Parental Journal 10 from Planet Elderly: Some Days Are Like Walking on Eggshells

Parental Journal 10

Fri. April 17, 2015 5 a.m.

After a few good nights’ sleep, I woke at 2…finally came downstairs and made some coffee around 3:30. What woke me up was the realization that I think I missed my granddaughter Laura’s birthday. Did not have it written down in my 2015 planner. I think it’s the 16th. Sent a text to her mom.

Mom did a solo trip to see Dad yesterday and as part of her trip, she filled up with gas and took some shredded documents to a recycling place. I typed directions to and from Victory Lakes, in case she needs them. So far, she’s doing fine.

While she was gone, I made an apple pie and some chicken enchiladas for our mid-day meal. It was her first taste of enchiladas and she liked it. We went back to see Dad in the afternoon and brought him a piece of pie. He was in bed…not sleeping…and Mom fed him the whole piece.

Mom knows full well that Dad needs to be where he is. She just continues to be riddled with guilt. I wonder if she might agree to go to a support group meeting in the future.

I’ve convinced her to accept my TV and DVD player. Will bring it back after my next visit to MO…which I hope will be right after Mother’s Day.

We spent a little time purging the other night. Dad compulsively clipped and saved recipes, specifically pie, bread, and cookie recipes. It was kind of nice looking through them. Before pitching them, I wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything important stuffed in the pile.

She gave me hand crocheted booties, mine when I was born. I was quite touched. They are beautiful and I want to get them framed. She also gave me the nightgown and robe from her wedding night. It’s probably a size 4…but I took it because she wanted me to have it.

Planning to meet my sweet man, Steve, next weekend in Normal, IL. Of course, plans could change with both our parental situations, but it would be nice to have some time together and walk around Illinois State University, my old stomping grounds.

Created a checklist for Mom in large font: When to pay each month’s condo association fee and when to pay quarterly taxes. She mentioned the other night needing to write down what is due when. There is a place where she can put a check mark and that will be her notation that she made the payment. With luck, she’ll actually put a check mark after each payment. Regular utilities are all set to be automatically paid each month. Medical expenses and expenses related to Dad’s care are the only other payments to make. She prefers working with cash for miscellaneous expenses like gas, food, medicine, etc., so she’s doing fine writing checks to give herself cash. Also, people at the bank can assist her. They know her and watch out for her. I don’t think she’s ready or willing for me to offer to take care of all the bill payments. Maybe down the road.

Mom says she doesn’t want to buy a new car because she’s not sure how long she’ll be driving. Good point. She is also thinking quite a bit about where she will be living in the future. On some level, the idea of a simple apartment appeals to her…no homeowner responsibilities. She has friends transitioning to that arrangement so she thinks about it a bit. At the same time, she talks about how easy her place is to manage and keep clean. Every now and then I remind her that down the road, my preference is to have her close to me in Missouri. That’s an option she’s considering, but as long as Dad is with us, she’s staying put and that’s understandable.

Sat. April 18, 2015 – afternoon

We visited a forest preserve today after spending time with Dad. I wanted to take a closer look at it because it has walking trails and some small fishing ponds. It’s nice; about a mile west on 120. I’m having strong needs to be near trees and water. This helped a bit, but it’s so congested here…traffic, traffic, traffic…even this far out…and TRAINS…long ones…that tie up traffic.  It drives me nuts.

Forsythia is blooming and daffodils. It seems so late compared to mid-Missouri, but it’s nice seeing trees getting full buds and weeping willows starting to green out.

Mom vacuumed today. And yesterday. And the day before. It’s a compulsion.  She prefers to vacuum every day and I grit my teeth. I suppose we’re all compulsive about some things now and then. Vacuuming is her labor of love…also mopping floors and doing laundry, which includes ironing. It’s how she was raised. I remember that she had me cleaning bathrooms with strong Lysol and Comet when I was 7, and we cleaned house – thoroughly – every week for years. I was so happy to go away to college and be free from weekly chores done on Saturdays when all my friends were outside playing.  I remember always having the feeling of wanting to break free.

Mon. April 20, 2015 7:30 a.m.

Mom has been restless the past couple nights. I’ve slept pretty well. She came down this morning and said, “Is it okay if I go back up to bed? I’m not feeling well.” She was having pain in her abdomen. She also mentioned having a funny feeling in her stomach a day or so ago. Tomorrow she has a physical, and I’ll encourage her to mention her discomfort to the doctor. Not that she will, of course, especially if there is no longer any discomfort. I wonder when her last colonoscopy was. My concern is that she eats more than I do and does not gain weight; plus, she feels hungry about every 3 or 4 hours. Also, for a few days she has complained of leg pain in her right leg.  It comes and goes.  Sounds like sciatic nerve.

Tues. April 21, 2015 – 3:30 p.m.

Mom had her doctor’s appointment. It was short and the doctor asked her nothing in terms of assessing her cognitive functioning. He said she looked thinner, so he agreed to weigh her: 89.5 lbs. He listened to her breathe, he checked her pulse, and he asked her if she had any questions for him. She did not. He gave her an authorization for a blood work up; said he the blood test would also include a thyroid check.

I left a draft letter with Jose, Dr. D’s office assistant. Efforts to get the lawyer to contact the doctor to write a letter certifying that Dad can no longer manage his affairs have been ignored. So I drafted a general letter and I hope Dr. D. will read it and agree to provide two original copies on his office stationery. We’ll see. I need to call the lawyer’s office again and get a little snarky: “So…” I’ll say to the receptionist. “It’s been three weeks since we made a request for something quite simple…any idea how long we’ll have to continue to wait?????”

Mom is back to saying she’d rather have Dad at home than to sit around “there.” She hates visiting…going back and forth…him not speaking much…and then having to watch and listen to the other residents. It’s very upsetting for her.  She would like to break free.

Dad was a little bright eyed after lunch, so I said, “Dad, did you have a good lunch?” His reply…”Oh, is it time for lunch?”

Mom vacuumed twice today. The second time she said there was a little black thing on the carpet. I sat on the stairs and grumbled to myself, ”This is nuts.”

She’s positively giddy about going to bingo tomorrow. Other than grocery shopping, it’s the only thing she lets herself do that doesn’t involve housework, laundry, or Dad. She expects me to play and even asked, “Do you and your friends go to bingo?” I was blunt enough to say, “No, Mom…we don’t feel we’re old enough for that yet.”

Will she agree to call a friend and go out to lunch or dinner? No

Will she let me take her to a movie? No

Can I convince her to wear another pair of knee hi nylons because her toes are sticking out of the holes in the old ones? No

Can I convince her to buy a new pair of shoes because the $2 shoes she got on special at a Garden Fresh grocery store last year are wearing out? No

How about buying a pair of Sketchers to replace the 40-year-old bowling shoes she sometimes uses in place of the $2 shoes? No

Things we always make sure we have on hand: Beefsteak rye bread, cream cheese, bananas, Hershey’s chocolate syrup and ice cream.

We brought a bag of nice chocolates to the staff in section C today. They were thrilled.

About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 60 years and faces permanent residency on Planet Elderly. Update: As of March 2, 2017, I turned 70. I'm now an official resident of Planet Elderly. Dad passed away September 22, 2016. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of what our family experiences with one parent in a memory care unit, another living independently with short-term memory loss, and me, the only child daughter who lives 400 miles away. It's quite an adventure. Recommended readings for others who have loved ones who live with some form of dementia: The 36-Hour Day, The Myth of Alzheimer's - What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, Alzheimer's Early Stages.
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