Monday, December 21, 2009

A memorable day

Wow. That pretty much describes today. Gramma woke up crying this am, said she missed her husband and had a hard time sleeping last night. I don't wonder why, she wouldn't get up yesterday. So....We made a plan to make sure she was up and active. At 9 am I got her up for breakfast, which she had with just me. We chatted, things were normal as normal goes, then off to her room she went, asking to be woken up within an hour. I went in to see her and opened her window up for natural light and started to unpack some of her belonging. Tessa joined me and before long Ashley joined too and all 4 of us were laughing, remembering, having a great time. We must have spent an hour together with Gramma telling us all about where she acquired the item we were looking at. It was a total history of where my mom has travelled in the last 20 years. She rested then for a bit, I took Ashley out to her lessons. At 2 pm, Gramma came out again for lunch, we chatted, she was/is very clear today, asking very deep questions, wondering about who she is , why she is here, etc. She called me in later to ask about where my dad was buried, she remembered the area, we talked about the area and the headstone and things. We talked about Mike, my brother. And then Gramma came out, looking for Ashley wanting Ashley to look something up on the Internet. She wanted to know about DEMENTIA. And she wanted to know about Alzheimer's, so Ashley read to her. Oh, the various things she talked about amazes me. She being so here today, alert, alive. She asked to learn how to be transported around town by herself, not sure I'll let her go that far yet. She wants to go and meet people. She said yes to bingo and to the exercise class at the senior center,things she has said no to. Oh boy this is different. Ashley asked if she thought she would be as clear tomorrow or back to just wanting to be in bed. Who knows.We found a worry stone today and she likes that bronze piece of stone, mentioning just how great it works for her. I'm thinking more worry rocks!

The biggest thing she said is, "I can't just sit her all day in bed watching TV. I need to be out doing things!!" Yes, gramma is homeschooling with us, coming to her own ideas of what is best for her. Trusting that even with dementia, she knows what she needs.

Later tonight at dinner she was asking to be reminded about the twin towers, she wanted to know the state of our country and safety about terrorism. She was remembering, asking, Great to experience her so alert and interested in interacting. Tomorrow we go buy her a new TV, something she asked for and is looking forward to, plus she asked for new lipstick. Davis, Marie Gehlen is now Here!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Has living with Gramma changed our homeschooling lives

I wanted to explore the changes that have come with living with my mom and how our homeschooling has for the most part only been enriched by having Gramma live here. Especially for my youngest child, Tessa. Tessa is our third child, just turned 10. This year she had her Gramma here at home with her on her birthday and that was a special thing for Tessa. We were not able to really celebrate until late at night and Tessa made sure Gramma was included, waited to open presents until she made it from her room. Tessa had commented that Gramma never came to her birthday before, which for the most part is true and those early birthhdays that Gramma came to Tessa does not remember. But beyond the excitemenet of having a grandparent present in our lives, Tessa is being an incredible, humorous, kind, helpful pal to my mom. Tessa attends every out of the house activity that my mom goes on, she holds her door, takes her walker, gets her seatbelt ready, holds her coat, walks slowly with her, and basically is at Gramma's side the entire time. Yesterday Gramma had a doctor's appointment and she made it clear she was not thrilled to be going, so Tessa grabbed Gramma's favorite teddy bear to be with us while we drove to the doctors. I know I am very grateful to have my children home, living life in the world day in and day out with out being removed from our daily living for large chunks of the day each and every day. There is a continuity that is present from waking up each day, together, to sharing meals, doing household activities, running errands together, that flows smoothly as it always has since the children were little. So for Tessa, my mom living with us has given her opportunity to practice deep loving kindness on a day to day basis, to learn how to cook healthy foods for older people, to do hair, to care and care for another human being. Wow.

For my son, Riley, having Gramma live with us had taken some getting use too, as he is very senstive to sounds, smells, noises. Some of the day to day noises, like my mom's teeth clicking when she eats, grates on his nerves, but at almost 13 years old, he simply removes himself from the area so as to not be bothered. He is aware of my mom's eating habits, which are not very healthy and that bothers him, but it also opens up the door for meaningful conversations about nutrition, about being older, about joy and health and all of the complex things that goes into deciding what we eat. Recently, my mom was over salting her food and it bothered Riley. Turns out too much salt is causng my mom some swelling and we have now cut back her salt intake. What a huge thing to learn so very young in life. I feel I have been busy with taking care of my mom, the appointments we have to go on, plus all the costume work I recently did for the girls at theater, so I know I have not been as present for my son as he may need. I am making sure to make room in my life to keep the connection with him strong so there is no regret ever for taking my mom in to live with us. I find myself reqesting to play games with him often when I know I ahave an hour, I can dedicate that hour right now to being with you.

As for my oldest, Ashley, there does not seem to be anything different in our lives with my mom moving in, except Ashley gets to share her life, her love of the piano, her love of theater, and her girl friends with my mom. Ashley's life flows easily from activities,to friends, to school work (Ashley's attends an independant study school for highschool)and it all seems to fit in easily with my mom's schedule.

Overall, I feel my mom's presence had given our home more love, more kindness, more caring, beacuse the act of helping someone speads love and joy all around. Other than worrying the other night, I have lost no sleep with my mom here. Life is good, Gramma moving in has so far been a great addition to our lives, and we all love our new house, total bonus to having my mom here!

Friday, December 18, 2009

All went well at the Doctor. A great day all around

Gramma did great at the doctor. She had to walk quite a bit, and even though she stops every 100 feet or so, she just keeps on going. Tessa is always right by her side. While I had wanted to leave by 12:45 for our 1:30 appointment, we did not get out of the house until 1:05. That gave us 25 minutes to get from Davis, to Vacaville, to a medical building we have never been too. AND WE DID IT!!!!only 5 minutes late, which I think is still reasonable. Gramma loved the new doctors office and she loved the doc, so without even interviewing him, we picked him as her primary care doctor for now. So, we go to Kaiser Vacaville instead of Kaiser Davis. No big deal, it took us about 16 minutes to drive there, parking was easy, the offices beautiful and clean, and fresh smelling, and open. Gramma got an ice cream after. And just now an old friend called and Gramma totally remembered her and is having a great conversation with her. Hair done, doctor's appointment went well, mom is liking talking to her friend, and we think she only had sodium induced water retention, assuming her blood work comes back OK. Over all a great day.

Swollen legs have me worried

Wednesday night I noticed my mom's right leg looked a bit puffy, a bit swollen, like some fluid retention. She said nothing bothered her, she could not tell, so on Thursday I took the let's wait and see approach. Her leg was no worse swollen Thursday than the night before. But then...she got up late Thursday night for some tea and wow oh wow, both her legs were swollen, looking very stretched and puffy from above the knee to her mid shin. She didn't feel a thing, but I was uncomfortable with just how swollen they were and wound up calling the advice nurse. I got a super helpful nurse, she called mom's doctor and we made a plan. All her vitals, which I took through the nurses advice were good. No chest pain, no fever, no shortness of breathe, no ash white feet, she could feel me touch her feet and her feet were warm. I sat up for a long time last night wondering, should I sleep down stairs just in case things changes. Boy, I have not had this kind of worry over Gramma before. I did finally sleep and when I woke this am, Gramma was feisty, getting mad at the TV because she can't figure out the remote and all she was hearing was bad guys kill each other. She had gotten the TV on the history channel instead of food network. I was so glad she was so upbeat and her legs look much better today. I AM STILL TAKING HER TO THE DOCTOR. Even though she doesn't want to go, even though she says they can't do anything, even though she says they don't bother her. They bother me and I need to know more.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Holiday time for sure

We are really getting into the season this year, more so than we ever have, on the decorating front. We got a huge tree somehow missed priced at $35.00. It should have been over $100.00, it's at least 10 feet tall. It is a mass of white lights, our collection of ornaments and the new ones we had to buy to fill it out. This tree is big. It makes the piano look tiny. Since last season, we now as a family do a simple secret Santa during December, where we pick one name out of a hat, Santa hat of course, and then give a gift at anytime before Christmas. I got Riley this year and was going to give him a new suit before his meet, so that worked out sure well. Gramma, through me, just gave Tim his secret Santa gift. She and Tessa wrapped it together, laughing and joking the entire time. She gave him 2 framed watercolor pictures, one of garlic, one of chili peppers. Tim grew us so much garlic and chili peppers this year, the pictures are perfect. Perfect for him, perfect from Gramma because she loves his harvest, which is still coming out of the pantry, and perfect for our kitchen, which until 5 minutes ago had no art on the walls.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dentist Day Today

Today Gramma went in for a long tooth procedure to ready her tooth for a crown. All she cared about was that it not hurt. She had a shot, which she said wasn't bad. She got numb, they worked on her tooth forever, all the while she was laying down, giving signals when she had to spit, and overall being a very patient patient. The dentist kept giving her compliments and really treats people with great respect. She got a little stir crazy towards the end, when the temp was getting fitted and she would start to sit up right when the assistant came back with her tooth. Overall it was a painless, easy, long appointment without any problems. She's so good about getting in and out of my car. We have our yellow spots where I drop her and Tessa off, the handicap bumps at walkways. We have a good routine and being we are in Davis, everything is easy, parking, walking, traffic. I left our house at 12:52, after a bathroom stop kinda through off our timing, and was at the dentist by 1:03 for our 1pm appointment. Pretty amazing as my mom walks with a walker, we have the get in the car time, the get out of the car time and the walking in time. Gramma was a star patient and I am glad we are almost finished with the tooth saga. One more appointment in January and she should be good to go.

