Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More changes...

This has been a very difficult month. I've always believed that God is in control & that he was directing my steps on this journey. About 7 weeks ago, I visited the nursing home for the first time with Kenny. Since then Bonnie & Dad have gone with me. Mom has been declining & I have talked a lot about her with the social worker at the N.H. They had an opening on December 21 and although it seemed too soon, it also seemed like it was perfect timing considering mom's decline. Dad agreed that she had been changing and Bonnie was very concerned for her safety.

Bonnie and I took mom on Monday. I can't believe my mom is in the nursing home and that I am the one that took her there. How can something so right seem so awful. We are all crying often and Dad feels terrible. I know it is the best care for mom and she seems to be adjusting without a lot of upset. I only hope that she continues to adjust and that the rest of us can too.

I'm sorry that I couldn't have done more for my parents but I'm at the end of my rope.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Like a Kid at Christmas

It has been a difficult couple of weeks. I felt like I was handling things o.k. and then it was time to say good bye to the cows. I was very disappointed when our first plan did not work out. The local ranch offered a very low price that rattled our cages. I called a couple of other farmers and arranged for a truck to come pick them up and take them to auction.

I am glad that Bonnie had decided to come up. It was sad to see them go and her support and Ken's was definitely needed in the situation. Not knowing the price the cows would bring only added to the distress. As it turned out the auction brought a couple thousand more so it was a good decision. Now, it's just a matter of getting use to the empty barnyard. At times mom remembers that they are gone & says she knows Pa could no longer take care of them. Other times, she thinks they are just over the hill. Who would ever have thought cows could be such a part of the fabric of a family. It feels like a hole has been ripped.

Yesterday, mom & I went to church as usual. It is difficult because mom is always asking questions about who I am, how long am I staying & where did I come from. After church, we stopped by the dump to say hi to dad. Mom gives him a quick hug & hurries over to look in the recycling bin. She pulls out a little tin can and smiles like she just got a present. She then moves over to the other door and pulls out another can. I'm thinking just what we need more stuff in that house but she is telling me she is going to put some flowers in those cans and they will be so cute. Later in the day when dad comes home he tell her he brought her a couple of boxes of dishes. Maybe, you will find something you want. She actually forgets about it & he reminds her. I tell her you better go look at those boxes. She puts on her big blue hat and jacket and I'm watching her from the kitchen window. She is beaming like a kid at Christmas as she looks in the big box. She hauls it in and ooohs and aaahs over her new treasurers. I go along with the excitement and figure in a few days I will be hauling it to the thrift store but for now mom is happy & dad enjoys her excitement.

How long will this last? When will another change need to happen? Is mom safe? Will she start a fire in the woodstove? Will she begin to wander? Does she really sleep at night? I have been repeating, "The Lord is my shepherd." in my racing mind.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Another Sunday with mom & dad. I go up before church & have coffee with mom & dad and then mom & I go to church & dad goes to work at his dump attendant job. It was about 9:30 when I got there & I was very surprised to see there wasn't any coffee made!! No big deal to some people but mom always has coffee first thing. I have always been grateful that mom could still make coffee but I think the time has come when that is slipping away too. It is very sad. I hate Alzheimers.
We had a nice time in church & came home and made vegetable soup. Mom is a peeler and chopper as long as I am there to guide her. She quickly peeled carrots and potatoes. Uncle Mike, Aunty Eunice and Aunty Mary came as soon as we had our pot of soup on the stove. Mom was thrilled to see her sister and hugged her hard. She seemed a little confused about Eunice. Mom and her sister had some tough times in the past and it was nice to see that mom isn't dwelling on those feelings anymore. We had a nice visit with them. I was frustrated with mom at times. I know I shouldn't be because she can't help the forgetfulness but I miss my old mom so much. It hurts. I played polka music to lighten the mood and mom and I danced and Mary, Mike and Eunice clapped. Mom can keep the beat and loves the music. It made everyone smile.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good News

Yesterday was the long awaited doctor's appt. for dad. We found out that his PSA numbers have gone down from 10 to 8 which means no radiation at this time. The doctor called it "watchful waiting" & we will go back the first week in March to check the numbers again. This is a great relief to all of us.

A couple weeks ago, Ken and I went to the Spooner nursing home & then I took dad to see it. It is a larger home with many activities and the staff seems very in tune with the patients. They have music, dancing and cooking class. I can not even imagine mom being there but I also can not imagine care at home forever. It seems dad looks more tired lately & mom is definitely more confused. I hate this disease and what it does to mom. I am thankful for the time we have.

