Very Inspiring Blogger Award and More

Very Insp Blog pix 8-9-14 I have been remiss in acknowledging two more nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Since I had received this award and made nominations for others on August 14, 2014, I am not going to repeat that now.  However, I am most honored and flattered to have received these nominations!  It is always a good feeling to know that you have touched the lives of others.

I also want to thank both Irene from Baby Boomers and More for her September 14, 2014 nomination and Sandra from Going Gentle Into The Night for her nomination on September 10, 2014.

I follow both Irene and Sandra’s blogs regularly and read them as soon as I am notified of their posts. They are also experienced in caregiving and have a lot of useful suggestions and support for those of us who are caring for a family member. Irene was the primary caregiver for her father who died from Alzheimer’s complications in 2007. Ever since she has remained active as an advocate for vulnerable adults in long-term care facilities.

Sandra cared for her mother who had several dementias including vascular and Lewy Body as well as Alzheimer’s disease. She presents many topics of use to those who are also caregivers including guides to Palliative Care and Hospice. I encourage all my readers to check out both Irene’s and Sandra’s blogs.

I also want to acknowledge that I have been absent from this blog for a few weeks again as I have been caught up in the other parts of my life.  I try to keep up with all the blogs I follow and comment when I can, but sometimes I can’t seem to free up the time to add some blog posts of my own.

I hope to add another new post within a few days now that I have finally finished a big project I was working on.

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Awards, Caregiving, Dementia, Eldercare | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Assisted Living Trials and Tribulations

Recently dad was seen by the NP from his physician’s office who diagnosed the lump in his arm as a sebaceous cyst.  She will check it again in 3 months. In the meantime the aides are to continue to follow it when they help him in the shower.  I don’t know if she checked on his rash or not since it was on the upper side of the same arm.

I noticed yesterday that dad’s rash is worse as he continues to scratch at it.  He also asked if I could have them cut his nails.  Since it was Sunday, I asked one of the aides about it, but then also emailed the nurse about these issues when I got home.  I was afraid I would forget by Tuesday when she will be in the office again.

Dad continues to be about the same.  I feel he is doing very well, but my son commented on Sunday about how grandpa asked the same question three times in quick succession.  I guess I am used to that now, but it does remind me that dad’s memory is getting worse even while he seems stable to me.

When I was visiting dad last week I also noticed that his polo shirt had a missing button and even worse, there was a hole where the button would have been attached to the shirt.  I asked dad about it but he hadn’t noticed.  I went back to his room to see his other shirts, and sure enough another shirt had a large piece missing from the collar.

It looked to me like the washing machine or the dryer at his assisted living facility has begun to catch onto his clothing.  In fact, I would comment that the “dryer ate his clothes”!  I took the second shirt to the nurse, who is also the one in charge of about everything else since this is such a small facility.  I pointed out that the shirt dad was wearing was also damaged.

Then I decided I had to go shopping for more shirts for dad.  One by one, I have been bringing home shirts that had missing buttons or other problems.  He also sometimes buttons the regular cotton shirts incorrectly so that the buttons don’t line up, or he just leaves the bottom 3 buttons undone.  I went shopping with my daughter on Saturday and we both were fairly successful with the holiday weekend sales.

I picked out 4 polo shirts for dad – 2 each at 2 different stores, and my daughter bought school clothes for her son.  I brought dad two yesterday to have him try them on before I ironed his name onto all of them.  It was while changing his shirt that I noticed his rash.  Dad doesn’t like to try on clothing, but he only had an undershirt underneath a long-sleeved shirt he was wearing open like a sweater.

The shirt fit well so yesterday I washed the other two shirts and ironed his name tags onto them.  Tomorrow I will bring home the first 2 shirts to put name tags on them also.  Usually they don’t lose his clothing but I like to be sure to mark new clothing with his name.  They do each resident’s laundry separately, but they have about 10 laundry baskets stacked in the laundry room each day.  I think the washing is actually done overnight by the night staff.

One problem with the laundry is that they put all his clothing into one machine and I think it is overloaded.  The colored clothing runs onto the whites and things don’t come as clean as they should.  I often bring home his jacket to wash myself so he won’t have to go a day without it, but I am not ready to start bringing home all his laundry.