One of the funnier moments, about 2 minutes into the job, mom was already thinking she was done, and she sat up and said, "that's all, right?" It was interesting how much we needed to let her know along the way how much longer. After about 45 minutes, the dentist announced she was half way through. After that, she didn't ask again until the tooth fitting part started. We thought it was just a minute and just a minute lasted about 30 minutes.

She napped all afternoon once we were home and I had to wake her up for dinner about 7:30. She did just get up again because she wasn't able to sleep. I found her at the counter in the kitchen, first time I have seen her there, munching a little leftovers and looking like she really does live here. A little tea, a little sleeping medication and off to bed she went, tucking in her stuffed bunny and giving her bearbear a smooch goodnight.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gramma Update

We have a pretty simple routine around here. Gramma prefers her own room, with little outings out to be with us, eat, have tea, and chat. She is happiest talking with Tessa and the two of them laugh and share stories. It's very sweet, how much Gramma enjoys Tessa's company and how much Tessa loves being with her Gramma. Yesterday Tessa brought all her stuffed toys into Gramma's room and put them all over her. She told stories about each one and let Gramma check them all out. She them added another critter to Gramma's growing critter piles. She is now the proud parent of a bearbear, a bunny, a panda, a kitty and a duck. Gramma really likes her critters and she gives them all attention.

It's super chilly out this week and even though we should be out on walks, it's just too cold to take Gramma out, so we will save our big outing for Friday when we take Gramma to see Thomas.

I haven't found anything lately which I feel really stimulates Gramma's brain activity other than good conversations, keeping her updated on things, and listening to music. I'm planning to get a Christmas music CD as I have noticed Gramma sings along to most music she knows. We will be getting our Tree this week and decorating the house for the holidays. Gramma is interested in participating, I just need to figure out the wheelchair business and I keep putting it off. Tomorrow is most likely a perfect day for me to explore how to get us reissued a correct sized chair.

Thursday Gramma is going in to have her tooth repaired. It's going to be a long day for her sitting in the chair and I hope it goes well for her. It's an expensive repair, but well worth it as it is her front tooth that is cracked in half.

I'm keeping up on the daily cleaning around my mom, which isn't much, but does need to be done daily or it becomes unpleasant. Overall I feel Gramma has moved in and settled into her routine which isn't much doing, but she seems ok with that. Next up, Christmas festivities. Of course we need to close the run of Annie next weekend and I am hosting a cast party here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I get to make the dentist decision!

Gramma's tooth chipped out again the night before Thanksgiving. She was very funny when she came out to tell me and laughed for a good long time about how her tooth chipped off, how she's a jack-o-lantern now. I know she did not like having it chipped for all the guests, but she was gracious about the whole ordeal. It's her front one and it looks really unsightly. At the dentist yesterday, we talked about options. Pull it and place a fake tooth on her partial or build a crown onto the tooth. Cost, time in the chair, pain all factor in and my mom says, what ever you decide, Mary. Yikes, it's up to me. I told the dentist to let us think about it and so that is what I am doing, thinking about it. I am leaning towards having a crown done for her as the cost should not limit us when Gramma has the money for this. I hope she can handle the sitting in the chair part, but I also know the dentist knows her comfort level and he will make sure to let her have some walking around breaks.

Today I can tell my mom is down in spirit. Not sure where that is coming from. She's just not so jolly, not so interested in chatting or being out with us. I do remember from past years the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was always difficult and maybe that's what I am seeing. I'm looking forward to our day out with Thomas on Thursday. Tomorrow I am going to check at Kaiser about changing her wheel chair and getting a local doctor.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Annie, She made it!

Yesterday, Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving. Gramma was tired. I could see she was worn out a bit. Having her tooth chip the night before Thanksgiving bothers her and she wants it fixed. She does not like people seeing her with this front snagly tooth. We had tickets yesterday to see the play the girls are in and that I costumed. My cousins Ann and Ellie and Mary were also visiting. Turned out Ellie was sick, so she and Mary stayed home and only Ann came up. Gramma was sweet and social with us, she got up and enjoyed a snack together, but she also said she didn't want to go to the play. I told her she was going anyhow, because it was important to me and to the kids, so she got ready, even though she would have rather stayed home all cozy in bed. She's a bit nervous when we are around crowds and yesterday it was very nice to have Ann along with us as a calm for my mom. We had front row seats right near the middle and the play was great again. At intermission Gramma asked if she had to go back in and I said yup, so she headed back in for Act 2. She did love being at the show, she talked about it coming home and she was glad she went. Tessa and Ashley both were happy she shared the show with them, so really it all was good. Knowing when to push and when to back off is always tough. I was the one who wanted my mom to see the show, for the girls, for myself, and for her. She says she doesn't remember things, so maybe she won't remember today what we did yesterday, but I saw her singing to the final song of Tomorrow and for that I am glad she had the experience. Today will be a lazy day, at home, cleaning, relaxing, getting Gramma up and showered, hair washed, that kind of day, with no plans.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving was JOYFUL

Here are two dishes that we made. Gramma's fudge, made for nut lovers and those who don't care for nuts and Tessa's addition of raspberry fruit dip served with apples, pears, bananas and strawberries. Yummy. The camera that is coming to me needs to get here soon, because I am relying on Ashley's cell phone right now and she was at her friends house when our dinner was all ready. We ate Quiche, Butternut squash soup, and fruit with dip for lunch. Thank you Ashley for these shots. I have no pictures of us all together, eating and laughing. It was an alcohol free, totally joyful meal with my sister, her two kids and boyfriend, my brother, Tim's brother, and my mom. Everyone had a very nice day. I say alcohol free because my mom, my brother, and my sister all have freed themselves from the dis-ease of alcoholism. Tim and I never really cared one way or the other about alcohol and have not had any in the house for years. Since I served on the fine china paper plates, the dishes were very easy to do after. We have loads of leftovers and all around this Thanksgiving was everything it was meant to be for us. Tessa dressed up as a Native American too. Our own sweet Sacajawea.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tessa's B-day part 2

This is the view of our table, where the girls were getting ready to share cake and ice cream. Gramma really enjoys that we make her get up for these late night moments. There were 6 girls at the table, plus Ashley, McKinley, Kim, Jordan and Riley. Everyone had a blast adding ice cream, syrup, whipped cream and gummy worms to make their own cake treats. They were messy chocolate strawberry, gooy bowls of heaven (if heaven had a flavor).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gramma will stay in bed all day if you let her

Yesterday was a busy busy day and maybe now that I think about it I should have asked for some help from my sister and brother. I got Gramma up for a breakfast break and we chatted and listened to music for about 1 hour, but at 12:30 I had to go to theater with the girls for the opening of Annie and Tim had already taken Riley to a swim meet. Gramma was very sweet about being OK with staying home alone for such a long time and assured me she would not go anywhere other than the bathroom. We got home at 5pm. By 5:30 we headed out again to go to an awards night for Riley's swimming. We didn't get home again until 8:30. Ashley did stop in at 7 and checked in on Gramma, but really, she was home most of the day alone and she stays in bed. Is this OK? That's when I start going, well it is what she prefers actually, so in a way we are giving her a gift of being able to sleep all cuddly all day. But, staying in bed all day isn't a very healthy way to be, so in order to help her be her healthiest self, she needs more activity and interaction. We did have her hang out in the evening with us, I had her eat a light meal, have some tea, and conversation, but for the most part yesterday, Gramma was alone and in bed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tessa's Birthday Day, Gramma shines

Yesterday Tessa turned 10. I had a few last minute shopping items to get, so Riley and I headed out to the store for some surprisings. We got her some balloons, a cake for theater, and some flowers for Gramma to give her with a card. While Riley distracted Tessa with the balloon gift, I snuck into Gramma's room, had her sign the card and gave her the flowers and asked her to get ready for the day. About 10 minutes later I suggested to Tessa to go wake Gramma up. Oh boy was there love flowing between these two. Tessa was just shocked Gramma has a card for her and she loved the flowers. We had Gramma get up and enjoy some of Ashley's famous sprinkle pancakes. We then had a round of lessons to get Ashley too and I snuck in going to the pharmacy to get Gramma some pills. She's having her teeth cleaned today and she takes antibiotics prior to cleaning. Two dental appointments in one week. Wow.