This past weekend was my nieces wedding in Ohio. I went with a cousin and it turned out to be a wonderful time but also sad. It was the first family occasion that I did not travel with my mom. I would have loved to have her along but I know that a trip like that is not possible anymore.

Loving Words

Mom and I are sitting in the car as dad reads a sign just outside of the car. Mom is sitting in the back seat & I am in the driver's seat. She is looking out the window at dad and says,
"I don't know what I would do without that guy."

A long pause.
"He is getting kinda of old tho."

Another long pause and much feeling in her words.
"But I like him."

Her voice held all the love in the world for dad at that moment. It was precious and I hear her voice in my head whenever I think of that day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

secretarial duties

It is 2:30 and I have spent the entire day doing paperwork for mom & dad. Call about prescriptions. Talk to the doctor. Fix IRIS time sheet for caregiver. Call 3 places about personal care funding. Deposit money in checking. Mail check stubs to caregivers. Pick up prescriptions. Talk to social work and caregivers. These are little jobs that consume a lot of time. At least I am blessed to have the day to do it. Now I have a bucket of apples that will keep waiting & maybe go to the deer. One thing Alzheimer's teaches the caregiver is YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL, so apples must wait.

Mom's brother Steve came to visit today. A very nice thing to do, since I can't imagine taking mom on that long drive to see him. She seems more confused lately & asks lots of questions when completing simple tasks. Dad is hanging in there but I am worried about his ability to handle the situation & then there are the cows. Soon they will be sold & that will be a very sad time for us. We will continue to take it a day an hour at a time & see where this journey is taking us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Forgetting Fall Days

The days, weeks and months seem to be flying by. Mom is loving the beautiful colors of the leaves. The other day when I took her to a dentist appt. She kept repeating, "Look at that! Look at that!" Over and over again. She has also mentioned that she has never seen the leaves look colorful. It is as if she has forgotten the fall days. She is awed by trees. She often makes remarks about their size and now about their color. She also seems to be a little afraid that tall trees could fall randomly and comments, "Look how big that tree is."

Mom was a little rough on one of the caregivers so they said they thought it was best if they didn't come back for awhile. They felt that mom was being upset too much by their presence. This is very sad because Dawn is a very loving, easy going person & a mighty good cook. Dad especially enjoyed her company & food. That probably led mom to not want her in the house. We are blessed with wonderful caregivers so one of them picked up Dawn's Fridays & for now I am doing Wednesdays. That has become mom's bath days. Not sure how long this schedule will last but for now it is o.k. When mom has had dentist appts it has been an opportunity for the caregivers to clean the house & throw out old food. I am so thankful to have help with this responsibility.

During the past month, it seems mom's memory has really been slipping. She never really seems to know who I am. She does call me by name but then often questions me if she is correct. She makes occasional statements about the kids being in school & wonders when they will come home. When my brother Geno called she talked to him & then hung up the phone and said, "Who is Geno?" I showed her the picture of us six kids but I really don't think it's there anymore. She says, "yep" really fast when I ask about her understanding. It seems like a generic response just to be agreeable. How awful it must feel to have lost what once filled your thoughts.

Mom has also been waking up in the night. Dad says that about 11 o'clock she thinks she should get dressed. I have told him to give her the sleeping medicine but as of yet, he doesn't think it is necessary. I am concerned about dad because he is fighting a cold, seems more tired & quiet than usual.

Mom has also been confused with making coffee. She will put the pot of water below instead of pouring it through the maker & her dish water coffee has turned into some mighty thick cowboy coffee. One day she made sugar water in a cup and then dumped it into the whole pot of coffee. I was glad I had already taken out my coffee.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Have you seen Donna?

I have not been to my parents house for four days. It's difficult to stay away but it also has been a nice break. Last Thursday, I was there and dad helped me setup the cooker outside to blanch some corn. We cut it off the cob on the picnic table. I had brought two knifes and two boards out thinking mom would help. In the past, she is always eager to help with chopping in the kitchen. Not today tho. She seemed confused by the whole process. She repeatedly asked what I was doing & stated that she had never done that before. Is that ready to eat? Are you going to eat all that?
Dad helped with the cutting. He doesn't have a lot of dexterity in his hands but as usual he did not let that stop him. After working in the hot weather for awhile, I told mom to go get us three ice cream bars from the freezer. I repeated the directions & then she went in the house. It took a little bit & then she came out with the box of ice cream sandwiches and a bag of frozen stir fry. She looked at me and said, "Is this what you wanted?" I said, Yes, You go give dad this ice cream and I will take this back inside." It's heartbreaking to see mom not know what it means to get an ice cream sandwich.

