The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
Things continue to go fairly well with my mom. On a recent perfectly beautiful Fall day, I was able to visit on a weekend since my husband and our kids took our exchange student to Cedar Point. It was a good day for me to catch up on lots of things.
I finally found my way to a different part of the "grounds" at the community where my mom is living. It was soooo nice!! I regret that we had not had the opportunity sooner. I also am slowly becoming more familiar with the staff and procedures and things. There are alarms that go off and codes to learn when using the elevators and exits, especially on the memory care floor. I've also learned I only need to "sign her out" if I'm leaving the grounds of the community.
I made this little collage of the pretty little pond we sat by...
Did you spot the real live green frog sunning himself in the middle picture!? So cute! I pointed it out to my mom. I think she saw it -- she said she did! Just sitting there in the peace and quiet may have been better for me than my mom, but I'm sure the fresh air did her good, too. Unfortunately, as is often the case, she was falling asleep quite often.
I did my best to show her around and took a few pictures. Eventually, though,
I felt like I was trying to force her to stay awake so I took her back inside so she could rest.
My brother also continues to bring his dog to visit with my mom. He sent me
this recent picture of my mom and "Steve" the dog back by the lake at her nursing community.
As I think I've mentioned before, I seem to end up visiting my mom at lunch time which
is not always the best as my mom tries to feed me, and I'm a distraction to her eating. Also, she has been very sleepy lately. The CNA in the background is Stephanie. She's my favorite along with Linda, the activities lady.
Apparently Stephanie brought her daughter, Unity, recently to color with
some of the residents. I found this picture hanging in my mom's room. So sweet.
From what I understand, my mom colored a bit, but was also having a sleepy day.
On October 16th the community staff scheduled a "care conference" with me. I had heard that they would do this and I think they are supposed to do so once she has been there three months, which she has (almost four now). I decided to knock another item off my list, so I arrived shortly before our 10 am hair appointment. Stephanie was just taking my mom for a shower after breakfast. I told her I had scheduled a last minute hair appointment for my mom in the building. She was, again, long overdue for a cut!! Stephanie had her dressed and showered in less than 15 minutes which is quite amazing if you ask me!!
The salon was very busy with residents and asked if we could wait a bit so we went down the hall to the Café. This is all located on the "Main Street" area of the community which is located between the assisted living and skilled nursing. There was a Detroit Free Press newspaper there so I gave it to my mom. She used to get that paper EVERY morning and go through the whole thing. On this day, she did read a few headlines. I think she would do better with reading glasses, but sadly those days seem to be gone.
I grabbed a coffee and soon they were able to take my mom for her cut. It is much easier to take her somewhere where the staff is comfortable dealing with people in wheelchairs and walkers. I went back to the Café and relaxed and waited. I ended up having a lovely made to order omelette which was good and inexpensive (wow, a real breakfast on a weekday -- I should do more of that!)
When I went to check on my mom, she was not quite done. I noticed there was a man who volunteers and takes the residents back to their rooms or picks them up for their appointments. Because of the delay at the salon, my care conference appointment time was getting closer. Ultimately, I had to ask if they could bring my mom back to her room so I could make my conference time. This made me a little nervous, but I didn't have much choice.
There were four people at the care conference. A social worker, activities director, nurse and I'm not sure the other girl's title. These meetings are scheduled for only 15 minutes so I knew there wasn't going to be too much time. I let them talk as much as I could but at one point when the nurse said "we have noticed a decline in your mom since she's been here" I got teary eyed!!! Darn it! I don't know if there will ever be a day when I am "used to" this... I honestly think I could handle things better if I wasn't always by myself!
They told me some physical areas of decline and indicated there have been several days recently where they needed to hand feed her. On the positive side, they said she engages in all of the activities and she is in the "Top 3" of their trivia games. The girls also seem to enjoy my mom and her sense of humor which is mostly still intact.
I also learned that as much as they do for my mom, there are still areas where I need to be vigilant. Some blood work that needs to be done periodically to monitor my mom's medications, dental checks, podiatrist appointments... It appears those things have not been done even though when I said I wanted those done when I was asked about it when she moved in. This is a bit disappointing only because I question if her appetite and eating changes could be due to some dental issue. I also questioned my mom's more sleepy state recently and asked if she is sleeping at night. The only thing they were sure of is that she stays in bed....but not sure if she is actually sleeping. So, they were going to do a "sleep study" on her to see. The first night she only slept about half of the time, the second night she slept through the night. I will be following up on that soon. As you will recall, I went through this day time sleepiness with my mom before. Although it is not at all unusual for someone with my mom's health to be sleepy, it obviously is going to be much worse if she has her days and nights a bit reversed much like a baby would. There are many similarities between my mom's aging and the behaviors of a baby or young child.
|Although Engaged in Many Activities Throughout the Day|
This is the Reality of How Much of the Resident's Time is Spent
(at least they are not left to sleep in their rooms all day)
After the meeting, I went to see my mom and how her hair turned out. She looked good -- although I am still getting used to the gray. I have gone back and forth about keeping up the coloring of her hair, but have decided and been advised to let her go au naturale. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of her hair since she was eating lunch when I saw her. I said my goodbyes to my mom, and I went back to the salon to pay. I was surprised to learn the salon is not allowed to accept tips! I think we will be using their services more and more, particularly since it appears I do not always have to be there.
I left that day with mixed feelings. I felt good about getting a lot of things discussed and taken care of, but also the realization that all of my efforts and some sugar coating cannot change the direction of my mom's health.
Still trying to be at peace with that,
|Waiting on "Main Street" for My Mom|