When dad was first at this ALF, he had a red sweatshirt.  Soon he had pink underwear and pink-tinted shirts as well.  I brought that sweatshirt home and gave it away.  It wasn’t worth the chance that they would do the same thing again.

These are small problems in the day-to-day life of an assisted living resident.  Still, the issues build up.  I try to keep my complaints to a minimum, but yet I need to make sure they are aware of the problems.

Also this week I received a notice in the mail that dad’s rent is going up by 5% again in October.  This was not a total surprise as I think it has gone up about the same amount every year.  Still, it does add up and there is nothing I can do about it.  I just keep watch over his accounts and hope dad’s money lasts as long as he does!

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Assisted Living Facility, Caregiving, Dementia, Elder Care, Eldercare | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Dad’s Dental Appointment

Last time I wrote about dad’s chipped tooth.  I admit I worried about it more than I should have – as usual.  The day of his appointment I was so stressed I could hardly eat lunch.  My stomach just wouldn’t calm down.  I think I was afraid dad would refuse to go or wouldn’t behave once we got there.

I went to pick dad up about an hour before his appointment so we would have time to get dad ready and get to the dentist.  Dad was almost asleep in his chair.  I told him again that we needed to go to the dentist.  Again he asked “Why do I need to go to the dentist?”  (With his voice raised).  I said the dentist just wants to look at your front tooth.

I then asked if he wanted to use the rest room.  He did and then he let me get his jacket on and get ready to go.  They took an x-ray of his tooth.  Their x-ray room is the size of a walk in closet. I don’t know if this is the new thing in dentistry but I like the old way!

Then they took him back to a room and I went with him.  The dentist came in soon but then was interrupted by a phone call on his cell phone which took 10 minutes or so.  I noticed he did wash his hands and glove up before looking at dad’s mouth, but then he took the call and didn’t re-glove or re-wash his hands.  The dental technician also had gloves on and was putting cotton in dad’s mouth when the doctor’s phone rang.

I was so tempted to say something about washing hands, but didn’t.  I didn’t want to get dad upset by raising my voice above the clatter in the room.  Dad seemed to be quiet and cooperative and I wanted to keep that going.  In the end the dentist filed down the rest of the tooth to match the chipped part and then put a sealer of some type on it.  He might have done something to the enamel of the tooth as well.  Even though I was right there, I couldn’t tell what he was doing.

It took just over 30 minutes and he was done.  I took dad out to the waiting room and then went back to the desk to pay.  It cost $188 with some kind of reduction for lack of insurance.  I was glad to pay and have it done.  I so hope we don’t have any more dental visits.

Dad was amazingly good during the whole thing.  He didn’t need any Novocaine because it wasn’t broken to the nerve.  Whatever he was thinking, dad was nice and quiet and still.   I am still surprised, looking back, at how good dad was considering his protests before we went.  And I am so relieved to be done with that!

Sunday, just as I was beginning to relax following dad’s dental visit, one of the aides came to tell me about a lump she had found in dad’s upper arm when she gave him his shower that morning.  When she showed it to me, I noticed there was also a rash on the outer skin nearby.  I asked if the lump hurt and he said no, but the outer skin was itchy.  I asked the aide to notify the nurse about the lump when she came in the next day.

On Monday, I called the nurse  to ask her to arrange for his doctor to evaluate the lump.  She said the doctor wasn’t coming in until next month, but the nurse practitioner will be in next Monday.  I had already checked Google (naturally) and decided it was probably not serious, but should be checked out.  I said I would wait for the NP to look at him before I push for anything else.

Dad is already in his upper 90’s so I really don’t want to medicalize the rest of his life.  I don’t want biopsies, surgeries, etc.  Dad would be confused and not understand.  While this lump has been pointed out to him several times, he promptly forgets that it is there.  It doesn’t hurt at all so it probably is benign.  In any case, I have decided to wait for the nurse to evaluate it and try not to worry.

I took dad out to lunch again yesterday.  When I arrived he was almost asleep.  I asked how he felt, and he said he felt a bit dizzy – which is his usual answer lately.  He doesn’t drink enough fluids and he has had some dizziness since a stroke many years ago.  I asked if he felt well enough to go out to eat.  Right away he perked up and got ready to go to the restaurant.

