Monday Memories With My Mom

The Labor Day Edition
     Time to catch up...  It's been a couple of weeks since I posted about my mom.  For my new followers (insert cheers and applause!), my mom is 69 years old and has Alzheimer's disease which has greatly affected my life and my relationship with her as I have sort of switched roles and am now her mom and caregiver.  She is currently living in a senior apartment complex and receives extra medical assistance with things such as escorts to and from meals, medication, showering, dressing, laundry and cleaning.  Some people who live there still drive and can take care of themselves and others, like my mom, need assistance with many things, some of them being perhaps worse off than my mom.
     After promising for weeks, I finally washed that "Muffin" dog that my mom is so very attached to.  My brother hates the thing, but my mom would definitely be lost with out "her".  It is a comfort to her.  "Where is Muffin and my keys?" she asks every day, many times per day.  So, while visiting with Kristin I threw that dirty dog into a pillow case and then into the community coin laundry machine down the hall from my mom's apartment.  I think we got lucky, as my mom was napping on the couch when we arrived and when I told her we were going to wash Muffin she was kind of groggy and didn't say much.  I had visions of both of us having to sit in the laundry room and watching the whole process.  Luckily, that didn't happen.  Yay! -- that dirty dog is sooo much cleaner now!!!!!!  Cross that off the list!

     My mom was very sleepy that day so it wasn't much of a visit.  Kristin kept my mom occupied whenever I checked up on the laundry.  (I was a little afraid one of the other residents would take Muffin out of the washer and then I'd have some trouble!)  So, when Muffin was done we quietly placed her on my mom's lap and left.  My mom did awaken slightly, but we just said our goodbyes.

     I was a little concerned that my mom seemed so tired, but decided the best thing to do was to let her rest since she apparently needed it.
     I believe it was the next day, approximately August 19th, that I contacted the staff noticing my mom was not at lunch (because I called and she was still in her apartment).  They said they brought her lunch because my mom said her back was hurting.  Ugh!  Becky said she was going to order an x-ray for her to rule out any issues.  I was surprised they could do that as I am not used to the medical staff taking a proactive approach (as you know from the recent problems I had with them).  One thing I have noticed is that Becky is "good" at keeping me advised and seems to know what to do.  I was not too concerned as they said my mom was still able to walk, just sore.  They also ordered some Icy Hot and ibuprofen for her.  I was surprised by that, and grateful, as well!!!  Now, although I'm grateful, I was still concerned about why her back was hurting, particularly since I had just visited her the day before.  I then also realized, however, that although I had visited my mom the day before, she never left the couch so I would not know if she was sore or walking well. 
     We visited again a couple days later and brought her a plastic mason jar drinking cup.  My mom loves that kind of stuff, so I was hoping to promote keeping her hydrated by getting this new cup.

     Again, she seemed very tired and was not too much fun to visit with.  I checked her out to make sure I didn't see any obvious injuries, had her walk a bit, and felt fairly comfortable that the staff was looking out for her.  Of course, I always do my usual throwing stuff away tidying up around the apartment.

     I left once I saw that the staff escorted her to dinner, as I spied on her from my secret lookout, she arrived safely and seemed to be walking okay, perhaps a bit slower.  The dinner crowd is definitely a lot smaller than the lunch crowd.

     This past Saturday night, August 31st, we were in the car on our way home from a party and I received a call on my cell phone from the Med Team.  They said they found my mom laying flat on her back on her kitchen floor.  Apparently, she also had a magazine and pen in her hand.  She said she was going to get a pop from the refrigerator and fell.  They helped her up and got her ready for bed.  She did not appear hurt.  I am not sure whether she pushed her "life alert" bracelet or not.  I don't think she did.  I don't think she has used it when she should for a long time.  That means she could have be laying there for awhile.
     Kristin and I visited yesterday to see for ourselves if she was ok.  She seemed ok, but again never left the couch and seemed sleepy.  I think between lunch and dinner she normally does nap on the couch.  We reminded my mom that anytime she is on the floor, she should push her life alert button.  We quizzed her about it several times.  She seems to understand, but I am not convinced she will do so when she should.  I continue to be bothered by the way she slouches down on the couch -- no wonder her back hurts if she sleeps like that for long periods of time.  I'm convinced she does.  I have thought about getting some kind of recliner or chair, but for every solution that would bring, I can think of a problem it would also bring.
     Kristin chatted with her and showed her pictures on her phone while I did my tidying up.  My mom watches me like a hawk when I do this.  When I "rip" up junk mail (so she won't dig it back out of the garbage), she says "what is that" and whispers to Kristin that I am "so bossy".  It used to bother me...  I'm definitely way past that now.  Sometimes, I just take the junk home and throw it away at my house to avoid the drama.
     You can see from the picture below why she sometimes has mysterious stains on her clothing!!??  (See the cup?)

