Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Well, another week has gone by with no particular issues.  I have not heard any more from the daughters of "The Don" (that's what my mom calls him, like "The Godfather").  The more people I talk to about their relationship, the more I think it is a non-issue at this point.  Of course, I will continue to watch out for her as best I can. 
     It's taken me awhile, but I finally found the time to find my mom a dentist who takes Medicaid patients.  I took her to the dentist on Thursday.  "The Don" was in her apartment when I picked her up.  I was a little nervous for my mom to go to the dentist as I am not sure how well she can communicate if something were to hurt or bother her.  I did ask several times in the prior weeks though and she said she was not having any pain or anything.  Thankfully, her checkup went well and we do not have to go back.  As the hygienist was walking her out I heard my mom telling her how "everybody gets lost in the American House, so we just help each other".  It was cute.  One of the things about dementia that can work in your favor....my mom brushes her teeth A LOT!!!!  Ya know, because she doesn't remember that she already did!?  I buy her toothpaste like crazy.  I was relieved that we don't have to go back for six months.  Oh, and my mom's dental co-pay was.....$3.00!!!!  After all those years of my mom draining what little savings she had with medical costs and co-pays.  I love you Medicaid! 
     It was such a nice day out so I decided to take my mom to lunch.  She chose Olive Garden (but she kind of agrees to anything I suggest).  I suggested the soup, salad and breadsticks.  She went along with that but kept eyeing a shrimp appetizer (she looks at the pictures).  Admittedly, their "pictures" do look pretty good.  So, I decided we would get the appetizer, too.  It was all very good and my mom was enjoying all of her food.  But, do you know what she enjoys even more!?  Taking the sugar and sweetener packs and stuffing them in her pocket....throughout the whole meal!!!!  This is not a new thing.  I believe every other packet she would say, "this is my last one".  I used to tell her to stop -- now I see the genuine pleasure she gets out of it...  The good news -- there were several left in the bowl when we left.  I asked her what she is going to do with them -- she said "put them in my water"!?  Then, of course the waiter asked if we wanted any dessert!?  I thought we were both pretty stuffed but my mom said "sure"....so I "let" her order one of those white chocolate strawberry dessert shooter sized things.  She loved it, of course!!!  Usually we split things and I don't really encourage dessert, etc...., but she was just having too much fun!!
     I then ran into the grocery store and got her some orange juice and Diet Faygo Cola.  Drinks are about the only thing I stock her on as far as groceries.  I also gathered some of her many "notes" (pictured below) to try to decipher what is on her mind when I get home.  They are difficult to read, but I can make some sense out of whether I need to follow through with buying her anything, etc...  She later called me and said, "that Faygo is zero calories -- can you get me two more packs!!!"  Ugh!  She's been reading calories a lot lately.  Interesting!
     As a side note, I did call my mom more in the evenings this week.  One night she was not in her room until 10 pm.  She said her TV wasn't working so she went to watch Don's TV.  It is true, she messes up her TV a lot and then gets "snow" on the screen.  She does not know how to fix it.  Then, the next night she called me around 9pm and said, "I thought you might be looking for me.  Me and Don just got back from the movie theatre (in their building).  We saw "Driving Miss Daisy".  It was good except Don forgot his hearing aid."  Too funny!  The good news is that she "remembered" I had checked on her the night before and actually thought to call me in case I was trying to reach her.  I think in some ways her memory is better than Don's, but I think they both help each other out.  Between the two of them, they can "put things together". 
     On Saturday, after Megan's music competition, me, Megan and her girlfriends stopped in to say "hi" to my mom.  "The Don" was there.  We only had a few minutes as the girls were on their way to see "Hunger Games".  We all introduced everyone and the girls thought they were "so cute".  As I was leaving, Don told me if I need any ceramic tile or marble work done to let him know!!!  Now that would be interesting!!  Apparently, that is what he used to do for a living.  Wonder what would happen if I turned him loose in my bathroom!?  (It's tempting!)  Bottom line...my mom is happy (and I have the long awaited picture of them below)!!!  What do ya think?  Is he just as "hot" as you imagined?? ;)

My mom's notes and lists...
Going in for more!!!

