day!

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Another Adventure Unfolds

Well we're off to Colville in a bit to clean out the house. For lots of reasons it's something I'd rather not do, but it has to be done.

There is still  no word about the inspection yesterday but I'm not too worried. If this sale falls through we will raise the price--since the house is cleaned out--and go from there.

Yesterday was a pretty good day for Mom, as she was up most of the day plus she ate well and I got her to drink quite a bit of fluid. 

Well sorry to be so short, but there are things to do. Have a great day!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Does She Have A Hollow Leg?

Today is kind of a hit or miss day. But overall it's going pretty well. 

Mom was up around 9:00 and wolfed down a three egg, plus the trimmings, breakfast in near record time. 

Yesterday she was off a touch more than normal. She finished breakfast, headed for the bathroom, then came out thirty minutes later looking for breakfast. She'd already forgotten her first breakfast so of course I made her another. She did get three full meals yesterday so that's a plus. 

It's funny, on a day-to-day basis, Mom eats more than I do. I just don't know where she puts it all and I don't know why she doesn't gain weight. She burns zero calories sleeping and eating. Then there are the bathroom trips, it seems like every time she goes in there the last week it's thirty minutes. What does she do in there for that amount of time? We can hear her opening and closing every drawer several times, but what she does the rest of the time is beyond me. lol

Paula and I spend a great deal of time last night looking at and reading about motion sensors. We found several models that will work, some will even send alerts to my phone, which is exactly what I want. But you know what baffles me? Me, that's what. Why didn't I put one of these up a year ago? It would have given me a great deal more freedom other than being stuck inside or limited to the back deck. During the day it wouldn't be a problem to be working on something and then come in when she goes past the bathroom into the kitchen. Plus, I'm not really worried about her wandering off during the day, it's when I'm sleeping that scares  me and actually costs me sleep. 

The Realtor called today and said we received another low-ball offer on the house last night that we can use as a backup incase the current deal falls apart. At least the house is still being shown. It's Friday, inspection day on the house and my stress level has been over the top, eventhough the Realtor said the inspection was today, he now says it was yesterday. Since no news is good news it's helped the stress a bit, but he is checking to find out what going on. 

I guess that's enough for right now. Have a great day and again, thanks for reading! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Simple Thank You Can Accomplish Amazing Things.

Things are changing again with Mom, it could be the hot weather is back, it could be age and her Alzheimer's, I'm not sure yet. The last few days she's been sleeping a great deal more and is more confused than ever when she is up. On days that are over ninety degrees we are running the air conditioner, but she insists upon opening her window. I close the window every chance I get and explain to her that it's hot out--which always shocks her--but then she opens it again when she goes back to bed. It's just one big loop. 

We have been able to get two solid meals in her each day so I'm not to worried about that, but her fluid intake is down a bit and she wants to argue when I push the issue, but I push anyway. I Guess it's sort of like a payback for her always nagging me as a kid. However, it's for her own good and I'm not being malicious like she was by trying to rule with an iron fist. 

I'm now on book eight of the John Carter of Mars series, I found it the e-version for $.99. That's not as good as the first seven for $.99 but it's still pretty darn good. Reading is still providing me some nice stress relief as needed. 

Something happened yesterday that completely made my day. Paula had just gotten home and I was trying to wind down from yesterday's furious pace when a twitter direct message came in. It was from Jackie at Bonita Smoke Shop. Heck I'll just paste it. 

"Hi Dan…… This is Jackie from Bonita Smoke Shop. I was reading your blog about your mom. Just wanted to say bless you for caring for her. If you would give me your address I'd like to send you the cigars I blended. This is not to get a write up on them... this is just a way to say thank you to a truly caring human being!"

It's hard to express how this made me feel, but it made me feel great that someone I don't even know noticed what I do and said thanks. I told Jackie that I'd probably review the cigars because that's what I do, and she again insisted that I don't. So maybe I will, maybe I won't. LOL

I have to take my hat off to Jackie. What she did was a pure random act of kindness, the type of thing that makes the world a better place. 

