Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mental Inflexibility

Lyn has no remaining mental flexibility.

If she gets angry, she'll rage for hours on high, circling repeat.  It can be a small offense that sets her off.  It could be as small as finding green chile on her donut cheeseburger.

My office mate would point out that her holding a grudge is a family trait given my muttering "water!" like a curse over a mismate drink last week.    I may have grumbled but I didn't rage and Lyn's filter is permanently broken.  She's unable to differentiate from the small grievances and the great offenses.

Mom tries to redirect her but Lyn's tenacity doesn't give up.  I feel for Mom and wish I could change it for her.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tickets Galore

Last week, Lyn's care provider took her to Hinkle, an arcade, to play some games.  Lyn likes going and has gone regularly for years.  She will collect tickets and save up for an item which catches her eye.  At some point, she decided she needed to save enough tickets for an iPad and has been working toward the 11,000+ tickets to reach that goal.

While there last week, Lyn paid a visit to the ticket machine and put in a little money.  The machine started spitting out tickets and didn't stop.  She ended up with a pile of several thousand.

She was so excited!

Despite the pile being the result of a machine malfunction, the staff didn't contest her luck, giving her the bag to carry them home.  She is now about 500 tickets from her goal.  Management has already set an iPad aside for her and are cheering her on.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Conversion Time

Lyn's requested that her bath tub be converted to a walk-in shower.  She's explained that she would feel safer not having to step over the sides.  It makes sense.

Tub to shower conversions are pretty common.

The idea has been floated before as something that may need to be done for her.  It would be easier for her to walk-in and shower than for her to bathe sitting down.  If she wanted to sit, the shower could have a built in bench at one end or a separate shower chair could be made available.

We'll have to start looking into it, I think.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Man in Uniform

Lyn had an exciting week.  She got to do one of her most favorite things.  She got to interact with a police officer.

It may be the man-in-uniform effect, but she does love flirting with the police.  She loves to thank them for their work and will sneak in a hug if she thinks she can get away with it.  She will look for an excuse to get their attention and wanting to say "thank you" has gotten her good results over the years.

She's been talking about wanting to do a painting specifically to give to the police as a "Thank you".  She was insistent that this was necessary.  She worked on the painting and when it was finished, an officer paid her a surprise visit while she was with her care provider.  It turns out her care provider has a brother who is a police officer.

Lyn was given a tour of his patrol car and allowed to sit in it.  She was very impressed by the equipment within.

She was then able to give the officer her painting, thank him for his work, and get a hug.  

The officer was kind and gracious to Lyn.  (In all honesty, they always have been.)  He made her feel special and excited over the whole exchange.  His acceptance of her painting made her feel proud.

Our thanks go out to this officer and his sister, Lyn's care giver, for arranging this visit for her and photographing it.  She was thrilled!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Looking for Flowers

Life took an unexpected turn which knocked me for a bit of a loop.  I needed to take last week off from blogging because I was doing good to get through each day, making sure all the required boxes were checked and the living beings in my home were all at least fed.  I'm starting to feel things normalize again, as evidenced by this weekend's sewing, and should be back to blogging this week.

All is well with Lyn.  Nothing new or worrying has happened since last I wrote.  Her care provider continues to work with hr on painting and Lyn's really cranking them out.  

It's funny because she's selling her paintings as quickly as she makes them and refuses to let Mom put the money in the bank.  In talking with her about it last week, I suggested she should put some of her painting money in the bank.  She strongly objected saying that she needs it for supplies.  This strikes me as funny because worrying about money or where the money is located is a common dementia symptom.  Lyn likes to check her little stash and know exactly how much she has available.

I'm not sure she's had to buy more paints yet; just canvases.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why Do It

Why do we take Lyn out in the community when it can cause her anxiety?

If we kept her home where she always felt comfortable, we would artificially be limiting her world and preventing her from being able to be engaged.  She may not engage with people and events the way she used to, but by pushing and letting her experience new places and events in a way that we try to make safe for her, we're asking her to keep engaging.  If she stayed at home, her decline would be faster than it is already.

If we kept her at home, her opportunities for physical activity would be reduced even more and that would also speed the decline.

She's got good days and not so good days.  Some days, she's on top of her game and you wouldn't realize she has Alzheimer's.  On those days, her walking is more stable and she less anxious.  We appreciate those days.

Ultimately, we do it because she likes going out.

This makes the effort worth it.

For the friend who suggested we hire off-duty firemen to escort Lyn on her outings, I love you.  I got a good laugh at that suggestion and have stored it away for when I am old and feeble.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Safety Options

So, if Lyn is getting confused and feels lost when she's more than a few feet from you when you're out in public, what are our options for her safety?