At 12:30 Tessa and I got Gramma up to go out for our Thursday at Thomas'. By the time I had the car parked, Thomas was washing away her hair. We did a treatment to her scalp, just a little baking soda one time a month to control flakeys. Thomas says her scalp is so much healthier. She's just not flaking like she was. Tessa got a bun for theater. She was wearing her new suit coat and looks so professional, it's a crack up. She even drew herself a briefcase on the outside of her sketch pad. We went into Nugget for soup and cocoa and Thomas snuck in and paid for our lunch. We laughed about switching money, I paid him, he got our lunch. Funny. We got home about three. We did have a little cupcake each and Gramma and I sang Happy Birthday to Tessa. Theater by 4 pm. Tessa did not know I had cakes for her, so that was fun to surprise her at dinner break with cake for the whole cast.

We got home from theater at 9:30. Gramma had not gotten up or taken her evening meds and Riley and Tim had the entire table piled in gifts. It was a purple polka dot pile of joy. Tessa got Gramma up, I made her a little meal and we all enjoyed watching Tessa open her gifts. It was a baking themed birthday and Tessa was overflowing with love, excitement and body slamming hugs. She squealed and jumped up and down with each gift she opened. She got a mixing bowl, an electric hand mixer, a spatula that angles up so she won't burn her hand when she flips things, a sifter, a lemon juicer, a grater, measuring cups, an ice cream scope, a melon ball scoop, and a peeler that is shaped like a monkey. This kid is in heaven. I cleared out a drawer for her and she was able to put most of her new tools away. She went to bed dreaming of what to cook next, something we have to sift of course. Tessa and Gramma both were laughing and checking out each new tool and it was a great midnight birthday party, complete with tiny pieces of cake left over from theater. Seeing my mom so involved with the activity is such a joy. She was right there with Tessa, sharing her enthusiasm for cooking, saying she'll be right there to taste her creations. It was an awesome way to end a busy day full of celebrating. I am very glad we asked Gramma to come join us. She enjoyed it, Tessa loved it, and we have a new memory of Tessa celebrating her birthday with her Gramma on her birthday, something Tessa doesn't remember ever happening before.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Dentist, and ANXIETY

Okay, now when my mom is going out for a hair do and a treat, she is all game and clear and not so confused. But when she is going to do something she does not want to do, well that is a whole nother story. I took her to the dentist today, for a basic check and to have the dentist get to know her. I found out she needs antibiotics before cleaning, so no cleaning today. She also has a small broken filling that will be repaired soon. Overall she did great, but I could not leave the room. Period. She said, Mary stay with me please, and when Tessa wanted some water, she said, please don't go anywhere. And I stayed. We played games and sang little songs while we waited. Tessa is such fun to have along and is real help for me, walking her in while I park, that kind of thing. Gramma did not like being at the dentist, but she likes Dr. Childress and is willing to have him work on her teeth. We will go in again on Friday and I'll learn all about cleaning her partials and her teeth. She does not do a very good job at all. Lots of questions.

Late Night Cooking

Last night we got in at 9 pm from Annie dress rehearsal and Tessa walked right into the kitchen and grabbed a cook book and announced, I am making something. She picked the Joy of Cooking. This is a child who is still working out the whole reading thing. After saying she was going to make date logs, then Russian Pot Roast, I handed her Pretend Soup, a child's cook book with a picture recipe as well as a written recipe. Gramma moved up here with 2 Popover pans. It was a random find in her things, but we have them. Tessa found a popover recipe and next thing I know we are cracking eggs, she's reading away the recipe, I am handing her ingredients and putting them away after. 40 minutes later we had beautiful popovers, just 6, one for each family member. Tessa ran off and got Gramma. We had a very nice late night popover date with Gramma, complete with lots of laughter, some tea, and yogurt. I was amazed I was able to jump in this late after 5 hours of costuming and boy the joy was overflowing. While cooking we decided she will have a cooking themed birthday party, complete with apron making and at least 4 different cooking sessions. Popovers are on the list.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Tech Week for Annie

Today started tech week for Annie and I will be out of the house from 3:30-9 pm each day. Usually someone will be home for most of the time and Tim always gets home by 5:30. It just means I can't give Gramma afternoon attention. She is fine with hanging out in her room, I know that. One of the hard parts is encouraging her to do something other than be in her room. So being busy all afternoon for the next 4 days is going to mean taking the time in the early afternoon to get up and out. She's happy, cozy, smiling, laughing and rarley asks about dying lately. I feel she is well adjusted to living here. I'm looking forward to having more time home once we get the show running.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Awesome visit with Cousin Paul

Gramma had a visitor today and it worked out so well. I got her up early and showered, them we headed out to Thomas' to have her hair done. Thomas needed to press my hair too, because, so I got my hair pressed and then Gramma got her wash and style. My cousin Paul, my mom's nephew came to visit and he showed up right when we were finishing the hair do sessions. It was cold out and even with a jacket, Gramma wanted warm, so we headed inside to Nugget where Tessa and Gramma had their usually, bowls of clam chowder. It was very nice to be joined by another adult and have lunch together. We had chocolate too, as we always do when we go out. We lingered over lunch a bit and chatted. The store was crowded and even with the noise, Gramma seemed very content. We headed home about 12:30, 2 1/2 hours later. That's a nice long lunch outing for my mom.

When we got home I encouraged her to sit and visit with Paul some more at the table and she tried, but she needed to change positions and she headed back into her room. Paul was with us for a few hours, helped carry in our new entertainment center, visited with me and Tessa, and with my mom several times throughout the afternoon. Gramma came out for tea and even though she asked for something to eat, I asked her to wait. It had been less than 2 hours after our big brunch. She doesn't really sense the time and has a routine of table and food. Every day I try to have one time out be not food related, we draw, or I have her help me with something, she has tea, we listen to music. She plays along, even though she would prefer a cookie.

She was laughing while visiting with Paul, that deep laugh that just brought smiles to me. She is content and happy here and the people she loves and love her will still be a part of her life. Paul has been a big part of my mom's life, since he was young. The last several years he has been able to visit her since they lived in the same area. He's now a bit more than an hour away and very busy on weekends, so this was the first time they saw eachother since she moved. Gramma really enjoyed his presence and I think now knows though she won't see him as often, he is always there, a part of her life.

After Paul left we all took the afternoon off. I actually climbed into bed and snoozed for awhile, Riley joined me, Gramma was snoozing in her room, Tim went and snoozed, and Tessa was up on the couch playing animal crossing. Lucky Ashley was at a Broadway show in Sacramento of Spring Awakening. Everyone was comfy, where they wanted to be. Gramma did get up again about 5pm and Tessa made her a snack while I made her a salad dinner. She had her tea and asked if she could go to bed after. She likes when it is bed time in pj's. She did ask a few questions when I was talking with her. She asked who she was mom too. Now I got the feeling she knew the answer, but I told her and again she asked who her husband was. My dad died so many decades ago it's a bit strange to be chatting about him and filling her in. I mentioned today where he worked and she commented, oh yea, that's where we met... She also wanted to remember Heidelmann's, a German hiking club we use to spend our winters and summers at up in the mountains. She couldn't quite see it and so I described the place again and she recalled bits and pieces about our time there. She remembered Helen and Joe, my friend Erin and Franny's parents. It was great to have someone interacting with Gramma today. She got a double dose, because first she was visiting with Thomas and then spent the afternoon visiting with Paul. Thank you both for being a part of my mom's life. It makes a big difference.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Couldn't get to Thomas' so Tessa does the Do.

Today's schedule has changed up and I did not want to be rushed at all. It's the last rehearsal before Tech week, when the kids are running the show in full costumes. Did I mention I am responsible for 38 kids costumes, like 3-5 per kid. It's a lot and I love it. Anyhow. here are a few shots of Tessa curling Gramma's hair. She'll go in on Sat am to have her Do for the week because Thomas' work makes Gramma Shine!!!! The whole hair salon process does her and her spirit wonders. It is such a part of her.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giant, she loved it

Before my mom moved in I asked her if she had any favorite movies she would like to watch and she said Giant. We subscribe to Netflix, so I had Giant come and we got the DVD player set up today, thank you Riley and she watched Giant and Loved it. When I came in to check on her she asked me to giggle a word. She meant goggle, but I thought that was cute. She heard the word ubiquitous and wanted to know what it meant. Cool Cool Cool. Not only did she realize she didn't know the word, she held onto the memory long enough to ask me about it. Other than that, she showered, she ate and played with us today a few times, asked some questions, and love love loves our butternut squash soup.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Family Soup on the Stove

We just made a delectable butternut squash soup. It all started with Ashley coming home and needing to play piano. Her piano playing is beautiful and it fills the entire house with resonating chords. Riley can not watch TV when she is playing and he seemed like he needed something challenging, so I asked if he would peel a butternut squash. I wanted to make soup sometime soon. He took to the task and 3 peeled squashes later we all were chopping and peeling and sauteing while Ashley had us in the middle of We Wish you a Merry Christmas. The soup is on and bubbling away, 3 squashes worth in the big pot. I'm thinking of saving some and freezing it for Thanksgiving, but who knows, Riley might just have a need to peel squash again. And did he do a thorough job, all around the stem end and the bottom. Three perfectly peeled squashes! Gramma and Tessa chopped away on the celery and then moved on to peeling carrots. Such joy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, Saturday

I got up very early yesterday to help get the boys out to a travel swim meet. It was a bit bittersweet for me because I have always been the one to travel with Riley while Tim stays home. I asked him what he would want to do and he picked travel, so off they went.

