Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Five for My Fifth Year of Blogging

Walking to His Spot in the Den
I will give you the five most popular blog posts by number of views this fifth year of Plant City Lady and Friends. As usual, you can click on the red to find that post.

September 7, 2013. Hubby walks. I think that having an article in two local newspapers which give mention to this blog bumped up the views to 433.

February 4, 2013. The post on GERD got the second amount of views this year (335). I would have thought that the post on my hearing aids would have gotten more hits. I am not suffering from GERD any longer.
October 16, 2013. Dealing with stress (315 views). Actually I like the part two stress post better on 12/1/13--very practical for me, but it had much less views. 

June 14, 2013. Granddaughter's quilt (278 views). More quilts are coming.

January 7, 2013.  The fourth area of The House That Cleans Itself series was a popular post with 218 views. Shortly after that I had a genuine Southern hissy fit with Google because pictures on blogs were not going to be free. In short, they won. So now I am paying $2.49 a month for the privilege of posting my messes for you all.
As I review 2013, many things happened or haven't happened.  
  1. We have a volunteer caregiver, Kenny, to enable me to continue to work.
  2. Hubby survived UTIs and was not placed in a nursing home as his doctor expected. 
  3. We have a volunteer for yard and home maintenance, Pharis. Essentially he is covering the front and back yards (areas 8 and 9) in the home organizational project I started in 2012. 
  4. Hubby is walking thanks to our chiropractor.
  5. I did not turn out to have thyroid cancer and I got hearing aids. 
  6. We solved my husband's shaving and showering routines.
  7. I was put on YouTube as MC AC The Rap Lady. More raps need to be put up, but I am not skilled in doing this. My niece and nephew videotaped me and are producing this YouTube channel. 
  8. I kept my weight down, although I need to lose more. 
  9. I have not finished two areas (10 and 11) in The House That Cleans Itself as other priorities crept into our lives. The workshop is next. 
  10. I started my seminary counseling dissertation on being a dementia caregiver. 
for your prayers, everyone! 
How can I pray for you in 2014? 

Incidentally, one of the most viewed blog posts ever 
on December 31, 2009 features Southern New Years Recipes. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

How to Interact With an Alzheimer's Patient

I have some hesitancy to take my husband places where people will not know how to respond to him and where he will not know how to respond to them. He doesn't remember new people very well. He seems to be able to be with a crowd for about two and a half hours now--this was true on Christmas day even though it was his daughter's home, but there were people there he didn't know too well. 

Usually after church hubby just sits while I go around and talk to people and he can become quite impatient after about two and a half hours of our afternoon church service and the socializing afterwards. 

At church I often talk with a lady who has Alzheimer's because I have been trained. One Sunday I even kept her from leaving church without her family. I held her hand as she was leaving and asked her where she was going. I am going to walk home, she said,  and she was indeed determined to get out of there. I walked out with her and as we left the church, she had difficulty with the steps and my holding her hand securely kept her from a serious fall as she slipped to the ground on the few steps. Soon her family were with her. 

Yesterday after the worship service at our church, I mentioned to a gentleman new to the church that my husband may not remember who he is, but will be warmed very much by interaction. I looked around after a while and sure enough two gentlemen were interacting with my husband. Hubby can be quite funny and a good conversationalist. The guys were enjoying talking. We were able to stay longer because two men knew how to talk with my husband who remained in his spot at the church. 

Yesterday the plan was to take Kenny and hubby home after our afternoon church service and then I would go to a 6 PM birthday party at a restaurant last night by myself. However Kenny was ill* and didn't come to church with us. I was hubby's pill popping buddy and said the same things Kenny said. I managed Kenny's job to shave and shower hubby. I am so grateful for Kenny's routines with my husband. 

Back to my hesitancy to take my husband to a social setting--two and a half hours is about all he can manage--an average movie showing. He no longer goes to Toastmasters with me--three or four hours at night is too long for him.  Hubby said that yes he would go to this birthday party with me after church and we filled time by going to Target, and waiting in the Target parking lot while I assembled the birthday gift. Hubby was happy in our car with the soft drink I bought him (he usually doesn't get one at home) and our simple conversation. 

