Parental Journal 91 from Planet Elderly – Is It Time for Adult Pull-ups? Well, That Depends.

Saturday, August 12, 2017 – mid-afternoon

As it turns out, yes.  It was time and Mom didn’t balk at all.  In fact, she seemed to be a kind relieved to know that if she didn’t quite make it to the bathroom to pee in time, the garment could be disposed of and easily replaced.

Next week she’ll be 91.  She’s one of the most able bodied at her community.  She is, however, hampered by a prolapsed uterus and bladder.  No pain; no bleeding.  Just a lot of peeing.  We’ll be spending a lot on Depends.  Investors might want to think about putting some bucks into the companies that make adult pull-ups.  There will be millions more of us using them as more Boomers enter the Age of Incontinence.

About That Job…

Mom said she wanted a job, so she was given one:  helping with noon meal table clean up.  At first she was delighted.  A few weeks into the job, she’s not so sure.  First, she often doesn’t remember she has the job.  Second, she thinks it’s not very interesting.  Third, she gets paid $5 every Friday.  The Activities Coordinator makes sure Mom gets out and spends her cash.  No more money hoarding for this gal.  Chocolate custard cone at Andy’s, anyone?

About That Car…

Mom asks about her car at nearly every visit…which is every day for now.  She knows my son is using the car and that we recently had it serviced with a major tune up and some internal repairs.

“I was just thinking I needed to go somewhere the other day, but then I remembered that Adam has the car and I can’t use it.  You know, there are times when I’d like to use it.”

“I know, Mom.  Having your car to use is really helpful to Adam.  He’s taking good care of it.  But we can’t find your license…and it will expire this month.  You can’t drive without a license.”

“Well, we’ll just have to go get one,” she said this morning.

I said nothing.  I had visions of Mom insisting on taking Missouri’s written driver’s test over and over and over…something I want to avoid.  I’m not an authority she will listen to most of the time.  I wonder if I could slip a police officer a dinner gift certificate to the popular CC Broiler and have him visit Mom and tell/lie to her in person:  “Sorry, Ma’am.  In Missouri we don’t allow anyone over age 90 to drive.  From now on, you get driven.  Have a nice day.”   Then he would quickly exit.  If any readers in Columbia, Missouri have a candidate for this gig, let me know.  I’m serious.
Mom and friend July 31 2017  Mom and Friend, Elaine

About That Swearing…

I arrived for a visit one day recently and said to the caretaker on hand, “How are you doing?
“Listening to your mother swear,” she said.  “But it’s cool.  I just let her have her say and try to redirect her.”

Yes, she still has episodes of anger and frustration.  She is not as free as she want to be and I understand that.  On the other hand, she has friends like Eunice, Elaine, Joyce living in her building.  Her friend, Esther, is right next door and sometimes staff arrange for them to visit or play bingo together.

“I’m not happy.  I don’t want people telling me what to do.  I have to figure out what I want to do with my life and I need to look for my own little apartment somewhere where I can be by myself.  I wish I were dead.  I’d rather be with Dad.”

When this monologue starts, I just listen for a while until I think she has run out of some steam.  She is often tearful and sometimes I cry with her.  Then I try to do some active listening.  “I know this is sometimes difficult for you.  You’ve lost a lot in the past year.  This has been hard.”

“Yes it has!” she quickly replies.

Then I gently try to explain that because we are both older; we have done what many other families have had to do:  live in the same town.  I remind her of the friends she has made and that I hear she does a terrific job cleaning the tables after lunch.

“Oh, that!  It’s boring.”

“Sure, but it helps the community and the staff.”

In general, Mom is fairly calm, relaxed and engaged when I visit each morning for coffee/chat time with her and others.  I am not witness to the difficult agitated times when she swears, cries, and/or yells.  Lately there were enough notable incidents that there is now a doctor approved medication available to be give as needed.

