Thursday, January 17, 2019

www.dementiadance.com

Dear Readers,

All future posts to this blog can be found at www.dementiadance.com. The blog, to date, will remain  here as well, but going forward I will only post to the new website. I hope to see you there.

Gratefully,

Katy

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year!

Please read this post at: www.dementiadance.com, the new home of this blog!

Friday, December 28, 2018

New Computer

Please read this post at the new home of this Blog: www.dementiadance.com !! Thank you!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Utilities & Disowned

Please read these two Blog posts at www.dementiadance.com!!

Christmas with Mom and Jane

Let me start by saying Christmas was great. We spent time with half of our kids, their BF and husband, the grandson, the BF’s daughter and mom, and my mom and Jane. Dinner was amazing, Gift exchange was fun, particularly watching the kids, and the gathering wasn’t at my house 😜. (Bless my daughter’s BF a 1000 times) My DH and I spent the first half of the day quietly at home, and after transporting mamas to and from the dinner festivities, we returned home to the cat, who is sure he’s never once been fed in his entire life.

Jane:

I drove Jane to the gathering as her AL community is less than a mile from our home, and there’s a degree of separation between us, when compared to my mom. On the 24th Jane was in a state off and on. When the care staff got through to me on my cell phone, Jane was sure it was Christmas and I had forgotten all about her as well as being in tears over needing to find a new place to live. I talked her down, and pinky swore I’d pick her up at 3:30 on Christmas for our family dinner. After a lot of reassurance, we got off the phone. At our much smaller Christmas-Eve dinner, she called me (I let it go to voicemail), and then my daughter, who reported her Nana as being pissed-off, confused, and distraught.

When I walked into the community at 3:28, Jane was amazed to see me. She was clutching a laminated phone list my eldest daughter made for her. She exclaimed over and over what a sight for sore eyes I was, how she was about to jump off a bridge, that she was just about to return to her room for the evening because there was nothing to do, fill in the blank...

It took a few minutes to get her upstairs and into the car. As we got underway she asked/stated, often multiple times:

  • How did you know where to find me?
  • It’s a long way to the airport.
  • This town is so much bigger than when I lived here (she’s never lived in any of the towns we drove through).
  • How will I get back?
Initially, Jane did well at the gathering. She found a comfy spot on the couch and was able to take in her surroundings, and all the greetings. She met my son-in-law for the first time, and seemed entertained watching the kids zoom around.

She is at a place in her dementia where she can’t track general information at all. She thought my daughter’s BF’s house was our house, his cat’s ours etc... No amount of gentle reminding changed this perception, while there, or on the ride back, at which point I stopped trying to dissuade her of the notion. And it doesn’t matter. Her state makes it more difficult to meet here where she is, because it’s more difficult to figure out than, say, where my mom is. Sometimes Jane has just come from northern CA, and sometimes from where she actually is. One moment she’s thankful you’re taking her somewhere, the next she’s desperate to go back, the next she wants to live in a house, and the next morning (today) she needs to come to my house by taxi because everything is a mess. I think the best way to describe her state of mind is ‘tenuous,’ making it slippery for, at least me, to hold on to where she ‘is.’

As happy as she was to attend the gathering, right after dinner she approached me and said she had to get back, ‘right away.’ I said we were about to open gifts and could go back afterwards. She insisted saying she had an appointment. I got (gently) real with her and said, “It’s Christmas, and there’re no appointments to be had. We’ll leave right after gifts are opened.” She replied she didn’t have any idea the evening would go on for so long. We’d been there for less than 2-hours by this point, And I’d explained the gathering to her 2-times over the previous 2-days.. Yeah, I know, expectations need adjusting.

On our way back, Joan thanked me for including her in the evening about 10-times. She also asked if I was going to take her all the way back. I replied, “Of course!” She said, “Oh, thank goodness. I don’t have to worry about bus fare or anything.” After getting her settled in her apartment, I stuck around long enough to make sure she took her medication, which she had refused the night before. The med-tech and I talked a little strategy, and then a care-giver introduced herself. She and I talked on the phone on Christmas Eve. We talked for about 20 minutes. People who go into elder care are simply incredible. 

Mom:

My DH arrived to pick mom up from her AL community, and called her, rather than go up to her apartment. Mom said she’d be right down, but took 20 minutes to show up. As mom got into the car, she said she hadn’t had the opportunity to do any Christmas shopping because none of the catalogs she used to get ‘showed-up.’ It’s a fact that I recycle the one catalog (Lands End) she still gets. However, last year she managed to pull together gifts for most of the family. My daughter was also working in her community a year ago, and was no doubt instrumental in helping/reminding mom to do a little shopping on her weekly outings. And, No, it doesn’t matter whether she bring presents to Christmas. It’s a litmus of sorts... A view into how she’s doing. My guess is the same thing would have happened last year without my kiddo’s intervention.

Within 5-minutes of their drive north, mom was on my DH about:
  • Selling the Mainland house.
  • Getting back to the Island.
  • I’ve broken a tooth.
  • What are we doing tomorrow;
  • What are you doing over the next few days?
Mom wanted to know what bank held the mortgage on the mainland house. My DH, thought he was pretty sure which one it was, said he had no idea. She told him, “The only reason I agreed to buy that place is because I thought we’d need it longer!” This is a perfect example of a confabulation. My folks bought the mainland house because they knew dad would pre-decease my mom. The idea was to sell the Island property, and move to the mainland house, leaving mom near us when dad passed. While they got a long way toward this goal (the moving part), they never sold the Island property. The recession brought medium-tract sales on the Island to a halt. So, they went back and forth between the houses between dad’s treatments. Mom only remembers certain pieces of this, and makes up the missing parts: Confabulation. Mom asked my DH is we could ‘take care of the selling part’ the mainland house. She said she’d share part of the proceeds with us. My DH waved off her comment, saying ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’

On the drive up and during the gathering mom told my DH three or four times that she’d broken a tooth. She’d called the dentist only to find them closed until after the New Year. She explained she couldn’t wait that long and asked if he’d take her to the Island to get to a dentist. My DH politely said he was unable to accommodate her request. I’ll call the care staff today to find out what they know about a broken tooth. Mom was not in any pain at all.