Well Mom is up and in the bathroom so I'll say so-long for now. Have a great day! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

No Quarter, But Some Rest

Things are better today. Finally a bit sleep fell my way last night as I was only up once. I feel good! 

Like I mentioned the other day, my daily stress had dropped off to nearly nothing since we thought the house is pretty much sold, keyword, thought. I'm still confident the house will close on the first, but the buyers decided they now want an inspection and that's taking place on Friday. The house is old--the main area started out as a hunting cabin and was probably built around 1935. In the mid 60's dad added a two story addition with four bedrooms. They've looked at it and it's being sold "as-is", which they do know and it does need some work, which they know. But you just never know what's going to happen so the gut-wrenching stress is back until the results are in. 

On a positive note, I finished the 7th book in the John Carter of Mars series last night. Now I'm on the hunt for the final four books at a price I'm willing to pay. 

On the down side, I have several Alzheimer's articles to read, three cigar reviews that need to be written, some coffee's to review and I'm still about 30 committed cigars behind. Perhaps I can find--or make-- the time to fit something in later today. 

Monday, Mom nearly escaped on me, well she wasn't really trying to escape but she put herself in a precarious situation. It's amazing at times just how quietly she can move around the house and how quickly she can do it when she wants to. 

I'd heard Mom get up, come out of her room and head down the hall sounding like a herd of elk as she shuffled along. I'd thought she'd went into the bathroom, but a few seconds later I heard someone moving around on the landing at the front door, then open the door. Since I'd heard Mom stop at the bathroom, or at least thought she had, I didn't pay much attention until after several seconds the door didn't close. With that I got up to see what was going on and found Mom at the bottom of the stairs peering out the door.

I went down to the door and asked Mom what she was doing. She told me that someone was knocking on the door and she was just answering the door. I explained to her that no one had been knocking. Of course this pissed her off because she "had" heard someone knocking. Finally I convinced, and bribed  her with breakfast, that there was no one at the door and we headed back up the stairs. To get back up the stairs, she needed help to keep her balance, it amazes me that she made it down the stairs without  making a sound.

Since Monday we have spent a great deal of time thinking of ways to contain Mom at night ranging from motion sensors to baby gates. Motion sensors sound like a good idea, if I can find one that will send an alert to my phone, but I fear the cats will set them off way more often than Mom will. I guess the first logical choice will be trying to restrict her to her bedroom the hall and the bathroom with a baby gate.

If anyone has any thoughts or ideas on this please leave a comment. Heck leave a comment anyway, just say  hello or what ever. Plus please share these posts. Every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer's. Sooner or later everyone will know someone that knows someone with Alzheimer's and perhaps this blog can help.

Have a great day and thanks again for reading!


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

And How Do You Know That?

Yep. Mom does it daily!
There are so many things to say, so many things to talk about that sometimes I just don't know where to start. I forget a lot of things I want to write about because things happen so fast, I read so much about Dementia and my mind is always in a whirlwind of thought about everything. 

So yesterday I spent a bit of time reading an article on the usnews.com/health website. The main topic covered was caring for family members with Dementia. 

Within the article there were some great statistics on Alzheimer's. The article projects there will be a 40 percent rise in Alzheimer's cases bringing the total to 7.1 million people afflicted by 2025. That's a staggering increase over the next ten years. 

The article also noted that 60 percent of caregivers deal with abnormally high amounts of stress and 40 percent have depression. Hello!! You think! LOL 

It also recommended that caregivers, that provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care last year, need to seek help. That too made me laugh. There is no real help for caregivers, I've been down that road many times. So what, take the little time I do have when I'm not isolated and spend it talking with strangers in a support group? I don't think so. My time is precious and the little time away from home I do get, I want to do something fun or interesting. 

Anyway it was good read and the link above will take you right to the article if you'd like to read it for yourself.

Sunday was shower day for Mom and let me tell you Paula does a great job of dealing with her. But getting Mom showered is worse than dealing with a cranky 3 year old. At least with a 3 year old you can pick them up and put in the bath, but not Mom, It's an argument all the way. 

