Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Take away the limits and the cravings do change! Unschooling Gramma


I originally set this blog up to document our homeschooling life and the changes that came with my mom moving in. It started out being all about my mom, her daily life and what we were experiencing. Getting back to the plan, I want to write today about some changes I have noticed with my mom regarding food.

Gramma, Marie, My mom, Gmom...She lives with us now, has been here since October, and we all have a very nice routine in place. Gramma loves to eat, eats for happiness, eats for sadness. She eats. She loves food. She loves rich foods, sweet foods, hearty foods, tasty foods, fresh foods....Most all foods, except peppermint:-)

She especially loves chocolate. Since the day she moved in, whenever I asked, what do you want from the store, she says, bring chocolate. And so we have. We have had chocolate in the house, good quality dark chocolate, low end holiday chocolate, chocolate milk, hot chocolate. If it is chocolate, we have been keeping it in the house. And we have been giving my mom some at each meal. Nothing too huge, just a piece or two with her breakfast, a piece or 2 after dinner. We make cakes and share them with her. We buy ice cream and give her some....5 months later, she says, enough chocolate, I just really like those fiber bars....Those are just as good as any chocolate I eat. So lets not get anymore candy, ok.

Well then Easter came, and more chocolate. She's still liking chocolate candy, if you put some on her plate she'll eat it. But, in general, Gramma will be happily satisfied with a chocolate chip fiber bar, thank you very much she says.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wow, February is almost over

February 27th. One more day until March starts and I have zero posts for Feb. When I started writing this blog I had big intentions to make a summary of everyday, as a living diary of our life now that Gramma lives with us. Life, a new job, theater, playing with my kids, shopping trips,and sharing the computer all contribute to my lack of writing, as does my own motivation to actually make a post.

Update. Gramma has been more confused in some ways, less interested in anything other than her meals most days, but what I see is if I make chooses for her, she will go along. I find I am flowing between what my mom needs, what my kids need, each one unique, what I need, what the house needs...And since Gramma is comfortable, it can be easy to keep things simple and not work so hard to entertain her. She hasn't wanted to watch the Olympics with us, nor American Idol, even though Ellen D is a judge. She has asked to watch Good Morning America though. I try to connect with her over food, always asking her for advice how to cook. I recently steamed her some brussel sprouts, having her walk me through the entire process, from cutting the stems, to stemming, to testing if they are done. Tessa continues to keep connected to Gramma, and Ashley is making an effort too. Riley is pleasant at best and walks away when he has trouble coping. I keep talking with him and so far, he is really showing maturity with his tolerance.

Visits from my sister and her kids followed with my mom crying a lot. Somehow she feels when ever someone gives her attention, it's because they know she is dying. She is so very afraid of dying, that she will stay under her covers and hide from life as to not die. I have been light with her and continue to point out how she is living....She enjoys in the moment when she has conversations with her family and friends, but she also has more emotions following the conversations. Lots of hugs, lots of I love you, and so glad we all share this house help her move through the moments. Awhile back she got very sad about her son Mike, who passed away several years ago. We sat and cried and talked about him and what was interesting is it was near his B-day that the sadness came about.

She does remember day to day stuff, sporadically and I think she has more memory than she chooses to use. When asked very specific questions, like who did you taxes, she tells me all about them. When asked if she snacked in the middle of the night, she says, I don't know. When I ask how she liked the midnight snack, she says, I had a fiber bar and a banana, so...she knows, she wants to please, she doesn't ever want to feel she is bugging anyone, she wants to be loved, experience love and stay cozy and warm.

Yesterday we went to Thomas' new shop and it started to pour down rain. We had fun, Gramma had to walk pretty far, and when we were through she lept into the car with so much agility, she looked like a little kid. It was fun to see her out in a rain storm, you could see it was stressing her out, walking was challenging, she wanted to get to the car and out of the rain. We had an umbrella for her to keep her new Do all dry. Fun.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is the blog broken? An update

