Monday, January 20, 2014

A new blog for the journey with Alzheimer's

At the advice of my writing coach to support my efforts to reach more caregivers and those who may become one, I am opening a new blog with a new title:  Pickles and Roses: A sweet and sour journey with an Alzheimer's patient.  Please join me there if you will.  The Gypsy's Sketchbook will remain for other thoughts and art work.  Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Dear John letter but not what you might think...

Dear John, I apologize.  Yesterday I totally lost it, I did and I don't feel good about it.  There you were grilling in your back yard when this crazy woman next door let loose at her poor demented husband in the drive way.  I hope your 4 yr old son wasn't witness as well.  And I want you to know that I have seldom yelled at my husband in anger in all 56 years of marriage...however I do yell sometimes if he has forgotten to put in his hearing aids.

Okay, it seemed like a simple task for my husband to take the potted plants that had been escaping the freeze out of the garage and back to our patio.  He was insisting that it be done NOW even though I was in the midst of cleaning the refrigerator in the kitchen.  Midway through my task I went out the back door to take out a bag of trash.  He was just standing in the garage and it was obvious he didn't know where to start so I grabbed a big pot, shoved it on the dolly and ran it to the back yard.  He still didn't get it so I did it again.  Finally between us we got all the pots delivered into the sunshine.
Now the next step:  I asked him to water the newly delivered pots, he agreed so I walked back in the house.
An hour or so later of cleaning the kitchen, I realize I haven't seen him on the patio.  I go to the driveway and he is standing with the hose in the garage.  The garage floor is covered with water...water all over the floor of the garage irregardless of whatever may have been sitting on the garage floor like the bag of charcoal, the new box of kitty litter, etc.

This is when I lost it and screamed at him, " You just put water all over the f...king garage floor." in my not-so-nice fishwife voice.  Geezus!!  Of course, he was baffled as in his mind he was cleaning out the leaves that had blown in.  Know what happens to a kitty litter box when it gets wet?  I hope you don't find out.

How many times do I need to get this lesson?  ALZHEIMER'S PATIENTS  can't anticipate consequences of their actions.  Not only do they have short-term memory problems but they have difficulty looking down the road to the future.  So I apologized for yelling at him but he didn't remember that I had.  Now there is the joy of short-term memory loss.

So John, please forgive my language.  I would like to think it won't happen again but I have given up making any promises about my future behavior.

The Crazy Old Woman Next Door Who Lives with a Crazier Old Man

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Where is my ???????

Those of you who have ever dealt with an Alzheimer's patient will understand what it is like to just get one out of the house to go somewhere.  No matter how far ahead you plan or how far ahead you tell them that they need to get ready, of course they don't remember any of it.  So it is up to us care partners to monitor the progress step by step and some days all goes well.  And then some days you grit your teeth and wonder if we will ever get in the car after his insistence on checking this and that again and again or missing something.
In our case I have learned to put out the clothes I think he should wear.  This is after a few episodes of 3 shirts with collars layered one on top of the other.  But I haven't been able to dodge the last minute "I can't find...". which usually is his wallet, his calendar, his phone or his keys.  Today it has been his wallet and then his phone.  I located both in the pockets of the pants he wore yesterday.  Thank goodness I can just call his phone to locate it but the wallet has shown up in  a variety of spots around the house...the kitchen, the utility room, his office, the bathroom, etc.  And the phone disappeared twice today reappearing the last time under a pile of newspapers on the breakfast table.  I like for him to carry his phone with him when he walks the grand dog who is visiting for a few days just in case he should get lost or fall.  He has ICE numbers in it as well as wearing a Medic Alert bracelet.  Whether he will remember that he has a phone in his pocket and call has yet to be tested.  But I can call him and sometimes on the third try he will realize that his phone is in his pocket and ringing.
But we made it to our great granddaughter's first birthday party today only a little late and he had a great time.  He enjoys watching babies and little children.  He is shy about holding babies as I think he knows he might not be able to catch them if they wiggle but he loves getting down on the floor with them.  It was a wonderful afternoon seeing him having a good time and eating cake and ice cream.  These joys make all the effort so worthwhile.  I have to remind myself of that when I'm saying for the fifth time, "We are going to Kinsey's birthday party." after he asks  where we are going.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Holidays and Facing Change

Holidays are stressful times for Alzheimer patients and their care partners and ours was no exception.  Whew!  it is with sadness and some relief that I spend the day packing and sorting Christmas decor.  Relief in a way that all the hustle and bustle is over, the visitors are gone back to their homes and hubby's back to his usual activities.  Sadness belongs here as well....sad to see family leave and missing them greatly, sadness knowing that this may be the last Christmas we have on this scale in this house .  I'm sorting out discards in the Christmas decor and have sent bags of family ornaments home with children and packing up the tree and outdoor lights and table decor to set aside for the next church garage sale.
It is getting more certain that we need to get out of this house but where to is uncertain.  Some days it feels like walking on quick sand not knowing what the next step may bring.  I just can't maintain hubby and do an even adequate job of looking after this house.  
While our son and his wife were here, we went and looked at the model of a beautiful new retirement facility beginning construction in a couple of months in our area, The Crossings in League City, a Methodist Retirement facility.  It would be perfect....begin with a small apartment in independent living, then if one of us needed assisted living, memory care or nursing care, we would just advance into another unit.  BUT, and it is a big but, it requires about $300K to just get in (you do get this back if you leave; if you die, it goes to your heirs) plus another $4K a month for the two of us and one cannot get in if already carrying an Alz diagnosis.  Geezus!  It's a great place to spend one's elder years if one can afford it. They can never kick you out of you run out of money....I guess not...they still have your $300K.  Another but:  it won't even be ready for 2 1/2 years.
So I think the alternate solution for now is to get us into an apartment that we can afford even if one of us should need extended care elsewhere.
Onto the next big BUT:  getting rid of 56 years of housekeeping, raising a family, pets, and all that goes with it is no easy task.  I have friends who have done it and know that I can but it is filled with days of decisions....keep this, toss that.  Hubby still has piles of papers, piles and piles of papers and makes very little progress in getting rid of them.  So it looks like son and I will be the culprits and gradually reduce them.  I am afraid to not go through them as there can possibly be some important documents stuck among them.  So I've set a goal of one stack a day...we will see how that goes.