In fact Mom's entire attitude towards Paula is a thing of beauty. Mom can be rude and angry with me at times, well most of the time, but she's always snarky with Paula. As an example, after the shower, Paula gave Mom some cookies and milk as a treat--remember we are dealing with a 3 year old mentality most of the time. While they sat and talked Mom asked when her mother was going to stop by to visit. Paula explained that grandma has been gone for many years now. Mom then went down the list of a few other relatives and Paula explained they were all gone and that She will be 89 this year. Of course Mom scoffed at that and said she couldn't be that old. After playing the math game a bit, Paula told Mom that her son Dan just turned 57. With that, Mom gave her a stern look, twisted her head and said something in a rude tone like, "and how do you know that"? So of course Paula explained we were married and I live here to. With that Mom said, "oh", and was pretty happy for a bit. 

However, like always the happiness quickly faded and the next words out of Mom's mouth were, "where's my car"? It just never ends. From now on I'm going to try telling her it's in the shop getting repaired and see how that goes. 

I have more about yesterday to write, but sleep evaded me again last night and I'm shot already today. Perhaps I will get to it later today, if not, tomorrow then.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

The Quality Of Life?

A fractal I made years ago. 
Well it's Monday and I'm back after taking a couple days off. It was a busy, but pretty fun weekend. 

First and the most important, for all intensive purposes, the house is sold! It closes on September 1. That has alleviated so much stress it's nearly unbelievable. 

I found the first seven "John Carter of Mars", ebooks for $.99 the other day so I finished book six and have started on book seven. It looks like books 8-11 I will need to purchase individually but that's ok. Reading the past few weeks has been great way to escape a bit of the stress. I probably won't buy these hard copy since I have hundreds of books in storage and they've been there for years. 

Saturday morning as Paula and sat outside having coffee an interesting conversation developed that I think is worth sharing. Paula has a co-worker who's mother lives in Peru and she has advanced Alzheimer's. Her Alzheimer's has advanced to the point that she hasn't eaten in two weeks and she's bedridden. Another of Paula's co-workers mentioned that things will change once all U.S. states adapt an assisted suicide policy. And with this I agree. But, just how would this affect Dementia patients?

Let's apply this to Mom's case. First, Mom is no where close to this point, so don't worry. But just when could Mom have made the choice for assisted suicide? You know how it's everyone's mission now days to tie up everything in court. I can imagine her past caregiver (the one that called for the welfare check), throwing a fit over this and taking it to court.

So just for kicks and giggles, let's say assisted suicide were legal in WA today. At what point could Mom have made this decision?  She can't today, she has Dementia and doesn't have a sound mind. Well what about five years ago? I know she was starting to slip then, would she have been sound enough to sign a future directive? I doubt it. Someone, somewhere could argue that point and a judge would probably say she wasn't capable of making that decision. Could we go back ten years? Maybe but then someone would say it's outdated. 

As a person with Dementia I think Mom has a very good quality of life, but had she known it would be like this in the end would she have wanted to live like this? I don't know and there's no way I would ever think of making that decision. 

As a society, I feel we don't care about or think about this subject enough. As the baby-boomer population ages, it's something that we will need to address. I know I don't want to finish out my life bedridden and starving to death, but what can we do?

I have lot's to share about Mom from over the weekend and even today already, but I think I'll leave this one here.

For those of you that commented on this blog at the Cigar Train event yesterday, Thank you!! It means a lot!

Have a great day! Please, if you get the chance, share these posts. 

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Adversity And Being An Adult

I don't really talk about what I'm going to write today, but I've read some things today that have put brought this to the front of my mind. 

On Facebook a hour ago I liked a sarcastic post about about young people that think they know it all and to hold on for the ride that's coming. Some 22 year old girl, and yes she's 22 so I will call her a girl, wrote a huge comment about older people do not have the right to say things like that to kids. This girl stated she's 22 and knows what life's all about. LOL OK.