About 5:45 we got to the restaurant parking lot for the birthday party, but hubby wouldn't go into the restaurant. He had changed his mind and told me to go in there and he would stay in the car--his comfort zone. I am so grateful, by the way, that hubby is comfortable in our new car, but I was not about to leave him in the car for two or three hours even though it was about the 70's outside and I could have the engine turned off. I knew he would be mad if I left him that long and even with a note wouldn't remember where I was. I took my gift into the restaurant and gave it to the lady whose birthday it was and told her my husband was in our car and that I wasn't able to stay because he wouldn't get out of the car. 

Fortunately a lawyer at the party came gallantly to my rescue. He came back to the car with me, reminded my husband they had met and smoothly got hubby into the restaurant. Men have a way with other men, but wives just have that "nag" factor, I believe. Kenny can convince my husband to do something much easier than I can also. 

In the restaurant finally we were seated and as usual he was happy for me to order his dinner. He sat at the end of a long table and could observe everything going on. 

The extrovert that I am, I was able to engage in conversation at the long table and was even asked to rap at one point. I "spit" a rap HERE in the restaurant. But hubby sat quietly and I would often hold his hand or say something to him. The restaurant was noisy and he really couldn't follow conversations but he enjoyed his dinner. Things went well for about two and a half hoursThen hubby was ready to go home to what is comfortable for him. I was fortunate to be able to enjoy that much time. 

As the main caregiver, I often get the wrath of my husband and this is normal for us lovegivers. Of course I forgive him, because I understand the disease and am committed to be there for him all his days. I forgive the impatience and the swearing because his social filters in his brain are gone. 

What is communication like at home? I am learning. When I forget to stand right in front of him, get eye contact, and say one idea at a time, he will often say to me:

You are not making sense. 

I am the multitasker who needs to repent, slow down, and be there for my hubby as he is going downhill.  With the LORD's help I want to love him and he does show that he loves me. Scripture says,

She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:12

* Pray for Kenny, folks, as he has a low resistance to whatever is going around.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Enjoying My Christmas Quilts

Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign. (Isaiah 7:14) He told us that Jesus Christ was coming in the Old Testament, He did come and transform history (and my life). It is the season to celebrate the difference Jesus Christ has made in history and in my life.

Several years ago I made this wall hanging that I use every Christmas. I have learned more about quilts since then, but am sentimental about this quilt.  It was from a cloth book that was to be made into a child's book. I made several cloth books for relatives years ago. 

I also have a quilt Christmas tree skirt and have made Christmas tree skirts for several others in the family.

Hubby forgets what he is getting for Christmas even though he was there when I purchased it. Our dementia loved ones are hardly aware of the times and the seasons--yesterday, today, tomorrow, Christmas. 

Last Christmas we flew out of town to be with your son, I mentioned to hubby.  

I don't know what you are talking about, he replied, but I leave it in your capable hands. 

Now my capable hands got me in trouble last Thursday where I went through the garage ceiling  to get the artificial tree.  Kenny informed me that tree is not going back into the attic after the holidays. It will go into the workshop that will be the next room to clean out. 

This year we are spending Christmas with hubby's daughter and family here in Plant City and I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cars and Things Going Through the Roof

When dementia came into our marriage five years ago, we had two cars. Hubby passed two Alzheimer's driving tests and the possibility existed that he could be one of those seniors who drive who knows where and gets lost. Fortunately DH had at one point decided he wished to be a passenger and we would no longer need two cars. 

The decision of which car to get rid of was made for us.  A DUI driver totaled the gas-saver Saturn three years ago as reported HERE. So for three years we have had one gas-guzzler without car payments--The Expedition.  In 2013 it turned 200, 000, but my plan was that it should last until 300, 000. Somehow with help from Kenny we had been able to get  hubby into the passenger seat, but that step up on the running board was always a challenge. 

Tuesday morning the gas-guzzler engine rattled horribly as I backed out of the garage to go substitute teach. Fortunately my next door neighbor was able to give me a ride to school and teacher Mrs. Watson gave me a ride home. Tuesday night the Expedition was towed by AAA to Firestone who said it needed an expensive valve job that they didn't do.  I had the car towed to our Plant City FORD dealer where we bought the car thinking either repair or trade in the SUV. The diagnosis was an "intake manifold and engine problem" and it would cost $6400 to fix it. Wednesday Sally drove me to school to sub and picked me up from school and Thursday, yesterday, was the day to solve the transportation problem. I canceled my sub job. We needed a new (used) car rather than sink $6400 into this car! 