     Then while I was there I decided to write up another list of phone numbers for my mom.  She has not called me in several months.  The many lists I have typed up for her of friends and family phone numbers she scribbled wrote on so much that you could no longer read the names and numbers.  Not sure what drives her constant need to feel like she is "correcting" or rewriting stuff, but I guess it's all just part of trying to feel she has a handle on things when, in reality, she barely does.  I can't really show a picture because there are some barely legible names and phone numbers on it.  It was a mess.
     Then, we did an experiment.  Kristin supervised to see if my mom was capable of calling her BFF, Jane, without assistance.  It did not go too well, but with a couple of tries she got through.  Unfortunately, we got her voicemail and hung up.  Anyone who knows my mom knows she LOVED to talk on the phone.  Now, she can barely make a call and does not usually have much to say.  If she is talkative, there is, of course, a lot of repetition and questions.  Sadly, many of her friends and family have no patience for that.
     Kristin got a HUGE kick out of making videos of grandma.  My mom DOES still have her sense of humor.  Kristin asked her if she thinks Justin Bieber is "hot".  My mom says that she thinks he is "very hot" and that she "watches him on Channel 4".  Kristin got the whole thing on video and put it on her Instagram.  It is quite funny, and Kristin had the best time asking grandma questions and they would both laugh and laugh together.  I am all for it as they both seemed to be having a great time!!  My mom always asks the kids what grade they are in or how many boyfriends or girlfriends they have.  Somehow, she always remembers that Justin Bieber is popular and asks my girls if they like him.  It is how they connect.  I am all for connections of any kind these days.
     But, as you can see, my mom was barely able to keep her eyes open.  So, we said our goodbyes again.

     Wouldn't you know it, just when I was feeling the despair of my mom's seemingly constant "falls" these days and coming more and more to terms with the fact that her days of making a phone call may finally be over....  And just as we were getting ready to sit down to dinner...  The phone rang and it was my mom!!!!  (Her timing has always been this good!)  Lord knows how many tries it took her, but she called us up and we chatted for awhile.  Then, I gave the phone to Kristin who has always been sooooooo good at making small talk with grandma.*******
     So, again, I have learned to never give up too soon.  My mom is full of surprises and a bad day or week or couple of months is not always a permanent change.  Although it appears in many ways my mom is fading, she also still has many colorful moments that sometimes come up when you least expect them!!!
******My mom literally just left a message on my machine as I was trying to wrap up this post!  Be careful what you wish for!!!



yaya said...

You are doing such a great job of being her caretaker. It seems like the facility knows you'll be checking up on them and they finally have their act together. As a wife of a Chiropractor, I could see immediately from the pic a good reason why her back hurts. Yes, you're right, probably the way she slouches as she falls asleep on her couch. Recliners aren't always the best thing for bad backs and getting in and out of them can be difficult too. I hope she feels better soon and I think your daughter is a true gem to be so kind and loving toward her Grandma.

Kim said...

I have the same slouching problem with Mom. Trying to get out of a recliner is dangerous for her so I try to keep a foot stool nearby and a pillow behind her back.
She will continue to surprise you. Mom is much further advanced and sometimes I almost faint with what she comes out with :).

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I wonder has it been a bit hotter? Have they changed her meds recently? Both of these could factor in. My grandfather had one medication that just made him want to sleep all the time. As always I am SO proud of you and your kids for the respect and love you are showing your mom. I know its not easy. You are a gem!

Nancy said...


Laura said it best . . . "You are a gem!"


Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

Cindy! This is a great post! It's a lot to care for Mom, kids, hubby and then look after the facility too. You deserve some pampering!! Nice job on sneaking the puppy out for a bath - and helping your Mom make a phone call. She might be at the point, where you can make a simple list for her to follow to use the phone in addition to the phone numbers. One more thing to keep an eye on... a UTI can sneak in and wreak havoc. Our Mom's can't always tell us when there is any pain, so if she's worse all of a sudden a UTI could be the culprit. I really admire you!! :)a