Trying to make it through life with His help.

Posts tagged ‘memory’

Being Safe at Home

I’m going to start this one out with something that should go without saying: This is my opinion, based on my experience(s). Yours will be, I’m sure, totally different. Any advice I give is done so with the intent of possibly helping someone else who is – or will be – going through a similar situation. I wasn’t paid to endorse any of the items listed below. It’s just what we bought, and thought it might help you. What you do in your situation, will be your decision, based on your situation.

I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve written. But, honestly, I just haven’t had the time, or energy, to do just one more thing that I ‘should’ do. If you know me, or have read some of my previous blogs, you know that my sweet Mom has dementia. It has slowly, but surely, taken over most of my life. Not because I am her sole caregiver, but, because I feel I need to be here for her and my Dad as much as I can, while I can. I don’t think it’s fair to leave my Dad here with her 24/7 without giving him some sort of break from her. That may sound like it’s a really cruel thing to say about my own Mother, but, you try dealing with someone who is confused about pretty much everything, sees and talks to people who aren’t there, can’t get thoughts across, is stubborn as a mule, (ha!), and falls up to two to three times a week, and see how quickly you need a break. I’m not here all the time, I have a job, and I get frustrated with her. But, for the most part, my Dad is extremely patient with her. He has his moments, but, for the most part, it’s because he loves her more than he loves himself, that he takes care of her every need. Which, at 87, can’t be easy.

In this post, I thought I’d give you some ideas about what you might be facing if you’re in a similar situation. That being, keeping your loved one at home with you for as long as possible, before having to place them in a facility to take care of things you’re no longer able to do. First, let me say, get help. There are agencies that help, and are paid through Social Security. Do your research on the internet, you’ll find a lot of them. We lucked out and got some wonderful people from Willowbrook Home Health. They will come out and review your situation and send the help needed. (At least that’s how it worked for us). Every single person we have worked with from Willowbrook is top-notch and so very nice. They genuinely care for their patients. They will advise you as to the equipment you will need to get to make your home easier for your loved one to live in.

I have to say, too, that your loved one must be willing to cooperate with the things you get for them. As I said earlier, my Mom is quite stubborn, and does exactly what she wants to do, and doesn’t listen to us much any more. I have to smile at this, because it lets us know that my Mom is ‘still in there’, somewhere. So, she doesn’t always use the things we’ve gotten for her. We haven’t gotten her a walker of some kind because we know that she will absolutely refuse to use it. (Can you say, “prissy”?!) 🙂

These are things WE were told we needed. Your situation may be different. And, make it easy on yourself, don’t run all over town trying to find things. Order them from Amazon. If you don’t have Prime, it might be worth getting it so you can get things to your home quicker. (If you’re interested, you can use AmazonSmile, which allows a small portion of what you spend to be donated to a charity of your choice).

1.) Car Assistance Handle. This is one of those handy-dandy handles that fits in the inside of an open car door. In actuality, my Mom hasn’t needed this too much, but, I think it’ll come more in handy for my Dad. They vary in price, but you can expect to pay $10-$25 for one. I got lucky and found a kit that had three different items for car assistance items in it. It’s no longer available, or I would give you the link.

2.) Tub Transfer Bench. You’ll need this to get them safely in and out of the tub.

3.) Gait Belt. This can be a wonderful thing to help you assist someone who is unsteady on their feet to walk, and not fall. If you want to see how to put it on, this, (according to the comments), is the best video out there. If you’re curious as to exactly what it is, watch the video in the link above, and it should explain everything.

4.) Hand-Held Shower Device. You may already have something like this. We didn’t, and totally LOVE this one.

These last few items weren’t recommended by the staff who come to check in on my Mom. But, they’ve definitely helped us.

5.) Bedside Commode. Because walking becomes increasingly difficult, you learn quickly that this is a good thing to have around when they can’t get to the bathroom fast enough.

6.) Self-Adhesive Wrap Bandages. I don’t care who you are, these are a pretty handy thing to have. My Dad needs them more than Mom, though. He likes to put band-aids with ointment on all the time when he gets a cut or scrape. (He’s always ‘playing in the dirt’ or puttering in the garage). Because he’s still pretty active, they don’t stay on too well. But, wrap it up with some of this, and it’s not going anywhere! 🙂 There are bigger, and smaller, boxes of these bandages. This one was just a pretty good deal, so I got it. I’ll probably give a few rolls away.

