Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections on Blogging for Four Years

My first post was 12/31/08. Somehow after four years Plant City Lady and Friends seems to have taken off--over 37,000 hits in four years according to Goggle and over 800 comments in four years.  Now some comments were by me (or NewKidontheBlogg the name I first used), There are 269 published posts and over a dozen waiting to be posted. When we were out-of-town last week, I blogged three times from my overflow of thoughts. Today I have added a new blog feature--a chronology at the top of this blog that I will add to from time to time. At times medical people find this blog and they may be interested in the progression of the disease.

Thank you, LORD, for all you have taken me through as I have reflected and written here and for the friends I have met on the computer who comment here or write books I love:

1. Barb started following this blog in maybe September of 2010. She writes "Cleaning Up the Clutter", a constant theme on this blog. This young mother is maybe 30 years younger than I am and she always tracks what I write. I think of her like a niece, but I can’t for the life of me remember how we met. We both love to write and she has patiently taught me Pinterest and invited me to some of her favorite blogs. One day Barb will be a published author and a syndicated columnist like Marianne Walsh is who also has joined this bog.

2. Marianne does "We Band of Mothers" blog and writes a parenting column for The Chicago Tribune. She always makes me laugh and often with her comments here lately. Her coauthored book, Epic Mom, is fresh off the press.  Recently Marianne asked me if I ever sleep. Yes, Marianne, I do sleep between 6-7 hours each night, and often blog after four hours of sleep. I have drafts I haven't even posted yet, written in the middle of the night. Maybe I should get back to organizing our master bedroom instead of writing, however.

3. Ruby just turned 50. Why am I at age 68 so lucky to have young friends? Ruby also cracks me up with her waiting with "bated breath” to see my housekeeping. Yes, Ruby, it has been two months since I have reported on area #4--the master bedroom. Ruby and I met on a Christian blog and have been following each other ever since. In fact, in 2009 she even wrote the Foreword to my book, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill. She read every chapter before it went to press. She spells funny (honour) because she lives in Australia. We also play Wordscraper and now Words With Friends on Facebook and she is soooo good at these games, despite her funny spelling. I think we both cheat with sites like

4. I have interviewed caregivers Dolores, LaTane, Laurie. There are several others I also hope to interview--perhaps Dana and Karen who write here. Dana's husband is in his last days (pray). Karen was her late mother's cheerful and wise caregiver and  is now in the caregiving field I believe.

5. Then there are the authors: Joseph Potocny (who has Alzheimer's), and Christian authors Staci Eastin and Mindy Starns Clark who influence my de-cluttering journey. Linda Born wrote My Mom Has Alzheimer’s and is now about to come out with a novel The Children Are Tender.

6. Living on Less Money is so loyal to this blog and  always challenges me with questions to keep this blog going. I do so want to follow her example of wise frugal living.

Thanks to all of you and there are many others who have posted here including friends from church and even my Alzheimer's Association facilitator. When I know of your needs, I pray for them. When I don't know, I also pray for you. I pray every Friday for social media friends--much stronger bond than many Facebook friends we all have.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Diet, Cholestrol, Axona and Coconut Oil

Those low-fat, no-fat diets are not good. Now Weight Watchers insists that we have fat. Another site on coconut oil just confirmed here. This site led me to "The Clue to Why Low Fat Diet and Statins may Cause Alzheimer’s" here.

Dr. Mary Newport has reported that CBN are featuring coconut oil here. When you start that coconut oil, you need to build up tolerance and we did with my husband who has been on it for three years. Dr. Newport says that CBN will:  feature Butch Machlan, a man with familial ALS (Lou Gehrig's) who has been stable for three years taking 9 tablespoons per day of coconut oil and magnesium chloride, and will also feature a man from Connecticut with Parkinson's who has had considerable improvement since shortly after the first story aired [Dr. Newport's], taking a mixture of coconut oil and MCT oil.  

Meanwhile there is the suggestion that Axona can be prescribed and monitored better than coconut oil; Dr. Richard Isaacson reports on Axona on The Alzheimer’s Reading Room here. He reports two clinical US trials.

Not all doctors know about Axona and I will ask my husband's doctor about it on his next visit. My husband's doctor approves of his coconut oil (his glucose and cholestrol are great) and coconut oil does not elevate my husband's triclyceride levels as Dr. Isaacson suggests.  Finally there are research studies on coconut oil beginning. Perhaps my hubby doesn't get enough coconut oil, but he does get it everyday with dark chocolate and when I can use it in cooking. I even arranged for him to have it on our trip.

He takes turmeric pills. They say that in India that turmeric and coconut oil may account for less dementia in the older population.

When your loved one has been diagnosed with any kind of dementia as my husband has, you cannot wait for the research studies to come out and I am glad I haven't.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kinds of Memory, Christmas Travel and Home

A day before we left on our trip hubby and I were at Cracker Barrel, the restaurant/gift shop. We are seated. DH excuses himself to go to the bathroom. He isn't coming back to our table at Cracker Barrel. I go looking for him. He thought I was shopping. I bring him to the table. He is surprise that we had been seated. He doesn't remember.

DH recalls going up in a plane with Jake. I do not recall that, but have heard both DH and Jake discuss their plane trip. How do two Alzheimer's men have the same memory that Sally and I know never happened?!

Both men see that the other one is going downhill.

“Time is change; we measure its passage by how much things alter.”― Nadine Gordime

If you have Alzheimer's. however, time is so present and memories are so fickle and subjective. There may be a few recent memories, but not accurate short-term ones. Long-term memories start to become fuzzy.

I do capitalize on recent memories when I tell hubby that it is 7 am or 7 pm and time to take our pills: Sweetheart, you wouldn't want me to take your pills like I did when I landed in the hospital, so let's both take our pills NOW.