Lately I take him to the same place each week.  It is easy to get him from the parking lot to the building and they have a nice menu.  Of course, dad orders the same thing each time, but he does vary the side dishes.  He has been eating very well this past month and finished his entry each time.  Yet, he still seems to have lost a pound in the last month.  He is down about 9 pounds in a year, but still above where he was after his hospitalization 3 years ago.

I brought along my iPad so I could show dad some pictures from long ago.  He enjoyed the pictures and asked where I got them.  Other than talking about the pictures, it is hard to keep him in a conversation.  Nevertheless, it was still comfortable and an enjoyable time for both of us.  I dropped him off and reminded him I will see him in a few days.  My schedule is a bit off this week due to meetings, but I will still see him as often.

I think I am getting better at taking one day at a time.  I see so much illness in my neighbors and friends that I am thankful for the stability we have achieved this year.  We still have spent a lot more time with doctors and dentists than I would have liked, but nothing is critical at this time.

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Caregiving, Dementia, Elder Care, Eldercare | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Caregiving, Blogging and Dad’s Broken Tooth

Last week when I published a post, a message popped up telling me it was my 250th post!  I was surprised though I have been writing this blog since December 2011.  When I started, dad had recently been discharged from the hospital and nursing home after an illness.  I was stressed and looking for support from all of you, and you sure have come through for me.  I have found a lot of support and information from my readers and am truly thankful for that.

Dad took awhile to recover from his illness and get back his self-sufficiency.  Over the first 6 months he became more and more independent.  He started to sit in the lounge more and later he began to take part in some community activities.  For awhile he seemed to be signing up for most of the offsite luncheons.

Now after 30 months, dad is slowing down again.  He still sits in the lounge a good part of the day, but he rarely signs up for trips outside of his ALF.  His hearing is deteriorating and so is his vision.  He seems content to just sit in the lounge.  He rarely watches television or reads a newspaper though he is often sitting in front of the television while one program after the next plays out in front of him.

Dad always enjoyed visits from my son and grandson and probably still does.  However, in more recent months, dad has not been very communicative during those visits.  His hearing makes conversations difficult, even when I mute the television which is always running.  I think he still likes to have my son and grandson there even though they don’t do much talking.

This week my grandson was playing computer games while visiting dad.  The little guy refused to go over and say “Hi” to dad or to give him a “High Five”.  But dad watched him play some of the time, and seemed “spaced out” at other times.  My grandson gets shy around dad because he doesn’t respond the way he used to.

Sometimes I feel like I can have easier conversations with dad when it is just me and him.  However in the past month I have also found that difficult as dad asks me to repeat every comment about six times before he understands what I just said.  So often we just sit in silence watching the television.

I try to bring pictures and other conversation starters to keep dad responsive to my presence.  Still, I was most successful last week on the day we went out for lunch.  Dad ate very well and finished his entire entre for the second week in a row. (Usually he just finishes half.)

His appetite is better when he eats out. He has his favorite meals and almost always orders the same thing.  However, often the next day he won’t remember that we had eaten out at all.

I was feeling encouraged until I noticed his tooth was chipped.  I commented on it but dad didn’t want me to look at it.  He insisted it had been like that for awhile, but I knew this was a new problem.

I felt frustrated as things were finally starting to calm down.  I know dad would just like me to ignore it, but I can’t.  This is a pretty big chip.  I called his dentist and made an appointment which is for tomorrow.  I hope there is an easy fix but wonder what it would be.  The chip is big but I know he wouldn’t want to sit still for a lot of dental work.

This is his front tooth so I prefer not to have it pulled.  I think he would have a hard time learning to use dentures at this point in his life.  He would forget they were there!  Anyway there is no sense in worrying about it as we will have to deal with it tomorrow.

I have to admit I miss my “old dad” for his sense of humor and interactive conversations.  Yet, I am glad we are still able to get together regularly for lunch and some time for conversations, brief as they are.

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Caregiving, Dementia, Elder Care, Eldercare | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Very Inspiring Blogger Award — Thank You!