Kenny had Thursday afternoon free for us after his morning doctor appointment. He picked up DH and I about noon, and the three of us headed off to lunch. I got a text from my husband's daughter to go to a large Toyota dealer in Lakeland rather than try to barter a deal at our local Ford dealer where the gas guzzler was housed with my automatic garage door opener. Kenny thought that was a good idea to go to Lakeland and we got on I-4. 

Lakeland Toyota had recently expanded. We sat at a round table in large sales lobby ready to do business. Kenny commandeered Marcie to help us decide on a smart car. It was important that hubby be able to easily get in and out of a car now--it couldn't be too small.  Marcie had just the used car for us--gulp--with a seven year car payment after I put $2000 from a credit card down.  No trade-in, here, folks, and I could see their point. Dealing with the gas-guzzler at Ford would be another day. 

It took all afternoon for this lovely car to become ours as I am thinking prices are just through the roof even for five year old cars with 55,000 miles. Love this new-to-us shiny car with a great warranty that we acquired at twilight. It is a 2008 GMC Arcadia SUV and hubby just has to put his rear end on the seat and move his legs in. Perfect! And we do not have to rent cars to travel as we did last spring. 

Before Kenny came to drive us to Lakeland, I had yesterday morning to start decorating for Christmas It was time to start putting out my Swedish and hand-made decorations. Last Christmas we had not put up a tree because we flew out of town to my husband's son's home for Christmas. The artificial tree with its lights already on it was stored in the attic above the garage. Two years ago my husband had gone up the ladder to get that tree, but with his decreased mobility I needed to do that last night. 

When we came home from Toyota, I parked our new car in front of the house since the garage door opener was in the gas-guzzler at Ford. It was time to get that tree down with no car in the garage. I pulled the ladder down from the garage ceiling.  I climbed the ladder and asked Kenny to catch the tree that I would hand down to him. Suddenly. . . 

Something else had gone through the roof! 

Kenny took the picture and I'm thinking we should have filmed this for America's Funny Home Videos. Hubby of course got mad and swore profusely. This is what dementia patients do at his stage--their filters are gone. 

After dinner my husband had forgotten about our new car when I reminded him. He walked to the front door to view the smaller fuel-effiicient SUV, amazed that he didn't remember that we have a new vehicle. 

This morning I have bruises and a story to tell the teachers where I have been substituting all week. I will not remind hubby about my going through the garage ceiling. If he notices the hole, I will say Pharis is fixing the garage ceiling, which is true. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teepa Snow Workship, Part Two

Rarely have I attended a workshop on any subject where so much that was presented applies. It was SO practical. Rarely have I attended a presentation that captivated me all day long. 

Teepa Snow is the owner of "Positive Approach"  is a Dementia Education and Skills Training Specialist. For the last four days since attending the workshop her words keep popping up in my day-to-day existence with my husband who has mixed dementia. 

Teepa was careful to explain what is going on in the brain of a person with dementia as they are going into brain failure. She said that at least two parts of the brain are dying with dementia. The brain includes both grey matter (the filing cabinet) and white matter that is the wiring within the brain.  She told about deterioration in the left and right frontal lobe of the care receiver. Formal speech, articulation and executive functioning are leaving sooner, while automatic speech, rhythm and expletives remain longer. When our loved one is unfamiliar with a situation or setting, they become angry and those expletives come to the fore--their filters are gone. Each day I notice that hubby's vocabulary, especially, nouns, leave him searching for words and his executive functioning (steps to do certain things) is disappearing. I have to say put this pill in your mouth and here is the water for taking that pill

Teepa Snow in the day's presentation gave 34 examples of challenges that we caregivers face. I will cover 13 of them with this post--observations of my husband and what I observe with our friend Jake.

