Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The New Shirt

Lyn found a new shirt in her closet.  It was very exciting for her.

She came running in from her room, mostly dressed, to show Mom the new shirt she had found.  It's a nice blue shirt with eight stars on it forming the Big Dipper and North Star arrangement and the word "Alaska" on it.  She didn't know where the shirt came from and wanted to know if she could wear it.

Mom assured her she could wear it and was glad to know Lyn likes the shirt.

It was given to her several months ago by a family friend who had picked it up for Lyn while on a cruise to Alaska.

On the plus side, our friend should rest assured that Lyn has now been excited by this new shirt more than once.  She liked it the first time and likes it again.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Waste of Dirt

There are times we can't help but giggle.

Lyn was on a tear on Sunday during our Skype call.

She told Mom that Mom's not allowed to flirt and that she must take her purse with her to get orange juice at the grocery.  Lyn refused to watch Mom's purse in the future and offered to go get the orange juice herself so that Mom won't be tempted to flirt.  Lyn insists she's beyond flirting and thinks that Mom's just a flirt waiting to happen.

At one point in the conversation, I had offered to help Mom research a topic.  Mom declined, indicating she had the information she needed.  Lyn then told Mom that the deacon at church had "said we have to help each other."  Lyn didn't care that he was speaking about a particular fundraising activity for the parish.  Lyn wanted me to research on Mom's behalf.

She wrapped up by telling me that the construction around the city is just "a waste of dirt!"

Mom and I spent more time covering our mouths to keep Lyn from seeing us giggling than talking.  Lyn no longer realizes that when we cover our mouths, we're hiding our grins poorly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting is Hard

Lyn was supposed to go to day hab on Monday.  Mom knew they needed to be home in time for the inspection.  The inspectors had told them they would arrive "sometime after 1pm."  Mom told Lyn she could pick her up from day hab at 12:30 and they would be home in plenty of time.  It made no sense.  Lyn couldn't understand the schedule change no matter how she thought about it.

Lyn decided she would not go to day hab.  She opted to stay home.

The day be came infinity long and challenging as a result.

Lyn played a few games with Mom.  She paced.  She cleared off her dresser and decided to get rid of her jewelry box and its contents.  As the afternoon wore on, she became more confused and lost.

She can't cope with schedule changes even when they are her idea.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spot Check

On Friday, the State pulled files from one of the agencies that works with Lyn.  Our family's file was pulled for a spot check.  It has been pulled for inspection at least 5 times before.

These inspections involve representatives checking the files with the agency and seeing if everything is in order.  Has it been filed on time?  Are the monthly reports all there?  Are any necessary forms missing?  If there was an incident noted in the monthly report, is there a separate incident report?

They also visit the residence of the client.  They look to see if the client is living in a safe setting.  Does the client have a designated personal space for their belongings and their sleeping arrangements?  Does the client have the ability to go into another room for privacy?  This is not just about the physical space such as does she have her own room.  It is also about permission.  Does she have the right, the self-determination to decide to seek privacy and does the care giver respect that decision or are her rights as an individual limited by those around her?

The staff look for the notebook that is to be kept at the residence.  There are particular forms they look for there and they look to see if the daily activity log is up to date.  They will (and did) ask to see any dates which have not yet been submitted to the agency.  Mom was missing a printout of a single policy.

They also look for medical care resources.  What medications is the client on?  Are they up to date?  What allergies does the client have?  Does the care giver know and understand the risks of allergic reactions up to and including death?  Does the care giver know what to do if the client has a seizure or other medical emergency?  Does the care giver know how to administer or over see the taking of medication?  Does the residence have a first aid kit and is it properly filled?  Mom had a tube of expired neosporin in her first aid kit.  She indicated that she wasn't surprised it was expired because is it not a product they use.  That raised some eye brows.  Mom explained that she uses aloe instead and the response was not positive because aloe is not on the approved list of care options.

The State inspectors had questions for both Lyn and Mom.  Their questions were all answered in detail and at least one of the inspectors was surprised by some of the answers.  When they asked about "any noticed changes in the past year," Mom indicated that the Alzheimer's had progressed.  One of the two was familiar with Alzheimer's and the disease's progression.  When they asked if she lost weight, Lyn proudly exclaimed that she continues to loose weight.  One inspector was a little concerned about Mom doing something to Lyn to make her loose weight and Mom explained that it is a side effect of the Alzheimer's because the body is forgetting how to absorb nutrients.  Mom noted that the recent visit to the audiologist confirmed a 95% hearing loss in the left ear (Alzheimer's origin) and the physical revealed a near total loss in the ability to smell (also a result of Alzheimer's).

Overall, the inspection went well.  Lyn was cooperative.  Mom might be dinged on the two minor and easily corrected issues.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Designing for Alzheimer's

Mom told me about an article she read in the paper and I thought you might like to hear about it.

The article was about an interior designer who is trying improve the lives of Alzheimer's patients by providing tips which are easy to implement and are low to moderate in cost.  For example, to reduce bathroom accidents, paint the wall behind the toilet a color which increases the contrast between the toilet and the space around it.  This is a very similar idea to putting the person's food on a colored plate.

The design company is called Design Prescription.  You can read a about her suggestions in detail at her blog.  Take a look at her work.  It's very interesting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Steve Harvey Causes Trouble

Mom writes:

Well, Steve Harvey has done it again!!

I was watching him this afternoon.  It was his Valentine Show.  He was setting a woman up with a date.  The man had been there previously and was not picked.   So, he was brought back to have a date with a woman who lost 105lbs.  He came out shirtless.

Lyn was sitting at the computer when I said "wow".  Never on purpose would I say it.  Of course I was looking at her.  She looked over but whirled back to the computer so fast I thought she'd twist her neck.  No comment.

A few min later he brought out 4 men with gifts for everyone in the audience.  Of course these guys were also shirtless.  I made a comment about the roses one was holding.  Yes, she looked and muttered "unappropriated" again.  I asked if she thought the roses were pretty and if the guys were cute.  I know she muttered something but I couldn't hear because I was laughing out loud.

I told her that she was funny.  "Yes but they need shirts because we don't need to see that."  By the time I quit laughing she had stormed out of the room and back to her room.

I asked if she was ok. "Yes, but I don't think we should see all that."  Mad again because I was laughing again.  Poor kid, I couldn't help it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Painting Up A Storm

Lyn's Community Access care provider has introduced her to painting and Lyn LOVES it.  She's been exposed to crafts for most of her life but I don't recall if she's ever really painted before.  I know she actively avoided it when our grandparents wanted us to scrape and repaint their white picket fence every few years, but that's different.

Together, Lyn and her care provider decide upon the subject of the painting.  Her care provider will look it up online and then roughly sketches out the shape on the canvas.  Lyn takes over at that point. She selects and mixes all of her colors.  She chooses what tools she will use and she then starts painting.  She might work on a painting over the course of a couple of weeks.  You can really tell the difference between when she puts in a few hours and when she dashes one off.

She's also started selling the paintings and is very proud of herself.  Here are a few of her recent works.

You can see how happy this activity makes her.  (You can also see how much weight she's lost.)


Mom has the sunset.  


This is the Sanctuary de Chimayo.


This sunset is over the Three Sisters volcanos which are to the West of Albuquerque.  This painting is en route to me.


Mom says the shading on the water was excellent.  Lyn hated painting the water and has declared she's never painting water again.


These two are her most recent works.  Mom bought the tree as we had our Skype conversation.  The paint was still wet when Lyn came home.  The flower was already promised to someone else.  Actually, all of her paintings to date have been claimed.  

Considering she's new to the art and has an intellectual disability and Alzheimer's, she's pretty impressive.  She's always had an eye for color.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Modifying Tests

I'm fighting a cold and am going to totally cop out by pointing you to an NPR story.

I encourage you to read or listen to Monday's story on a prion test which is being modified to detect Alzheimer's and other brain diseases with misfolded proteins.  It's quite interesting.

Prion Test for Rare, Fatal Brain Disease Helps Families Cope

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Hard Hat Edition

My friend in Italy has been amused by the tales of Lyn and the shirtless firefighter calendar.  When I mentioned I had tried to find a picture from an Italian calendar to include in yesterday's post as proof that Italians do understand, she told me that "shirtless men are a national treasure" and sent me this picture from a 2013 calendar as proof.

Mom and I decided a Skype call was necessary so I could document Lyn's reaction.

We connected and Lyn told me about the day's activities before I encouraged Mom to look at the picture send by my friend in Italy.  Lyn is calm and happy at this point.


Mom accesses the picture of the nearly nude man and Lyn gets a good look at it.


You can see the disapproval begin and it is swift.


Mom gets The Look with bonus over the glasses "I'm looking at you!" action.


That look right there was worth it all.  At this point, Mom and I are giggling like fools and I am not spared her wrath or chastising.


We were told to shut the picture down.  We were told it was wrong for him to not have his shirt or pants on.  When we pointed out that he has a hat, Lyn said "He NEEDS a hat!"  I asked Lyn if the man was handsome.  She stopped cold.  She didn't want to answer but eventually conceded that he was "cute but needs to be dressed."

She also told us that we've had our "share of that."  We're not entirely sure what she means but it was related to me being married.  Apparently, since I'm married I'm not supposed to even look at picture of a man with his shirt off.  As for Mom, Lyn has told her she's too old to be looking at such pictures.

Does this stop things?  Nope.

I just tell them about the man who I nearly physically bumped into while shopping this weekend and how he invited me out for coffee.  I declined, explaining that I'm married.  Lyn wanted to be angry with me over that but couldn't because I didn't go out on a date.  She says I have to only date my husband (agreed) and was miffed when I said "if he dies, I know I have options."

She has options too and declared that she's done with dating.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Totally Worth It

This fireman calendar is getting more mileage than we ever anticipated.

Mom picked up a second calendar which she's sending to me so I can forward it to my friend in Italy. Lyn is not pleased.  Lyn is convinced my friend in Italy won't like it because "they don't do things like this."  I'm not sure that's the case but we'll let Lyn believe what she wants.

On Sunday, the firefighters were to be at the auto show selling their calendars.  Mom offered to take Lyn so they could get the calendars autographed.  The Look was out in full force.  Lyn was disgusted that Mom would even suggest such an activity.

Lyn tells us it is not appropriate to laugh about the men being without shirts.  She's very serious and we should take the situation as seriously as she presents it to us.

That is never going to happen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

No Dumping Allowed

When I watched the Alzheimer's documentary last week on PBS, one of the hospital staff interviewed mentioned a problem of "granny dumping."  Granny dumping is the practice of abandoning an elderly person with dementia at a hospital, leaving them to be cared for by charity.  The individual's dementia is far enough along that they are no longer able to identify themselves or their care givers.

The practice is not frequent but happens in many places around the world.  Japan is apparently seeing an increase of it recently.

On Monday, while reading through the BBC's World news, I came across another reference to granny dumping.  In this case, a US family (mother and son) flew the husband/father to the UK and left him there alone while they returned to the States.

Caring for an individual with dementia is emotionally and financially draining.  I understand the desire to run away and remove yourself from the obligation of caring for someone.  Heck, my own kids cause me to feel that sometimes and I, at least, have the hope that one day they will be independent humans successfully being part of society.  However, I don't think I'll ever understand what it takes to actually walk away, leaving a vulnerable person alone.