The coaster and sugar packs are coming home with her!!
 Mom and "The Don"


Saturday Stuff

     Thankfully, today wasn't as crazy as last Saturday.  However, today was the day that the quartet that Megan was in with her friends competed in the State Solo and Ensemble competition which was held at Rochester Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills.
     Then, recently one of Kristin's friends, Kaleigh, asked if Kristin wanted to be in a "fashion show" with her at our local Fashion Bug.  Of course, the time of the fashion show conflicted with Megan's competition, so Kaleigh's mom (Lisa - love her!) said she would take her.  The girls had gone a few days ago and picked out a couple of outfits for the show.  Although 20 some girls signed up, only a few actually showed up.  I forced George and Jacob to go and support their daughter/twin sister.  Of course, not their dream!  Not surprisingly, the store was also offering 40 percent off of the outfits they picked out.  I told my husband it would be ok to get one of the outfits if Kristin really wanted it.  So, of course, she did.  Then, Lisa bought her the cute necklace to go along with it!!  Jacob took pictures of "the girls" for me on his iPod.  He's such a good sport!!!!  Don't the girls look lovely!!??

 Kristin walking the Fashion Bug catwalk!
 Work It, Kaleigh!
 If Ony Kristin Could Stop Laughing!
Kara, Kristin and Kaleigh...!!

      Meanwhile, back in Rochester for the competition the girls all met up in their warm up room around 3 pm.  Their scheduled performance time was 3:39 pm.  (Cutting it a little too close for me!!)  They tuned, they warmed up a few times and to be honest, did not seem particularly concerned or nervous about their performance.  I admired their confidence.  However, I also knew how much little they had all practiced together since the District competition.  Two girls play softball on the high school softball team, one is on the tennis team and Megan's on the soccer team.  Plus homework.  It just wasn't happening much.  Then, the judge was running ahead of schedule so they ended up taking the girls to their performance room about 20 minutes early.  All the girls are good players and in the end the judge gave them a score of II on a I to V rating scale.  A respectable score for a group of freshman girls their first time at the State competition.  Literally within minutes after their performance they changed clothes.  Their real focus...going to see the Hunger Games movie right afterwards.  Incidentally, all performances scoring a I or II receive medals!!  Yay!
 They call these their Amish band dresses...they hate love them!!??
 Performance Time!!
 Their Medal Card with Score
Now Can We Go See Hunger Games!!!??

 **I even took all the girls to see my mom on the way home since we were passing right by her place.  "The Don" was there...and I had my camera.  Stay tuned for Monday's post!!!


Freebies 101

     Well, hello!  Thought it was time to share my little stash of Freebies I've collected over the last month or two (I think I skipped February because of our vacation).  By following www.hip2save.com and signing up for the various Freebies that appeal to me or that I don't already have, I get these fun surprises in the mail and have travel sizes of lots of stuff to bring on trips or "try" without buying the full sized product.
     Some of these come in the cutest little packaging, too!  The Tide was kind of cute in a little "washer" etc...  That would be a fun marketing job!  I realize that not everyone is as easily amused, but I spend very little time on this and have gotten some neat things along the way.  In fact, I am too lazy to print the coupons that can get you some free stuff.  I only do the ones that come to my mailbox...sad but true.  You can see some of my other "Freebies" under my Deals label.
     This time around, I especially like my 12 pack of K-cups Hot Apple Cider and so do my kids!!!  It's all in fun!!!  Have any of you found any good stuff lately????