For the Christmas week we had the pleasure of flying to his son's home in another state, and enjoying family and their extended family including two great grandchildren. I became my husband's one constant as we were away from home. He even asked his own son who that son's mother is, forgetting that she is hubby's first wife.

I made daily sheets for him to remind him of what was happening and to let him know when we would be returning to Plant City, Florida. Even so he needed many reassurances from me. Sally and Jake took us to the airport and they would pick us up from the airport,

One morning on our trip he woke me asking Where is here? I explained that we were at his son's home. Although he became somewhat oriented to the lovely three story home where we stayed and he had often been before, he forgot that we had a bed and bathroom in the basement.

He said he would go downstairs.

"No, sweetheart, you need to go upstairs," I reminded him.

When he was on the third story watching TV with his son in the media room, he called me on my cell phone to see if I was anywhere around.

"I am right below you--the next story down," I reminded him. Often DH then responds that he is just checking to see if I am kicking and breathing. He wants to find out if I am kicking and breathing at our own home as well.

We heard a noise in the middle of the night and I remarked that I didn't know what it was. He said it was just the noise of an elevator. Now there was no elevator in the three story home where we were staying--but I didn't correct him.

On the trip we had wonderful hospitality and all the comforts of home. I gave DH a daily schedule and kept his clothes and toiletries where he could easily find them. But for DH, it wasn't home, confirming that Alzheimer's patients are so dependent on their spouse/caregiver and their own home.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Self-Discipline of a Caregiver

How many ways does a caregiver need to be self-disciplined?
  • Live in the moment

  • Listen
  • Learn to say one concept at a time
  • Select wise nutrition from what they will eat
  • Put things back where they belong according to the Alzheimer's patient
  • Be with them so they are not lonely
  • Take care of own health
  • Manage time well
  • Carefully establish routines for loved one
  • Make the house ready for later stages of Alzheimer's
  • Keep up with their medicine
  • Go to a support group (or have a blog)
  • Arrange socialization with others
  • Manage money and look to the future
  • Pick out clothes to wear
  • Arrange for shower or bath
  • Arrange all doctor appointments
  • Check for urinary tract infections
  • Safety
  • Simply explain the world to them
  • Rejoice always
What is the job of the loved one with dementia?
  • Trusting us and asking questions
  • Cooperating with giving up privileges such as driving
  • Accepting supervision
  • Learning to have fun at whatever level possible
  • Praying and worshipping
  • Enjoying music
  • Contributing to household tasks
Later stages can include changing adult diapers and arranging for hospice. Yes, it does sound like parenting. Roles are reversed and there may be some resentment about things changing.

In this Christmas season, I think of how God gave up His Son, Jesus Christ, so that by His grace I have access through faith to the greatest caregiver ever.   

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reflections on Bulllies and DUI Crash

In addition to getting last minute things done this week, I have been teaching four days. Monday and Thursday I substituted in public schools--Thursday in middle school and Monday in high school. Those of you who follow this blog know that I positively control students by promising I will "rap" the last five minutes of class. This week after last week's shooting I didn't want to be silly, so I used my rap/poem about bullies that I am still memorizing and perfecting.

Poster in Public Schools
We talk about the importance of reporting bullies and not being a bully. What if a picked on kid comes back and shoots you later as what happened a week ago today in Connecticut?!  Here's the rap/poem:
What he did?
Where you been?
I’m gonna spit it
And you’re gonna get it

Hitting agitating
Spitting aggravating
Take a stand—let’s attack
Rid us of bullies
Always fighting
Gossip behind the back
In person or Internet
Bullies find excuses
To mess with our weaknesses
As if they have none
Just take courage
Report those bullies
Their end is near
Your conscience clear

Let’s get along
Join this song
Let’s be buddies
I’m gonna spit it
And you’re gonna get it

Skip the teasing
Skip the strife
No more hassles
All you bullies
Get a life!
What did I do on Tuesday and Wednesday? I taught a class for DUI offenders into the night (3:30-9:30 PM). Sally and Jake had dinner with DH both nights. Tuesday Sally picked up our husbands from the Senior Center, and Wednesday hubby went with Sally and Jake to their church for dinner. My DUI class heard about my drug overdose of last week that landed me in the hospital and reminded me at 7 PM to take my correct pills!

Now Thursday night while I was teaching adults it was the two-year anniversary since a DUI driver crashed into us. See here. The students were taking turns recounting what each had learned for the DUI criminal charge and not really being so serious--basically I heard all about how they were inconvenienced not being able to drive for six months to a year. I stopped their complaining, and put it in perspective. I bullied them! I told them that ironically my husband and I were almost killed two years ago by a DUI driver. I had a few of them role play a scene where they apologized to me in court for hitting and almost killing my husband and myself. It was very effective.

Keep safe and be kind to everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quilt Gifts

I showed the fabric world map in the last post. I just love making gifts for family and these lap quilts are educational as well for three families with small children.

Since last post I have quilted by machine on the latitude and longitude lines of the map. Actually I did every other line. Then I cut out the edging on the bias.

Fold 2 3/4 inch bias strips in half and iron
Sew edging to the front of the cloth world map
    Sewing bias strips together

Sew to back and miter corners

Great help from three ladies.

I bought my Swedish Viking sewing machine from this store and they continue to help me with projects. Owner Becky suggested the stiped fabric borders; Melody, whom I took a class from several years ago, suggested I use the 505 Spray and Fix instead of stressing my carpal tunnel wrists by pinning the brown or animal print to the back of the world map cloth. Holly refreshed me on the best way to do edging for this project.

What did I do? I knew about how to miter the corners. I used my braces on the wrists while I sewed on the machine with its fabulous quilting foot, and cut with the pictured flat edge scissors so I didn't have to bend my wrists.

Tools that helped me.

Off to the post office and then finishing  a few Christmas cards. DH was very proud of these quilts.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This and That TWO

So thankful for all of you who have prayed during my health scare that I wrote about earlier this week.