Dad always checks in at 7:30 in the morning. Yesterday, when he called I told him to come down at 5 for dinner. They arrived on time & we had juice and chatted before our dinner of soup & grilled cheese. Mom was complaining about a cold & said she had a sore throat. When it came time to eat, she slurped up the soup & made noises indicating she was enjoying it. In a break in the conversation she looked up at me and said, "Have you seen Donna lately?" I have been training myself to go along with her thoughts & not always correct her so there was silence as I tried to decide how to answer that. Then Kenny said, "That is Donna. This is where she lives." and mom looked confused and responded, "I know that, where's the other Donna?"
It felt good to have mom & dad at our house again & dad always seems to relax and enjoy his time with us. Hearing mom's confusion is such a difficult situation.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Busy days

Since dad's heart attack the days have been busy! Today, I took mom for a doctor's appt. in Siren. I was disappointed because he really didn't evaluate her, but they did get a urine sample so at least I will know if she has an infection. She also got a shot of cortisone in her hip. It has been bothering her and was very sensitive to the touch. Hopefully, that will help with the pain. She has really been confused lately. She has asked me, "How did I get here?" Referring to the house she has lived in for 40 plus years. Today on the way home she couldn't remember where we had been or how the day started out. School started this week and I am sad not to be in the classroom but also very relieved to have time to help my parents. We now have help for them most days of the week. I don't know how long the situation will is an overwhelming situation that you just have to take a day at a time.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dad's health

Last Sunday, I spent the day with mom. We went to church & my brother came up for a visit. I made a hamburger rice hotdish and did a few chores. Rick kept mom entertained. Dad came home from his dump job & he seemed in pretty good shape. Lately, he has been tired and I figured it was from his new medicince Lyrica or from mom. She can really tire a person out these. We had dinner & I left them about 4 o'clock to take dinner to my Uncle Irvin. I stayed with him until 6.

When I got home & opened the door the answering just clicked off. No one had left a message. There was just some fumbling sounds. Seconds later the phone rang again & it was mom saying that dad was having chest pains. He talked briefly to my husband & then we called 911. We were up at their house shortly after the first responders.
Dad was sweating and very gray in color. They drove him to Dairyland and the helicopter from St. Lukes picked him up. Within 5 hours, he was recovering from getting two stints put in one artery. He seems to be feeling pretty good & it's only been a few days but he is tired & today I found out that he cannot return to his dump job for a month. Dad loves his job and will feel bad about not working.

It has been a roller coaster week. Mom seems more confused than ever. She is anxious at times and doesn't remember why she is there (at home). Not sure when she moved there or if that is her home. She has lived there for over 40 years. It was sad for my sister and I to see her like that. Last night, she was asking, "How far are we from the highway? She seemed to think they lived too far out in the woods. "Did we talk about it before we moved here?" She also feels anxious about trees being too tall and clouds that look a little dark. She frequently asks me who I am, where I live and when did I get there.

I have been busy trying to get help from the county. There doesn't seem to be any easy answers. I don't know how long dad can handle mom. They are so loving and it breaks my heart to think they won't be together, but I told dad that we have to think about our health too. We can not do it all & mom is a sweetheart but she takes a lot of energy. The social worker seemed to think in-home care would work for some I just have to find the worker. How will this all turn out? Dad told me today that he thinks they need a little help everyday.

I have to remind myself that God is in control, but I am tired.
Lord, Please give us rest and peace. Amen

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back to work or not yet...

I've spent the last couple days trying to decide about returning to my full time teaching job the end of August. I can tell mom has lost ground the last month and I don't know how long dad will be able to handle it alone. I've spent time with them everyday for 6 days and yet she asked me who I was yesterday. She also has recently asked what grade I am in. Yesterday, she cut her bangs again and looked so upset when I came in. Her hair was wet and I wasn't sure if it was water or lotion. I convinced her to wash it and we blew it dry and she was looking good when they went to the senior meal. Dad told her Ma, You're looking so good they will probably say your meal is free today. He is such a sweetheart to her. She has been making a lot of noise lately clearing her throat and coughing. I know he gets tired of the noise and looks at her funny and she says, "What?? I'm just coughing."
A neighbor finally took the chickens from the middle coop. I was so happy to have them go someplace else and not have to worry about them but the last two times I was up there mom has started to keep a couple hens & chicks in there!!! She doesn't put water in there so when I get there I let them out and they run for the water. Yesterday, I locked the door with no chickens inside hopefully they will not go back when she opens the door again...
Yesterday, I took more things out of the house a few bags of old clothes, knick knacks & coffee mugs. I have been doing this for about 4 Tuesdays in a row & I think I can actually tell that there isn't so much stuff & mom hasn't noticed anything missing. I thought for sure she would be wondering about the old rugs I took a couple weeks ago but thankfully she's not missing them. I'm not sure how the month will progress or what my decision will be but I will look at the pros and cons & pray.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Positive Thoughts

