Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
***The Memorial Day Edition***
     On this day of "remembering", you may recall my moms BFF, Jane, and her husband went to visit my mom last week.  I spoke with Jane later that night and it sounds like it was a good visit, although perhaps a bit tiring for my mom and, as always, answering the same questions can be exhausting.  They went to Olive Garden for lunch, so all is well.  Silly me, I forgot to ask about the "Muffin" dog reunion, but according to my mom, her dog is cuter!!?
     Honestly, Memorial Day and the words "remember", "forget", "memory", "memorial" have taken on an added meaning for me these last several years.  For some people, memories are all they have left of their loved ones.  For others, those same memories are what has been taken away.  I, admittedly, have a lower tolerance for my husband "forgetting" to do something.  It scares me when someone says, or I say, "I can't remember".  Not for fear of the actual disease, but for fear of how true memory loss affects lives.  In no way am I trying to take away from what this day is truly intended for, merely just pointing out how this word has affected my life.
      As promised, finally, I gathered my thoughts together and filled out the survey from TMT (The Medical Team).  It was detailed with a lengthy attachment where I expressed my concerns over not being contacted with regard to a fall, a missed medication, inefficient or non-existent escorts and a general decline in services...  It felt good to gather my thoughts and send out the survey, but in light of my mom's most recent fall I knew it was time to contact the powers that be by telephone.  I had an over 30-minute long conversation with an off-site supervisor who was generally very receptive to my concerns, although occasionally defensive of her staff.  She assured me my information would be passed on and that she would be following up with staff. 
     Surprisingly, last Friday (late on a holiday weekend) I received a call from another supervisor who had received my written survey and was following up and reviewing it with me.  This is one survey where I did leave my name and telephone number.  I don't think they are used to receiving such a detailed return survey along with someone filling out their contact information.  He expressed concern and assured me that on Tuesday, after the holiday, he would be on site and working with staff.  He also made an appointment for a follow up telephone call with me on Thursday.  Well, at least I have their attention...!!!  Let's hope I see an improvement with my mom's care.  I strongly believe if her escorts were consistent, and her am/pm care properly given, she would not have had most of these recent falls and she would be much better off -- and I told them so.
Oh Yeah, I Filled Out the Survey!!
    Then, while many, including half of my own family, were heading up north for the holiday weekend, Kristin and I stayed back and colored my mom's hair and brought her fun things like pop, paper towels and a new watch (battery died on the other one).  As always, Kristin is a great help and keeps Grandma busy while I set up things and throw out all kinds of garbage (again) from her walker bag.  (Note to Self:  I gotta downsize that bag again...she is out of control!)  This time, in addition to everything but the kitchen sink, I was lucky enough to find two slices of buttered toast on a ceramic plate!  I was throwing garbage away fast and furious while my mom frequently asked, "what are you doing in there" to which I replied "setting everything up to color your hair mom"!!!??
Pretending to Be a Beautician (not a Magician)
     She asked what color we were doing, I said "light golden brown" many many times. Inspired by Kelly Ripa, we were prepared with a garbage bag smock to protect my mom's clothing.  Kristin documented the entire process...
Garbage Bag Available at Your Local Hardware Store

     Big concerns of the day were:  What color?  Where's Muffin?  (We had to keep moving Muffin so she was within my mom's sight...ugh!)  What grade is Kristin in? (rinse and repeat!!!!!!!)  When all was said and done, we were happy with the results!!  She had not had her hair colored since January, before the family wedding.  In the middle of the hair coloring process, we started to become aware that my mom's keys were not around. The big two, where's Muffin and where's my keys??  Well, the keys are always around and so is Muffin.  This time, Kristin and I could not find the keys.  We looked everywhere, including. the public restrooms and the front office as well as alerting the Medical Team staff.  We had visions of also taking my mom for a haircut, but ended up spending way too much time looking for the keys which were never found.
     In the midst of it all, I had tied off the bottom of my moms "salon garbage bag" and used it to dispose of the abundance of garbage as I was afraid my mom would pick back through it after I left.  I decided to hope the keys would turn up and ended our visit.  We then took her garbage directly to the dumpster on site as I did not want it smelling up my car.  
     After running some errands with Kristin and getting home hours later, I kept flashing back to all the garbage I threw away and started questioning if I had thrown her keys away in my haste of cleaning our her walker bag.  This was my fear, even though both Kristin and I did a quick look through the black garbage bag to make sure the keys weren't there.
    Later that evening, after some discussion, Kristin cheerfully agreed that perhaps we should rescue that garbage bag from the dumpster before dark and before it was gone...  What if we had thrown out the keys???  I couldn't stop thinking about her missing keys and, worse yet, the possibility they had gotten into the wrong hands...
     On the way, we telephoned Grandma to see if she had found the keys.  She said they were around her neck, but then the discussion kept going all over the place.  We knew the only way to be sure she had gotten the keys back was to actually visit again...  Just in case, we went straight for the dumpster and thanks to the broomstick (no I'm not a witch) I had brought with us and the red handle ties on the bag we were fairly easily able to retrieve the black garbage bag.  We then continued to my moms apartment and low and behold...there she calmly sat...wearing her keys lanyard around her neck. She said she was wearing them all day!!?? (oh no she wasn't!!!).  I am assuming the staff found them somewhere and returned them to her, but who knows!!??  We gave her a kiss, I changed a light bulb, and we were out of there as it was after 8pm and we declared it bedtime for my mom.
     So, yeah, we went dumpster diving...almost!  And that, my friends, is how us wild and crazy girls spent our Saturday night!!!!???  Don't be jealous!!! 
Next up:  Another dentist appointment Tuesday!!

**We are off supporting Megan and the high school marching band at our local Memorial Day parade.  You can see more about last year's parade here.  Then, we are driving to Grand Rapids for my oldest nephew's high school graduation party!!**

Looking Sexy...and She Knows It!!!!!
 (It's a Song..., really!!)
(Makeup by Kristin...)

Kristin Played the Copy My Expression Game/Selfies With Grandma
You Can See More of that Game Here

Yep, We Washed Our Hands A Lot After This...

No Worries, I Have My Keys...  Smug as a Bug (in a rug)

The Hallway Night Light is Back On...GOODNIGHT!!!!!!!


yaya said...

Your Mom's hair looks great! Good job! What a worry with the keys and what an adventure in dumpster diving..I had to do a dumpster dive once..for a specimen meant for the lab..(fallopian tube segments)..yes, I found them..and no I never had to do it ever again...thank God.

Kerri said...

Once again, I love the fun picture of your mom and Kristin!
I'm glad you filled out the survey and have talked to the right people about your mom's care and are making some progress and hopefully there will be some changes. Those kind of things are hard for me to do...the speaking up part. But, your mom can't advocate for herself and so you do what you have to do. You're a great daughter.
I laughed about your mom having the keys the whole time (or maybe not!). I'm sure it wasn't funny to you in the moment!
Your mom's hair looks great!

Donna said...

Her hair came out great! I'm glad she found her keys,...but you just KNOW Greg would have a field day with a dumpster diving story for pretty much the rest of your life! ;)

Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

Beautiful job on your Mom's hair! Can you help me find MY keys??! Well, ok - I'm the same as you - a bit scared when I say 'I can't remember' and 'where is my____'. It's a brilliant Saturday night! I can't imagine anything better than dumpster diving and living to tell about it!