So you know what life's all about? Read on. I've never even told Paula parts of this story. 

My first job, fresh out of high school, was at a local sawmill. For the first few years the job was labor intensive, pulling green chain, dry chain, and things like that, 50 hours per week. The normal schedule was 5 - 10 hour days. After a few years went by my job experience grew by learning every job in the sawmill and planer, I became a supervisor. Being a supervisior meant I was the first one there and the last one to leave every day. That equaled about 55 - 60 hours per week. Since I was pretty good at that job I was soon promoted to superintendent. Being a superintendent meant I was responsible for two shifts while at the planer, then three shifts when I was moved to the sawmill. At that time it pretty much became a 24/7/365 job. I went years being there every day and nearly part of every shift just to talk to the supervisors under me and say hi to most of the crew. In addition to that I was being woke up most nights to answer a question or two.  Not so bad though, there were some great moments and I looked forward to work every day that I was there. Sawmilling is in my blood and I still mis it. 

During the 20 years I worked at the mill, there were three fatal accidents. Luckily there were none in my departments. Two of which I was not only the investigator, I was the person that had to visit the spouse to inform them of the death.

Now how's that for fun boys and girls? 

What I wouldn't have given right then to be back in high school or even college age driving my hot rod around wasting gas and pounding down beers every night. 

It's way more than that though. It's being responsible for other people. If I didn't do my job correctly at the mill by training the people under me to do their jobs in a proper and safe manner, the results could have been horrific. Proper training was literally a matter of life and death. 

It's the same being a parent and being responsible for your children. For years you literally have their lives in your hands. If you don't teach them about safety and life... Well any real parent knows what I'm talking about. 

However, being a caregiver is much like being a parent. Even though Mom doesn't' realize she has a problem and is constantly mad at me because her car is gone, or she can't drive. I'm responsible for her. If I'm not paying attention and she wanders off, who is to blame? If she doesn't eat, who is to blame? You know who. Me! She has the mind of a three year old and can't take care of herself so it's my job to keep her safe and as healthy as possible.

I believe kids think we adults are trying to be mean. No we're really not. We're trying to pass on the past experiences we've had to prevent them from making the same, sometimes stupid and costly mistakes. Life is fun, but there are huge stumbling blocks that everyone has to face as life progresses, we are just trying to smooth out the bumps.

Sorry about the rant, but I felt it was important. 

Thanks again for reading and I'll leave you today with one of my favorite quotes...

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Winds Of Change

What a wild day yesterday. Wild but good that is. We have a deal on the house nearly complete, it will be today and the sale will close at the end of the month. Ton's of stress are about to fall off my back. I know not everyone in the family feels the way I do, but I will be happy to be done with this ordeal and most of Mom's friends. The only one of Mom's friends to be happy she moved in with us was her sister in law, Donna. Donna not only had a heart-of-gold, she knew it was a good move and just what Mom needed. Every other friend of Mom's that I've talked to has been angry that we didn't move her into a Colville nursing home. Talk about selfish. Wow! 

Mom survived the welfare check the other day with flying colors. Normally anything out of her routine messes her up for days, but this incident was quickly forgotten and carried no negative side effects. 

Yesterday, Mom was up for several hours and even got up around 9:00 and watched a bit of TV before bed. Today however she was up bright and early at 6:30, it may be one of those days.

I do try to give Mom some independence, but it always seems to bite me right in the ass. Today I let her take her own breakfast dishes into the kitchen, She proceeded to wash her paper plate and then set it on top of a pile of clean dishes. Now they need to be rewashed. LOL

I've finished the fifth book in the John Carter series, but I was wrong Gutenberg.org doesn't have the entire series, it looks like I'll have to buy the rest. Maybe I can find a boxed set of the entire series.

Well I'm worn out today so i'll end it here. Have a great day and thanks for reading!

******
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Funny Things She Does

After two years of caregiving, the odd or funny things Mom can do during a day still surprises me.