7.) Stove Knob Covers. Oh, my goodness. I can’t tell you the peace of mind these have given me! Sometimes, Mom gets up in the middle of the night and starts ‘cooking’. Most of the time she just fills up pots/pans with water and sets them on the stove. But, recently, I heard her fall, and ran into the kitchen to pick her up. As I picked her up, I noticed she had turned on two or three of the stove eyes. I knew right then that I had to find something to prevent her from doing it again. A friend at work suggested these. I couldn’t wait to get them home! Because dementia patients at this stage don’t ‘learn new tricks’, she’s not able to figure out how they work and turn the knob to heat the eye.

8.) Paper Medicine Cups. You know what these are, they’re the little paper cups you can get at Wendy’s or Arby’s for sauce. As Mom has gotten worse, she’s having more and more trouble taking her pills. (When she takes them. Again, stubborn!) 🙂 So, I figured, for a little bit of nothin’, I’ll see if these will help.

9.) Door Chime/Alarm. These have helped with peace of mind, too. You’ll find that you just can’t be with them every second of the time you’re home. And, people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s can wander if given half a chance. Thankfully, my Mom has only wandered off once without us knowing. Talk about being freaked out! But, these door chimes are loud. (I muted it with gauze, but then my Dad couldn’t hear it, even standing right in front of it. So I had to take it off). So, once installed, you should be able to hear it from anywhere in the house when the door is opened.

It’s a shame I couldn’t think of one more thing to round out the list…but that’s just my OCD talking.

My advice is to do as much as you can, as often as you can. They’re not going to be here forever, and you don’t want to look back later, and wish you’d been there more often, or done more because you were ‘too busy’. If you’re not one of the main care givers, please make sure you help without having to be asked. I can assure you, if you don’t, it makes it hard on those who are there more often. I’m in a very unique position in that I don’t have my own family, or my own home, to take care of. So, I have moved in with my parents, and as difficult as that can be sometime, (especially at my age), I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s mutually beneficial. I’m lucky, too, that the company I work for is a family-owned business, who understands that family is very important. To date, they’ve been very flexible the few times I’ve had to take time off to take care of one of my parents.

I knew when I moved home to Tennessee from Georgia that the Lord had a reason, and that His timing was perfect. I didn’t realize at the time just HOW perfect His timing was, though. I was lucky enough to be there before my Mom got too bad, but it’s been really hard having a front row seat to see the steady decline of both my parents; the tears in my Dad’s eyes as he finally realizes that he just can’t do everything for Mom any more, and that it’s time to move her to a facility. I don’t know what this house is going to be like without her. She’s always been here. I do know that the only way we’ll get through it is to lean on each other, but more importantly, lean on God. Maybe once we get her comfortable in a wonderful place, I can get him to go back to church. I know he misses it.

Y’all, please pray for us, and everybody else out there who’s dealing with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. We appreciate it.

Thanks.

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Being Distressed

You know, it was hard enough when we found out that Mom had dementia, but watching her go through it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Over the last 6-8 years I’ve watched my Mother’s mind deteriorate. At first it was little things, like she couldn’t find the right word to say, or she would forget something. But, we all do that at one time or another, right?

The first time we ever had the scary notion that something wasn’t quite right with her was when I was in the hospital for a few days. Mom and Dad are the best parents any kid could ever ask for. They’re always there for me and my brother. And, this was no exception. They drove four hours to Atlanta to be with me while I was in the hospital, and only left to go to my Uncle’s house to sleep. So, yeah, they both were worried and extremely tired. For the most part, I truly believe Mom’s condition, especially at that time, was made worse by worry and exhaustion. The only way I have ever been able to explain it – then or since – is that she seemed confused about what she was confused about. I know it sounds odd, but that’s how it seemed.

I haven’t written anything in my blog for months, because, thankfully, there just hasn’t been that much to say. But, in the last few weeks, I’ve seen a steady decline. Changes that I just am not ready for are happening daily. Her speech is getting softer all the time, she can’t string sentences together very well most of the time, and she’s more and more unsure on her feet. But, the biggest is that she sees people no one else can see. Many times they’ll be people she knows, but they’re doing things the real people would never do. She keeps telling me that my best friend’s Mom is in her closet going through her clothes and just taking what ever she wants. (Never mind that my friend’s Mom is at least 4-5 inches taller than my Mom and couldn’t begin to fit into her clothes…lol)

For a long time Mom has seen these people, but it’s different now. Most of the time she described them as just regular people or small children. Every once in a while though, she’d say something about someone REALLY tall, dressed in white. Not just plain ol’ white, but a bright white. Well now. Hmmm. If you’ve read anything about Angels, you’ve probably come across the same kind of description that my Mom gives of these people.