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
      Like sand through the hour glass....so are the Days of Our Lives!!
      Although I want to journal these times as a daughter, caregiver, and time spent with my mom, this is one of those times I am not sure what to share and what not to share.  I like to keep it as real and honest as possible.  Sometimes what is left to the imagination is worse than the reality. 
     On Wednesday, I was contacted by one of the executives at the American House.  I was on my cell phone picking up Megan from soccer.  Immediately she assured me there was "nothing wrong".  Basically she wanted to let me know that the daughters of my mom's gentleman friend (Don) wanted to get in touch with me about their relationship.  Apparently, the daughters had reason to believe that he slept over at my mom's apartment last Monday night.  This I did not know.  Of course, I knew it could happen.  (Apparently they call him every morning to remind him to do things like take his pills and he wasn't there.)  So, I gave her permission to give them my phone number and she gave me theirs. 
     The next day I contacted one of the daughters and she wanted to set up a meeting with her, her sister. and me  I agreed and a meeting was set up for Sunday afternoon (while our parents would be at lunch.)
     (Needless to say, this is the last thing I wanted to do coming off of the rather exhausting weekend we had and with the weather being so nice outside, etc...) 
     Not much was discussed on the phone prior to the meeting.  I could tell they wanted to speak in person.  We met in a conference room at the American House.  Both sisters were cordial.  They indicated that this is not the first time their father has "pursued" women in this apartment complex.  From what I gather, he was asked to leave a previous facility.  He has lived in this current location a year and a half and apparently was spending time with another woman in the building.  He also has Alzheimer's Disease and is 81, almost 82, years old.  I think they were feeling me out if I was going to complain (or worse) about their father.  We exchanged information at length about our parents, their health history and personalities.  It was apparent that they want their dad to stop spending time with my mom.  I believe they are fearful he will be kicked out.
     I asked if they had a suggestion on how we can put more distance between them.  For the record, they do live on different floors and different wings of the building.  One of the sisters asked if I would be willing to switch my mom's meal schedule so they would not be together since it seems their routine is to follow each other to my mom or his apartment.  Sounds easy enough, but I declined.  I know my mom and any change in my mom's routine would be disruptive to her.  Not only that, but I am afraid she would seek him out and it could even trigger confusion and possibly her "wandering" looking for him.  Wandering is among the worst things that can happen with this disease as I am sure you have heard of missing persons with Alzheimer's Disease.  They literally wander away.  In the end, I agreed to talk to the behavioral nurse who has worked with each of them individually.  I also agreed to discourage him from being in my mom's apartment and vice versa. 
     Today, I was in touch with the behavioral nurse.  I have spoken with her in the past when my mom was getting adjusted to her new living situation.  I thought she would strongly discourage their relationship.  She did not.  She does not see either of them as any type of threat or safety concern to each other.  She reiterated to me that the staff did not have an issue with them.  Again, this is not an assisted living facility.  It is a senior living facility, and although my mom receives lots of medical assistance, it is from a separate entity within the building.  To them, this is a family matter.  I agree.  She encouraged me to do what is best for my mom, not what his family wants me to do.  At this point, nothing has happened where I feel my mom is in any kind of danger.  No, I don't want continued "sleepovers", but I felt better after talking to the nurse.  This week, I will more closely keep tabs on my mom by phone and while visiting.  If he has had issues in the past, then they need to make some adjustments.  From where I sit at this time, there is nothing I can or need to do.*
     Even though I love roller coasters, this emotional roller coaster is wearing me out!

     *UPDATE:  After I drafted this I received a message from one of the daughters that she is arranging to have her father moved to a table further from my mom in the dining room during meals...  Stay tuned!

That Was a Blur!?