Tessa's friend Kai stayed for an overnight and the two of them are so creative and fun. They sewed, they shopped, they made a tea party. While I was out, they cooked pasta and gave Gramma a lunch. I worked a job site yesterday, gardening for seniors, which is always enjoyable for me. I drove Jeremy home and took Ashley to a babysitting job.

Gramma did something funny yesterday. She keeps thinking it's later than it is, so at about 5 pm, after her lunchish meal at 3pm, she gets in her pj's and thinks it's bedtime. She does all her bedtime routine and then wonders why she can't sleep. Yesterday I got back form driving Jeremy home and she was in her pj's. She kinda got mad at herself and decided to get back in her clothes and came out for another chat session and some of the burrito salad I picked up for her. She was asking why she thinks it's night already? I'm just reminding her of the time change and it is really the beginning of night, so she's not so off. She was funny, though in how she scolded herself for being so mixed up. "I know" she says, "it's the dementia."

New quote from a mom with dementia. "I may have dementia but I'm not crazy"

She says this when I leave her alone and remind her about the pool in the back yard and to not go out the door. She's so cute and smiley when she talks about her self like this.

I washed her clothes yesterday and when I brought them into her room to fold, she asked me to leave them for her to do. An hour later I went in and she had folded and put all her laundry away and had a nice pile of towels for me to take to the kitchen. She still asks daily, when she first wakes up if she is dying. My answer to her is no, no diagnosis of a terminal illness. I then ask her if she feels healthy. Yup, she does. Then she wonders why she always asks me and I talk about it being a real fear of hers and to not worry about asking me, because asking questions is thinking and thinking is good. She did ask again yesterday if she had to move again. Nope, no moving. She also was worried she had to go somewhere. Nope, can't go anywhere, Tim has the van. She's very content when she doesn't have to do things other than sleep, eat, and chat and be comfy.

She did shower yesterday and got in and out all by herself with only a few moans and groans. She wonders why she hates the shower so much too and again, it's a fear of falling or getting stuck. I can see why she doesn't like it, it's difficult for her and it's slippery and she's never liked being naked around people and there she is naked needing help and afraid. I'm letting her take a shower one day, then not the next.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm going to need to do more research!

Gramma is confused. She lives perfectly fine in the here and now. She's not at all holding on to any memories from the past and they seem to be slipping. It's so hard to know if she has the memories, if she is confused, what....Today again she woke from a nap and was thinking about Paul. Again, I said, well, Paul Cianciolo of course and she's like yea, I know that Paul, but who is the other Paul. My dad. I'm wondering what she is trying to remember or what feeling she is having. She doesn't remember her old big bed we all use to pile on, nor what she use to wear. I'm at a place with her where I don't push the old memories. She remembered Thomas just fine and used his name in conversation after the fact. That is one new person in her life. She remembers Marylou, who I need to call and plan a get together with. She remembers Patsy and Bob and Shawn and Wyatt, that's all good. She talked to Shawn today. She has some strong feels still about having to move, so it's good that she shares with me her thoughts. Sometimes she feels like she was thrown out, and that is just so My Mom, herself, that strong emotional opinion. She was invited to move and she chose to move. It makes life better for all involved. But, she still feels displaced. She says she is very comfy and happy here, she has had few crying spells, and really seems well adjusted. She does what I ask her even when she doesn't want to, like take a shower. Today she seems a bit agitated, and that seems to come with confusion. We talked about it and I mentioned the more stimulation the better the brain will work, so next week I'll take her at least 1 time to theater in the afternoon for as long as she can hang. She helped me with my bows today and I'll have her do some other projects. It's not easy finding things, though that interest her and engage her. She often passes, no thank you, I'm going back to my room. Our routine is a meal, some tea, some talking, some laughing, a game of words or other story or music then she heads back. She is usually up for about 1 hour when she gets up and does this 3-5 times a day. If I haven't seen her in 3-4 hours, I'll invite her out. I keep her meals and snacks healthy, though she is having small amounts of chocolate which she loves. I need to find her shoes for rain, get her toenails clipped, and have a psychiatry appointment, more for me to ask questions than for her to be seen. I'm wanting all the info on Brain Games and such to help stimulate. The research talks about too much too, so I'd just like some ideas to add to my ideas.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hair Do Thursdays

Thursday 12 noon, Hair Do at Thomas' followed by clam chowder, salad and frozen yogurt. Gramma already has this routine down. I'm thinking next week we might venture to a new eatery for our girls lunch out. Thursdays are going to go like this, Ashley Piano lesson 10-10:30, bagel pick up day, then Ashley vocal lessons 11-11:30, during which time I pick my mom up. We then get Ashley at 11:30 and head over to Thomas' shop for the mighty hair wash and Do. Then lunch out somewhere. We have been making it easy and just having lunch right there at Nugget. Gramma enjoys herself and she feels so good with her hair done and her lipstick on. It's a pleasure to see her looking so good. It's funny too, because she goes right back to bed once we get home. She has been able to redo her do and last week it lasted all the way until today still looking pretty good. 6 days. Tessa and I will wash her hair again on Monday's, then Thomas will do his thing on Thursdays.

Yesterday when I suggested we go out for a walk, she declined. Walks for no reason are not pleasurable to her. Tomorrow I'm going to take her with me to the senior center and finally donate some of her jewelry and sign up as members. We'll do this during Ashley's math class, which happens to be right next door. I'm thinking of taking my mom once a week, probably Monday to the senior center lunch program for a bit of social time and elder support. I'm not sure she will go for this, but I'm going to ask her to try it at least 2 times. Even if we go just once a month, it would be something else to do in our week that gets her up and out. Gramma loves her food. I'm going to invite her friend Marylou to join us, when I remember to call her back!

Being out is a challenge for Gramma, mainly because she gets anxious, but also because she needs to use the bathroom a lot and she's scared of accidents. I'm totally there with her and it must be frustrating to not be able to move quickly when things are a happening. Today she needed to right when Thomas got her comfy in the hair washing chair and he easily stopped what he were doing and she was fine. I am carrying a change of clothes for her now, though because of what happened at the doctors office. Just so she can be comfortable.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The balance between letting Gramma be and helping her thrive

I have been busy, both with my mom and with my life. I am costuming a theater production which opens in 3 weeks. I am walking on a line between what the director wants and what the theater wants with costumes and money and all of that. It's fun, challenging, and I hope to be finished mostly by the end of next week, ready to go into tech week. This commitment is time requiring and I am finding myself busy during the day and the night. Gramma seems just fine staying in bed, but is that really just fine? She had a stressful event last Sunday, so we took Monday easy, though she was very social with us. Tuesday was extra busy for me and even though one or more of the kids were home, Gramma stayed in her room except when I asked her to come out. When she comes out, we share a meal, chat, yesterday I had her listen to more of her music while I swept her room, and then she chooses to head back to bed. She was out only 3 times yesterday and because I was at theater during our dinner time, Gramma didn't come out at all in the evening.

She is so cute and cuddly in her blankets with her stuffies. She hasn't cried much at all lately. I asked her about having bears and things when she was a little girl and she said she didn't have any. Tessa is really connected to Gramma and is present whenever I wake her up and give her meds, or check on her. Last night Tessa gave Gramma a new stuffy, so she now has 4 to take care of. She is very sweet making sure she hugs and cuddles each of her stuffies. She tied bunnies ears together and thought that was a riot. She also has a funny thumb which cracks her up. It's all of a sudden double jointed. I'm thinking her arthritis is making some changes there. I know I can make her do more, make her get up, go out, go on drives, go on walks, but it can be challenging to make her do these things when she is so comfy and seemingly happy all tucked in her bed with her stuffies. Tomorrow is a hair appointment day, so we will get up, go out, have our lunch and frozen yogurt. She'll be out and about for over 2 hours. Today, Again, we will go out for a bit of a walk and see how comfortable she is doing that. The weather is perfect for an at home outing. Of course, the outing has to fit between driving Ashley to piano, then to her new job, then to school. So I'm thinking after Gramma's late breakfast, we will head out about 1pm and stay out until she needs to head back home. I'll then need to get Ashley from school at 3pm. I'm thinking of taking Gramma with me to donate some jewelry to the senior center. Today seems like a good day for that.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday: it's been a full 2 weeks.

