FOR GREGORY. He was not a VICTIM of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, he was a HERO!
PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The picture below is a facsimile of one you might recognize from your past if you are as old as I am.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Here is the detail of why I have once again decided that I should make his breakfast. It is somewhat of a complicated job but BECAUSE he likes his breakfast, "throwing some toast" at him would never do. BECAUSE he cannot accomplish the "routine" it is now one more thing I have added to my load.
Maybe after watching him this time I am ready to accept this next responsibility. I told him that maybe I should take over making his breakfast BECAUSE in watching I noticed that he was having a lot of difficulty and that it was painful for me to watch his suffering through the process. He agreed and said, "Yes maybe it is time." This is the first time that he has agreed with such commitment.
THE DETAIL: Tea
He got out the loose tea but didn't know what to do with it BECAUSE there was no tea ball. He figured out what was wrong, got the tea ball and filled it with the loose tea. It still didn't seem quite right to him BECAUSE he had forgotten to put the usual placemat on his tray. He was still confused about the tea BECAUSE what he was missing was a mug in which to put the tea ball. I gently suggested that he needed a mug for the tea.
THE DETAIL: Cereal
He got a mug and cereal bowl out of the cabinet and put them on the tray. The tea ball never got into the mug BECAUSE he was distracted when he next got a box of cereal from the cabinet and after studying it for a while, instead of pouring a portion into the bowl, he scooped with his hands.
THE DETAIL: Fruit
He got the cantaloup out of the refrigerator, cut three pieces, cleaned the seeds, and sliced the melon into his cereal. No help need here.
THE DETAIL: Bran Buds
Next he got out the plastic box filled with Bran Buds. He opened the box, handled the scoop, looked at the box, handled the scoop. Tried to scoop the box lid and finally put the box down BECAUSE it wasn't working. Next he noticed the label (which was turned away from him) on the box and commented to himself, "Oh that makes it easier." Maybe he didn't realize that he did in effect have the bran buds in hand? So he picked up the box, put the scoop back into the box, and closed the lid BECAUSE he thought he had added some to his cereal (which he hadn't.) I intervened.
THE DETAIL: Turkey Sausage
Next task was to microwave the turkey sausage. He remembered to get a plate this time, a paper towel, and a package of sausage out of the freezer. He unwrapped the sausage and placed them on the plate.
It wasn't quite right BECAUSE he had put the paper towel down on the tray and by now had forgotten that it was supposed to be on the plate with the sausage. I mentioned the paper towel, he realized that it was missing, found it, folded it in half and placed the plate into the fold BECAUSE he really didn't understand the necessary order.
I helped him place the sausage between the folds of the paper towel and then put the paper towel on the plate. He asked, "How long?" BECAUSE after countless years of making his own breakfast sausage he didn't remember. "Two minutes." He was able to follow through.
When the sausage had cooked, he took the plate out of the microwave (which is almost but not quite too hot to handle.) He danced around with the hot plate and then, BECAUSE he finally noticed that the placemat was not on the tray, didn't know what to do with the plate. He asked my help but I just watched. After a while of "dancing" he finally placed the plate on the counter.
THE DETAIL: Putting It All Together
He just stood there not knowing what to do next. I got up and verbalized what I was doing, BECAUSE somehow it seems to defuse the situation, as I fetched the placemat and put it on the try, filled the electric tea kettle (which he had totally overlooked) and turned it on, put his cereal bowl and mug in place, put the tea ball into the mug, put the sausage plate on the tray, got him a spoon and napkin and finally filled his mug with boiling water and replaced the kettle. End of story, beginning of breakfast.
The detail is important to share with you BECAUSE it shows how complicated the task is for Gregory while maybe not so much to you or I, how easily it is for him to get distracted, and how difficult it is for him to follow through with multiple-step processes.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
ONE: Don't miss the boat. It’s got nothing to do with being on the boat. It has to do with making good decisions, being a caring person, love.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat! Not true, we each have our separate problems to deal with and our own successes. While we all come from the same source how we live our lives can be different as night and day.
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Sometimes there is no way to guess what might be needed in the future. So just live one day at a time and do the best you can.
FOUR: Stay fit. When you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. A shame if you waited until you were 60 to do something really big. Hopefully your life will be filled with many big things over time, especially if you know how to look for them.
FIVE: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. This is somewhat true although sometimes the critics are right. Most important however, is to listen to yourself, to your heart.
SIX: Build your future on high ground. No matter how high the ground you might still drown. Or you might know how much is enough and live purely and simply.
SEVEN: For safety's sake, travel in pairs. Sometimes the pairs work and other times you need to leave the other behind. Actually LOVE is all you have.
EIGHT: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Sometimes delayed actions miss the opportunity. Traveling is the point not how slowly or quickly.
NINE: When you're stressed, float awhile. Or drown. Or have a good cry, meditate, count what you are grateful for and the stress will dissipate.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals. And they both caused a lots of deaths. Either way we all die and what counts is how we spent our life and how we loved.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting. If God exists and while there might be a rainbow waiting it usually disappears with the sun. God is within, trust yourself, know what matters, LOVE!
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Just went to Whole Foods for one thing, Buttermilk for making "Helen's Refrigerator Bran Muffins." Came home with two bottles of Sangria to try, lunch meat, some chocolate for Gregory, and steak, corn, cucumbers, and fresh mozzarella for tomorrow's dinner. I.E. came home with everything but the Buttermilk. We both got a good laugh out of this.