Mom cycled on ‘what are we doing tomorrow,’ and ‘what are you doing over the next few days,’ at least seven times, mostly to my DH. I ducked the questions, essentially telling my mom that we had no formal plans for tomorrow (the 26th), and I wasn’t doing anything over the next few days, as in I was declining to participate in anything at all (a true fact). She was more pointed on my DH, a captive audience as he drove her to and from the gathering. She asked if he was available to get her back to the Island over the next few days. “Um, no. I’m on vacation, and I’m spending that time at home.” She accepted his answer, but cycled right back to the questions within a few minutes.

My DH is attending a lunch at his mother’s today, and did share this info with mom. Also in attendance at lunch will be friend from Canada that my DH’s parents, and my parents attended college with in the 50’s. This friend, and my daughter’s BF share the same first name. Mom did a sideways-segue as she peppered my DH with questions about who would at the Christmas gathering, and where it was... suddenly, out of some other ball park, mom asked if she needed her passport for  dinner. He couldn’t figure out if she meant for dinner, or lunch on the 26th, even though in that moment she had not yet been invited, which she has been subsequently.  

My DH had Elvis playing for the ride to the gathering, and jazz for the ride back. While mom engaged with the music, and asked questions here and there (What’s the name of this song?), he was completely floored when she asked, “Who’s the singer?” He pointed at the car’s display: Elvis Presley, one of her all-time favorites.   

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Didn’t Attend...

We didn’t attend the Christmas dinner this evening at mom’s community. It’s the first major event I haven’t gone to. While on one hand it feels shitty, not taking the risk of another blow-out with my mother feels pretty OK. One cannot set boundaries with a demented person, so you have to set those boundaries with yourself, even if it tugs at you emotionally. Mom will have ample opportunity to push my buttons on Christmas itself 😜!

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Friday, December 21, 2018

December 2018 Island Trip 2 - Day Three

Today was filled with what felt like ‘lasts.’ Not because the house is rented, but because I did things like:
  • Donate mom’s couch to a community resource organization. Earlier this week my eldest daughter asked why I was keeping the couch. I told her it was part of a matched set, the other piece being in mom’s apartment. She raised her eyebrow at me. When it came time to load the couch into the truck, I asked my friend for her advice. My friend inspected the couch and declared it was very nice indeed, but truly worth about $100. She asked if any of the girls would want it (No). We went over the few small burn marks (because, you know, a fireplace, alcohol, and dementia are terribly hard on upholstered furniture...). She was essentially coaching me around to a place where I could let go of it, and get over my over-the-top sentimentality in regards to the couch having a mate, and a history.
  • My last act at the house was to unplug the modem. Monday I’ll cancel the wifi. The only thing I’ll keep is mom’s email address, which I can set up on my computer. Her livelihood, and vast correspondence with friends and colleagues all depended on that shitty modem, which needed constant rebooting, on its less than 1 meg of upload speed. She still hasn’t asked about her computer since 1/10/2017. Rendering the house communicationless, mute, feels symbolic of mom’s continuing and growing challenges interfacing with our world.
  • Emptied the house of everything, except toilet paper and a box of tissue. Well, there’s one drawer in the kitchen that has house related stuff in it, so that doesn’t count, nor do the few items the tenants and I agreed would stay, such as a fire extinguisher and an oil heater. But everything else, EVERYTHING, is out of there. On one hand it looks great. On the other, it looks barren. So much of my parents life was lived there. Not quite 38 years for my mama. I think more now than ever my perspective on any senior’s resistance to move to AL is crystal clear. Mom spent almost half of her life on that property. It’s taken me just over 5% of that time  to get the house in rentable condition, empty the tool shed, and empty most of one of the lean-to’s. Yes, that statement doesn’t encompass the breadth of work, decisions, and management that took place over the last 23-months, but that’s kinda the point... organizing, consolidating, filing, packing, storing, moving, respecting 83.5 years of the effects of a person’s life is not all scribalbe. 
When my friend and I were discussing the couch, we turned to look at the deck and discovered about 12-15 square feet of roofing material (big pieces) had been blown off the roof. I tried to text the property manager, but of course, my phone doesn’t like to text him from mom’s house. We walked back to my friend’s house, where, after far too long, the text went through. Bottom line, he was able to get out to the house, use some composite ‘starter’ strips to make it water tight, and will patch it tomorrow or the next day. I think I’m gonna have to replace the roof in the spring. Granted we don’t get gusts that flex the windows every day, but I can’t have the roof be a weak point of a rental property.

The dump run went quickly, from loading the truck to emptying it. As I got into the minutia of the shed, after loading up the obvious, I found two chain saw chains that were so old and rusted, that they had actually lost mass as they corroded. 

Also from this open shed came the aforementioned (a prior post) 3-gallon olive can, which we know doesn’t have olives in it... It’s a hazmat waste candidate. Well, the can tipped over in the bed of the truck (my bad) on the way home, and now I need to YouTube ‘how to clean an oil slick’ from the bed of your truck. I threw cat litter around in the dark, but additional mitigation is required. Sigh. At least the oil is clear. Again, my folks decanting all sorts of unknown solutions and medications into used food, detergent, and miscellaneous recycled steel containers, creates a nightmare when trying to triage potentially hazardous waste.

I may write a coda to this post, but now it’s time to get caught up on the holidays.

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