Today was an average kind of day, if one has an average day. Ashley got a call to a babysitting job, so before anyone else woke up she and I headed over to meet a nice new family in town and get aquaited with them. Ashley will work a few hours a week. At home I started making the man breakfasts that happen here at our home. Tessa is sick so I cancelled her dental cleaning. Gramma had a simple breakfast of oatmeal, a small yogurt and a pear, plus tea. I engaged her in a conversation about Thanksgiving. We kind of started a menu and I keep asking her for cooking help which gives her something to talk about. It is stuff I do want to know and she is very good at remembering these tasks. She's going to mentor me through her gravy. I need help with it every year. She also wants to help make the stuffing and we plan to make a shortbread crust for our pumpkin pie this year. It looks yummy. We will have traditional crusts for our quiches for brunch, so I wanted to mix it up this year. Tessa asked for that awesome soup from last year. I made butternut squash soup and it was delicious. I have a few squashes on the table and decided to try out a recipe now. I made a very thick, rich Butternut squash soup, just broth, squash, carrots, celery, onions, simmered until soft and then pureed. It came out yummy and Gramma loved my soup. She had a bowl and asked for another bowl. When she finished that she wanted more, but I asked her to wait until later. She headed back to her cozy zone and snoozed for a while, probably 2 hours, then came back out. I gave her an avocado and some more soup. She also had a tiny bowl of pesto pasta. It seemed like a lot of food today, but it was almost all fresh fruit/veggies. I picked up a CD of music at the libray, Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey. Gramma loved listening and talked about memories. She has some but they are hard for her to hold on to. She did ask me about someone named Paul. That kind of stopped me and so I said there are 2 Pauls that are important to you and she said, yea, cousin Paul, but what about the other Paul. My dad was Paul, her husband. He died many many years ago and it seems she has lost her memory of him. Kinda strange. She came out again for some tea, said she couldn't sleep and we all chuckled because it was 7 pm. Time change thing here. She took her good night pills early. No walk today, I'm going to have to motivate that tomorrow.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

When uncomfortable, I support getting the need met

Today I spent the day cooking for a swim banquet that the team has every fall. I made stuffed shells and garlic bread plus Gramma's famous fudge. I convinced Ashley and Jeremy to come too, so 7 of us went, 2 cars just in case someone needed something other than to be at the banquet. First off Riley was upset because his coach somehow forgot 4 of his 13 records. Riley is an accurate guy, so I went with him to talk to his coach and from there it all got cleared up, so by the time the awards were announced, the correct ones were listed. Yea for communicating what is happening. Riley announced that he went from really upset to all good without any big outward expression. I feel good having facilitated this with him, helping voice his truth, trusting his expectations, and getting his need met.

Gramma came with us and she didn't really want to come, didn't grasp what we were going to, and overall was feeling pretty unsure of her self. She feels she embarrasses people and it's sad to know she believes this about herself. There is nothing embarrassing about her to me, but it's how she feels. She had an easy time walking in, we sat before the crowds came, I sat her near the exit and close to the restroom. It was good for a while, we ate our potluck dinner and then she got a little antsy. She calls it square butt, her bottom gets sore form sitting in her walker, but she doesn't want to sit any where else, so.... She got square butt and I took her out to the hallway to chill and get away from the noise. She was wondering how much longer? She wanted to know if she had to stay and I said, "no, you don't have to stay, it's easy to get you home." I asked her to hold on and think about it for a bit and she did. She knew it was something she should do, but her own discomfort was making it hard for her to stay. Yup, she wanted to go home, so we did just that. I had Riley come out and give her a hug. He was a bit sad for a moment, the expectation of having his Gramma at the awards night was changing.

I love where I live. Davis is so small and simple to get around town. In 18 minutes I was back at the banquet after driving her home, tucking her in and giving her some vitamins. Tessa decided to stay home with her. I got back to the banquet right before Riley's awards started and was there for all the recognitions of his swim accomplishments. Ashley and Jeremy were there too and Tim. It was all good, easy, and I think everyone got their needs met. I even took Ashley and Jeremy out for ice cream and cupcakes because all the desserts were gone by the time they went to get theirs.

Gramma did shower again today. She still has a difficult time with the whole shower thing, but physically it is much easier for her to be in the shower because of the bars. I can tell I need some support/understanding about helping with her dementia. I plan to contact the senior center tomorrow and see what info they have and if there are any mental mind game activities around town. Gramma does seem like she just wants to be comfy in bed with her stuffies. She has been having bad dreams lately about dying and having cancer and such. It makes her feel anxious when she wakes up. She asks me several times a day if she's dying. She also asks if she is getting better or worse? I don't really have answers for her. She has a hard time making decisions, like today it didn't matter if she got up at 11, which was 10 or later. It bothered her that she didn't know what to do and she told me to tell her what to do. First I told her to decide what to do. She laughed and said no really, just tell me to get up or not get up. I said get up then and she did. Tomorrow we will take a little walk in the sunshine. Each day I set one goal for us, today it was going to the banquet, yesterday it was wearing a witch costume and chatting with the little kids, tomorrow it's a walk.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween and a House Full of Spooks

I spent all day doing stuff. Up to get Riley to swim practice, then old house for more cleaning, then home, then back out to get Riley, then home, then to Woodland to get Jeremy, then I got to sit down and sew Ashley's dress. It was all cut and ready to go. Some how I picked the wrong version, but it came out cute with the pleats anyhow. She went as a Box of McDonald's French Fies. I made her a red dress then a box of fries and then attached it to her dress. It took me from 11 am until 5 pm. OOOPS, I am not a good time estimated when it comes to sewing. Gramma came and went today in the house. She would come out, hang out, have a little something, then go back to her room. I left her a few times finishing her meal or tea today and she happily cleared her dishes. She just put them on her wheelies and carried them to the counter.

When the trick or treating started up, I had Gramma put on a black dress and a witches hat, I got dressed in Tessa's crazy wig and so did Riley. We all sat at the door and gave out candy, until we ran out, which happened fast. I went out to get more. While I was gone, Gramma headed to bed. I chatted with her a few more times before a final tuck in and teeth stealing. Gramma doesn't bother soaking her teeth, so each night when I give her the final pills for the night, I steal her partials and soak them. I'll give them back in the am when I give her the first early morning pills. Over all a good, at home day. I was distracted from much Gramma focus, but that allowed her to feel a bit more home and take care of a few things, like clearing dishes. She still doesn't have a routine to just come out for activity, it's all meal related, so I try to give her a drink or tea between meals. I'll have more time this coming week to focus on activity here at home that is not food centered.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Carving and a Twitching Leg

The kids are really at peace in this new bigger home of ours. Well, except Tessa still doesn't like to be alone at all. Tonight when I came in from one more trip to the old house, I found all three kids working on big pumpkins. Each had a very unique approach to their masterpieces and each did all the pumpkin guts work their selves. I was able to happily bake some cookies and roast some pumpkin seeds and keep the snacks flowing. It was such a nice moment, I went and got my mom up so she could be with us, see the pumpkin designs, and hang out. I finally started Ashley's dress and made it to having all the pieces cut. It's ready to sew tomorrow am. Gramma got up about 10 pm complaining about her left leg having a muscle twitch. It really bothered her. Ooops, I had gotten so involved in my sewing (well in cutting) that I had forgotten to give her the night time pills which make her sleepy. She's trying really hard to know things and that is progress positive in my opinion. She talked to me about finances tonight, was wondering what would happen to us if she dies, really important stuff. I am so grateful to be available to her when she is so clear. Tessa and I tucked her back in, played with the cat with her and she quickly drifted off to sleep, leg twitch gone.

Anxiety is Up Today

Gramma is a bit more anxious today. Shower day maybe, going out maybe. She did have a very easy time showering today and held on to the bar and washed her toes, all over her body and in general was much more thorough with her cleaning of her body. Yea!!!!

She's trying to grasp why she lives with me, where Patsy, Bob, Wyatt, and Shawn are. She asked what happened to them? Gramma also has a head shake. It has been much reduced lately. I just noticed she's shaking again today. She still wants to know if she is getting worse? We will be going out to have her hair done and lunch at Nugget. We will do this activity 1 time a week for as long as she lives here with me. I'm going to call Bob, my brother, and Patsy, my sister and ask them to call her.

I have to plan for how long it takes to get places. We have a 1pm appointment. I need to go get her up now and out the door.

Safety Bars are In

Yesterday I had a handy man install some safety bars in the bathroom Gramma uses. We put 2 in the shower, a handle to get in and a long bar along the back wall. I also put a bar low down on the wall right in front of the toilet. Gramma likes that bar a lot! She'll try a shower today with the new bars.