Being a Christian, and someone who has the Gift of Knowledge, (which, in my case means seeing, knowing or feeling things many people don’t), how can I say that what she’s seeing isn’t really there? I can’t. I know it freaks people out a bit when I see things they don’t, or even tell them about it after the fact. Now I know how they feel on a moment by moment basis. In the last week or so, Mom has gone from just seeing these people, to talking to them, and now, in the last two days, she’s started to putting food out for them. It’s not for these tall people dressed in white, though. (It would make me feel better if it was!) She sees, talks to, and now tries to feed tiny children. A boy and a girl. They have – according to Mom – been sitting in our flower pots, sitting on the shelf in the pantry, and climbing up the cabinet doors. I hear and see her interact with them all day long. And, yeah, it’s kinda freaky.

I’m not looking for any kind of resolution here, I’m just trying to get this ‘down on paper’, and out of my head. As much as I know that God’s got this, and He’s got it all under control and worked out much better than I could ever try and plan it out, it’s just hard to deal with. And, writing about it helps a bit. I would appreciate prayers. That’s the only thing that will truly help.

Thanks for listening.

Being Illogical

So, for the last few weeks, it’s been pretty calm at home. No disappearances, no calling other family members for help, which is a good thing. And, I thank God that nothing major like that has happened again.

The things that do happen are what have become the every day things of living with someone who has dementia. She sees things and people who aren’t there, gets ideas in her head that no logic in the world can convince her aren’t true, makes statements that make no sense, and possibly worst of all, inadvertently hurts the one person who’s been there through everything, and still loves her more than life itself.

For as long as I can remember, my Mom has always gone to sleep while watching television at night. She rarely saw the end of a show or movie. It’s just something she always did. But now when she falls asleep, she dreams dreams we have no idea about, and she can’t always separate fact from fiction. So, most of the time, what she dreams about seems to get mixed up with her reality. We just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth from one moment to the next.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-11-02-52-pmTonight, she woke up and asked my Dad if he could sleep in the room with my brother, (who wasn’t even there). I told her that Dad had his own bed. She asked where, and I told her the same one she slept in. She said, “He can’t sleep in the same bed with me! We’re not married!” I didn’t even want to see the look on my Dad’s face. This has hit him a lot harder than anyone else. She – so far – remembers me, my brother and his son, and pretty much everyone else. But my sweet Daddy… well, she doesn’t always remember who he is, or that he’s her husband. I told her to look at her hand. She held up her right hand, “See? No ring.” I said, “The other hand, Mama.” She giggled like a school girl and wouldn’t even look at her left hand. See? No logic can convince her.

So, tonight she’s sleeping upstairs. No amount of convincing will get her down here in her own bed. I’ll be praying that she doesn’t wake up during the night to come downstairs, because she falls so easily now, especially when she’s half asleep. And a fall down those stairs could be really bad. And, if she falls, we might not hear her. Because of that, I may sleep in the living room tonight… I know I can’t keep her from falling, but I could get to her faster from there than I could from my room.

If you have someone in your life who has dementia or Alzheimer’s, the one thing I would tell you to do – besides pray…a lot – would be to check out Prevagen. It’s an over the counter drug to help with memory loss. It’s actually helped my Mom, or more accurately, what I think it’s done is to keep her from getting worse faster than she would have if she hadn’t been taking it. And, in case you’re wondering, I’m not a paid spokesperson for it, I haven’t received samples, nor have I ever been contacted by them to write a review or anything like that. It just seems like it helps, and it might help someone else out there who needs it.

This is hard on us all. But, for me, the hardest thing is seeing how it hurts my Dad. He knows it’s the dementia talking, but as he said, “I can’t do anything with it.” It’s something you just have to learn to live, and deal with. I’ve found that I’m more emotional at times than I even realize I may be. I don’t like to be around pushy, difficult or confrontational people anyway, but I can usually deal with them pretty well. But twice in the last week, I’ve been in situations where I just didn’t handle them well at all. I need to get a better grip on things, but so far, I just haven’t been able to. I guess more prayer is in order.

Thanks for listening.