The Pill Pusher. My husband's pills are so powerful that they landed me in the hospital. Many days we argue about his taking them in the morning before I leave to substitute teach. Then I can call him and remind him to take them and have even come home and he hasn't taken them. He has considered me a real nag. I made an executive decision. I have long known that routine is so important for Alzheimer's patients. This is why Jake and DH are going to the Senior Center once a week now--getting used to a routine--Sally's brilliant idea. My husband's routine of the clipboard schedule for the day also works; one side shows his schedule and the other side shows mine. We have different pill boxes now and a new routine. Now we both take our medicine at 7 am and 7 pm and that is on the typed schedule. I reinforce this by reminding him that he doesn't want me to take his pills again and land in the hospital.

Garage door is fixed. Just off track. I got explanation on how to put it back on track. Only a $35 service call. Hubby used to understand this and so I didn't bother learning about it. Also I need to learn how to use our expensive carpet cleaner and will go to a vacuum cleaner repair man to find out how. Hubby no longer knows. About a year ago we had a professional come in and clean carpets and now stains have come up from that experience--from the mud they left when the carpet didn't dry. We really can't afford to re-carpet the whole house. I guess stained carpeting is better in case one of us falls again as I did on Tuesday. But the stains are so noticeable.

Making Christmas simple. Decided to not make counted cross stitch for niece and nephew in California. Maybe next year when my wrists are better. Making three next generation educational quilts where there are young children in the family. That cleaned-off pool table provides room to cut them out.  Had hoped to mail these today, but my recent hospitalization happened. Other gifts have been mailed or are ready to be delivered.

Christmas letters are nowhere done--I have always done these in the past even with my late husband. I have bought Christmas cards and may send some of them. Or really, I think I would just like to call people. Whatcha think? People's preferred means of communication so confusing these days! Facebook. Facebook messaging. Texting. Snail mail/yearly Christmas cards. Phone call. Maybe I will do a combination of contacts.

Breaking News on the School Shooting in CT. 
Hug your family and friends!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Horrible Rabbit Trail Leads to My Hospital Trip

Still on Home Computer When I God Home from Hospital
I got the wrong pills--I took my husband's pills!
I do not need his diabetic, strong heart and Alzheimer's medicine. I do not also need his Centrum Silver for Men.  I discovered what I had done as I started to feel very bad. His pills for Tuesday were missing and mine were still there! I Googled how to vomit. Warm salt water didn't work. I did vomit, but I passed out in the bathroom.

Yesterday was a day that Jake and hubby were going to the Senior Center for the day. Sally and Jake came over right away, but not before my husband called 911. I praise DH for his quick action. He had called in his own emergency before.  I could hear the 911 phone conversation and that it was difficult for an Alzheimer's patient to answer questions from the 911 operator. He got frustrated, but somehow he got through to them that his wife was having a medical emergency.  

Soon a big truck pulled up in the front yard--maybe fire engine, maybe the ambulance. Ziggy barked at all the activity and apparently kept running around I am told. Parametics asked me all kinds of questions when they arrived. I was on my way in the ambulance to Lakeland Regional again like the trip I took October 12th. However when my blood pressure dropped more in the ambulance, I am told, I passed out. They woke me up and said that the ambulance was taking me to Plant City Baptist Hospital, a closer facility. I guess low blood sugar and low blood pressure will do that to you. And yes I felt very sick!

And embarrassed! Folks, I have not learned the lesson of going on a rabbit trail. I must have been getting my husband's pills ready and thought of something else. (Didn't I confess this last post about me and rabbit trails!)  Apparently I didn't put his pills in his usual cup and thinking I had mine in my hands I took them all!

The Queen of Scatter Brains here!

Lessons learned include to keep our pill boxes in separate places so this will never happen again.  I have bought new ones that look different. Hubby wants to keep his new ones by the couch where he watches TV. His watch says the day of the week and he can match it with the day on the morning and evening pill boxes. He seems more interested and responsible for his pills now--at least I hope so.

Thanks to the wonderful hospital staff, my doctor, and people who prayed. Blogging friends--Barb, Martha, Jane, Laurie, Living on Less Money-- all contacted me on this blog's Facebook "LIKE" page you see at the top and told me they were praying after I posted there. Special thanks to my husband's family and Sally and Jake.

The hospital stay was a little over 24 hours and near the end this morning flowers came to my room from a hospital volunteer welcoming me to my stay just as I was getting ready to check out.

Humorously my doctor gave me these instructions this morning when she saw me early.
Mrs. Johnson, I am sending you home with instructions to only take the pills I have prescribed for you.
There was another welcome when I came home. The trash bags in the front yard were gone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rabbit Trails, Leisure and Wasting Time

Mindy Starns Clark calls them "rabbit trails".  You get an idea and you want to act on it right away. Your attention to the task at hand wanes.

Here are some of my distractions or rabbit trails:
  • E-mail--I am great at keeping up with e-mail and Facebook; today I did not playing my puzzles on Facebook during the day. There was someone else here to monitor me. She cleaned and I took care of paper clutter.
  • Thinking I can make five Christmas gifts and neglect my other responsibilities. Acting like I can do it all.
  • Phone calls. However, I do not answer 800 calls--we can see on our TV screen or on the actual phone who or what number is calling. My husband told me to pick up the house phone today and I did answer an 800 call. When I asked what was the cost of the "free" alarm system each month, the line went dead.
Now I did have to make one call today--to the garbage people. Why hadn't they picked up the clippings in the front yard on Saturday? I was not sure of the phone number and Sprint couldn't give me a good line for garbage pick up. So I Googled to find a good phone number. All I could do what e-mail which I did early today. I reminded them of what their web site said in my e-mail.
"Residents receive two garbage pickups, one recycling pickup, and one yard waste pickup per week. These occur on either Monday / Thursday, Tuesday / Friday, or Wednesday / Saturday. Find Your Hauler based on your address or folio number."
I have five black bags by the curb that were not picked up on Saturday. Please advise.
I got this reply:

An email with the information you have provided has been sent for review. Thank you for taking the time to communicate with your Hillsborough County.
Then they e-mailed me back with a no reply e-mail with my request. Hours later and no one has called or e-mailed. Maybe this is why they do not have a phone number that Sprint can identify or a phone number on the Internet site.

