Parental Journal 43 from Planet Elderly: Code Expression – “You Have a Lot on Your Mind”

February 3, 2016 – early evening

Dad was quiet today and enjoyed the doughnut Mom brought. We all enjoyed a doughnut.

We had one emotional incident today. Mom’s been talking for weeks about needing to get her eyes examined. She was going to call for an appointment yesterday, but it slipped her mind. So I thought I’d help out and make the appointment for her while she was busy with Dad’s laundry.

When she heard me on the phone, she became angry and tearful…claiming she did not need to have a doctor’s appointment unless she was sick. I reminded her that she wanted the eye exam and has been talking about needing one for weeks. I was just trying to help.

This resulted in a disjointed discussion. It’s difficult to reason with her when she is upset or mad about something. (It’s difficult to reason with me, as well, when I’m in the same frame of mind!!)  She is appreciative of my assistance with bills, appointments, taxes, etc. but she is also resentful. She is not aware of how often she is confused about things. Maybe she’s aware on some level, but not in a way that she will admit.

Her Major Complaints About Me Today

I’m always watching her. I tried to clarify this with her, but we went round and round in circles.  I remembered advice from the Alzheimer’s.org discussion board…and I just shut up and let it go.

I don’t let her help me. Well, I don’t do much needing any help. Shower? Going to the bathroom? Eating? Getting dressed and undressed? I can do all those things by myself, thank you very much.  At least for now.

Today I sorted through papers to get things organized for having taxes done in two weeks, but that’s a one person job. Being on the phone to schedule, change, or cancel an appointment – a one person job.

So we had a heated discussion, but it calmed down fairly quickly. We are both strong willed. We are both independent. Must be genetic.

Meanwhile, my makeshift bird feeder is seeing some action:

makeshift bird feeder feb 2016

 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 early afternoon

I find myself using a code expression with Mom. It goes like this: “Well, Mom, you have a lot on your mind.” What I mean is: “Mom, you’re confused.”

On very few occasions have I talked about my concern about her confusion. It just doesn’t register. Her interpretation is: “I have too many things to think about.”

For the past few days Dad has been very groggy when we visited. That means he was probably given some medication sometime during the night to address agitation.

Mom continues to cry every day. She grieves for Dad and still wishes he could be home…even if just for a weekend.

Meanwhile, when we hang out in the Sunshine Wing, I sometimes sit next to Wanda (100) and let her take the lead in our discussions. I learned that she will be 101…and although it took a while, she remembered when: February 24. I also learned that my first name is the same as her sister’s first name. I don’t know if her sister is still living.
Anyway, we sit arm-in-arm and chat. She asks questions and I try to give some logical response.
“Are they here yet?” she might ask.
“Oh, not yet,” I’d reply.
She will offer me some of her goldfish crackers, “Here. Have one.”
“Oh thanks, but I’m not hungry.”
“Go ahead! Go ahead! Have one!!”
“That’s okay. I don’t want to ruin my lunch.”
“Yeah,” she would say…and then her attention would wander.
One time yesterday she tapped me on the arm. “Do you like me?”
“I sure do!” I replied. “Do you like me?”
She gave me a big smile, patted my arm and said, “Ye

Here’s a photo of Zack, one of the caretaker assistants.  I talked him into posing with Wanda’s  doll baby for my blog.   “What’s a blog?” he asked.

IMG_20160205_111555292

 

Recent observations – Mom:

Yesterday we had lunch with Judy (the daughter of one of the other residents), and Mom said she was 99 when Judy asked how old she was.

“99??!!” Judy replied.

“Yes, I think so,” Mom said. “I think Dad is in his 80’s.”

So I stepped in and straightened things out. “You’re 89, Mom, and Dad is “93.”

“He is??”

“Yup.”

Judy’s mom is also 89.

 

Mom continues to have difficulty with the microwave. She isn’t able to set it for the right time. She ends up microwaving something for 2 or 5 seconds…over and over and over.

Yesterday she brought over an old pair of red bowling shoes that she has had for decades. “Are these yours?”
“No, Mom. They’re yours. Remember?”
“Hmmmmm. Not really. I used to like bowling. Dad and I went bowling sometimes.”

 

After lunch yesterday, we took half of our lunch home. Mom had half of a cheeseburger; I had ribs. She put the burger in the microwave for about 40 seconds to heat it up for dinner. She went downstairs to check on laundry and when she returned, she heated up some leftover sloppy joe and ate that.
I did not say anything. It was hard not to remind her, but I also want to see what she does when she discovers such errors. I don’t know when she discovered it, but the leftover cheese burger was back in the fridge by morning.

 

Today she again took the leftover cheeseburger and put it in the microwave. We were waiting for the Comcast technician to arrive. It cooked for five seconds. Mom forgot about it and made herself a salami sandwich. She discovered the leftover cheeseburger in the microwave a few minutes ago when she went to use it. She did not say anything. I did not say anything. All I know is that as I write this, I’m sitting in an another room and I keep hearing her trying to get the electric can opener to work and the microwave going off. I think she’s attempting to make chili. I hope she remembers to add the chili seasoning this time. If not, I can always doctor it up.

Continued confusion about what day it is and when she has appointments. She has a couple doctor appointments in April and they are on the calendar, but she keeps thinking they are “tomorrow.”

Continued confusion about money. “I don’t have any money.” “I wish I had my own checking account.” “Who pays for Dad’s care?” “What banks do we use?” So…I repeatedly coach and explain money matters…and I remind her that I wrote all this down so she could read it if she had any questions about money. The information is in the bottom dresser drawer…until she moves it to a place she can’t remember. We have this discussion at least three times a week, sometimes more.

Before going to see Dad today, we were scheduled for a Comcast technician to stop by and make sure our new setup is working okay. We had a terrific time with Doug Vaughn who was entertaining with stories about his family and very helpful. He also served in the Navy for 8 years. He helped reduce the wire clutter and made sure the phone service part of our bundle was up and running. Mom insisted he have one of the shortbread cookies I made. Before he left, he gave us his personal phone number in case Mom/we had any problems or questions in the future. He lives in the area. On the drive over to see Dad, Mom went on and on about what a smart and nice man he was. Indeed!

Mom and Comcast guy, Doug 021016.jpg

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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