Currently, Mom has her hold hands or has Lyn place her hand on Mom's shoulder.  The physical contact is reassuring to Lyn.  However, it can impede movement and is more difficult if Lyn has her cane.

Technology based solutions are more targeted to when you are trying to keep the person wandering off from home.  Though a Fitbit or similar tracker may be useful if the caregiver had a cell phone which has been paired with the device.  The concern I would have with it would be if the individual with Alzheimer's would keep the device on.  We've long had to use a medical alert bracelet that Lyn is not capable of taking off so that she's constantly identified.

There are a few other options we can consider.

If Lyn's willing, we could use a wrist/belt loop tether which are designed for an adult and toddler.  The wrist straps are cloth and may fit her wrist.

If she's not willing for the tether approach, there is the My Buddy Tag system which looks more like a bracelet but alerts the adult when the other person is out of a pre-set range.  The wrist unit expands to 8 inches which would be big enough for Lyn's wrist.  (I see "My Buddy" and my 1980s childhood rears its head with a particular jingle.)

I posed the question on FaceBook yesterday about using a tether to help keep her safe.  The question sparked some good conversation and suggestions were made.  The general consensus was that it didn't matter what others think about using such a device.  The concern is more about caring with Lyn with dignity.  To do this, we need to pose the use of such devices as a choice in which Lyn has a say.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Lost In A Crowd

Lyn's community access provider gave us an update yesterday.

She has noticed that Lyn's having a lot of problems following a conversation.  We've noticed it too.  Lyn can keep a concept for about 2 or 3 sentences.  Most of the time, it is a single sentence or question from you and a single sentence from her in response.  Conversations can only be maintained by the other person.  This means that we have to do a TON of prompting to help Lyn feel like she's engaged in a meaningful exchange.

Lyn's provider wanted to test this change out.  She asked Lyn if she (the provider) should get a tattoo, her nose pierced or have her earlobes stretched.  We would have expected Lyn to tell her that all of that was "unappropriated" or give her The Look.  Lyn instead responded that she (Lyn) didn't like being called names.

Most concerning is that when they're out, if Lyn gets more than a few feet from her provider, she seems lost and confused.  Lyn's no longer able to recognize her provider if she's more than arm's reach away.  Her care provider is having to keep hold of Lyn's hand or have Lyn hold onto her shoulder when they're in public.

Yesterday, as they were coming home from an outing, Lyn's provider asked if Lyn knew where she was.  They had just turned a corner and were about a block from home.  Lyn goes through this intersection multiple times a day and she no longer recognizes it.  Two weeks ago, Lyn did know the intersection.

As a side note, Blogger is now suggesting "unappropriated" as the proper spelling to me.  I guess we've used that word enough here for the algorithms to recognize it.  It has yet to suggest "day hab" as acceptable.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Who's Spoiled

A half hour belly rub knocked Nikka out.

Not sure who is more spoiled.  The woman or the dog?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Children's Books

If you have young children in your family along with someone who's got Alzheimer's, you may want to consider some resources which can help normalize what's happening to help the children understand.

Story books help children process what is happening and allows them to see that others experience what they're experiencing.  It's been a few years since we've looked at what books were available on this topic and I've found a few more.

They Love You No Matter What by Gregory Affsa
Weeds in Nana's Garden by Kathryn Harrison
The Memory Box by Mary Bahr
Really and Truly by Emilie Rivard
Forget Me Not by Nancy Van Laan
Raising Grandpa by Lucinda Moebius
Why Does Grandma Call Me Jenny by Karen Kruse Strobhar
My Name is Cally by Donna Balthazard-Dube

For older children and young adults, consider
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella by Fredrik Backman
The Dementia Diaries by Matthew Snyman

If the individual with Alzheimer's is the parent of the child and has early on-set, consider This is My Family by Karen Harborow.

I hope some of these are helpful to you.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Caught Breath

Sometimes, a headline will make me catch my breath.  Last week, my husband and I were at the dining table, on our laptops.  He turned his screen towards me in a silent "look at this."  I read the headline and froze.

"David Attenborough Has Admitted He's 'Coming to Terms' With Memory Loss"

The article is light on details about Sir Attenborough's memory challenges and describes it as "the kind of memory loss that comes with old age."

Memory loss is not a guarantee as you age.  Sir Attenborough indicates that writing and filming documentaries is more difficult now than it has been in the past.  He's about to turn 91 and while some may be a result of that, it could also be a result of larger cognitive issues.

I hope that Sir Attenborough is not facing larger cognitive issues.