More phone calls. Hubby wanted to know why the gas guzzler isn't in the garage.

The garage door opener doesn't work, I replied. It is stuck closed.

With typical Alzheimer's impatience he tells me to get someone out here. Look them up in the phone book, he said. Now I didn't want to explain why we do not have phone books now. They are so bulky and I think Google works just fine. Bulky phone books are just out of here with my current reorganization. I did have luck here. I booked someone to come out here on Friday to fix the automatic garage door opener.

The first Valentines Day after we were married we had moved into this house and hubby had gotten me an automatic garage door opener and let me park one of our two cars in the garage with the luxury of using that garage door opener. I have loved it. My students teased me about such a non-romantic gift. But it has been a great gift. Now hubby's personal shopper (me) buys my gifts.

Hubby and I now have different opinions of wasted time. I can have several tasks going all at once around the house. I need discipline to finish each one but sometimes I will only be happy if I can multitask. Maybe I have adult ADHD. I need to relax more.

Hubby has an unrealistic view of time due to his Alzheimer's. He can't judge how long ago something happened and doesn't care what will happen tomorrow. He is content with the now. I need to be also. Someone once told me:

Wherever you are, be all there.

Does everything have to be finished on a certain time table? Of course not.  I have learned from hubby that the lawn doesn't have to be mowed a particular day. He will get around to it when he gets around to it. I thought that The House That Cleans Itself should be done in a half year and realized that it will take much longer than six months. As long as it is a priority, it will happen.

Yes, priorities. Have them. Have an Organized Heart, as Staci Eastin writes in one of my favorite books reviewed here. Having good times with my husband before his Alzheimer's gets worse is important. It is not a rabbit trail. It is part of having an organized heart.

And there is indeed virtue in wasting time. Carl Trueman writes here:
One of the amazing things about modern American culture is surely the pathological fear of wasting time. . . . Indeed, we have surely lost the virtue that is laziness. As Kierkegaard once said, 'Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good' -- a truly amazing theological insight. Some may think that that maybe going a bit far, but compared to the idea that the essence of humanity is busy-ness, it is much to be preferred.
Psalm. 127:1, 2 says Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. . . . It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late a night. . . for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Senior Health, Part Six

My wrists hurt and fingers can tingle and are worse with bending. Think of all the times you bend your wrists! My wrist braces help me not bend my wrists. I have carpal tunnel syndrome for the second time in my life.

The first time I got it was in the 1990s. I had the wrong angle on the computer and would type on the computer many evenings. I was a widow then and this is how I would pass my time--on the computer--not organizing clutter! My old Apple computer was up high on an old oak desk--wrong angle. At that time I researched alternatives and used MSM from a health food store to help with the carpal tunnel. I wore braces all the time for about a year. I declined the surgery which I heard was not always effective. I am taking MSM again and it has a lot of other benefits maybe even for Alzheimer's, but I do not know about research on MSM. See here. There are a lot of sites about this syndrome that you can Google. I got the graphic on this post here.

When my carpal tunnel returned last summer, I was taking class notes on my notebook computer in a seminary counseling class. My wrists were too high up. Very suddenly, as in the 1990s when I got this condition for the first time, my wrists hurt--both of them. The right one is worst and I jokingly say that getting into Pinterest did it.

What is the correct placement of the wrists when you are on the computer so you don't get carpal tunnel syndrome? 45 degrees. I also have a pad for the wrist by the mouse on my home computer and now place my notebook computer more carefully when I take notes on it. My home keyboard is slightly slanted, but one can get ergonomically correct keyboards that are slanted more. 

I resisted getting a smart phone, until I crashed my five year old cell phone and was due for an upgrade with Sprint. An iPhone or any smart phone helps with the carpal tunnel. With my iPhone I can use the speaker phone and not have to hold the cell up to my ears, stressing my wrists. I can use a stylus with my left hand to delete e-mail on the iPhone. I can easily play Words With Friends on the iPhone with a stylus rather than on the computer. I probably can blog on that iPhone, but haven't tried yet.

One difference with this round of carpal tunnel is that I went to chiropractors.  They are great and I pay for the visits as my health insurance doesn't cover that office because it is so worth it--much less pain than when I had carpal years ago and the wrists are getting better faster. I mainly wear my braces when I sleep now.  (This chiropractic office also restored my hands and back after the crash we had two years ago that I wrote about on this blog.)

I have lost weight this year through Weight Watchers--very slowly--tremendous health benefits come with this exellent program. But my wrists and my hearing are now my Achilles' Heel, healthwise, so to speak. Both situations do hurt my caregiving and working part-time outside the home and in the home. Both handicaps may qualify me for Vocational Rehabilitation help from our goverment in getting expensive hearing aids--an application has been submitted last week and it may take several months to find out. Often I cannot hear students when I teach part-time or hear what my husband is saying at the house. Organizing, de-cluttering and having to do everything around the house mean stress on my wrists. I cannot lift heavy items any more. Working out with weights is also out of the picture. Brisk walking is my best exercise and I enjoy working that in with our wonderful Florida weather.

Nonetheless I do thank the LORD for the health I do have at this point and for all the help I do receive from others. For example, our friend Jake on Friday did a tremendous job of weeding our yard while Sally and I substituted in public schools.