Being Troubled

John 14 (KJV)

14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

When I started thinking about this post, I looked at an online Thesaurus for words that could mean “worried”, but not have the same feeling as worried. Because, I really do try not to worry about things. I mean, that’s what He tells us to do, right? He tells us to “Fear not…” 365 times in the Bible. Do you think that He would have said it that many times – one for each day of the year! – if He didn’t have things covered? He keeps telling us that He’s got this, and yet we still worry and fear.

I’ll confess to you that since my Mom’s dementia has continued to get worse, I find myself worrying about what is to come. To be my age and still have both of my parents is something of a miracle in itself, I think. When I find myself worrying, or even trying to figure out what to do if ‘this’ or ‘that’ happens, I remind myself that He has already got it all planned out, and no matter how tragic it seems at the time, what ever happens will be the best way it could have happened, and all will fall into place as He sees fit. Remember that “Thy Will Be Done” part of the Lord’s Prayer? That’s what I try to remember throughout all of this. But, it can be difficult…

It’s gotten to the point where we shouldn’t leave my Mom alone, at least not too long. She forgets where you’ve gone, and in the last year or so she’s become more unstable on her feet, so she could fall and hurt herself and no one would be there to help her. Again, I get it, we’re worrying about things that could happen. But, even though I know He’s watching over her every step, He still expects us to be responsible and help ourselves out. So, we don’t leave her on her own for too long, or too often.

Every week, it seems there’s something new. This week, she’s started wanting to sleep upstairs in the den instead of downstairs in her bed. We haven’t figured out the reasoning behind this yet, but, so far, we’ve been able to talk her into going downstairs. For me, it’s because she could get up during the night, and fall down the few steps going downstairs. Just think about how disoriented you are if you wake up in the middle of the night, then multiply that by about 100, and that’s how she feels. She can barely stand up by herself, she’s still mostly asleep, which means she’s disoriented, and then add in that she’s very unsteady on her feet, and, the probability of her falling is extremely high. If that were to happen, we might not hear her fall. And, even though as she keeps reminding me, “I’m still the mother.”, {smile}, I can’t sleep knowing she may fall and hurt herself during the night if she’s not where she should be. Last night I determined that I would just sleep up there with her, but thankfully Daddy got her to go downstairs.

I’m not sure what exactly I’m trying to get across here, but the thing is, for many of us, we just feel helpless as our parents get older. I believe I may be in the minority of those who feel responsible to help their parents out. The world isn’t as it used to be when I was growing up. Far from it. We’re all so busy with our own lives that we don’t have time for those who mean the most, or those who should mean the most.

Actually, other than the fact that we shouldn’t worry about things as much as we do, I do know that what I’m trying to get across to anyone out there willing to listen. It’s that you should build a good relationship with your parents, (and grandparents), before it’s too late. I know there are those of you out there who feel you can’t for one reason or another. And, it may not be your fault. But, make the effort. If you don’t, you may regret it.

I’m in a unique position in that I live with my parents. So I’m with them every day. Do I wish I had my own place? Sure. Do I have a job that would allow me to do that at the moment? No. Do they need me here with them, and are they glad I’m here? Yes, very much so to both questions. I like to think of it being a mutually beneficial situation. 🙂 I ask myself all the time if I didn’t live with them, would I see them often? I would like to think I would. But, I also understand that “life” gets in the way and we don’t always do what we should or need to do. There’s always tomorrow, right? No, Scarlett, not necessarily. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

Let’s not forget grandparents. I grew up, for the most part, without any grandparents. So, when my ex-husband practically refused to spend time with his grandmother because she was almost deaf, I couldn’t understand it. I knew it was difficult, but I also knew that eventually he might regret not spending time with her. When it comes to your grandparents, please, oh, please, don’t forget about them. Make the time to go see them as often as you can. They love you like no one else. Listen to what they have to say. There’s wisdom there, there’s stories of their childhood that no one else may know. They have lived through so much more than you realize, and you need to hear it. I really think you’ll be amazed. Pull out the box of old photos that every grandparent has and go through it with them. Each photo represents a snippet of their life. If you don’t know the people in the photos, ask!, before it’s too late and they don’t remember.

The Bible says, “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3).

I think for now, in writing this all down, I’m just hoping that if there’s someone else out there who is going through something similar, you will know that you’re not alone. Not only are there others out there who share the same experiences, He’s there for you, too, if you’ll just let Him be. He will never push you into letting Him in, it’s totally your choice. But, He can, and will, do so much for you. Just let go, and let Him.

Thanks for listening. 🙂

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