We didn't do much yesterday, well I did a lot, but Gramma had a mellow at home day, a little conversation, a little eating, lots of sleeping. She's a bit confused about her hair because it was cut. She asked me if she had chemotherapy! She gets it done again today by my friend Thomas. I added some gardenias to her room. They have always been her favorite flower and the smell is so nice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Phew, what a day

Today was a long day and we still haven't eaten dinner. It's take out and taking a long time getting here. Gramma had a doctor's appointment, one I made just to get use to the new Kaiser here in Davis. Her appointment was at 11 am and I wanted her to shower before she went, so about 9 I got her up and in the shower. I am having safety bars installed tomorrow, so this was her third shower here without the bars and it is pretty stressful for her. She just so feels like she's going to fall and she doesn't spend much quality time washing her self. I am going to have to get more involved in the bathing, but for now, she got an OK soaping, mostly rinsed off and out of there. I knew from last week that it takes her some time to actually get out the door, so at 10am I started heading out. We made it to the car by 10:20 and then to the bank, to drop Ashley off at piano, then the doctor. Tessa came with us. I dropped her and Tessa off at the entrance and they headed inside to get out of the wind. I parked and then joined them. We got signed into the appointment very quickly and were greeted by a very sweet nurse. We then sat and sat and sat waiting for the doctor. Gramma's anxiety increased the longer we waited. Tessa and I played games a lot and finally I went out and asked for when the doctor was coming to see us. Our 11:10 appointment became am 11:40 appointment. Gramma had a very difficult time remembering why we were at the doctors. She asked me many times why. She did not want to be there at all. The doctor asked lots of questions, reviewed her charts, then looked at her sore on her belly, which didn't look as bad as it did 2 days ago, which means she is healing well. It was just an old boil, almost healed. No need for any worry, a little topical ointment and it should heal up just fine. She then needed to go and well, got her pants a little wet again and we just continued on. You couldn't tell, I asked the nurse for a pad for the car and off we went to the pharmacy to pick up meds. That took a little while, but Tessa and Gramma had a nice time waiting and they both noticed the hand sanitizer and Gramma asked to use some.I learned a lot about my mom's medical care and meds and such today which was the exact reason I scheduled this appointment.

We then went out for a bite to eat and yes, Gramma had ice cream for lunch. I asked the server to make her scoops really tiny. I noticed Gramma eats 2 meals a day in general. A late breakfast and a late lunch dinner. So today she had oatmeal and cantaloupe for breakfast, ice cream for snack, and a small bowl of soup for dinner. She also has water, juice and tea. Yesterday she wanted a bean burrito with her soup and so I split one with her to cut back the calories and white carbs. If I served her the whole thing she would eat it all. She enjoyed the half just as much as a whole I think.

We got home about 1:30 and headed right back out to pick up Tessa's friend. I got Gramma all tucked in before we left and Riley was home. I then picked up the safety bars which we will have installed tomorrow. Three of them, one outside the shower, one on the first shower wall and a big long one along the entire length of the long wall of the shower. Hopefully this helps with her security. I still need to get a hose nozzle for the shower so I can wash and rinse all her foldies.

I helped the girls make sugar cookie dough when we got home and then back out to get Ashley. Back home I made Ashley lunch, helped Riley get ready to swim, and baked the cookies. Gramma woke up to the smell and she had one tiny star cookie with the girls. Then off to bring Riley to swim practice. Gramma stayed home with the girls and hung out with them while I was gone. I got home just in time to get the girls to theater at 4:30. I worked a bit at theater and then headed home to be with Gramma.

She was in the process of getting ready for bed and I thought it was a bit early, so I asked her to come have a small bite to eat and hang out with me for a bit. Quality 15 minute moment. I served her 1/2 can of yummy gumbo soup that we have in the pantry. She then went and brushed her teeth and got ready for bed while I went to do the pick up rounds. Tim was home now to.

I got Riley, then the 4 girls at theater. I dropped 2 girls off, brought Riley home and took my two to get their Annie scripts bound. It took forever and Tessa was in a melting down mode. She was mad her script was wrinkled from use, mad at how I arranged her music, classic Tessa mad. Her madness made waiting that much longer and she was so stuck. Her script also didn't bind well because it was so wrinkled and she started in again being so upset and sure she can't get another one...I have to remember to breathe. Anything I say escalates the issue. Absolutely everything I say is wrong and doesn't help at all and she vocalizes how wrong I am, spinning up into her emotions...It's well, it's Tessa and it's part of who she is.

We got home at 8pm and I remembered I forgot something at theater that I needed, so I dropped the girls off and headed back down the street to get the coupons to the fabric store that I dropped. I had a sweet nice visit with 2 theater friends, took my time to breathe, and headed back home. I've been blogging since and should really go eat now that our dinner is finally here. Gramma needs her final pills for the night too and I'll hang out with her for a bit while she settles in to sleep.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mellow Day. It's been a week!

Today we had a huge wind storm. It's still blowing crazy outside. I ran some morning errands with Ashley before we all started our day. Gramma was cozy in bed and the wind was fascinating toher. We closed up the house and boy do double pane windows make a difference. In our previous house a wind storm like this would rattle the whole house, making it sound like the glass might pop out.

Last night I was at a meeting from 7-9 and Tessa noticed Gramma looked tired and gave her the night time pills right at 9. She felt very proud to have gone in and presented her with her water and 2 pills.

We took today easy, running short errands while someone stayed home in case Gramma needed any thing. She did have an accident today that startled her. When she got to the bathroom some how between the bed and the toilet she wet herslef and it confused her. Like with my children when they were young, I simply smiled, asked her to take off her wet pants and I got her clean things to wear. I think I'll keep a change of bottoms in the bathroom in case that happens again and she can change herself. She wondered why she wet her pants. I've noticed when she has to go she doesn't always want to get up and it takes her quite sometime to actually decide, OK, I'm going to go now. I think after her breakfast with juice and tea, she had a very full bladder and didn't quite get up soon enough. No big deal, so real mess, her freshly changed bed was still all dry.

Gramma was up with us for her late breakfast and hung out for awhile. She then wanted to sleep and stay in bed. Finally I got her up about 4:30 and she had another meal and I sat at the table with her after to keep her up and alert. Tessa played the piano in the other room. She played jingle bells and Gramma sang along from her spot at the table. Tessa then tried a new song and Gramma knew the song. As Tessa slowly worked the song Gramma paused while Tessa figured out the next note. It was a neat moment and gave me an idea for an activity with Gramma. Her singing along was very sweet and she loved when Tessa had to pause for a note, she waited until the note was hit and then kept on singing. Cool Cool Cool.

Gramma has a doctor's appointmnet tomorrow. I want to have her skin looked at and she has a sore that needs attention under her belly fold. She tucks tissues into her belly fold and I'm not sure why she does that and neither does she.

More Pumpkin Patch Pictures

Monday, October 26, 2009

Perpetual Breakfasts, Hair Do, Pumpkin Patch

Gramma was more clear this am and simply got up when I got home from a gardening job around 10am. She ate breakfast, just a bit after Ashley had me make her breakfast. Riley then got up about the time Gramma headed back to her room for a rest and I made him something to eat. Tessa got up about 45 minutes later and I made her something too. Once again, did I make myself something other than coffee? No. I showered and got ready for the day also.

Around noon I got Gramma up and I got her set up to wash her hair in the sink. She does a very thorough job scrubbing until it's squeaky clean. Wow, blast to my childhood sitting in the tub washing my hair until it was squeaky. We then set her up for a blow dry. I dried, Tessa brushed. Not bad. I then curled her hair with a curling iron, Tessa ratted the curls and we styled away together. I know Tessa would like to own this job and I'm going to have her learn from the best, my friend Thomas. Mom liked her hair, told me to brush it up a bit more in one spot. It amazes me what she can see. She asked for a mirror to check herself out. We then headed out to our local pumpkin patch.

Gramma did great at the pumpkin patch. She had to walk/roll over hay and a slight grade. She then saw the kittens and decided we had to make it in to hold them. The four kids with me scampered all over the place and I walked my mom's speed with her, holding her walker for her assurance that she was making it along ok. First up was a baby bunny that needed some loving. Gramma held that sweet baby who fell asleep. She asked if she could kiss it and gave in a few light smooched. We then headed over to the kittens, but a baby goat got in Grammas path. Did you know this little lady can touch her toes. She grabbed onto the seat of her walker and reached right down to the ground to give the baby goat some love. The goat liked her walker alot and followed under her until I shooed it away for it and Gramma's safety. She held a baby kitten next. We walked in the barn and she played with some goats, a baby cow, and looked at the other animals. I had her sit in the shade for a bit while I helped the kids find pumpkins and then I got her into the van, drove up to the area we pay for our goods, and off home we went, 8 pumpkins, 1 Gramma, 1 mom, 2 teen aged girls, 1 12 year old boy and Tessa, almost 10. We stopped at the strawberry farm next door for some yummy fall harvest fresh strawberries. Yum. We got home about 3pm and Gramma took a snooze.

