Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
    This week I was glad to see my mom seeming a little more like herself.  In fairness, I really think you have to take into consideration the long winter, the people and struggles she sees and experiences on a daily basis, and the fact that she has not been outside in months.  A definite recipe for some SAD (seasonal affective disorder). 
     I knew I wanted to get my mom's hair trimmed, so I made a last minute appointment at the salon in the building.  It seems to primarily cater to the "assisted living" part of the community, but I'm not sure what my other options really are and for now, it's okay.  You can probably barely tell her hair is trimmed, but I can. 

     Coincidentally, my brother sent me a text about ten minutes before I was going to head over to my mom's to tell me that he was also headed there.  He had the day off, but it was rare for him to go in the morning and even less common for both of us to be there at the same time (typically we try to spread the love by staggering our visits).  We had a chance to chat a bit while my mom was getting her hair styled and then we went down to the "Pub" area and he shared some of his recent Florida vacation photos with my mom.
     I have noticed this before, but my mom seems to enjoy listening to me and my brother talk.  She rarely has much to add, but once in awhile she does.  It's hard because I feel like we are ignoring her, but really it's just difficult for her to engage in the conversation, and she does seem to enjoy hearing about the things that she is able to understand.  (I just realized how my brother looks so tan next to my mom!)

     Recently, one of my mom's cousins contacted me to see how my mom was doing.  I do my best to keep her friends posted, but it is mainly through this blog.  I realized early on that I would not be able to keep in touch with everyone on her behalf the way she used to.  This cousin lives in northern Michigan and told me about some of the good memories she has shared with my mom through the years.  In the past, my mom has always been the bridge between me and her cousins, so without her being able to keep in touch with and make those more distant connections it can be difficult.  Her cousin, Karen, also fell victim to the "returned mail" problem that seems to be intermittently occurring at the senior living community.  I did try to contact the post office about it, and was told the right person would call me back.  Never did.  One of life's little frustrations!!  So, I hand delivered three cards to my mom from Karen that she sent to me.  My mom definitely remembered her cousin Karen and her husband and enjoyed the cards and the messages made her smile!!

     After the hair appointment, my brother had to leave, but I had planned to stay with my mom and read through the cards for awhile. 
     Not long after, it was time for her lunch.  It has been awhile since I have sat with her at lunchtime as I know I am a distraction.  To say she can be easily distracted is an understatement.  She is very interested in watching everyone else and not as interested in eating as I would like.  Most days, the staff prompts her and many of the others, but when I am there I do the prompting.  They asked her if she wanted chicken or macaroni and cheese.  She said macaroni and cheese.  Her plate had the mac and cheese, peas and a dinner roll which they buttered for her.  I thought she would dive right into the mac and cheese, but instead she went straight for the peas (which I didn't even know she liked).  The process was painstakingly slow and to say it was a miracle that the peas didn't fall off her fork would be an understatement.  I prompted her numerous times throughout her meal.  Although it was excruciatingly slow, I am grateful she does still eat and is able to feed herself.  Many of the residents barely eat at all despite the CNAs best efforts and "tricks" to get them to.  Oh, and a nice piece of spice cake was placed on the table out of my mom's reach.  Once I was convinced she had eaten all she was going to eat I gave her the cake.  Hmmmm, she was able to eat the cake at a much quicker pace!!!  Thank goodness for sweets and my mom's love of them!!
     As another side note, you may recall that I've been on quite the "Still Alice" movie bandwagon.  You can read more about that here.  As an update, I am absolutely thrilled to tell you the movie is now showing at the majority of my local theatres (check your local listings!).  It must have gotten picked up after the Academy Awards and perhaps thanks to Julianne Moore's Best Actress win!!!!  I immediately declared a Saturday morning matinee field trip to the theatre, this time with my husband and kids.  I just really wanted them to see it even though they have perhaps more real life experience with it than perhaps many people.  Jacob kept asking, "is it going to be sad"?  All I can say is it's realistic, despite only having the time to show a fraction of what living with Alzheimer's Disease is like. 
I am relieved the movie has finally made it to the local theatres, and am glad I had the opportunity to see it with my family!! 



Shirley said...

Hi Cindy, I have visited our unit at the nursing home when I am looking for a particular nurse. She works in the unit and I can see why, She is amazing with them. We have several on hubby's wing that you have to tell them how to find their rooms. They have them marked with different color ribbons. I really feel for those that you never see any visitors. Care giving can be very trying at times and you just hope that God will give you the strength to do what you need to do. Hugs and Prayers from Your Missouri Friend Shirley

Kim said...

I was particularly interested in your lunch time experience. Mom would get so distracted I used to try and sit her so her back was to the majority of the room. It helped. And yes she needed to be reminded to eat frequently. The peas thing made me smile. As her disease progressed she ate different foods that she always "claimed" she didn't like before. And she always started with the most colourful item on the plate. If the meal was bland in color, without variety, it was more of a struggle. Just thought it was interesting.

yaya said...

Your Mom looks wonderful! They did a nice job of styling! My brother lives part time in Florida and in the last family photo you sure can tell who has sun in their life. I'm glad the academy awards has brought "Alice" to a bigger audience and more awareness of Alzheimer's. I was thinking that when I get older I'll be like my Grandmother...no appetite and I'll get my thin bod back...but the only folks I'll be around will be 90 with cataracts who won't even care I'm a babe...yep, that's my luck!

Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

Hi Cindy, your Mom looks so great! You are doing a fantastic job! I always wondered what my mom was thinking about when she was so distracted - it's great that you can still bring her back to eating! :)a

Julia said...

Like others have said, your mom is looking great well groomed. You're doing a great job. As for sweets, I like them too, a little too much I may add...

I'm so glad that the Movie came out in the local theatres to bring awareness to this dreaded disease.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted.

So sorry I'm running late with commenting, I've been under the weather these last few days and haven't been able to keep up with everyone.