     So, remember that day that I posted about the excitement of Megan making the high school soccer team!?  Come to find out, there wasn't much time to bask in the glory...  The next day was the "Parent Meeting" where we learned that Friday and Saturday were the season's biggest fundraisers by hosting a weekend soccer invitational exhibition where parents were expected to take volunteer shifts, players were playing 2-3 games, there was a pancake breakfast with tickets to sell for Saturday morning, bring a 12 pack of pop for concessions, give a uniform deposit, pay to play for the season, oh, and don't forget to get those black and white Nike socks they will need for Friday!!??
     Say whaaaaat???????  My head was spinning.....
     This isn't my first rodeo.  We have been in the soccer world for over ten years, but do you think one of the coaches could have dropped an email letting us freshman moms know they would be involved in this event if they made the team!?
     Oh, and did I mention that for six months we have known that Megan's high school band would also be performing in the Michigan State Band & Orchestra Association's festival competition on Saturday.  Also one of their biggest events requiring parent volunteers as well as students.
      Friday - Got the pop, got the socks, paid the fees, picked her up from school to drive to a 3pm game, pick up my other two kids, watch the end of the game, drop the pop off at the other high school, go home, eat dinner, husband leaves early for his volunteer shift, then drive to her school at 7 pm for 8pm game time under the lights.  My husband was working up in the booth announcing advertisers and working the clock with another guy.  Got home around 9:30 pm, slept.  Saturday - Got up by 7 am for 8 am soccer pancake breakfast before 9 am warmup with band for 10 am performance time, Megan stays to volunteer, I go home, eat lunch, back to school for my concession stand shift 1-4 pm moved to outdoors.  It was a lot of running around.  Jacob and Kristin also helped work the concession stand and they were a big help!  I was signed up to work the "indoor" soccer concessions, but when I arrived we learned that the band had requested that soccer not intrude on their fundraiser and suggested they close their indoor concessions down.  Glad I wasn't there for that conversation...  I do agree, though.  All of the soccer games were outside and the soccer team already had the concession stand out there so for them to try to double dip with the band competition was "not cool".  Oh....the drama!! 
     Stay tuned for when the marching band starts practicing for their performance at Walt Disney World...which may conflict with soccer practices!!??  Gosh, I hope not!
     Back to what it's really all about...I was sooo proud of how well Megan played in her games on Friday and the buzz is how awesome the freshman team is going to be.  These were exhibition games, which they won 1-0 and 3-0.  Their coach wants them to scrimmage varsity and has already told the JV team that the freshmen can beat them!!??  We shall see...  Thankfully, we have a few weeks before the official season starts for the freshmen.
     We had a beeeeeaaauuuuutiful weather weekend here in Michigan.  Most years this soccer invitational is held in snowy freezing cold conditions....  
     So on Saturday after the pancake breakfast, I volunteered to monitor the auditorium  where the bands were performing.  Shortly after their 10am performance, we learned that they received straight I ratings on their performance which is the highest ranking.  The bands perform in front of 3 judges who write our remarks and rate their performance.  Kinda like American Idol...but not really!
      Even though we were tired, we snuck out for a late St. Patrick's Day corned beef sandwich dinner and Shamrock shakes later that night!!!  My husband (middle name Patrick) is very Irish on his mom's side so we celebrated with the kids!!!  Repeat after me..."it's all about the kids"!!!  (Note to self:  plan a "date night"...w/o the kids!)
     (Stay tuned for a late edition of "Monday Memories With My Mom"...for a new development in the continuing story of my adventures in caregiving.)

 The Weekend was a blur...and so were some of my pictures!
(Megan directly above in white)
The Pancake Breakfast...not too crowded yet 'cause it's 8 am! 

The Concert Band performed for the 3 judges

Straight I Ratings!!!  Yay!


Lucky 13!

     Sometimes I feel like my blog is such a downer...especially some of my Monday posts about my mom and me.  Sooooooooo, I thought I'd share some good news which we got yesterday, on the 13th!
     I was too afraid of jinxing things if I mentioned it here earlier, but for the last couple of weeks Megan has been going to soccer conditioning after school leading up to tryouts which were this past Monday and Tuesday.  Thankfully, we found out yesterday that she made her high school soccer team!!!  I'm sooo happy for her, and can I share that I'm even happier to have avoided the potential drama we might have had if things had gone differently!! 
     Then......my husband was having lunch with the CEO of his company and was given a promotion yesterday!!!!!  You the man, honey!!!!
     I guess I can't remember a day recently where we had double good news!!  Hope things are going well for all of you, too!!

Pick Up From Soccer tryouts/Celebration Slushies!


An MP3....Like, Kinda FREE!!