I need to focus on the positive so here it goes...ten positive things about mom at this time.
1. At times, she hugs me and says, "Oh, What would I do without you?"
2. She is still making coffee in the morning.
3. She loves to eat. Yogurt, ice cream, chicken and cookies are her favorite.
4. She is able to go to the garden and get onions or lettuce.
5. She loves her plants and the animals: cows, cats and chickens.
6. She gives Pa a hug and always wants to know where he is.
7. She washes the dishes.
8. She is silly & rolls her eyes.
9. She has a strong body and can walk around.
10. She sleeps at night.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Questions & Confusion

I spent the day with mom while dad was at his dump job. It is good that he is able to get out & make a little money and interact with lots of people. Mom was very confused today and kept asking me where I lived, if I had a husband & if my dad was in Superior. My husband, Kenny was in Superior but for some reason she is calling him my dad. She asked me if I have any sisters and I said, "Yes, Cecile and Bonnie." She said, "Oh, those are my daughters." and I said, "Yes, and so am I." She looked at me very puzzled like and said, "Are you the oldest?" It seems she just can't grasp that I am her daughter. I am o.k. with that & I just want her to be calm and at peace. It's difficult when she asks these questions because they go on and on & she gets agitated and I try to redirect with comments about the birds or garden and sometimes it works but other times she just doesn't let it drop. At times, I tell her the wrong answers seeing if that will calm her but no matter what I say she doesn't seem satisfied. For example, she frequently asks my age and I say 44 and she gasps and says, "Nooo." So later I might say, "29 or 25" and she still says, "Noooo." The crazy thing is, it seems like most of her memories are now gone or confused. She asked me who my sister and nephew were in a picture and she asked me if I had a job. I said, "Yes. I am a school teacher. I teacher first grade." She said, "Oh, that must be nice." She asked me where I live and I always say, "In Danbury across from Vivian Johnson." and she said, "Oh, do you live with all those people and Donna and Kenny." We have a very small house and there is just my husband and I and mom and dad were here just yesterday for dinner but she doesn't have any recollection of it. What an awful desease....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's the little things in life...

I spent the morning with mom and dad. Mom was glad to see me arrive at 9 A.M. Dad was over having coffee with Wayne and she was alone. We decided to go for a walk to see if the blueberries were ripe. She was talking in her southern drawl saying, " Yeah, I know. I know. I know." Then, "I don't know. I don't know." I would say the same things in a funny voice and she would laugh. She was confused about the neighbors driveway as she saw it through the trees. She asked a couple times if it was water. She can't recall the neighbors names and some times thinks there are a couple ladies living there instead a husband and wife. These are neighbors that mom & dad have had dinner with and visited with.
On Sunday, mom sat through the long church service as the new minister was being instated. Later, she was clueless about what happened.
The last couple times I've gone up there she has not been able to feed the chickens. The first time she brought back the feed & realized that she forgot to feed them but said, "Oh, well I'll give it to them tomorrow." Then she brought the feed bucket in the kitchen!
Today she didn't bring enough food and when I told her to go back she was confused about where she was going and then brought two buckets. When we are working in the yard she often confuses tools. Once she brought a big garbage can when we needed a five gallon bucket. She's not sure about rakes, pitch forks and shovels. Why am I writing all this down....I'm seems she is slipping fast the past month. Dad said this morning she asked where the kids were that had slept in the basement. He said, "There's no kids. We slept down there." She nods off often when sitting in her chair & has had a couple accidents lately. I get tired and frustrated when I am with her but then when I am away I am sad that I am missing time with her & dad. It's hard to find a balance.
As I look back at what I have written it is rambling mess but it has reminded me to focus on the positive....over the weekend we weeded in the rose bed and mom was thrilled with the progress. She kept saying, "I can't believe you are doing that. Look, how much you have done." Her flowers and cats make her very happy and she enjoys a cup of coffee with lots of milk & sugar and she loves cookies and her new favorite thing is yogurt. Every time, I go I bring her some and she can't wait to eat it. She makes noises, "MMMMmmm." While eating it, so for now she is enjoying the little things in life and for that I am very thankful. She also hugs me and kisses me and says, "Oh, what would I do without you?"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No cancer. Thank you Lord!