As an example, Paula and I were sitting outside while Mom finished her dinner. Once she was done we came into clean up. Paula asked me what type of plate I'd given Mom, paper or real. I told her it was paper. Then she asked, do you see her plate anywhere? OK, so the search was on. I open the fridge to look and Paula said she'd already looked there, so I opened the freezer and there it was. Four french fries and pile of ketchup were left so of course Mom "had" to save it.

It's not Paula's fault she couldn't' find the plate, she doesn't have the experience searching for Mom's hidden treasures like I do. 

I've spent hours searching for stuff, finding coffee cups or plates hidden in desks, in the cupboard with the clean dishes, buried in the fridge, behind humidors and under newspapers. 

But wait, that's not all folks!

The other day I'd given Mom soup for lunch and boy can she eat soup. She can down a bowl of soup faster than a linebacker and faster I can have a smoke. Back to the story, I'd given her soup plus a half sandwich for lunch then went outside for a smoke. When I came back in, to check on her, she was spinning her bowl that was sitting on the table with one hand while holding her spoon in the center of the bowl while it spun. I asked if she wanted more soup before I'd really noticed what she was up to. She had eaten all of her soup, then poured half her coffee in the bowl and was playing with the coffee. Go figure, lol. It escapes me just what she was trying to accomplish, but I guess she was having fun. 

She does other odd things too; washes out paper towels and paper plates. She fills paper plates with water then sets them on the counter to soak, wraps half eaten toast in a napkin and hides it in the napkin basket, puts sandwiches in her dresser. The list could go on almost forever. 

These are a few of the reasons that she's been so time consuming the last few months. It seems if I let her out of my sight, she knows it and is immediately starts her mischief. She really does have toddler type behavior most of the time now. 

All of this does make me sad, while at the same time it's pretty funny. Well at least it's funny to me. I guess finding the humor in things is part of  my coping mechanism so Mom's decline doesn't get me down. At least she's here with us being well cared for and that's what counts!  

I'll let Emerson, Lake & Palmer take us out today - "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside"!

Please share this if you dare! LOL Thanks!!

******

Hey, if you love good coffee like I do, check out Bean Box. They offer some of the best coffee's I've ever sipped, delivered fresh, right to your door every month!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Never In A Million Years...

did I expect something like this to happen.

Yesterday around noon, Paula and I were just settling down to watch The Last Ship. It's a show on TNT that I've really gotten into this season. Anyway I look out the window and she a Sheriff's cruiser pull up to the house and park. Now that's odd. As the officer is walking toward the house, I go meet him at the front door. He explains that he was sent to do a welfare check on Mom by Mom's past caregiver. 

Mom's past caregiver wasn't really a caregiver, she helped Mom pay her bills, sort of. Even with her help I had to get Mom's TV, power and phone turned back on more than once until I had them all set up on auto pay.

The officer explained this person had told him that she held a POA over Mom, and that Mom was in the beginning stages of dementia. I laughed and explained I hold the POA and Mom is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. He asked if the complainant was a family member and I told him no, she was just a friend of Mom's. With that he just shook his head. He told me that once he saw our address, we live in nice neighborhood, he knew the claims were bogus, but he was required to come anyway. He was getting ready to leave, but I insisted that he come in and check on  Mom since he was here. 

Mom had just gotten up for lunch so he got to see her in fine form, she didn't even remember who this woman was, but she wanted the officer to sit down so they could chat. lol 

On the way out, I explained to him that the caregiver is angry that I won't take Mom to our monthly lunch meetings anymore because it's just more than she can handle. This he completely understood. I also relayed the she was angry that I didn't take Mom to Aunt Donna's funeral. We chatted for a few more minutes, he took off and all was well. Except, I was pretty pissed off over the entire ordeal and I knew it would throw Mom off for the day, perhaps even longer. 

Needless to say, after an ample amount of time had passed to call her back, I called her and it was fun. That may sound vindictive and it was! I was pissed off, To make a long story short, I told her she had no right to do that since she wasn't family, she replied she did because Mom was a very good friend. To this I angrily replied, "well if Mom is such a good friend, why haven't you came to the house for a visit? I've invited you over a dozen times". To this there was no reply so I handed the phone to Mom.