     I don't know why, but I can barely resist a good deal.  I know some many of my friends think it is a waste of time to chase things down to save $5 or even $20 or more!!  They say, what about the gas money, the time it takes, the hassle, etc...  I get it -- really I do!!!  And yet, it didn't stop me from going out around 9 pm Sunday night to my local CVS when I saw this post on the Hip2Save website I've mentioned several times before (thanks, Jennifer).
     A $79.99 MP3, on sale for $49.99 and a free CVS $10 gift card with purchase.  Not tooooo interesting.  But wait, they went on clearance and were ringing up for $9.99 and giving back a $10 gift card!?  Now I'm intrigued!  So, after getting the blessing of my husband, I headed out at 9 pm to my nearby CVS and sure enough!  There was only one box left sitting on a shelf, but no indication of markdown.  Gave my CVS card to the cashier, and it rang up for $9.99...and I got my $10 gift card back.  Awesome!!!
     Two CVSs later, and I am the proud owner of 4 of these.  Yes, I even left some on the shelves for others....
     So, after the first purchase, I used the $10 gift cards to buy the others...  If you're lucky, there could still be some at your CVS -- I think it's a good deal and hope to try one out sometime soon.  The way I look at it...even if it doesn't work that great -- I didn't lose much!!  If they seem like decent quality, I will give them as gifts in the future so act surprised if you get one ;)
     Anyone else like the thrill of the hunt in the shopping world!?  Or, are you more practical like many of my other friends??

Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom with Alzheimer's Disease
    Well, as I think I indicated before, when I telephone my mom lately the calls have been going something like this:
     Me:  Hi, Mom
     Mom:  Oh, hello.  Don's here.
     Me:  Oh, well, that's ok I was just checking in on you.
     Mom:  Are the kids ok.
     Me:  Yes, they're fine.
     Mom:  Good good.  Ok, love you.
     Me:  Love you too, bye!
     The good news is that she does not seem to be "lonely".  It is also too distracting for her to carry on a conversation while anyone else is in the apartment with her.  But my mom not wanting to have a conversation with me on the phone has been a major, yet gradual, turn of events to say the least.  It used to be my mom would call me daily and we would talk for long periods of time about most everything.  I could confide in her, tell her details about the kids that she would understand, make plans for visits that she would remember, keep each other up to date on extended family and friends, etc....  So this has been a drastic change to get to where we are now.  I have accepted the change long ago, but still continue to be surprised and even amazed by it because it is not the mom I used to know.
NOW, when my mom calls me it often goes something like this:
     Mom:  Cindy?
     Me:  Hi, Mom.
     Mom:  When is my dr. appt.?
     Me:  Do you remember that he cancelled it and we rescheduled it in 3 weeks.
     Mom:  He did?
     Me:  Yes.
     Mom:  Well, let me write that down.
     Me:  OK, but you wrote it down when I told you a couple of days ago.
     Mom:  I did?
     Me:  Yes, it's March 30th.
     Mom:  Wait, let me write that down.  OK, when is it?
     Me:  It's March 30th.
     Mom:  OK, let me write that down, when did you say it was?
     Me:  March 30th, but I will give you plenty of notice like I always
     do since it's 3 weeks away.
     Mom:  OK, let me write that down.
     Me:  March 30th, I will pick you up around 9:30 am.
     Mom:  OK, you will pick me up at what time?
     Me:  Around 9:30 am.
     Mom:  OK, good, let me see if I wrote that down.....
     Me:  Mom, try not to worry about it, I will remind you when it gets closer.
     Mom:  OK, but I just want to write that down........
     (repeat above 1-10 times)
My patience has increased substantially.  I have to keep my words simple.  Using the word "remember" as I did at the beginning of that conversation, not the best idea.  It has taken a long time to learn.  I used to think my mom was asking these questions as a way of trying to keep me on the phone longer, for company.  Now I know it was not that.  When she calls me after 4 pm or so, it is almost certain that she will be extra confused and agitated (as in the above conversation).  Two good things, she remembered recent talk of a doctor appointment and she is still able to telephone me (although I do think there are often misdials).
     So you see, even though she is in a good place, and I am happy that she is being taken care of, there are still these constant reminders of how much things have changed.  I try to imagine what it must be like to be in her situation. 
     When I visit again in the next day or so, rest assured, I will find numerous notes in a handwriting that isn't as nice as it once was.  They will say "Dr." or "March" or "9:30", but they will be largely illegible to most, including her.  I will still know that it was my mom, desperately trying to manage her own schedule and give herself some sense of control over her own days.  I will gather the notes and throw them out once the appointment has passed, so as not to add to the confusion...and then we will do it all again for her upcoming dental appointment, if she remembers it.
     And so it goes in this convoluted little world of Alzheimer's Disease...where there is no cure.  This is just a small five minute conversation.  However, it gives you some insight into what our/her world is like.  And, I am not the only one.  There are millions of family caregivers all over the world dealing with many of the same things.  It goes way beyond a conversation where there is talking in circles.  Imagine trying to take care of yourself when your mind is failing you.
     Don't get me wrong, I remain happy that my mom is loving where she is living, and the "friends" she is making along the way.  She is probably as happy as she can be despite her declining health.  Yet there are these constant reminders that her mind is crumbling and all I can do is give my love and support along the way... 