She just ate her main meal of the day with us, kind of a lunch dinner. She had some baby oreos. It's all about chocolate for her and she is not kidding around. If there is one thing she remembers is to ask for chocolate after a meal. I'm doing the yes we have some, no not right now with her as I don't want it to be expected that at every meal there will be chocolate. I bought some fat free pudding with added calcium as a side dish for once in awhile. She's having a little bit of some kind of chocolate each day and I feel that is perfect. It is what she loves alot.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

She can't tell a lie

Gramma was all tucked in bed cozy when I got home from driving Jeremy home. Tessa and I watched the last of a cake challenge show with her and then I asked her if she brushed her teeth, She said I did, then smiled and said I did not. I'll get them in the am. I took her partials for a soak and I'll make sure she scrubs those chompers in the am. She laughed hard when she told the truth and blushed a little for trying to lie. One lesson my mom always reminded me of is honesty is the best policy. I'm glad she still practices what she told me long ago.

She misses the family back home

Tamara, my niece, Gramma's first Granddaughter, visited today and when she and I were outside Gramma came out all by herself and sat by the pool and listened to the foutain. She's going to like that spot I can tell. The visit was great and since my niece also works in assisted living, she has lots of gems of info to offer me. Like she told me a product that should help with my mom's skin. Tamara also brought a big bouquet of roses from her mom's garden. They are perfect in Grammas room and smell so nice.

When I got back from a quick trip to the store, Gramma was crying and worried about the 2 grandkids she moved away from and my sister. They have all lived together forever, my sister has shared a home with my mom for many many years. Her babies came home to their house and my mom helped raise them. Up until recently, Gramma was a provider of afternoon care for the kids, until she stopped being able to care for herself. Today she really missed them and needed to know why she was away from them. I called them and then Shawn called back which made Gramma feel content, knowing that they were all ok. She likes to know when she is going to see someone next, but....she has dementia and really doesn't remember when that time is.

Dinner was a riot. Tessa made ghost stew and batty cookies. Really yummy and we all enjoyed are selves, except Tessa, who has a hot/cold thing going for Riley. Tonight she was really on him and it made it a bit stressful at times. She hurt his feelings, he moved to a different chair, what she visualized didn't happen. She was tense, in a I am the chef and I want this dinner perfect. Again, I did not take pictures, but imagine a small bowl of stew or a small bowl of clam chowder (Tessa changed the recipe) Then piped on to that a big ghosty shape of creamy mashed potatoes. I need to refine my creamy potatoes, maybe use sour cream next time or cream cheese. They were runny. Capers for eyes and cheese all around. We all are full. Gramma is tucked in bed. She is very capable of her bedtime routine, though I'm not sure she brushed her teeth. I'll get her too next time she needs to use the bathroom.


My mom does not like the process of taking a shower, mainly because she is afraid she is going to fall and she's blind so she can't see well around her. I did add a non slip mat. I'm not sure it helped because it buckled a bit under her weight. She will have safety bars installed early next week. I wish she would sit down and I'm going to get her a chair for sitting just in case I can encourage her to change from standing to sitting. I also will try to shift from her being completely independant in the shower to me helping her get all the creases and things for her skin to be more healthy. She cried with fear getting in and needed lots of encouragement with what to do. She gets around just fine, but her fear of falling makes her really unsure. I'm also going to get a hand held shower attachment. Good thing is, she took one and she won't need another one for 2-3 days.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Busy Saturday

Gramma is still very confused about living here. She asks alot if she can stay. She's getting annoyed with her own need to ask and I take this as she's getting comfortable with the idea that she lives here.

I worked this am, first time since we moved and that felt great. I garden for seniors and somehow I just have a knack with the sweet old ladies. They just love chatting with me. I walk around the gardens, clipping and chatting, raking leaves, turning earth, prepping and maintaining.

Tim worked at finishing the move from the old house. The final final is dragging on. He went to the dump 3 times with the last big stuff we no longer needed or was useful. I think we are done, except....Ugh, yup I have a few more boxes of things. I took Riley to an afternoon swim meet and was gone for about 4 hours.

Tim and the girls tended to Gramma's needs, which were minimal. She slept and finally got hungry and asked for lunch. She'll get dressed if you leave an outfit out for her. This evening after dinner, Tessa and I spent over an hour going through her things. I was looking for some bacterban for an ouch she has, so I slowly worked through her supplies, organizing and dumping. We found a bunch of jewelry and Tessa loved talking to Gramma about the pieces. I threw away alot of old empty tubes that moved with her. Tessa tried on alot of her clothes and found her a witch costume, because that is what Gramma wants to be for Halloween. She wants to give out candy.

We had some fun conversations. I took down her big puffy coat she bought one year when she travelled to DC. She hugged up her coat and talked about how much she loved her puff. One of our cats came in and gave her love. She melted to the kitty purrs and I'm going to make sure our sweet kitty makes lots of visits.

She asks some interesting questions and it gives you an idea how the confusion is for her. Tonight, she asked again what happened to Mike, my brother, who died from melanoma. She thinks she did it to him, because he didn't wear sunscreen and it makes her very sad to talk about Mike. She also asked when she had her breast removed. She had a mastectomy about 10 years ago. She looked at me and said, "when did I loss my breast?" Decisions are difficult. She likes to laughs and we are finding our way to laughter often.

She's asleep for the night. I'm starting to sense her routine and by 7:30 or 8pm she changes without prompting into her nightgrown and gets ready for bed. She complained a little at me when I asked her brush her teeth, but she did :-)

Tomorrow will be a shower day and I don't have the bars installed yet. They are getting installed later in the week. We'll work through it though. I did get her some non slip mats. I'll have her wash her hair too and we might even do nails tomorrow. I get to try out styling her new haircut. I was given instructions by Thomas on how to Do the Do.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today was a Sleeping Day

Today, Gramma didn't want to get up. I left to go couch shopping at 9, left instructions with my son, left breakfast. When we got home at 11, she was still snoozing. I had to go out again and asked her if she was ready for breakfast. Nope, not ready. She seemed really fearful this am, like if I get up and get dressed, I'm going to be moved, so I left her all snugly, opened up the blinds a bit to let the day in and went about my day with my kids.

After getting Ashley and her bff to Biology, I checked in again at home, made lunch for Riley and Tessa, invited Gramma to join us, but she said nope and snuggled back in to her pillows. I opened the window, adjusted the blinds again and left for a journey to dump off some donations and check for a Halloween item with Tessa. We got home near 2pm and then I went in and asked my mom to come eat and join us for a meal. She did. She got up, put on the clothes I had lay out, did her hair and makeup and had lunch with us. She and Tessa had a great conversation. While mom was up I changed out her sheets and then she and Tessa joined me in her room. I had her fold her laundry and we put her clothes away. She was joyful while Tessa and I cleared her room of some of the moving in clutter. After our cleaning and bed making, she climbed back into bed for a snooze.

Tessa made dinner tonight. She cooked cuckoos, which we got from a Halloween magazine. You make funny bird faces using meatballs and veggies all on a toasted bun. They came out so cute and we set the nice table for our dinner. Ashley's friend Jeremy was with us and all 7 of us were served a cuckoo. I added some steamed green beans, more meatballs in red sauce and we had a great meal, complete with conversations from everyone, including Gramma. Gramma was so in love with waking up to the sound of piano playing. Jeremy and Ashley take turns playing songs and Gramma really enjoyed it this evening. She stayed up for awhile longer, had a small piece of fudge which makes her so happy, and then went off to get in her PJ's. She's been in bed since, sleeping peacefully.

She's asking her question of do I have to move differently now which makes me feel like she is starting to understand that she lives here with us. She is very afraid of moving again and tears up thinking about it. I'm making moving jokes with her when she asks if she has to move again. I say, nope, you live here, but you do have to move over so I can sit, or you do need to move to the table for dinner. Little word games to help her play and lighten up the mood. She seems game.

I didn't take her to her psychiatry appointment in Marin today. She just didn't seem capable of a long drive and she doesn't like going to the doctors. I will communicate with her doctor through email as we transfer her from Marin to Davis care. I should have an appointment lined up in the next week at the clinic here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hair Do Thursday

I finally got Gramma to Thomas, the most awesome hair stylist I have met. He is just great. Both my mom and I had our hair done today. She looks so good. Past history. My mom has always gone to get her hair done, for as long as I can remember. She would go to Rennie on Fridays. Sometimes she would go other times, like for a special occasion. She always did her hair. About 9 months ago, she stopped making the trip to Rennie. She stopped caring for herself, she basically stopped. That's when we started trying to figure out what was going on. She has not had her hair done since then, not at all. Her grey hair hung limp and she pulled in back in a pony tail holder. She tried a few times to pin curl it, but basically, she did nothing with her hair. Today after Thomas finished her Do, she looked like her self, so much more her than the pony tail do she has been doing. I now have a standing appointment with Thomas for my mom on Thursdays, or Fridays to have her hair done.

After the hair saloon, we headed over to the very spectacular Nugget Market and boy was Gramma hungry. She smelled all the good smells, asked if we were eating there, and just smiled and smelled. She and Tessa had bowls of Clam chowder while Riley and I grocery shopped.It was a perfect outing. She napped the rest of the day, then came out for dinner with Tim and several teen aged girls.