Mom had no idea who she was talking to but after saying hello, the first words of her mouth were, "I don't have a car anymore. Do you know where my car is"?

She can talk big all she wants but I'm sure she will never come see Mom, that's not what it was about. It was all about her selfish needs to see Mom and I won't upset the balance I work so hard to achieve by taking Mom to see her.

After Mom was off the phone, she had no idea who she had been talking to, in fact she had  no idea who I was. Plus it did throw her off. She refused to get up for dinner, that's like the first time ever, but she got up at 8:30 and ate. Who knows what today will bring since she's not up yet.

That's enough of this tale! LOL

On the brighter side I'm now on the fifth "John Carter" book, "The Chessmen of Mars". It's not gonna take long to get this entire series knocked out.

Plus we received a very low-ball offer on Mom's house yesterday. We countered, but I have confidence they will take it.

Again, thanks for reading and have a great day!

Hey, if you love coffee the way I do, check out Bean Box they offer some of the best coffee's I've ever sipped from Seattle's best roasters, delivered fresh to your door every month!

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Do You Have Any Teeth I Can Borrow?

I'd forgotten all about Mom asking me this a few days ago. But, it sure was funny. She came out for breakfast with no teeth. This happens all the time and I wasn't really paying any attention. She sat down to eat, look up and asked. "do you have any teeth I can borrow"? I told her that I didn't and then headed off toward her room chuckling to myself, to find her teeth. They were under her pillow and when I found them it made her laugh. But then again, everything make Mom laugh. 

I've been reading a lot on caregiverspace.org. There are lots of articles there that contain some valuable information for caregivers. One topic of late has been journaling and that's kind of what I am doing here. Over the past couple weeks I've been trying to morph this blog a bit. 

This blog is about Mom, but it's also about me, the family and day-to-day life as a caregiver. It helps me to write, plus I love to write, so it's a win-win for me.

So here goes...

I finished the third book in the John Carter of Mars and am now on the fourth. which I will probably finish today. My fifth attempt at Windows 10 failed so I really give up on it  now. This is the first time a software install has ever beat me. Guess I'm  not as good as I once was or lack the drive. I'll just get a new laptop one of these days, I hope.

It's tough being a caregiver, Mom is the easy part of the job. I've left the house one time in the last eight day for a twenty minute trip to the store. But even that's not it. We have Mom's house for sale and it's not selling. The Realtor we hired assured us that at the price we chose it would sell in a couple months. Well it's been almost six months now, we've dropped the price 33% and still nothing. Things are tight, unbelievably tight with no relief in site. I've been close to landing several social media director jobs, but even those have fallen through. 

My next thought is starting a Go Fund Me project so I can start my own coffee roasting company, but so far I'm to proud to ask for help. Perhaps I deep down I like the struggle, but I don't know. 

Paula and I spend a lot of time talking about trips and getting away, but even those are years down the road when Mom is gone. We want to go to, Hawaii, Vegas, D.C, Boston, Scotland, Ireland and lots of other spots. However to this day my #1 bucket list item is catching a Tarpon on a fly in Belize. My shoulders are shot and I don't think I can even throw a fly again, but the dream and desire is still there. 

In the top picture are some orange cinnamon rolls that Paula baked. She's been baking lots of great stuff lately. I know that I don't need to eat baked goods, but I sure do like them. 

I nearly forgot to mention, I have had two fair nights of sleep and that's a big help. 

Mom's been doing good. She's been sleeping a bit more since the hot weather is back, but she's eating and drinking well. Today she came out for breakfast and hadn't combed her hair. All I can say is WOW. Kel really needs to come down and cut her hair. lol

Let me know if you like this or the last few posts since they have more personal information in them. Is it too much, not enough? Give me a comment, plus a share would be nice too. Traffic is climbing, each post is being read over 100 times now and that's pretty sweet.

Thanks again for reading and have a great day!


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