Yesterday I was honored to receive a nomination for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” from Ginkgoguy. First I want to tell you about his inspiring blog — “Not Forgotten” as I have been following his posts for quite awhile now.  While I believe he is quite a bit younger than I am,  we share the duty and honor of caring for parents with Alzheimer’s disease.  His sense of humor helps to make this difficult subject easier to read about.  We caregivers share a common bond in understanding a difficult disease, even though it manifests itself differently in every individual.

Very Insp Blog pix 8-9-14

Fellow bloggers who write about family members with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias constitute a worldwide community.  We may live in any country but we share the stress and sense of community that this disease brings.  I have always found it helpful to read the accounts of other caregivers and to see their responses on my own blog as I continue to care for my father.

Thank you, Ginkgoguy! Please check out Ginkgoguy’s blog –“Not Forgotten”  and see why I have continued to be a follower.

The “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” is meant to be paid forward – giving homage to those bloggers who we follow for inspiration.

Here are the rules:

1) Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.

2) List the rules and display the award.

3) Share seven facts about yourself.

4) Nominate 15 other amazing blogs, commenting on their posts to let them know about their nominations.

5) Proudly display the award logo on your blog, and follow the blogger who nominated you.

So seven known facts about myself:

  1. As a mother, grandmother, daughter and caregiver for my parents, family has always been very important to me.
  2. While I retired from my job over 5 years ago, I still can’t seem to find enough time to do even half the things I want to do.
  3. I have always wanted to write, but never saw myself as a writer! It was just something I did “on the side”.
  4. I began my caregiving journey almost ten years ago as my mother began to have serious health problems. While I was still employed at that time, and thousands of miles away, I began with telephone calls and frequent visits to help link mom to elder services.
  5. I love being outdoors and have a hard time working inside at my desktop computer when the sun is shining through my window.
  6. In the Fall when the leaves are changing and the children are heading off to school, I always wish I were going with them!
  7. It is harder than I thought to come up with seven things about myself!

These are my nominations for my favorite bloggers:

The Estate Lady  gives compassionate advice for dealing with a lifetime accumulation of stuff.  She gives practical advice on what to keep and how to deal with the rest and move on.

The Lemon Bar Queen  is written by Jodi Melsness, a wife, mother, nurse, teacher/educator, advocate and caregiver for her mother who has Alzheimer’s.

Cape Cod Caregiver  is written by Lorraine Martha Goyette, a former teacher who gives day-to-day care to her mother.  She blogs about examining the realities of at-home lay team eldercare.

jmgoyder: wings and things  is written by Julie who is a primary caregiver for her husband Anthony who has advanced Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer.  While he is in a nursing home, she spends a good part of each day there with him, sharing their time and love together.

Comic Cuts is one of the blogs I read to lighten my life.  Each post is a short silly cartoon.

Sharechair writes about everyday technology for everyday folks.  She blogs about tips and tricks for using your iPhone, iPad and eReaders.  She has tips for new and experienced users and also suggests free and inexpensive games that might interest the reader.  Again, I enjoy this blog to take me away from the daily stress of eldercare.

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Awards, Caregiving, Dementia, Eldercare | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Good Health News

I mentioned earlier that I have had some health issues that were being followed up.  I had some tests which were then followed by more “follow-up tests” based on the results of the first tests.  Now I have heard from the doctors involved and the news is pretty good.

The serious issues that were possible were not found to be present.  These were serious but rare possibilities and had to be ruled out.  Thankfully they were ruled out.  However, in doing the first set of tests, another issue arose.  This was addressed as part of the second series of tests.

While they found a small problem, it was deemed to be not serious.  It is just something that we will have to follow over time.  This is similar to some issues mom had starting at around the same age as I am now.  I think mom’s was more serious though I can’t ask her now about when it all began.

Now I am almost through with all the medical visits scheduled for this summer.  I still have to see my ophthalmologist and have my annual mammograms.  In addition, I have to see the dentist who was booked up earlier in the summer.  After that I have some return visits scheduled with the doctors I see most regularly, but these are routine checkups and blood work.