  • Losing important things. Early on we faced loss of the cell phone and keys. Hubby no longer cares to have a cell phone. Jake has misplaced his cell and his electric razor recently.
  • Getting lost in time, place or situation. Hubby asks about how we came to live in our home. His memory of the day planned is so short and he does need that daily agenda. Some times he forgets to look at that agenda. 
  • Unsafe task management. Jake has manhandled his lawn mower and is not allowed to mow their lawn any more. He set fire to it. My hubby is not that ambitious and Pharis now mows our lawn.
  • Repeated calls and contacts. Jake must have used his cell phone to leave messages on Sally's cell phone a dozen times during Teepa's workshop.
  • Making up stories, what Teepa called confabulation. I noticed this Sunday when we went to dinner with a new church visitor. To keep the conversation going hubby had his own version of events to tell.
  • Swearing. Saturday we went shopping for Christmas gifts. Hubby has already forgotten what he is getting! Determined to take advantage of sales at Talbots for my gift from him we drove to a distant mall. Hubby was very angry at the traffic and at me for planning such a trip and swore like a drunken sailor in the car while I drove, wanting me to turn around and go home. Rather than play the martyr and give up, I persisted with the mission to acquire quality at a bargain. It was hard to find a parking spot, and when we finally did park, he was happy to stay in the car while I went inside to get that 50% markdown with the purchase of three items.  When I returned to the car, all was well and he forgot about his upset. 
  • Sleep problems--too much or too little. We go to bed early and it is not unusual for hubby to sleep 10 hours. He is asleep now while I write this post. 
  • No initiation--can't get started. 
  • Paranoid or delusional thinking. Hubby has talked about how our money system is changing and can't site where he learned this "fact". He also has a story about an alligator in our back yard. Jake and hubby talk about plane trips and canoe trips they took together.
  • Wandering. So glad this doesn't happen. Hubby is content to be at home watching TV with our dog Ziggy, and since he hobbles now I can't see his wandering off. Because of our volunteer caregiver, Kenny, who checks in with hubby,  I can still work. However, Sally needs to be with Jake because he has this tenancy to wander and she has decided to no longer substitute teach.
  • Striking out at others. Jake and DH had their argument that I wrote about last month, illustrating two behaviors that care receivers exhibit--Jake repeating himself asking where Sally was and hubby getting angry and swearing that Jake was doing this. 
  • Dehydration and malnourishment. Hubby needs to drink more liquid to avoid a UTI. I am very concerned about hubby's small food intake.
  • Immobility. Teepa imitated the walk. Hubby has that walk now. I thought it was just a physical issue! I recently read a description of vascular dementia, however, that included mobility problems.  Teepa gave examples of the correct way to move a care receiver with their walker. Hubby at times still uses his walker, although goes to the chiropractor only every two weeks now.
One of the sponsors of the free workshop, Senior Helpers of Lakeland, gave us a Teepa Snow DVD that covers more material including how to relate to care receivers at various stages. I listened to it while hubby slept early one morning and will use that tape and this workshop content to help guide me in my journey. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Teepa Snow Workshop, Part One

At the workshop that Sally and I attended Thursday, Teepa Snow could explain communication with our dementia loved ones "like no body's business" and kept her audience fascinated the whole day. She visualized, she demonstrated, she imitated, she engaged the audience. The ultimate dementia coach--that she is. 

My day started with the challenge of getting hubby shaved and showered since Kenny has been ill and not able to do this. Kenny has pleurisy now and hubby hadn't had a shower or shave for eight days, hate to say. (Kenny's mother has graciously helped with pills and lunch while I work and Kenny was recovering, but I wasn't comfortable with her shaving and showering my husband.)  I hated his beard at church on Sunday, but now it was really bad. 

Hubby was in the bathroom when I woke up--the place where he needs to be for his shave and shower. I moved in ready to shave a man for the first time in my 69 years. 

I am going to be Kenny today for you, Sweetheart, I announced. 

The trimmer and the electric shaver I had bought this last year for hubby doesn't work on him--razors are in his long-term memory. Kenny had instructed me to use the cheapest razors: Lather up and shave down on the face. Shave up on the chin area. Fill up the sink with water to rinse in between strokes. 

Meanwhile I started the shower to warm the water and then turned it off. When the shaving was done, it was not hard to get hubby in the shower with the grab bars. Then I turned on the shower water and was even able to use shampoo on hubby's hair. Actually I got into the shower with him. 

At a break I told Teepa about my success that mirrored what she was instructing us about working with the brain of someone with dementia. I know more about their stubbornness, the whys, and how to deal with it because of our day in her workshop. 

So much came together for me in this workshop. Thanks so much to our local Alzheimer's Association and local sponsors for putting this event together. Thanks to Grace Manor in Lakeland for keeping my husband and Jake during this event. More on what I learned and how I am applying it in the next post. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Winning Table Cloth

Eight trees under the table settings
Last January Sally asked me to make her a custom table cloth quilt for her birthday. She would use it at the yearly Lady's Christmas Tea to be held December 7th at her church. I have gone every year since meeting Sally and Jake. Yesterday, I went to that Tea. The room was so festive with maybe 20 round tables. Each table was decorated by the hostess and we had those pretty little sandwiches and small desserts--a genuine tea. The event featured collecting baby items for the Plant City Crisis Pregnancy Center--a wonderful cause and the Center's director shared information after the meal. 

Let me back up and tell you about the design of this round table cloth, a would-be quilt. I got the idea HERE (fabulous quilting blog Sew We Quilt, by the way).  I changed it from a table runner to a round table cloth. I used four of the five layers pictured from that blog. The top was silver, hand sewn, and two other layers were green with that brown tree trunk.  After sewing other three sides and turning it, I would sew the top of the brown trunk with  machine sticking  Then I hid the brown sewing machine stiching with the next green label. Finally the silver would have to be hand sewn to cover that second green piece. I had elaborate plans to make it an official round quilt with the batting, the backing and the edging. 

Picture From Sew We Quilt. 
Sally wanted both gold and silver and I had that cut out along with the tree pieces.

Monday, December 1st, my I had a sewing machine problem. Between substitute teaching and going to Toastmasters in the evening I stopped by Lakeland's Fabric Warehouse for help with the machine stitching. Kenny served my husband dinner that day while I also went shopping for hubby's birthday present of clothes before going to Toastmasters.

The white material (snow) was to go on the bottom and had to be eased into the gold layer and ironed to the center of the table cloth. 

Tuesday, December 2nd more problems. Ziggy had to go to the vet and I had a plumbing problem. I was able to cancel substituting 7th period and get Ziggy into the vet my 4:30. I canceled substituting on Wednesday and met the plumber at our home. Between other errands on Wednesday, I got some work on the table cloth done. Still touch and go--would it be done? Eustress is good for me.

Thursday Sally picked up hubby and brought him to Cracker Barrel Restaurant where the four of us celebrated his 76th birthday. Sally saw the table cloth on the pool table in the den.

With the brown trunk and the two green layers sewn to the table cloth by machine, I finished sewing the top silver sections of eight trees by hand while I substituted in Mrs. Watson's class on Friday. Some of those middle school students never see a woman sewing. (Usually when I substitute teach I read and write while they do their work, unless they need my help.) Friday night about 5:30 Sally picked the table cloth up from our home on the way to her church where the hostesses were preparing for the tea the next day. It was not quilted through the layers, but she was happy with it and I had been able to sleep Thursday night. 

Saturday at the tea awards were given out.

Second place, Most Creative.
First place, Most Creative.
Second place, Most Beautiful
Then the last award. 
First place, Most Beautiful--Table Six. 
Sally's table won!

Sally with the award. 
Sally credited me for my help. Now if there were to be an acceptance speech for me, and I might say something such as, I would say thanks to Sally who was very calm about my ability to finish her late birthday gift and who waited with a Plan B in case I didn't come through. Thanks to Mrs. Watson's students who were working well, waiting for my rap at the end of class. Also credit goes to Kenny who came over to our home during the tea and fixed lunch for the two Alzheimer's husbands--Jake and DH. Jake brought their puppy over to socialize with our dog Ziggy. Thanks to Ziggy for his hospitality. Thanks to Google who for $2.49 a month let me put pictures on this blog. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Author of "The House That Cleans" Itself on TV

Excuse the flash on the TV, but this morning I enjoyed the 30 minute interview of Mindy Starns Clark  I had videotaped. You may recall that I have been blogging about her book for sometime and Mindy had sent me 15 books to distribute to people who read this blog. 

Mindy quipped that some people wipe their feet when they come in the house, but she used to wipe her feet when she left! Also, when she was first married she called for help because there was a raccoon in their bedroom after the window had been left open in their third story apartment. The help that came remarked, 

"Boy that raccoon did a lot of damage!" 

