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.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What I'm Learning About Senior Health, Part Four

I  have  hearing loss. I admit it! How does this manifest itself? People tell me. Talk sounds garbled to me. I tell people to speak up. So I went to an audiologist and she diagnosed my hearing loss. I have applied for a scholarship for those hearing aids. It is several thousand dollars and we just don't have the funds and Preferred Care Insurance will not cover it. Maybe the scholarship will come about.

Hubby and I can joke about my loss, but really it impairs our communication. I am in one room and he says something from another room, for example. Telling him to speak up doesn't work. Then when I get there he forgets what he said! We laugh about this, but I do need help with my hearing.

Speaking of applying for help, Sally suggested we use our local senior center for day care for our husbands. Both husbands are now on the waiting list. The fee is based on our income and we feel that our husbands will enjoy doing this together. However, my husband doesn't like the idea at all and says that Jake can just hang out at our house. He actually was mad about it--says he doesn't need a "babysitting" service.

Last Saturday our husbands enjoyed chatting while Sally and I walked around Lake Hollingsworth to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. Our husbands were actually "babysitting" each other and so enjoy each other's company. Sally and I loved walking around the lake and the fact that we could help support the Alzheimier's Association which is so helpful to both of us.

Husbands sitting at far right

Lake Hollinsworth--almost a 5K walk

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Beginning Master Bedroom, Area #4

Even my husband notices the clutter on my side of the room. But wait until you see what's behind this desk and "temporary" rack of clothes. This is shameful because we have enough drawers and a walk-in closet. It has to change!

Banquet table for junk on top and under
More by the book case 
It is going to take some time to get organized in this room. Usually you can just shut the door to the master bedroom when you have company, but this will not do for The House That Cleans Itself and the whole house process I am employing here.

Some changes have been made in the last several months. First of all I have a built-in vanity in the master bedroom for putting on makeup: I decided to use it instead of having makeup out on the bathroom counter in Area #1 and I do love sitting down to do my makeup. Second, we have moved a cabinet from the den into this large bedroom. On it is the bomb box and an iPod player on my husband's side of the bed. Music is so good for Alzheimer's patients and down the road when TV doesn't work so well, music will.

What will not change is all the places where my husband keeps his things. He plugs in his cell phone a certain place and puts his glasses a certain place at night. I am the one who has to change my side of the room and my habits.

What is my strategy for this change?
  • Dispose of my clothes and sort through my shoes.  Because I have lost 30 pounds slowly through Weight Watchers, I am now fitting into some clothes I haven't worn in several years and have others that are too big.  Since I sew, some clothes may be taken in. I will put clothes to be altered on the shelf in the guest bedroom.
  • Put summer clothes into bins for storage. Bins are now available that are under the pool table in the den.
  • Repair any shoes or clothes of my husband that need it.
  • Sort through books and paper clutter that you see above. Put the extra books in the holding shelves by the piano in the living room. Process the paper clutter quickly so I do not have to bring it into the den.
  • Get that six foot banquet table and clothes rack out of there. Both the clothes rack from IKEA and the banquet table from SAMS were used in a garage sale several years ago. Never were they intended for use in our master bedroom!
  • Put a small side table in the guest bedroom into the master bedroom for keeping jewelry.
  • Go through drawers and ask those hard questions about each item.
  • Use the notebook computer on that wicker desk for writing and study by the window.
Now the extra hour of daylight saving time isn't even enough to address these issues. It will take time to organize this room, but one day when I am my husband's full-time later stage Alzheimer's caregiver, I will be so glad that this room has been sorted through and organized as I spend more time there.

Fifteen people received free copies of the book The House That Cleans Itself,  from the author, Mindy Starns Clark, that I distributed to you.  Many of you have let me know that book has come in the mail and that you are excited about transforming your home to a house that will clean itself. Be sure that you also write to thank Mrs. Clark, whose address and e-mail is in back of that book.

Brill's "Alzheimer's Disease" for young people

The Marshall Cavendish Corporation has produced a series of books I discovered in substituting in a Plant City middle school. While the media specialist talked with the eighth graders about primary sources, I discovered a secondary source library book. The books in the 616 section of the library by this publisher included: Asthma, Depression, Heart Disease, Juvenile Diabetes, Lung Cancer and Alzheimer ’s Disease.

While the two children’s books I reviewed earlier here (The Memory Box and What's Happening to Grandpa) are helpful, Marlene Targ Brill’s Alzheimer’s Disease is a 2005 copyright book with much helpful information for grades six and older. We need this book to help our young people understand dementia. Mrs. Brill carefully covers the basics of the disease in 57 pages with a glossary, organizations and other references that follow.

Chapter 1 What Is It Like to Have Alzheimer’s Disease? Adam has grandmother with it and Jose’s grandfather has it. This chapter gets the young person into the topic. I do find many young people in middle school and high school are acquainted with Alzheimer's and at times I am able to talk about my husband's illness and the illness of their relatives.

Chapter 2 What is Alzheimer’s Disease? In a simple way Brill explains plaques, tangles, who might get AD, what are warming signs, how is it diagnosed, and what are the stages. This chapter has a picture of an EEG, a CAT scan and an MRI. She does not deal with two areas: 1) dementia distinctions (Alzheimer’s is the most common dementia); and 2) the latest research, although she does hint at studies in chapter four.

Chapter 3 The History of Alzheimer’s Disease. In 1907 German physician Alois Alzheimer was first to discover the disease. The section on new discoveries are not so relevant, but we do need budding young scientists to dream of cures for dementia, cancer and other diseases. Science and medicine can come alive for young people.

Chapter 4 Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease. Cholinesterase inhibitors are described, but not Namenda. The suggestion is that aspirin might prevent AD. Old information is in the book; for example, ginkgo biloba is heralded:
Studies in the United States have shown that the extract improves thinking, memory, and behavior in people who have AD ( p. 44).
However, this is not true as Science Daily points out here. The moss extract huperzine A and fat from cow brains are also mentioned as possible help. Huperzine A has been used in China for centuries, and I found this resource here. What about fat from cow brains or hospatidylserine? The Mayo Clinic says some about this here.  However, improvements in memory lasted only a few months and were seen in people with the least severe symptoms.

The next sections, “Helping the Person with Alzheimer’s” and “Helping Caregivers” provide general reliable information, but of course more can be added—the benefits of exercise and socialization, for example.

With the exception of the outdated research in chapter four, I highly recommend this book for a young person and hope the publishers will revise it.

On another note, I am considering advertising books I have reviewed here or will review on this blog. Some reviews I already put on Amazon.  Advertisement could help provide income for a blog that I work hard at providing as I take this Alzheimer's journey with my husband and with others. What do you think, gentle reader? Feedback needed. Thanks. Advertise?

Also, thanks to you all who helped support the team I was on for today's November 3, 2012 Alzheimer's Association Walk around Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, Florida. Funds will still be collected on this blog for two more weeks. You can contribute with the link at the top right until November 17th.

If you have "liked" Plant City Lady and Friends on Facebook (top right), you can see pictures of my facilitator "Ann" and our friends "Sally and Jake" and my husband and myself.