There are five bags of clippings now! I spent three hours putting the clippings in a bag in a tash can on Saturday with my wrist brakes on (great exercise) and then wheeled that trash can to the curb and dumped out each bag. I do not understand why those five bags are still out at the curb now after Saturday's trash and garbage pick up, but that is another issue. Maybe they have to be hauled to the dumb. Oh my aching wrists! Monday I am calling the trash collectors!

Another thing I have to be thankful for is Sunday mornings. Our church is meeting in the afternoons now, and Sunday is truly a day of rest as it should be. This morning I enjoyed my devotions and my two mile walk listening to hymns. Now I best get off the computer to rest my wrists!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review: The Peacemaker

It has been said that Alzheimer's brings out the best and the worst in people. Often I read on Alzheimer's blogs about conflict between family members about care for elderly parents. People in many caregiving situations read this blog and so this issue may come up in families who are seeing both the best and the worst in one another.

I am in my final classes for a seminary counseling degree and one of the required reading books, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, had a very insightful story. Now this scenario in the book I am quoting in no way parallels my situation, but is illustrative of both the best and worst in people and how Scripture and wise counsel can help the Christians who face such caregiving decisions. Ken Sande writes:

When a person earnestly pursues the conciliation responses to conflict, there is a greater likelihood that he or she will eventually see reconciliation. . . . The different responses to conflict and their association dynamics were dramatically revealed in the first family conflict I conciliated. I was asked to help seven adult brothers and sisters settle a guardianship dispute over whether they should keep their elderly mother in her home or place her in a retirement center. Five of the siblings were doing all they could to escape from the situation, either  by pretending that a conflict did not exist or by refusing to meet with the others to talk about it. The other two attacked each other intensely and frequently, slandering one another to family and friends and fighting in court to obtain control through legal guardianship.
The first step in resolving the dispute was to help the parties change the way they had been responding to the situation. The five siblings who had been trying to escape from the problem quickly saw the benefits of mediation and agreed to meet together. The other two sisters grudgingly consented to mediation, but they continued to attack each other during our meetings, accusing each other of improper motives and demanding opposing solutions. Our investment of time and energy was producing no results, and relationships were suffering further damage.
I finally asked to talk with the two sisters in private to help them discuss the personal offenses that were obviously fueling their quarrel. Putting the guardianship issue aside for a moment, I helped them to examine their attitudes and behavior toward each other. As we studied a few relevant Bible passages, the Lord began to work in their hearts. After about thirty minutes, the real cause of the conflict finally came to the surface.  Almost twenty years earlier, one of the women had said something that deeply hurt the other one. The offended sister had tried to pretend that she was not hurt, but she could not help brooding over the insult and their relationship was steadily poisoned. Consequently, they opposed each other in everything, even if it involved their mother’s care. 
As we continued to talk about their relationship, they began to deal honestly with their feelings and actions. They saw how they had been dishonoring God and hurting other people. As God opened their hearts, they confessed their sins and forgave each other. With tears in their eyes, they embraced each other for the first time in twenty years. They soon joined their brothers and sister and explained what had happened. Within five minutes, all seven children agreed that their mother would be happier in her own home, and in another fifteen minutes they negotiated a schedule for her care.  As you can imagine, when they told her the news that evening, the reconciliation of her children brought her even more joy than the  decision about her living arrangement (pp. 23, 24).
Now mediation with someone else might be needed with placement of an Alzheimer's loved one. We can grow in grace and in the knowledge of our faith in the process. The LORD doesn't waste any of our trials, and unless we choose to become bitter and discouraged, He will be there and turn our sorrows into joy and perhaps through mediation and of course through meditation on His Word.

I have loved the process of taking my seminary counseling classes since 2006 and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. One project was my book, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill. Other papers have been on a topic related to Alzheimer's. I will be starting the dissertation some time in 2013, LORD willing. It has been suggested that I write my dissertation on being an Alzheimer's caregiver. 150 pages! Oh no! More stress on top of being a caregiver and on top of reorganizing the home for caregiving! However, with reading such wonderful resources as The Peacemaker there will be much to share in that dissertation.

Get the book, folks. Such help for all kinds of thorny issues.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

75 in a 15 Zone

You are turning 75, Sweetheart, I said.

I feel good about turning 75 was his reply.

Jake is changing, he said (as if he isn't). Both men require supervision from Sally and me.

You are a great friend to Jake. I am glad you can go to the senior center with him. Hubby nodded in agreement.

Church B. D. Celebration
Thursday night we went to dinner with Sally and Jake. Then we went to Costco where I got food for hubby's b.d. celebration.  At Costco hubby sat in the dining area (if you can call it that where you eat pizza) and Jake went with Sally.

Sunday we had hubby's 75th celebration at church. It was designed to be as simple as possible. Sally brought deviled eggs, a labor-intensive dish. I cut up cheese from Costco and cut up the broccoli. I spent time on two fruit salads. It was going to be one salad, but I sort of went overboard.

The cake was purchased and when it came time for hubby to blow out the candles, someone remarked that my husband has a history with fire. He actually had second degree burns from heat when he burned trash in our back yard some years ago. So at the mention of his fire mishap, birthday boy shows off his hairless legs at the party--hairless because of that fire. 
See! No hair on my legs!

At one point I heard a five year old  at our church ask my husband what he does.

I mow the yard and watch TV was his answer.

I thought to myself that hubby is like a young person who now has to be reminded to mow the lawn, but doesn't want to give up that responsibility to others. Hubby is very much like a  teenager on some levels, but very responsible on other levels. Jake is very much like a kid wanting praise for what he does. Both men are real old-fashioned gentlemen. Both hold the door open for us and carry heavy things. Not all 15 year olds are so thoughtful. I know because I substitute for 15 year olds. It is great that our husbands don't cook--but "delegate" that task to their wives. Could be another fire if my husband cooked!  He still can use the microwave I believe, but that skill hasn't been tested recently.