As far as I know, she has elected to go to her room to calm down rather than take the half pill approved by the doctor.  And that’s a good thing.  She’s dealing with her situation in her own way.  I also hear she enjoys baths in the spa tub.  It relaxes her and she goes to sleep afterwards.  She always was a tub lover.  Glad the staff found that to be of comfort to her.

 About That Short-Term Memory Loss…

Mom’s inability to remember that she has a job, that I visit each day when in Columbia, whether or not she had breakfast, that she created a flower arrangement yesterday, where some of her clothing and personal belongings have “disappeared to”… this is what’s most difficult for me.  I’ve read about and seen pictures of brains affected by Alzheimer’s.  When Mom occasionally says, “I feel like I’m losing my mind,” I cry a bit on my drive back home because I know she is losing her mind.

I’m fearful and very concerned about the future, but I try not to focus on it.  For now, I continue to have some great conversations with Mom.  We remember the flooded basements in Skokie, Illinois, trips taken to the Bahamas, London, Mexico, Quebec and the time Dad took Mom to Hawaii; we gossip about old and new neighbors and my gal pals; we giggle talking about how we both like chocolate ice cream, cheeseburgers and root beer floats; we sit outside and marvel at how quiet it is, how nice the birds sound, and how lovely the landscape is.  We kid each other about being so independent.  “You get that from me!” she proclaims.  I kid her about not liking watermelon and she insists cantaloupe is better.  We find words and laughter to share every day.  I marvel at the times she is so “with it” and lucid.  Then I cringe as I watch her flounder, needing to find a bathroom, but unsure of where to go.

Mom and Pax July 2017

Great Grandson, Pax, and Mom enjoying bakery goods.  July 2017

About Those Scavenger Hunts…

Things get lost/misplaced all the time.  On occasion we’ll go on scavenger hunts to see if we can find Mom’s TV remote.  When I look in her room, I often find a telephone handset that belongs to the facility, one or two TV remotes that belong to the main TV, and lots of cloth napkins tucked here and there in her drawers.  I leave the napkins.  She thinks they belong to her.

Today we hunted for her TV remote – again.  I found one for a Samsung, but it’s not the one that belongs to her TV.  We’ll use it for a bit.  I had her practice turning the TV on and off.  Only one channel is available with that remote, so it’s not really programmed to her TV.

While searching for the remote, we found her purse on the shelf of Carl’s closet.  One time two pairs of her shoes were residing in Carl’s room.  I called her on it.  “Your shoes were found in Carl’s room.  You want to tell me what’s going on?”  She just looked at me and shrugged her shoulders.  We had a good laugh.

We’re still trying to find the pair of pull-on jeans I bought her a couple months ago.  Good thing I bought her some more for her birthday.

Observations…

Mom weighs about 122 lbs now.  She weighed about 107 when she arrived at the end of March.  No more going up and down the three levels of her old townhouse.

She enjoys when I give her a manicure.

Her general health is quite good.

She has great hearing.

Her walking gait is halted and a bit slow.

She enjoys outings away from the community.

Staff often uses the “Pearl’s Visitors” book to remind her I was there earlier.  I write an entry prior to leaving each time I visit.

We Keep On Keeping On…

We have a routine now with me visiting every day.  Sometimes I bring a friend or a grandchild.  Sometimes my son stops by.  I no longer hear tirades about “wanting to go home.”  I occasionally hear how “unhappy” she is because she misses the Chicagoland area.

When we use my phone to call one of her friends or a relative, she is always upbeat and tells them “everything is fine.”

There are days when I join in on the group’s morning walk…or for a bit of group exercise.

I’ll also bring goodies a couple times a week…cookies, brownies, packets of Smart Pop popcorn…maybe some cut up cantaloupe that Mom shares.

And on my drive home almost every day I ask myself, “Is this me in 10…15…20 years?”

Mom at Teller's 01 080717

Took Mom out to lunch at Teller’s after a doctor’s appointment.  July 2017

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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