A very happy day!! Dad had an appointment to have a nodule in his lung checked out. Before the biopsy, they did another CT scan & they couldn't find the nodule!! They said it was gone! and on the last CT scan it was the size of a grape. What a relief! No lung cancer to deal with. Thank you Lord!!!!!!!!!

Mom continues to be happy most of the time but she is more confused about most things. What really saddens me is that last week after dad went to bed she looked at me and said, "Where did that guy go?" She seemed to be confused about who "that guy" was...

Today when I was getting glasses out to set on the table I found a piece of french bread in one. The colander was missing from the kitchen and she was sure that someone had stolen it. I try to reassure her that no one is stealing things. Wouldn't it be awful to think people were taking things from your house? What an awful feeling.

Thursday, I have a new person going to visit with mom & dad hopefully it will be another person to fill in on days when needed. It is getting to the point where mom needs some one with her most of the time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Life has definitely changed. After planning for a couple weeks that Ken and I would go see his family for a couple days it looks like our plans have changed. Today we took dad to the doctor because they found a nodule in his lungs. It is the about the size of a grape and they are afraid it could be cancer. He is scheduled for a biopsy next week. He had a good day, but when we got home he felt shaky and cold. Very unusual for him...he went to bed at 4pm and after checking on him a couple times Ken brought up the heating pad. Dad finally fell asleep. He had said his feet were cold and I think the heating pad helped. We will check on him in the morning. While dad rested mom and I were together watching the birds. She said, Where's that guy that was in that chair?! This was the first time she seemed confused about dad...She asked if I had any sisters and was shocked when I said Ceil and Bonnie. She seemed to remember Ceil was her daughter. She made a couple confusing statements about who dad was and asked if my husband was my dad. What an awful disease...God grant us strength, patience, love and guidance through this difficult time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hair & Hats

The days have been crazy and I have too much on my mind. Since the name of this blog is alzheimers moments with mom I am going to try to stick to that topic. Hopefully, that will remind me of the fun moments we have together.
Mom has beautiful thick hair for a 75 year old. Up until a few years ago, she always kept it short, cut and curled it herself. After a shoulder surgery that all changed. Since then my sister who has a very busy life has been the one to take mom for her haircuts. Well, it's been a bit too long and mom can't stand it.
Sunday when I went to pick her up for church she looked pretty good. Even had her hair washed. Dad and I were having coffee discussing birds and the garden and mom came out of the bathroom all smiles...she had put lotion on her hair!!! "I don't like it when it's sticking up!" I couldn't take her to church like that so after a few loud words she decided I could her wash and dry her hair and we made it to church with time to spare.
Church is another moment to love with mom. During the sermon she makes faces or rolls her eyes. One day the minister was talking about Esther from the Bible and mom whisperered Esther Proffit??? That was a dear neighbor lady that had died this past winter.
Back to the hair topic, this morning when I went to help dad plant corn mom was very happy to see me. She had obviously been trimming those bangs again and today she looked like a little Dutch girl with them cut very short and grinning ear to ear. It reminded me of my second grade picture when she cut my hair.
Dad and I went to work in the garden and soon mom was coming to join us. It was a bit cool 50 degrees maybe and mom hates to be chilled so she was wearing a stocking hat which is not unusual for her except today it was a super thick bright blue one that was pointed on the top. I told Dad she looked like a Smurf. Mom didn't mind she walked up to dad and said something like, "Hi Pa! Did you miss me? I love you." and then she gives him a kiss and says come on give me a kiss and he does. Is that sweet or what? Their 43rd aniversary will be next Saturday, June 6th. It seems they have more love then ever between them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Life has changed...

Life has changed since mom's memory is slipping away. Seems like I should be getting use to it but it still shocks me when she says, "Who are you?" Sometimes she asks if I have a guy or shows me my wedding picture and says, "Look at this. These are my kids." I have been married 17 years to a loving, supportive husband who has always been there to help my parents. I am sad that her memories of us are gone.

I know everyone says, "Just stay in the moment and enjoy your time with her." But there are times when I just want to cry and I do...what's the hardest thing?...well, it changes...but mostly I'm just scared of tomorrow...then what? will all these decisions pan out?...and then there is my sweet loving dad. He is amazing. Mom hasn't forgotten him and is always wondering what he is doing if he is not in sight. Dad has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and I am literally waiting to hear the phone ring to find out if it has spread.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Jesus Chirst. 1 Thessalonians 5