No, the blog is not broken, I just keep finding other blogs to read and forget to write on my own. I can say that things have shifted from the new to the more this is our life now. Some of the days are more fluid than others. My mom has shown a whole lot more emotion both joy and frustration, which I think is very good, but at the same time it can be a bit scary too? I went away for my first weekend, leaving Tim and Tessa in charge. From their perspective things went great. My mom spent a lot of time crying yesterday, though, so I'm not sure she enjoyed me being gone. She then wanted to go out and about and that is what we did. I took her to run errands, took her to buy makeup, took her to Target for the first time. She opted to sit at the entrance and not walk in very far, but she went in and talked to someone and had a nice time. She easily gets up and out here, on days she wants too. On other days, she just wants to stay tucked in bed. I let her decide, which sometimes makes her mad because she wants to be told what to do. For those who know me, I don't tell people what to do:-)

We all will be taking a ski vacation on Sunday through Tuesday. I have a friend who is available to be here for my mom, though my mom doesn't know her very well. I am sure it's going to be a bit hard for Gramma and part of me is uncomfortable leaving her, but I need to trust she will be fine, even if she is a bit sad, and we need to carry on as a family and enjoy our life, like going skiing together.

Gramma has been getting into various snacks when we are not available and they are not the most nutritious ones. She made herself a bread butter and sugar sandwich yesterday. She ate the sugar cookies we had left out. We are now putting the butter up at night, just to make sure she is supervised when she uses it. Part of me is glad she is comfortable enough in the house to make her own things in the kitchen and part of me wants to be there to see what she is getting into, because her food cravings are sweet, sweets, and sweeter.

Riley and Tim find some of my mom's habits hard to tolerate and I am making sure to keep the line of communication open. I don't want anyone to feel they are suffering in our living situation and I want to help figure out solutions to problems that come up. Right now my mom is having a struggle showering, as she hates to take one. So on days when it is shower day, I am staying in the bathroom with her and will begin helping her clean herself. She doesn't like this at all. I invested in a hand held shower handle and will install that. She just hates the shower so much she goes in and gets out before she really cleans herself.

She does seem a bit more confused and yet at the same time, more centered. Dementia is weird, unpredictable, and fluid. I'm planning to reach out to the community for some resources on understanding a bit more about caring for an older person with memory issues. I want to make sure she has all the available support as we navigate this phase of her life.

Friday, January 8, 2010

First Feelings of being overwhelmed

I have a cold, and I don't feel great lately and have been very tired at the end of the day and not wanting to actually interact with my family at times. In general, we all support each other when we have these fleeting moments of needing our own personal space. But, with Gramma, everyone in the house always gets me when she comes out for a bit and a bite.

Well, those were last weeks feelings and have vanished, though I was able to chat with all family members about my need for help at times and I think we have a new balance.

Now on to now. Gramma has been a bit ill lately. She caught the cold that I had and was in bed for about 3 days feeling terrible. She didn't eat anything from Monday evening until Thursday morning, when she woke up and asked what's for breakfast. We had a dozy of a day on Thursday, she has lots of toileting issues. I changed lots of sheets, made sure she was comfortable, put the hospital pads on, and made sure she showered and I helped wash her. She sometimes gets sad feeling so dependant, but I try to keep it light and remind her she is loved and we all need help at times. She hasn't been out since she got the cold and yesterday her back hurt. I made her meals and served them in her room, which she liked a lot. Today we will work on getting back to our regular routine, as I help her get up and showered, then dressed and ready to eat a meal at the table.

I have had fun connecting with Gramma over things she likes. We put on the Ellen show now every day at 4 and Tessa and I often sit with my mom and laugh along with Ellen. Yesterday Gramma asked to watch the playoff football game and I'll put the games on for her today. She also likes Ugly Betty, so I'm going to start getting her some netflix season's of that and see if it is on anytime here. Over all Gramma is staying in her room, resting mostly, eating a little, and needing some assistant to maintain her daily hygiene and overall quality of life. She would never shower if she had her way!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Gramma with Thomas, a weekly adventure

Here's a nice New Years Eve picture with Gramma and my good friend Thomas, who is an awesome stylist and very kind soul. He takes great care of my mama each week, gets her chatting and telling stories. He washes then sets her hair, something she has enjoyed as long as I have known my mom. She feels so good after a Thomas date and we always follow up our hair appointment with a soup and hot cocoa at Nugget Market. It makes for a good reason to get up and walk, we walk from the car to the shop, then back to the store and then to the car again. For my mama, walking about 100 feet is her limit, then a break, then we walk again. Our little hair, lunch, car fits perfectly in with her ability to get to each place. I'm looking forward to her joining a dynabands group this week at the senior center. She's finally ready to do more out and about activities.