Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Testing 123, check check.  Back with more on the continuing story of our life...  As some of you who follow me on Instagram (@Cindy24Seven) may have pieced together, my family was lucky enough to make a fairly last minute decision to spend our Easter Spring Break in Florida this year...more on that to come. 
     Going away has always been a hard decision for me as I am pretty much the one and only who oversees my mom's care.  However, my brother said he would be in town and check in on my mom.  I tried to get her situated and stocked up on the items she typically asks for.  I also notified the staff in writing to use my brother's contact information as a first contact while I was gone.  I think I get extra anxious because:
     (1) The one and only time my mom "collapsed" at her Walmart greeter job and was taken to the hospital by ambulance was...the one and only time I spent the afternoon with my three kids at a friend's pool and realized I forgot my cell phone.  It was the last day of school and I rationalized that it would be ok since all my kids were with me.  This was also before my mom's issues were as apparent as they later became.
     (2) My mom's fall down her basement stairs (which was the beginning of her no longer living alone) was on the one day I didn't call her because I was getting ready to go to my best friend's daughter's wedding; and
     (3) The last time my mom needed to be hospitalized for a fall and cut on her head, I was up north two hours away with my family.
     Of course, we could also get into all the times I was there or the time I spent with her and/or she lived with me after those incidents, but you get the idea.  It makes me nervous!
      I have learned not to tell my mom when I am going to be "away".  There is always the possibility that it may make her anxious and that can lead to all sorts of problems.  Even though she may not "remember" that I am gone, it's not worth taking a chance.  Agitation is a bad thing and in the past has set off a series of phone calls and extra unusual behavior.  There were months and years where I did not travel anywhere far or had my plans disrupted by my mom's needs.  At least now, I know she is in a facility that checks on her several times a day and (normally) takes care of her.  Plus, I am always available by phone.
     Thankfully, my brother visited a couple of times and it appears everything was fine.  However, I did get a voicemail at 3:52 am Easter Sunday.  I did not pick up as my phone was silenced, but her message said to call her as soon as I get the message, she has some things she wants me to pick up.  I could hear the tv was on in the background and she said she would be home "all afternoon".  I called her later on and that is when she told me about the Easter Bunny coming to her building and that they had an Easter egg hunt. 
     When I returned home after being gone about ten days, there were several messages on my machine.  Mom needed creamsicles.  She needed chapstick.  She needed tissues.  She needed toilet paper.  She needed pop, etc.....  I visited the day after we returned.  We drove, so it was a looong trip.
Bringing Stuff to Mom

     As I suspected, the only things she was "out of" were the creamsicles and pop.  When I would try to remind her that I had recently bought her a lot of chapstick, she said she used it all.  After some searching, I found several tubes of it.  Sadly, what I soon realized, was that my mom had forgotten that the bottom of the chapstick turns to reveal more chapstick.  This caught me by surprise.  I never thought that would be the reason she was telling me she ran out of chapstick.  I showed her how to turn the bottom and she was happy.  Me, well, it made me sad.  Such a simple thing.
Many Times Our Visits Are Just Quiet...
or I teach things like how to get more chapstick from the tube
     I also confiscated several little cosmetic bags that had somehow accumulated in hopes of forcing her to keep everything in one bag and therefore keep better tabs on the few personal care items she does still have.

Catching Up WIth Mom
     My brother also pointed out, and I had been noticing it, too, that my mom is over filing her nails to the point where she barely has any nails left.  He took all of her nail files.  My brother doing this was actually exciting for me as it made me feel my baby brother is starting to "get" what my mom needs and was helping out.  He also told me that on one of his visits he went to....that's right..."the Don's" apartment and found my mom there.  That was the first time he did that and said he found Don in his recliner and my mom sitting on a kitchen chair next to him.  He noticed that they make quite a team because Don is very hard of hearing, so my mom helps him with that.  However, his memory is a bit better than my mom's so he helps her as well.
     Meanwhile, I am awaiting a return call from the Executive Director on what she learned about the fall my mom had that was not reported to me.  Unfortunately, I presented the problem to her right before we left on vacation, and I was not able to follow through sooner.
     I can feel things getting busier around my house and with Spring all but here, I know they will be.  I also know that  in the coming weeks and months I have been and will be presented with lots of paperwork and a few meetings to keep my mom enrolled in her low income housing program at her senior care facility and to keep her on Medicaid.  Her rent also increased by $40/month.  It's a lot to keep up with, but it has to be done.
Clutter Seems to Make Her Happy (drives me nuts!)
Hanging These Cards...Some of them a year or more old


     My mom has been at her current senior living apartment for a year and a half now.  There were days, months, and years that I never thought she would get the medical and financial assistance she needs.  She is content and if you ask her she will tell you how much she loves living there.  My goal is to keep her there as long as possible.


Came Across this picture...from about 11 years ago
The Grandkids
(left to right)
Jacob, Megan, Kristin, Matthew and Nicole



Kim said...

Your stories are my stories. My Mom has taken a bad fall every single time I have gone away for a few days. It has been 2 years since I went away over night. And I know how you felt when you realized the chapstick trick. I remember the day I put a baked potato (her favorite)on Mom's plate. She didn't touch it. Finally I cut it open and she smiled and ate it. She didn't know what it was. Those little moments each break your heart.

yaya said...

What a sweet photo of your Mom with the Grandkids. So much work to do with the care of your Mom. I hope you can continue to keep her there and she continues to do well. I'm glad you were able to go on vacation! I can't imagine not having some time with your family so you can rest. Have a good week!

Jennifer said...

I love that old picture! And I love that your brother went to the Don's room to look her!!!

And tell her I feel the same way about Chapstick. That is ONE thing you can never have too much of. ever.

Ramblings of a Suburban Mom

Donna said...

You are such a good egg! :)