At one point several years ago I thought I could just schedule all my medical appointments (and dads) for April and October and forget about them the rest of the year.  For many reasons, it has not worked out that way – especially this year.  Several scheduled appointments were cancelled because the doctors were to be out so they had to be rescheduled later in the summer.  And once an exam is delayed one year, it has to be later each year because insurance will only pay for many of these exams (like eye exams or mammograms) once a year – at least one year from the date of the last exam – unless there is an acute problem

I am thankful that dad has been fine through all this.  I have taken him for seven medical visits so far this summer including extra ones for broken eyeglasses as well as his routine eye exam and an extra visit to the dentist which we had not anticipated.  I didn’t tell dad about most of my medical tests because I didn’t see any sense in worrying him until I knew if there was a real problem.  Thankfully there isn’t and we can move on.

Now I am looking forward to doing more fun activities with my time rather than spending it on medical appointments!

But – as soon as I thought I could focus on fun, we had a storm that knocked out the electricity to my computer room.  It must have been a surge that damaged several sockets.  All of a sudden the overhead light wasn’t working and the computer wasn’t working.  The socket sparked when I tried to plug something it.  I called maintenance yesterday morning and again in the afternoon.  I finally reached someone at the end of the day.

They had said someone would come after lunch, but then they called me this morning while I was visiting dad.  I had to leave dad with a promise I would take him to lunch on Thursday, and came home to meet the electrician.  It all worked out though and now I am back online.

Posted in Caregiving, Elder Care, Eldercare, Health Care | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Vacation For the Caregiver

Last week I told dad I would take him out to lunch the next day, but I when I made that promise, I had forgotten that I had medical tests scheduled early the next afternoon.  Instead when I visited dad I told him I could just have a regular visit and we would go to lunch the next day.  I didn’t give medical details as I don’t want him to worry.

The last set of tests just told me I needed more tests.  That made me more and more worried as the date came closer.   I was happy to put it all out of my mind while I took a short vacation with some of my children and grandchildren.

We got far enough away in time and space so I could just think about the present and enjoy our time together.  Before we left, I visited dad and told him I would be going away for a few days but would bring the children to see him the next day before we began our vacation.

He seemed more concerned about me leaving than he used to be.  I assured him I would be back at the end of the week and visit him again.  On Monday 2 of my daughters and 3 of my grandchildren visited dad with me.  We had a nice visit and dad seemed aware of who they were.  He still seemed concerned about how long I would be gone.  “When will you be back?” he asked.  I told him I would be there Friday.  “What day is today?” he asked again and I said it was Monday.  He seemed OK with that and we left.

Right away we drove off for our mini vacation.  It was a total immersion vacation in that we were at a resort type place where we ate and played without getting into the car.  My daughters arranged for time in the spa for the 3 of us while my son-in-law watched the children in the play areas.  There were many activities and the children would have been happy there for weeks, but we only had a couple of days.

After two nights, we went on to a second nearby location and to sightsee for our last night and day.  It was a great get-away.  I don’t have much opportunity to spend much time with them because they live far away and travel here only once a year or every other year.  During this time I was able to put aside all health and other worries.  It really “felt” like a mental vacation as well as a physical trip away and I was glad to be able to do that.

I visited dad again after our return and by then he seemed to have forgotten that I had been away at all.  I showed him some pictures of our trip.  We went out to lunch at one of his favorite places and he seemed to be doing pretty well.  He ordered his usual meal and responded to questions appropriately.  I think our weekly lunches work out as the best time for a good conversation without the noise of the television and other distractions.  He often seems to be half asleep when we visit in the ALF, but at lunch he is totally awake and aware.

By now the children have all gone off on other trips.  My long distance daughter is visiting other family members and then will return to her home.  I miss them already but have mental plans for future visits.  I don’t travel long distances to visit now because I hate to be far from dad.

However, I do go south in the deep winter just to protect myself from the extreme weather that is common here.  I spend months lining up caregivers before I take my winter trip.  I hate to think about starting that soon again, but by the end of the month I will probably make a preliminary call to the companions to see if they expect to be available in the winter.  If not, I will have to explore other options.  It feels like such a lot of work that I must do to get away, but since it is necessary for my mental health, I will do it.

Posted in Caregiving, Dementia, Elder Care, Eldercare, Family, Vacation | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments