Saturday, May 22, 2010

Learning about Alzheimers

Today started too early as I read until 2 last night finishing "The Myth" book. When I checked on Mom and Dad, it was 11 am and Mom had not eaten breakfast. No telling what all her blood sugar was doing. She was very disoriented and weepy. We did get breakfast down and took off for a walk. She was not sure footed and we walked slowly. At the end of the block she said her knee was hurting so Daddy came back home and got the car...such a difference from our other walks this week. She cried off and on until 2 and then felt better. They worked outside and rested. I came in to watch part of "The Alzheimer's Project"...a HBO series with Maria Shriver. Katy and I watched the first section "The Lost Tapes" and bawled our eyes out...then we decided to watch the next part about helping children deal with AD(thought that part would be easier to watch)...WRONG! I am still processing the information and emotions of seeing the loved ones slip away...sometimes moment by moment. All the reading and watching is helping me to understand what an aging brain acts like. I'm eager to get into the book that has lists of coping ideas for the different issues we may face. I am seeing that my life is going to change quickly. Knowing God is my Strength!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I found a book today titled "The Myth of Alzheimer's"...leave it to me to find a book that comes from a Doctor who no longer trusts what the medical system is doing with diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's. It's been a fast read and I have 6 other books to read and a four part DVD. Last night I found a combination remedy by Hyland's that I used years ago called "Nerve Tonic"...I got it and took a tablet myself then gave it to Mom and Dad. They split one tablet last night before bed. They had their best day in a long time. Dad remarked that nothing happened today that frustrated him. I asked if Mom had cried...he thought about it..."no, not once all day!" She even told me about his plans to go to his family reunion later this summer(a topic that typically causes her anxiety and tears) NO TEARS just a joke that I may need to make her a place in the house with the rest of us.

They headed off tonight to the High School to see a performance of one of their friend's granddaughters. When they were back home in less than an hour, I thought something had happened with Mom to make them return. Dad said no the show was had lasted a TOTAL of 18 minutes! They had used their handicapped tag and parked nearby so they jumped in the car and missed waiting for the parking lot to empty. TOO FUNNY!

I feel like God is helping me to understand more about how to help them and giving us ideas to support their bodies and minds in healthier ways. Rejoicing in HIS care. My morning Bible reading was from Colossians 1:11 "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy!"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20th

Mom and I have been walking the last two gets me exercise(something I desperately need and also dread) and gives her the chance to "travel" we visit and tease each other along. Also Daddy gets a bit of a break from her. Two days this week she has tried to leave here and go "somewhere else"...usually if asked, she says she's walking back to Oklahoma and can take care of herself. One day I drove the car behind her to be sure she was safe and she walked to the busiest street in town...looked around for a bit and watched things go by and then turned around and walked home. By the time she got back, she was not frustrated anymore and had a great evening. We had a very nice day yesterday. Today we took our walk and had a great first part of the day and then around 2 pm something happened and she wanted to leave again. Each time I ask Daddy and try to figure out what has just happened but so far we can't pin it on anything. He does get very frustrated with her when she starts to cry which does not help her confusion. Today I was able to talk her out of walking away from our place by telling her I needed to be with Brett at a funeral visitation and COULD NOT follow her around in the car(she didn't think that was necessary anyway!)...she promised me she would not leave our place and would not cause anyone "trouble". After we left, Daddy said they had a fine evening. I have a dear friend who is walking this same path on the other side of the United States so we've formed a Long Distance support group. Unfortunately she does not give me hope of Mom coming back mentally...maybe she helps me confront what might be reality...but for tonight I am praying and asking God to send answers for something that will help. I appreciate your prayers joined with mine. Sleep calls.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

In the beginning

Why BLOG??? Why would a busy woman choose to blog about her life? I'm feeling the need to have some of this written down for the future. I think it may help me to write out what is happening and what I am feeling. Maybe it will help someone else who is travelling this same road. While busy raising my seven children, I've had the privilege to watch my Mother care for her Grandmother(Great Ma) and Mother(Grams) for years in her home. After Great Ma's death, Mom continued to care for her Mother at home until an unfortunate accident resulted in a leg amputation. At that point, Grams was placed in a nursing home. Mom still spent the bulk of the day at the home caring for her. We finally decided to move her to a nursing home between the two of us so I could do every other day. In the last year of her life, Mom moved into our guest room to be nearer the home. Dad retired soon after Grams died and they built on our property and moved to be near us. So far, they've been here with us for 12 years.

Six years ago now...Dad had day surgery and the Doctor came out and announced excitedly that they thought they lost him during the surgery. On closer examination, they realized he had "fainted". Dad had great recall of the events(he was not anesthetised)...bright lights, whirring sounds, smells of flesh, etc...and then the blackness...when he came to, there were 20 or so residents and interns crowded into the room. For safety, they decided to keep him overnight.

We decided that I would stay with him so Mom could come back home for a good night's rest. The next morning the head resident reported that Daddy had a heart 20 years younger than his age. We headed home to get him settled. It never crossed my mind that he might not relay that information on to Mom. She began months of caring for him and missing lots sleep. After some months, I began to notice that she seemed to be off center...instead of getting upset, she'd cry and withdraw. I thought she was suffering a bit of depression and she'd regroup.

About a year later, I went to a Doctor's appointment with them and she told the Doctor that Dad's surgery had gone fine except "he DIED during the surgery!" Dad agreed that had happened but he was fine now. Until this, I did not know that Dad had not told Mom about the heart monitor report. I could only think that maybe Dad did not have his hearing aid turned up when the resident gave him the report at the hospital. I explained to the Doctor and them what had happened and what was said. I felt very sad that Mom had gone a whole year at this point thinking she had almost lost Dad. It seemed to have a profound impact on her.

For several years, Mom was a bit forgetful but nothing more than you'd expect. When she would get upset about it, I'd laugh as menopause has robbed me of much of my memory so she didn't seem bad to me at all! The worst times would be when Daddy was planning to leave for his family reunion in July each year. Her perspective was that he was abandoning her parents had when she was young. Her childhood was filled with her father in the service travelling...her Mom accompanying him and her staying behind with an incredibly loving Grandmother. She never regrets being with her Grandmother but she deeply missed her parents. It was hard for her to make sense of being left she was not really a part of their family. She grew up an only child so she didn't have a sibling to be with.

I don't remember a moment of thinking "OH NO what happened"...instead I remember times of thinking Mom was slipping away from us and then just as soon, she'd be fine again. The few times were sporadic and unpredictable. They'd leave as quickly as they'd come...they were far and few between. Then there came a time when they seemed to come to stay...the days of not knowing where she was or how she got here became the norm.

For along time, she knew who I was but did not know Daddy. My heart would ache to hear her question him about who he was. He found a way to tell her again and again of his love. "We've been together for a long time and until God calls me home, I'm not going anywhere." Their love seemed to be fresh and new to her...precious to watch them act like "kids" again...rediscovering each other. They both are clinging to each other for support. She often tells him how incredible he is...what a wonderful man he she doesn't deserve him. Maybe that's a small consolation for not remembering all their years together.

Love endures forever

Today Mom came to ask me what to do when you find someone you really love. I told her you do whatever you can to stay with them. She asked if her staying would cause problems for him? She hasn't remembered for some time that Daddy is her husband of over 53 years(Daddy with his great command of numbers could tell you the exact years, months and days). For a long time, she has had a period of years missing...she has her childhood and some current memories but from the time of her marriage to current seems to have disappeared. It's odd the way the mind works.

Now she calls me the woman in the BIG house. She's heard I'm supposed to be the mother of all the children and thinks I'm probably her Mother also. She doesn't call any of us by name anymore.

Last week we went to a Doctor's appointment. I've not gone with them in over a year because Dad felt he could handle it. There were some issues with a test of Mom's and she was worried. I promised to go along. It was a disaster...come to find out, they've been seeing a P.A. without any Doctor oversight. Mom's on 5 different meds for blood pressure and two more for other things. Dad's on 4 meds. When I get home with the lists and start looking into them, I am stunned that several of them are not recommended for the elderly and several of Moms have the side effects that we are seeing...confusion, weight loss, depression, etc. Now we need to look for a new Doctor and see if we can adjust/eliminate some meds.

I feel like I've not taken "good care" of them...even though up to now, they have not asked for help. I wish I had checked their meds before. I continue to study and try to find a homeopathic remedy to help Mom. Over the years, I've been able to keep them very well physically with only homeopathy. This is a much bigger challenge...I have had some success with a few remedies over the years of helping her mind get centered again but not much success lately. I have such good success with other cases that I am working on but can't seem to get a focus for Mom's case. Tonight I am determining to call a friend who may be able to help me get a clearer picture.