Hubby has a great sense of humor. He loved the new lyrics I wrote for Toastmasters Monday night to the tune of "Winter Wonderland".  He understands about the economics of  "snow bird" retirees who winter here in Florida, and he put up with my practicing these lyrics several times and encouraged me with his laughter. Actually I had everyone at Toastmasters sing these lyrics with karaoke iPod accompaniment because my voice is not that great.

At the beach sand is a glistenin’
Sea gulls honk, are you listenin’?
A beautiful sight
We’re happy tonight
Cruising in our Southern wonderland.
Here to stay are some new birds
You come South for the winter
We call you “snow birds”
And you come in herds
Escaping your Northern cold land.

When you come we have a great economy
And we also put up our Christmas tree
We say “Are you local?”
You say, “No man!”
But money does the job
When you’re in town.
Welcome here all you retirees
Spend your cash will you please!
And face unafraid
The plans that you’ve made
Cruising in our Southern wonderland.
Hubby even "gets"  some of my raps that I write for good classes when I sub. How many wives have that support from husbands too busy to notice, I wonder. How many caregivers try to have a life with their loved one and include them in what is happening? It is a form of shadowing, but hubby does many things with me--every thing but accompany me when I teach.

Senior Center Day. Today, Tuesday,  Sally brought Jake by. I loaded both husbands and our dog in the car. I played country music for the three of them from my iPod in the car. First we stopped at the vet for Ziggy's shots.

Hubby, Dog and Jake
Then I drove them both to the senior center. No trouble getting them to go through the door. I took Ziggy home and started on this post, trying to keep up with posting several times a week.

Junk Bunkers
Tomorrow is DH's official b.d. and so I had to get new tags for our car--the gas guzzler we use after my car had been totalled two years ago. Hubby still considers this car his car, although I am his driver now. Because I was substituting in the afternoon at a Plant City middle school, I tried to get the tags late morning. The line was an hour wait and I decided if I could get there before five, that's when I would purchase the tag.

So with a little time to kill,  I went into Staples. I took a picture of those "junk bunkers", those containers I am trying to get rid of, although will use some for clothes storage. After reading The House That Cleans Itself, I think so differently about them now. I used to buy these for all kinds of stuff I didn't deal with. 

Then I went on to substitute for the afternoon until almost 4:30. Meanwhile at about 3 pm Sally picked up the husbands and brought mine home. After school I was able to get the car tag. At home I had my husband put the new tag on. Suddenly the new registration was missing. It turned up in the trash can in the garage. He had forgotten this procedure of putting the registration in the glove compartment, a procedure he had done all his driving life.

What did you do at the senior center today? I asked him tonight.

Don't know.

You and Jake have a good time?

I guess so.

Doesn't this sound like trying to pump a 15-year-old for how his day went!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"God Has a Way of Irritating You", My Husband Says

Adding grass so weeds don't grow
This post is partly the tale of the black border and two Alzheimer's husbands each with his own energy level and opinions. It's hard to neglect the outside, especially the front yard, while I work on the whole house. Jake has helped us with our yard taking out weeds in a flower bed in the middle of a circular driveway. Hubby suggested we have more grass there instead of flowers that he had once planted and so we did buy grass squares and plugs as pictured. Our neighbor says it will eventually fill in.

Black border taken up

Months ago before my carpal tunnel I took up border bricks in the front yard. That center flower bed also had a black border that I thought needed to come up. One day when Jake came over to hang out with hubby, that flower bed again became a project for Jake who seems to love feeling useful (and he is and I appreciate that so much). I had started to get that black border up and Jake proceeded to bury it again. An hour or so later, however, he worked hard to pull it all out. There it sat in our front yard.

Tuesday had been the second day for the senior center and Sally had taken both husbands there about 10 am and picked them both up about 3 pm. I substituted that day and felt that I should connect with hubby and so we went out to dinner. Now DH is appreciative of all that Jake does, but he became irritated when the trash didn't take that black border last Saturday. Hubby had another solution that he confessed to me at dinner Tuesday night. Sheepishly he said,

"God has a way of irritating you."

Because of the short-term memory I was so surprised he brought this up as we were eating out. Did he have a memory? What was God convicting my husband about? How was God irritating him?

It turns out he had thrown that black edging over the fence in a cow pasture. When I got home from substitute teaching Wednesday, I asked about the edging.

I don't know. I must have done something with it.

When I looked, it had travelled down the pasture fence, but it was definitely on their side. I will confess for hubby to the neighbors on the other side of the pasture. We will figure something out. But I chuckle with this glimmer of memory and confession.

I also am grateful for the second day that Jake and DH spent at the senior center Tuesday of this week. The plan is that they go there once a week through December and then we take them there more and more as needed. Sally wisely encouraged this and a new routine is being established while we have that window of opportunity. Staff at the senior center reported to me that it is working. Hubby did well on puzzles--something I had not gotten him to do at home where he mainly watches TV. How grateful I am for this friendship with Sally and Jake and for the senior center.

Jake recently had his 75th birthday celebration. We gave him a photo album of things we two couples have done together. DH has his 75th birthday coming up next week. We will have a little celebration at our church Sunday afternoon.

Both 75 within two weeks of each other! The senior center staff remarked that these guys seem like brothers--twins? Actually they understand each other so well. My husband knows he has Alzheimer's and that Jake does also, but Jake doesn't acknowledge disability at all. He knows his buddy doesn't have energy and loves to help him. They love teasing each other and it works so well for them to go to the senior center together.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Signs of Memory Loss and a "Normal" Day

I again taught a class for first-time DUI offenders yesterday, Saturday. This second day of the class they read their essay on how their DUI is a wake-up call for a new life. Saturday I heard essays about going back to their Christian faith from three gentlemen. Dramatic things happen to cause us to cry out to God, as I often do on my caregivng/lovegiving journey. See here.