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Last Tuesday I had a meeting with my mom's case manager from the Area Agency on Aging.  The meeting was at 10 am and I quickly realized it would probably be best if my mom's "friend" (Don) was not in the room.  She was not answering the phone (again) so I went straight to the dining room.  As often happens, we had crossed paths (she was on her way back to her room while I was on the way to the dining room) because the dining room is located a level below my mom's apartment.  I telephoned her from the hallway to tell her of the meeting and told her Don (who had also just come from breakfast) should probably leave the apartment even though he had just got there.
     A couple minutes later when I got to the room, Don was on his way out.  Also, my brother had coincidentally called (he had the day off) and was on his way to my mom's for a visit.  The meeting was relatively uneventful and my mom actually participated more than she usually does.  In the past, she would often defer to me and not answer questions on her own behalf.  Although some of her answers are inaccurate, it is nice to see her trying to participate.  Of course, I tweak her answers to make sure the correct information is given.  Thankfully, there have been no major medical issues and, if anything, my mom has become slightly more independent in caring for herself.  My mom repeated many times how happy she was to be living where she is and as the lady was leaving her apartment my mom told her, "I even have a boyfriend"...  We all chuckled and then my mom told us that he says, "Good Morning Sunshine" to her every morning at breakfast in the dining room.
     Sunday, all three of my kids and I went for another visit to Grandma's.  We had some supplies to bring over to her and Kristin gave her a nice manicure.  Kristin is extra good about making her time with Grandma "quality time", and I am so glad for that.  As luck would have it, my mom told us we had "just missed" Don.  The kids were all really hoping to meet him, and I had my camera and everything...  Jacob has met him once before, though. 
     We decided if we stayed until lunch time we had a good chance of meeting Don in the dining room.  We all walked down to the dining room with my mom and in the end he never showed up and we were tired of waiting.  (Figures that he's not there when we want him to be!)  We chatted with my mom and others for awhile and then decided to leave once my mom's lunch was being served.
     I just realized it has been six months since my mom moved into her senior living facility.  Although the start was a bit rough at times, she is now in a good routine, and we remain grateful that her attitude is very positive.  She always has lots of good things to say and thanks me often (very often) for taking such good care of her.  She also has a contagious laugh and the ability to laugh at herself.
All is well,

 Kristin and Grandma
 Waiting for the Dining Room to open

Life is Good!


Winter Getaway - The End!

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium    
     The Thursday before we left, my husband took the kids to the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park, Arizona.  Me, I opted for a pool day since the temps at the end of the week were 78-80 degrees -- nobody minded and everyone was happy.  I even ended up meeting a girl from Michigan who happened to sit by me at the pool.  We chatted the day away and it made the time pass even faster.
     As for the kids and my husband, they had a great time at the Zoo.  Apparently, it was a very "hands on" place as you can see below.  Feeding birds and giraffes, petting stingrays and starfish -- they had a great time and stayed there all day. 
     I had a perfect day by the pool and towards the end of the day I received a text that the birds had "pooped" on my husbands head when they went back to feed them for a second time!  The kids thought it was the most hilarious thing ever and are still talking about it.
     I am glad they took a lot of pictures -- so I felt like I was there, too.  I do wish I would have seen the giraffes -- I think they are so pretty!!!
     If anyone is still reading, thanks for bearing with me while I finish my little bloggy scrapbook of our vacation. I know, four days of vacation pictures -- what could be worse, right!?  If it wasn't for this blog, I am not sure I would take the pictures and it probably would take forever for me to download them so I am grateful to have the memories!!