We do have critters in our neighborhood. A possum died in the backyard and Kenny said leave it alone and a vulture would get it. Sure enough--the the corpse disappeared leaving a backbone.  Won't leave a window open for a critter to come in! I have enough evidence of paper clutter still to deal with!  

Mindy said simply that she was housekeeping impaired. She writes detective stories, so, determined to change, she looked at the messes as a detective. She examined the evidence--those messes always seemed to happen the same way. Her house changed.  Her popular book, The House That Cleans Itself,  is now in its second printing. You can order it from my widget at the right. 

When my family from Alabama came for the Thanksgiving week, I was pleased that my sister-in-law noted some changes in the house because I had been implementing a house that would clean itself. (They also saw paper clutter of course in the den.) 

Mindy wasn't going to change, but the house would have to change, she said in this interview.  

I am not done applying her book. I still have changes to the house to make things simpler. The workshop is next. Hate to even show you the "before" picture of the workshop. Trying to be very careful what comes into the house now this season. This especially important because I never got around to the yard sale. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dealing With Caregiver Stress, Part Two

How am I 




I wrote about caregiver stress HERE, the first post which has gotten a lot of views. That post was October 16 and it is a month and a half later.  I am being deliberate in dealing with my stress--what I can control since I can't control the progress of my husband's dementia. What am I doing to control stress? 
  1. Daily I am in Scripture and meditating on it. Praying also with petition for others as well as our needs. 
  2. I am seeing a counselor to discuss my stress and get feedback. He asked me to report to him about goals and emotions I am feeling and he let me talk with him for two hours this week! In addition to goals and emotions, I discussed what I think are signs of my depression--sleeplessness and lack of motivation. What I am learning about caregiver stress is going into my counseling dissertation on caregiving--but in a more academic way than these personal reflections you are getting on this blog. 
  3. I decided against taking an antidepressant. This is the road I have now (my cross to bear) and I can't escape it. The LORD is by my side. 
  4. I am rejoicing over what little I accomplish and not worrying about the rest. Goodbye perfectionism. Saving perfectionism for that dissertation. Grateful for the help that has come my way. Assigning perfectionism to them. 
  5. I am being creative--something I enjoy that I can do at home. I am making a round quilt table cloth for Sally. Last minute here, because I have been planning it since last January. She needs it Saturday, December 7 for a Christmas tea at her church. Fortunately she has a plan B. The quilt for the next grandchild is next. According to my counselor this is what is called eustress and it counteracts chronic stress
  6. Financial stress is upon me, but I am trying to watch spending in the food category by taking out only so much cash from the bank each week for food and "shopping" in our freezer or shopping with a careful food list. Much of this year we have gone out to eat because this seems to delight my husband. He did like the food we had for Thanksgiving. But planning a menu is just one more thing I have to do--but it will help with financial stress. Save money by black Friday spending? Didn't happen for me. Usually I am highly organized for Christmas gift giving, but not this year, and overspending will create more financial stress. 
  7. Watch more TV. I confessed to family who stayed with us last week that I rarely watch TV. Have been watching AFV in the evenings with my husband. Great chance to laugh together. Laughing is such good therapy. "Big Bang Theory" and "Duck Dynasty" have been suggested. Now hubby hogs the TV all day long sitting in his chair, for which I am grateful, but we do have two other TV sets. 
  8. I am doing less this season. I am not producing a Christmas letter. Good gracious gravy, all the news is here on Plant City Lady and Friends! Upbeat Christmas letter? Not me this year. So much has been difficult this year. I may write a few Christmas cards while a substitute teach in good classes. 
This morning Kenny came over to take morning pills with my husband as usual and he woke him up. Kenny told me that hubby is hallucinating today. Is this a psyche ward? hubby wanted to know. No, I thought to myself, but I am determined to keep myself out of one. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Giving Thanks For Fifteen Again