She's missing her home before here today and has spent some time crying and telling me she misses Wyatt and Shawn (my niece and nephew). She still isn't sure where she is or why. I'm wondering if she ever really will?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yup, you're staying

Mom is still not convinced she is going to stay living with us. She smiles whenever I tell her that she is now a Davis resident. I'm going to have her register to vote. How does that work for a person with dementia who is blind? I do not know, probably absentee ballot. We all have been talking about the peacefulness we need to convey whenever she asks us the same question.

Dentist Visit then Ice Cream

Getting us all up and out this am was rememicent of having toddlers. Ashley had to at piano by 10:45. Then I went home to get Gramma. She needed to brush her teeth before we went..That took longer than I estimated. I had to pick up Ashley's friend and then Ashley at piano. We headed to the dentist next. I had to fill out a new patient form. WOW question upon question. Gramma knew some, didn't know others, and I am forever grateful for our dentist office. They just looked up her insurance info without me having any idea what her coverage was like. She finally got into the chair, though that was a bit of a challenge. The break was not part of her partial at all, it was her own tooth, cracked in half. I had told her no real work, and here she was less than 12 hours in her new town and she is having extensive dental work done. My dentist rocks. He is so kind and smooth and calm. He got her laughing with him and was able to perform the work even though she has a head tremor thingy happening. All and all the dentist visit went great. Tessa, my 9 year old stayed with Gramma when I had to schleep the teens up the street to Biology class. While in the dentist chair, Gramma asked if she could have Baskin Robbins? Yup, sure thing. So after her appointment, we headed for chocolate sundaes. I called Riley to see if he wanted to join us and the 4 of us all went out. Gramma choose to have car service. She's been asleep since the big dentist adventure, snoozing in her new room, sun streaming across her bed. She looks content. Still worried, still afraid she's going to have to move again, but cozy and content.

First Night, First Morning

Gramma went to sleep easily. I didn't hear her at all through the night, so I am taking that as a good sign. She was up when I got up at 7am to give her her first round of pills. These pills need to be taken without food, so I give them early in the am and I tucked her back into bed. 9 am will be the official wake up time for Gramma, that's when she can get dressed or not, and come eat breakfast with one or more of the kids. She was confused again this am about why she is here. She somehow hasn't let it sink in that she moved to Davis to live with us. She's afraid she's going to be put in a home, sent away, not wanted. She does feel a bit like she was sent away and one could look at the situation and agree. We know, though, that her moving in with me and my family will keep her from being sent away. I am hoping to help her grasp this through the next few weeks as we all get to know each other.

She's funny and doesn't shut the door when in the bathroom. Depending on where you stand on the stairs, you can have a view almost into the bathroom, so I do think my idea of hanging a curtain at the entrance to her space will give a little bit of privacy.

I am off to shower and get ready for our day. First up, call the dentist to have the bridge work done. Then stop by the senior center to see if we can borrow some equipment for the bathroom, like a shower chair and a commode riser. We have Ashley's piano lesson at 10:45 to get too and the girls have Biology at noon followed by math, so I will have some carpooling duties today as well. Riley will go to swimming and both girls will go to theater. I need to work on costumes for Annie and will head down to theater once Tim is home from work. A regular day, now with Gramma living here too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

She's here

Gramma made it today about 2 hours after the movers got her bed set up. I was able to unpack and make her bed and get her room set up before she arrived. She had a meltdown about my nieces little bear she wanted to take with her. My niece wasn't ready to part with the bear. Turns out Tessa has one just like it and I placed in on the stairs for when she came in. She found the bear and my sister told her it was the same bear. I'm not really OK with story telling like this, even to someone who has dementia. I couldn't handle them telling her yup the bear must of been with the movers. I'll talk with my mom about it tomorrow and let her know we provided a substitute bear for her.

Gramma loves the house. She just feels it is huge and beautiful. Her furniture is the same light maple shade as the floors and her room looks so nice. It was bigger than I thought too. She seems to be able to use the bathroom just fine, made it all around the down stairs, ate dinner with us, had a cup of tea and then asked for her PJ's. She's teary as expected, afraid she's going to be taken and put away somewhere, not sure why she's here with us, but at the same time she knows.

Her tooth broke off her bridge, so she's feeling a little unsightly and I'll make her an appointment at the dentist tomorrow. She also needs to see a new primary care doctor. I'll take her to Marin on Friday to see her psychiatrist and get a recommendation for a new doctor up here.

Tonight is her first night here and I'm hoping she's tired and able to sleep OK. Lot's of new noises here and the train can be heard roaring down the tracks early in the morning. She's alseep right now. In a little bit I'll bring her the last pills of the night. The very important dementia pills.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tomorrow is the Day of the Big Move

Gramma is going to actually move in tomorrow. Yup, Tuesday, Oct 20th, in the evening my sister and her2 kids are driving her up. Her stuff will be brought up earlier in the day by a friend who owns a moving company. Tomorrow seems perfect. Yesterday was hectic, today it rained and was (is) Ashley B-day, tomorrow is just a good plain perfect day for this adventure to begin. I have been blessing the house with energy of connection and warmth getting things ready. My one big concern is will she like the smaller room? The wood floors? Being down stairs while the rest of us are up stairs? Will she be able to maneuver her walker around and will she feel warm enough and cozy enough to call this home? We won't know until she is here and living with us. So tomorrow is the day and it's going to be perfect and OK and good.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Are you sure? she asks

Mom wasn't able to move in today. The mover couldn't move her furniture. Once her bed moves then she moves, as she doesn't want a new bed at all. Hers is hers and the place she spends much of her time. I just talked on the phone with my mom to see how she's doing, as my sister has mentioned she depressed. I know she is scared and she told me plainly, I'm scared. I can deal with scared. She's lived in her home for 45 years. I don't think she ever imagined living anywhere else. Her moving in with us came about with the dementia diagnosis and is a big big change for her, so of course she is scared. I'm looking forward to the transition from mom will move in to mom has moved in. So much is in the unknown right now. Will she be able to get in and out of her shower here. What bath safety work do we need to do to make sure it is safe. We have new doctors to meet and new routines to establish. I have clients who want yard work done, but I'm not sure of my availability yet.

On the phone, she sounded scared, yet hopeful. Eager too for the change to happen. She's been waiting since mid August, that's when I offered to have her live with us and she accepted. She still wants confirmation that it's OK to move in with us and having dementia doesn't help her remember that yes, she is welcome and we all are ready for the move. She asked me 10 times, Are you sure? And each time I answered, yes, I am sure we want you? Deep down inside I don't think she feels she is wanted places and it will be nice to show her, that yes she is wanted and welcome into our home.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sunday is the Big Day

This coming Sunday, Oct 18 th, the day before my oldest daughter turns 15, my mom is moving in with us. That's in 2 days. She's 78, declining mentally and physically. She really wishes she could stay and live where she has for the past 45 years, but life at her home is becoming expensive with caregivers and overnight help. Having Gramma move in has allowed my family to move into a much bigger, more modern, nicer home. We now have 3 bathrooms, a total of 7 sinks, a pool in the back yard, and 5 bedrooms. We have a piano room, a dining room, a kitchen area and living room. The house is nice in a way we have not lived, only dreamed of. It's too close to the freeway for my tastes, but the light and wood is beautiful. My closet has 3 walls of bars, 4 shelves, a light and a door. And my husband has his own closet, not quite as roomy as mine, but big enough for him, his dresser, and all his stuff.

Mom has dementia. We are just getting use to what type, what meds work and all the stuff a diagnosis of dementia brings into those who are close to the person. Mom needs help with remembering what to do every day, like, when do I get up, do I need to get dressed, what am I doing today. She's capable of taking care of her needs, can shower and get dressed, but she can't remember if she ate, what she ate, or even if she's hungry. She needs help with taking her medications, and more than anything, she needs loving company and mental stimulation.

I homeschool my kids, all 3 of them, so we are home day and night. We have all kinds of fun going on at home, from baking, to singing, to piano playing, video games, life, all day every day flows through our home. So Gramma is coming to homeschool with us and it is both really exciting and really scary all at the same time.

I hope mom likes it here. I hope she can be comfortable. I hope she can open up a bit to doing activities around town. More than anything, I hope she feels at peace with herself and her surrounding and becomes OK with being dependant. This option of her living here with us just one of several options. She could stay where she is, spend a ton of money on caregivers, and continue to live with my sister and her family. My sister is at a place in her life, though, that she needs not to have the burden of a dependant mother at home. Her kids are growing and need more room, she works full time and can not be with mom easily day in and day out. She also travels for work. My brother works too and again, the lack of daily activity just leave mom alone. Another option is assisted living and mom really does not want to move to a home. She has a big fear of homes and has made it clear she would rather die than move into a home. So I'm offering the gift of our home, for now, and we will see where this adventure takes us with Gramma makes 6.