the harvest

Throughout our lives we have planted seeds in our relationships.  I often wonder will the harvest shared with my kids be as sweet as the “harvest” we are now sharing with Mom during this season of her life?


My thoughts about the current harvest that is underway is that we have been blessed beyond measure!  Mom’s efforts throughout her years has been one of nurturing gentleness, kindness, compassion, joy, laughter with a generous supply of humor.  She has tended this garden for all of her years.  She hasn’t withheld her love nor her faith with each of us.  She’s plucked the weeds and tended to the plantings with tenderness and more love than we may have been entitled to in the moment —

As we go about our part now, as her caregivers tending to her garden (memories, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren) we want to ensure that the legacy of a bountiful harvest will continue on.

Gratitude nurtures the love we have for her.  The beautiful scenes she painted that hang in our homes will continue to remind us of her talent and the joy that painting brought to her for so many years.  The family favorite recipes that we’ll cook, bake and serve throughout the holidays as we remember with fondness the joy that gourmet cooking brought to her heart and delighted our palettes as we grew up.  Hand-crafted gifts and one of a kind holiday cards will continue to bring us joy as we continue the traditions that have blessed our family for so many years.

And mostly, the word REMEMBER will continue to be the best nutrient for our soil as we prepare for the next season of growing and harvest.

Beautiful things happen every day

I love this image… it’s one of my favorite sunsets.  Regardless of what the day has held, I look forward to seeing the colors in the sky each evening.  They remind me of the “gifts” we’ve been blessed with that day.

We’ve awakened, our eyes have seen the sunrise and now the sunset.  We’ve enjoyed each other’s company.  Shared a laugh, a smile and maybe even albeit, too short, lucid conversations or moment of clarity where there may have been none only a moment previously.

Care-giving can be tough.. but there are multiple joys as well if we choose to look, see and delight in them.

My challenge for you, dear readers, is to make the moments count today and at the end of the day, reflect on one of the many “gifts” you’ve experienced throughout the day.  Let it lift your spirits and prepare you for more beauty in the days to come.

another day

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Today, will be just another ordinary day.  Nothing spectacular happening.  Nothing notable on the calendar…. at least it’s that way from Mom’s perspective.  To me, it’s a whole different story!

We have another opportunity to share space and time with Mom.  An experience we wouldn’t have imagined being possible a few short years ago! We get to experience everything at a “heart” level.

So grateful for
each and every smile.
moments of laughter
tapping of toes in time to the music
songs sung
shared meals
relationship
heartfelt connections
occasional bursts of conversation
zingers
rare moments of lucidity
recall of a memory from long ago
the occasional calling me by name
sense of humor
humility
curiosity
….

Looking forward to a #bestday kind of day!  Nothing says this is just “another day” in my books.

a new season

As always, every day brings something new our way in this journey with Alzheimer’s.  As easy it might be to fall in the woo is me trap, we find joy in every day we have with Mom despite the “junk” that sometimes creeps up on us.

The leaves have begun to change into brilliant shades of gold, yellow, orange and red.  The mountains are boasting their first dusting of snow on the peaks and it was such a beautiful sight to behold. The colors begin to fade — just as memories continue to fade even more with Mom.

Late night conversations, bursts of energy to cook, answer the door, find something that might be lost have been our latest challenges… Grateful she still wants to do something, even if it’s 2 am or another 0’dark thirty time.  Smiles and eyes that twinkle are still an everyday thing.  Laughter, tapping to music, favorite foods and a root beer shake are highlights of our week.  Speech is becoming less frequent and garbled at times, but there are still those moments that Mom brings us to our knees with a zinger!  LOVE IT!

treasures

it never ceases to amaze me when we “catch” that moment of lucidity, share a laugh, cry a little or hug, or stumble upon an idea that changes the course of things….  (https://greatitudes.com/2018/06/24/a-month-of-changes/)

This week we had a routine visit with Mom’s primary care physician.  He seemed genuinely thrilled with Mom’s current state of health and was even more impressed to notice that her hair was growing back in  (Yes, that’s a big deal!) and that there were no open wounds from “picking.”  We talked about the change in medication of one of her prescriptions and how that change in dosage was making a difference in the intensity of the headaches but more importantly the “deep itching” on her scalp and sometimes other places on her body.

It’s taken a couple of months to get to this point of 20 minutes or so of  “not-picking”, but it’s so been worth it.  We are grateful to the medical professionals who were willing to listen and let us advocate and try something a little different to see if it made a difference for Mom and hopefully, it might make a difference for another patient in their care experiencing the same issues.

Today, we’ll not take for granted one single moment.  We’ll treasure each one and the joy they can bring.

Karen Salmonsohan

 

July has come and gone

Oh My!  Where has time gone?  I’ve thought about sharing a few updates over the course of the last 6 weeks, but continue to get waylaid by life and time spent with Mom.

If you read my last post, you know that the last round of PT visits didn’t quite go as planned.  The PTA wasn’t the best fit for Mom and it was difficult to get Mom to do the exercises when the PTA wasn’t here.  We did learn a few things with that experience… and have resolved that Mom’s well being doesn’t always mean bringing in an army of reinforcements.

We still experience daily, weekly, monthly highs and lows, but overall, the past month wasn’t as much of a low as the one before.  Change is hard and upon reflection, probably as difficult for the caregiver to handle/accept as it is for everyone else.

About 2 weeks ago, the finishing touches were added to the wheelchair ramp.  It makes it so much easier to get Mom in and out and spend a little bit of time outside every few days — we haven’t been able to do that recently since the air quality has been so bad due to the recent wildfires in the area.  But when we have been outside, it’s definitely worth the smiles and seeing her eyes light up as she takes in the sights and sounds.


A side note:  Self-care for the caregiver is again at the top of my list.  I hope you do the same.  Despite the fact that I can’t control the number of hours of sleep I get at night right now, I can and do make time to take a walk, observe nature, get a little bit of sunshine, read, study, take a class, shop, go to lunch, and make time to do a few other things I enjoy.

It’s been a blessing at so many levels. We can do so much together with the right support.

Remember, Be Kind to YOURSELF!  No one else can be the kind of caregiver you were meant to be. 

a month of changes…

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Transitions are difficult — and difficult days seem to present themselves more frequently and with greater challenges than we are often prepared for.   I’ve tried to write this post several times over the last month… but couldn’t bring myself to write the words.  Today, after many deep breaths and continued prayers, we venture into the life of transitioning with Mom into the final stages of Alzheimer’s.  It’s not easy and although we’ve done much to prepare as caregivers — there are still lots of moments of angst and despair.

Several months ago, we shared a bit about the mobility issue and at a recent appointment, we decided it was time to bring on some extra support… we’ve had PTs coming in for the last 7 weeks in hopes of keeping her moving  and out of the wheelchair for a while longer — the difficulties continue and I see her sadness increasing as she realizes her mobility is fading.

We feel blessed to have figured out what we believe to be the cause of the increasing headaches and “itchies”… while the “picking” hasn’t stopped, we are thrilled with an increased number of headache free days and being down to one application of a topical for the itching a day.  We appreciate and value those who have been helping us actively advocate.

We appreciate our family so much.  We are so blessed to have them close by and willing to step up and help when needed.

Our mantra for now is to “savor the moments.”  We have so much to be thankful for.