  1. Hubby is walking again around the house. He willing uses a walker when we go out. When we seniors fall, it can mean broken bones and I am grateful he accepts that walker. 
  2. Chiropractors that helped hubby walk.
  3. Kenny who has come into our lives last spring. Kenny is a remarkable volunteer caregiver who enables me to continue to work. At the beginning of November, despite his own surgery, Kenny has continued to be there for us, and has even brought his mom into the picture. We are so grateful for these neighbors.
  4. Wayne and now Pharis who have taken up the challenge of our 7/10 of an acre. Hubby doesn't think a wife should mow the lawn, and the front and back yards were the place where in my blogging through the book The House That Cleans Itself  I have been hung up. 
  5. Professionals such as Carole Larkin and Dr. Mary Newport. 
  6. Support from The Alzheimer's Association.
  7. Our friends Sally and Jake (not their real names).
  8. The Plant City Senior Center where Jake and hubby go one day a week. 
  9. Bloggers who regularly comment on this blog and who provide fun and inspiration for me when I read their blogs. I would name you all, but I might forget someone. 
  10. Students I substitute for who provide such hope for the future and who have encouraging my becoming MC AC The Rap Lady. 
  11. My niece and nephew who started my YouTube rapping channel.
  12. Progress on my seminary counseling dissertation on caregiving even as I battle caregiving issues myself and people who provide feedback for that dissertation. 
  13. Having out-of-town guests for Thanksgiving.
  14. Having a great dog, Ziggy, that is a wonderful companion for my husband and me.
  15. My faith that sustains. For example, I am so grateful for the LORD's sustaining us through hospital trips for me in 2012 and for hubby in 2013.

Last year I posted 15 I am thankful for HERE  and I continue to be grateful for items on that list.

Also last year I posted 15 things a caregiver can do 
to be joyful HERE 
and it has received over 750 views. 
That's a lot on JOY this lowly blog 
has spread around!

Monday, November 18, 2013

More Demented Humor

Bob: Why do you have an enema in your ear?
Other senior: Oh that's where my hearing aid went! 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Me on November 11 as hubby goes to the bathroom: So glad you are not using your urinal now so I don't have to empty it. [I have been emptying his urinal which he also calls his "pee jar" since August 27 when it has been hard for him to walk.]

DH: Oh, I haven't been using one since two years ago.

Is that right! I say to myself. Two years! No sense of time here! 

Now I have my aging issues also--mainly my hearing. Also as a senior I need to often use the restroom in the middle of the night to pee and this is one reason I am glad we no longer camp in a popup camper which didn't have a bathroom. I hated those middle of the night trips to the camp bathroom. When I sleep really soundly, I often pee on my way to the bathroom when I finally get up in the middle of the night. When I am wise instead of sleepy, I get up right away and no problem. 

But not always. Hubby laughed at me in the middle of the night when I told him about why I needed to change my PJs. Getting old ain't fun, I said and he laughed.  I think my self-depreciation makes him feel comfortable with his limitations. 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Get two guys with Alzheimer's together and there might at long last be an argument after three years of knowing each other. It was bound to happen. Both men are capable of asking the same question over and over again and Sally and I just act like it was the first time it was asked. 

One day Sally was going to pick up Jake at our home. Jake wanted to know when his wife was coming and kept repeatedly asking every minute or so. Hubby got mad. 

DH: Stop your [expletive deleted] asking the same question over and over. 

Jake: Stop you swearing or I will beat you up and never step inside your house again! He was very angry at his buddy of three years. 

Jake went out to the front yard. I went out there to see that in his anger at my husband he didn't walk away and wander. I took the hose and started watering the beautiful plants that Pharis had planted. Soon Sally came to get her angry husband. 

Both husbands forgot about the incident the next day. AD patients do not hold grudges! 

Alzheimer's and other dementias are not funny, but you just have to laugh sometimes. 

* First Demented Humor post was HERE. Pictures from Facebook I think, but can't remember!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