Early in the DUI class I share a picture of an old couple who were hit by a DUI driver two years ago here and talk about all the trouble they had. We get to the point in this 12 hour class of accepting the DUI and of moving on to never ever get a second DUI and then I remark that we are that couple in the picture, a couple who are grateful to be alive. It is very effective when these students equate us with that old couple and the motivation then is high to work to never get another DUI--so easy in our society with all our bars and cars. I often parallel my accepting my husband's dementia with my students accepting their DUI and moving on to never get another DUI. Life doesn't give us some choices.

Hubby had not taken his morning pills before I left to teach. I called when I got to the class and reminded him. Then I called two more times on breaks from the class. Finally I said, "You take your pills while I am on the phone" and he did just that. I reminded him about his lunch in the refrigerator. It is always the same so that he will recognize it: sandwich, yogurt and two coconut chocolate fudge pieces on a dinner plate.

When I returned home about four, he had not eaten his lunch, but had gotten ready to go out. No more jeans or T-shirt, but a nice button down shirt, slacks and better shoes. He likes to dress up to go out. He remembered that!

We left for the Tampa area and I used the GPS to check on where my appointment for hearing aids would be. All during the trip he kept asking what is the next thing we are doing, but was very happy to be out and about. We went to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, a healthy buffet place. DH ate fairly well there and thoughtfully reminded me to leave a tip on the table.

"What's next?" he wanted to know, although the plans to see the  movie "Lincoln" had been made that morning. Hubby likes history so I thought this would work. The movie was great, but he didn't follow all the nuances of the characters and great acting. He said simply, "I didn't care for it."  Fortunately he wasn't agitated about sitting through the movie.

Because he doesn't eat lunch many days, he will need more supervision and the Plant City Adult Day Care Sally and I are trying out for our husbands seems just the ticket at this stage. He will get a hot lunch there and be with his friend Jake. Hubby will often ask,  "When's the next time I see Jake" and it's good for our husbands to be together which we are planning at that center.

So I move through our days accommodating hubby's memory losses and trying to hold on to the life we have. Normal? We have a calm relationship and he trusts me. It's 5 AM and I am going back to bed. Looking forward to our Sunday, today, with worship and fellowship.

Here is a good Assessment for memory loss.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

At This Stage Status Report

I mention short-term memory and my husband quips Who are you?

Here are some other things he says:

I think I asked you this before.

Carol? (I say yes.) Just wondering if you are kicking and breathing. (I show him I can kick. I show him I can breathe and he laughs.)

I go walking in the neighborhood with a neighbor lady and when I return he says. I forgot where you went.

Today he both acknowledged memory loss and accused me of not telling him something I know I told him.

Other news:

DH and "Jake" went to breakfast with "Sally" and me today. Then we did it! We took our husbands to the Plant City Senior Center. We went in with them and left. Sally picked them both up at 2:30. I had errands to do and in the process found a $25 file that looks like a chest to put in the master bedroom, the current room I am processing as I follow The House That Cleans Itself. This two drawer file will mean that all these boxes, bins and baskets I "hid" in the master bedroom can go.

Dog Ziggy at the bottom of mess.

Why ever did I think those baskets would work?
Great Solution
Two neighbor men helped take this file into the master bedroom. It looks like it could be bedroom furniture, but is really a file inside.  The bookcase and file will be a great asset as I finish up my counseling studies.

Many things need to be finished in this master bedroom, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. I may need to jump ahead to area #5 now, the living room, because Christmas is coming.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Senior Health, Part Five

A friend posted this on Facebook and signs of a stroke certainly fit into this series.

During a party, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. (they offered to call ambulance
They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm , Ingrid passed away.)

She had suffered a stroke at the party . Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today.

Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this.

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.

STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters--S T R
Remember the '3' steps, STR . Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.

The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions
S * Ask the individual to SMILE.
T *  TALK. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (eg 'It is sunny out today').

R * Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS .
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the ambulance and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
NOTE : Another 'sign' of a stroke is

1. Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue.

2. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.
A prominent cardiologist says if everyone who gets this status shares it; you can bet that at least one life will be saved

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Obama Care Article for Seniors

When I was in the hospital recently, my bill was affordable--$50 a day from Preferred Care Medicare Supplement. Actually I have yet to receive that $150 three-day bill and one from the ambulance trip a month ago.

With the election things are now changing for us seniors.  I found this article by conservative Townhall columist John C. Goodman in September, but  waited until after the election to post it.

"Two things about the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) are increasingly clear: (1) seniors have been singled out and forced to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of a new entitlement for young people and (2) the states are administratively just not ready to implement the new program in time for its January 1, 2014, start date.

"So here's a simple proposal that will not affect the federal deficit: Delay the scheduled cuts in Medicare spending by five years and pay for that expense by delaying the 2014 start date of ObamaCare by two years.

"That would give everyone time to find a better way to reform the health care system. It would also impact this fall's election. Every member of Congress would be asked to vote up or down on a single question: Who do you care more about: senior citizens or ObamaCare?

"Over the next 10 years, ObamaCare will reduce Medicare spending by $716 billion. The Obama administration had hoped to achieve these spending reductions through increased efficiency, based on the results of pilot projects and demonstration programs. The problem: the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said in three consecutive reports that these projects are not working as planned and are unlikely to save money. As a fallback device, the health reform law set up a bureaucracy, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), that will have the power to reduce doctor and hospital fees to such an extent that access to care for the elderly and disabled will be severely impaired.

"In fact, the Medicare actuaries tell us that squeezing the providers in this way will put one-in-seven hospitals out of business in the next eight years, as Medicare fees fall below Medicaid's. Harvard health economist Joseph Newhouse predicts senior citizens may be forced to seek care at community health centers and in the emergency rooms of safety net hospitals, just as Medicaid recipients do today.