I made Oatmeal Raisin Walnut cookies today. Six dozen cookies now piled high and sitting on the cooling rack on the kitchen counter. I decided to start making cookies for Gregory because his five o'clock coffee and cookies is so important to him and I felt that home made cookies would be a nice addition. My emotions aside, this is what took place.
"Time for your coffee and some home made cookies."
"Oh is it?"
Gregory proceeded, in his ritualistic way, to open the cookie shelf and to begin selecting some to have with his coffee. I stopped him and pointed out, again, the home made oatmeal cookies that were on the counter waiting for him. Next, without getting any coffee, he took his previously selected cookies, sat down on the purple chair, and ate them.
I mentioned that he had not yet gotten his coffee and that I made (pointing) Oatmeal Raisin cookies for him to have with his coffee. I left the room. He poured his coffee, added milk, warmed it in the microwave. Took his coffee to his desk and sat down to drink it. Still no Home Made Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Cookies. My emotions aside.
It was all I could do to overcome my "Agita" and continue in my move towards doing EVERYTHING for him, ASSUMING NOTHING, and PRETENDING that everything is OK when it is NOT!
I took a breath and in my calmest possible voice asked him to come over to the counter. I showed him the cookies and asked if he knew what they were? "Yes." And what are they called? "Them." (A statement, not a question.) Yes, cookies. And what are they for? "To eat." Yes, so take a few to have with your coffee. "OK." Do it now. SILENCE, INERTIA. Take some now. "OK." I stood there to make sure and he took three cookies and went over to sit down with his coffee. Then I went back to my computer. My emotions aside.
He just came into the bedroom and said, "They are my favorite." I thanked him ... but what can I say. Where am I supposed to put my emotions, my inability to fathom what he is going through, my fear at what I have to do next, my not wanting to treat him like an invalid, the ability to treat him like a satient human being? I am not ready to do absolutely everything for him to avoid the risk of his and/or my frustration (my anger!) Sometimes our interactions are so convoluted that I am not sure what has happened.
He just came into the computer room again and said, "Thanks for out there." You are welcome.
So where do I go? What do I do? How do I get through this? Guess what - There are no answers and even the questions don't work anymore. Getting through it means surviving until the next interaction and sometimes over night. My emotions are not aside. They are slowly killing me.
Living with him continues to be difficult as I continue to try to learn how (after 35 years, can you imagine?)
Yesterday we were getting ready to go to a party and I thought I solved his "Getting Dressed Dilemma" problem by picking out what he would wear and laying it out on the bed (in the order one would put the clothes on.) My fatal mistake was not taking the blue jeans and shirt he was wearing from him when he took them off.
He got "Shirt Confused" and "Pants Frustrated." After taking his current clothes off, he put his new shirt and his black jeans on. Tried to put his blue jeans on over the black ones several times. (I just waited.) Then he took off his shirt. Tried the blue/black combination again bear chested but that didn't help. I finally had to help walk him through the "Clothing Sequence" and then we entered the "Black Sox and Shoes Zone."
I won't go into further detail but we finally did get dressed, left for the party, at which he and I had a great time. This morning he did his own "Thin Thin" (our version of toast) and is now reading the New York Times (a new "Technology" since his computer skills are all but gone," waiting while I have a cup of coffee, do e-mail and begin our "Sunday Oatmeal Ritual."
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
CLICK HERE TO SEE: Previous BLOG referred to in this post.
Below is a link to a site I discovered that so far seems very helpful with my being a better caregiver partner to Gregory.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO: Caring.Com
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Sure enough when I woke, he was in his morning sport clothes but knew something was wrong. Without having to be asked I said, "You need underpants and an undershirt." Immediately he realized what was needed so he returned to the closet where he got out a pair of underpants and took off his sport shirt. Did you catch the subtlety of what happened?
Next, he attempted to put on his underpants over the sport pants, stopped foot in mid air and realized something was wrong and stopped. He looked at the under pants to make sure the were facing the correct directions (i.e. fly in the front?) and tried again, sport pants still on. He did this approximately six times. FInally he came into the bedroom, underpants in hand.
He knew I was available but didn't ask for help so I kept quiet. He tried the "underpants over sport pants" routine again several times and stopped. He put the underpants on the floor and said aloud to himself, "Just put them on. Just put them on."
Then it came clear to him (I could see the Ah-Ha!) and he took off his sport pants, put on his underpants (backwards but corrected with my comment,) then put on his sport pants ... all in the correct order. He was amazed that it had been so confusing and so obvious.
With a reminder that he still needed to put on an undershirt, he was able to follow through without any complications. In the past I would have jumped in and given instructions. This time, although painful probably for both of us, for the most part I kept quiet. I had to weigh his frustrations against his finally asking for help, against when I needed to intervene. Not an easy job.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Plates used to hold his morning breakfast fish, now he tries to arrange the fish laden crackers directly on his tray.
Plates used to be where a muffin was placed and then put into the microwave for a brief warming. Usually the muffin goes directly into the microwave. This morning he did use a plate but it ended up broken on the counter.
Plates also used to be used to hold breakfast sausage between the two parts of a folded paper towel when cooked in the microwave
Plates used to be for dinner when placed in front of one on a placemat. Now the plate is placed somewhere off to the side without regard for the placemat's positon.
Plates held an assortment of cookies to be had with his early evening coffee. Not the chocolate chip, butter cookie, and biscotti are lined up on a paper towel which drips crumbs as he carries it to his desk.
I am not sure what is going on here. Just saying. Plates seem to have disappeared.