New Normal in Caregiving Is Hard

This link Seven Stages from The Alzheimer's Reading Room describes the "new normal" stage that my husband is slinking into--perhaps stage five of seven. Every care receiver is different. My husband is no exception. He is different from other sufferers, but like them is trying to feel normal even as he:
  • Struggles to express himself with the correct words. I have to
    stop my busy pace and concentrate on what he may be trying to say. 
  • Wants to say "no" instead of "yes". I am so glad for the good routines established that keep things as "normal" as they can be. Taking morning pills with Kenny is a routine that works. Taking evening pills with me at 8 pm is a routine that works. Waking hubby up at 4 am for a pain pill works, in that I put it in his mouth and he slightly raises his head to swallow water and then goes back to sleep. 
  • Has diminished taste buds and interest in food. Consequently I try to find what food will work for him. Fortunately I can give him coconut oil with that dark chocolate. 
  • Has less knowledge of time.
  • Lights up when I come home.
In contrast I, the caregiver/lovegiver for my husband:
  • Struggle to say the right words to my husband without appearing to nag, without giving too much information in what I say. It is quite a discipline to say one thought at a time. 
  • Have to say "yes" to more responsibility and yet am simplifying and saying "no" to perfectionism and expectations.
  • Have more knowledge of time, trying to multitask, and yet fearing caregiver burnout.
  • Light up when I see him, yet do not feel "at home" at our home. Frankly, when I am teaching I feel more normal--I work for respite perhaps and also income. 
My new normal includes writing a dissertation in my "spare" time which often is while substitute teaching in good classes or early in the morning while hubby is sleeping. Currently I am writing the chapter on stress and depression and fighting both stress and depression personally. Time to book an appointment with the counselor. Time for prayer and meditating on God's Word. 

Graphics from Pinterest. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Hallucinations of an Alzheimer's Patient

DH: I am living among idiots.
Me: Am I an idiot?
DH: No.
Me: Who are the idiots?
DH: Oh, they pop up. 
Me: Sweetheart, you have two disabilities now. You have Alzheimer's and you have trouble walking. 

The walking is getting better, but the hallucinations--those idiots--are popping up. 

I am trying to not be one of those idiots. I am trying to act calm like The 36-Hour Caregiver suggests.

DH: You are acting screwy.
Me: What am I doing? 
Hubby has no specifics on those idiots and what I am doing. 

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind 
don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.  Dr. Seuss

BUT HE DOES MATTER, Dr. Seuss! Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be myself at home. I am so fortunate that I can get away. 

So, are the above hallucinations, delusions or delirium?

According to The 36-Hour Day, hallucinations are hearing, seeing, feeling and smelling things that aren’t there. Drugs can cause hallucinations and so can dementia. I wonder if the new pain pill causes it. The caregiver just has to act calmly about a hallucination. 

“Delusions are untrue ideas unshakably held by one person.” (p. 161 of The 36-Hour Day) The delusion that my husband and Jake have is that they flew in an airplane together and went on a canoe ride together. These delusions make them happy I guess--male bonding. Sally and I do not argue with our husbands about their delusions. 

Delirium, on the other hand, is dangerous and needs immediate medical treatment I read in that book. 
One important distinguishing feature between dementia and delirium is that delirium usually begins suddenly while dementia develops gradually over months or years. Other symptoms of delirium may include misinterpretation of reality, false ideas, or hallucinations; incoherent speech; sleepiness in the daytime or wakefulness at night; and increased or decreased physical (motor) activity. Symptoms of delirium tend to vary through the day. (p. 289 of The 36-Hour Day)
Bob DeMarco reported HERE what Dr. Malaz Boustani said: 
Having delirium prolongs the length of a hospital stay, increases the risk of post-hospitalization transfer to a nursing home, doubles the risk of death, and may lead to permanent brain damage. 

Delirium can accompany a UTI infection, so it is so important to get treatment for the UTI immediately as we have done.  I bought extra UTI strips from Walgreens so I can check. 

Meanwhile, just stay calm about the hallucinations and delusions, unless it is delirium

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Added Nov. 11. I found from THIS NEWSLETTER written by Marie Boltz that these are common causes of delirium:
Reaction to Medication(s)- Fecal impaction- Urinary retention-Infection (urine, lungs, skin)-Hypoxia (not enough oxygen getting to tissues as in congestive heart failure)- Dehydration-Low blood sugar/high blood sugar-Pain-Immobility or hearing and vision loss.

Joe and Brandon enjoyed my raps
My husband has gotten constipated recently (“fecal impaction”) above and so I went to GNC and got their Ulta 50 Probiotic Complex for my husband so he won’t get the dreaded delirium. Brandon and Joe enjoyed my raps as it was a slow day for them today, Veterans’ Day. 

Hey, guys, check out my raps on YouTube and click on the label "Carol's raps" at the right of this blog.