"Consider people reaching age 65 this year. Under ObamaCare, the average amount spent on these enrollees over the remainder of their lives will fall by about $36,000 at today's prices. That sum of money is equivalent to about three years of benefits. For 55 year olds, the spending decrease is about $62,000 — or the equivalent of six years of benefits. For 45 year olds, the loss is more than $105,000, or nine years of benefits.

"In terms of the sheer dollars involved, the planned reduction in future Medicare payments is the equivalent of raising the eligibility age for Medicare to age 68 for today's 65 year olds, to age 71 for 55 year olds and to age 74 for 45 year olds. But rather than keep the system as is and raise the age of eligibility, the reform law tries to achieve equivalent savings by paying less to providers. This will decrease access to care for seniors dramatically, and ultimately create a two-tiered health care system — with the elderly getting second class care.

"A five-year delay in Medicare payment cuts can be paid for by pushing back the start date of ObamaCare from 2014 to 2016. The reason: Beginning in 2014, state health insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running for individuals and families who lack access to employer-provided health coverage and do not qualify for Medicaid. But more than one-third of states (16) have done almost nothing to prepare for the exchanges. Another 20 states have made some progress but not enough. Further, health insurance exchanges will require significant investments in information technology that states simply cannot afford.

"The delays contemplated here will give Congress time to replace ObamaCare's command-and-control approach to health care with reforms that will empower patients, free doctors and allow competition in the marketplace.

"In the meantime, delaying the start of these two major provisions will protect seniors, save taxpayers money and allow lawmakers time to enact health reforms that actually work."

I need to contact my congressman. Let me know what you think.

Added later in the day: Nomi Prins here says that insurance company take over is the real problem.

Monday, November 12, 2012

15 Things I Am Thankful For

I am thankful for:
  1. Our veterans on this Veterans' Day and my country, state, county and city and elected officials that I can now pray for. Friday at the school where I substituted there was a wonderful, long Veteran's Day Assembly. The students here in Plant City were very attentive at this assembly. Essays were read. A young lady with an awesome voice sang the Star Spangled Banner, and a Vice Principal also sang a patriotic song.  A Power Point show of veterans connected with the school students and staff was shown. This school is having a Christmas program next month--I know because I saw it on the white board in the band class. No "Winter Program".
  2. My husband's great attitude and taking one day at a time. We should all do that--take one day at a time.
  3. That Alzheimer's is causing me to hold on to my Christian faith in new ways. I am more confident than ever that the LORD will see me through.
  4. That Alzheimer's is bringing self-discipline into my life with time management.
  5. That Alzheimer's is making me more health conscious so I can be his caregiver/lovegiver all his days and not die first myself. I have lost weight through Weight Watchers and am walking two to three times a week.
  6. That Alzheimer's is forcing me to organize our home. When I retired, I thought plenty of time. But our days are numbered and I have to do this now. It feels great to finally have a strategy for doing it thanks to the wisdom of The House That Cleans Itself.
  7. That my husband in 2009, even after his early diagnosis, helped edit Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill, the book I had it in me to write. If it didn't make sense to him, what I wrote, it had to be edited.
  8. That we survived a crash with a DUI driver that left us with only one car; that my husband decided to just be a passenger a year ago. There is now no car at home here in the country for him to drive away in and he loves our dog and home.
  9. That we have camping memories and have gone to Orlando theme parks.
  10. Sally and Jake who are on a similar journey with Jake's Alzheimer's. I love how our husbands have bonded and enjoy each other.
  11. The Plant City Senior Center---pray that our husbands accept going there. I am so grateful to Sally for getting us into this. Her mother once went there.
  12. Going out of town to visit relatives in December while we can do this.
  13. The Alzheimer's Association support group and our two facilitators there.
  14. That I can still work to pay off credit cards because one day I may not be able to work.
  15. My blogging friends.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Alzheimer's Ready Home

Water stained wall

I suggested to my husband that he could water flowers while I worked. He did that. What we didn't notice is that he had left the water on and it was on all night and rust from the water has stained the wall. Fortunately this is in the backyard.

My husband has a lot less interest in taking care of our yard now. Jake loves to feel useful and loves to help us with our yard.

I am writing about The House That Cleans Itself, but there are so many issues for the caregiver in an Alzheimer's ready home not included in that book for the general audience and so I turned to this source: . Issues include:

Judgment: forgetting how to use household appliances. Speaking of this my husband has no interest in the computer now. He is proud of some equipment in the shop and in the garage, but really doesn't use it now. On the other hand, Joe, a blogging friend with dementia, uses his computer often. Jake loves to use yard equipment. Fortunately Jake doesn't have a riding lawn mower, or he might wander with it. My husband has a riding lawn mower, only it is hard to get him to use it and I am not comfortable with it yet.

Sense of time and place. I have noticed how my husband when we are out driving about (I am the one driving now) thinks that something by the road has been there a while. He and Jake can make up memories. Once they both decided that a restaurant had been on a certain corner--but not so. Sally and I just smiled about this. Hubby does use his Timex watch for the day of the week and the date  and his clipboard with the daily schedule for both of us that I have typed up.

Behavior: becoming easily confused, suspicious or fearful. I think the coconut oil I give my husband helps to calm him and also I keep very calm myself.

Physical ability: having trouble with balance; depending upon a walker or wheelchair to get around. Not so far. We always hold hands when we are out and I understand my hearing loss can create balance problems also. Hubby carries heavy things for me because of my carpal tunnel.

Senses: experiencing changes in vision, hearing, sensitivity to temperatures or depth perception

There is a Alzheimer's Navigator on the above site: You go there and take a survey. Be prepared to give the date of the diagnosis. For example, my husband's Mixed Dementia was diagnosed in August of 2010. More on that navigator site later on this blog.