Alzheimer’s

blessed for sure

Thanksgiving has come and gone… and we had a very quiet one.  Grateful for each and every moment we get to spend with Mom.  It could have been so much different if the stroke had been any worse.

November 17th just as we were prepping to get Mom ready for bed, she collapsed.  We are very fortunate that EMS arrived within 5 minutes of our 911 call.  Mom was on her way to the hospital within 10 minutes -and by the time we arrived, she was having a CT done and her room was ready in the ER.  Mom was responsive and alert when we saw her about 20 minutes later.  She recognized my brother and said, “That’s my son, Pete.”  Such joy for my brother!  And I was just thrilled that she’d gotten a full sentence out and her words were clear as a bell.

We spent the next couple of hours at the hospital.  Mom was doing well enough to come home.  We all got to catch up on a bit of sleep and decompress a bit.

She’s doing remarkably well since that episode.  We’ve completed the follow-ups with her primary and her neuro. Neither see any residual effects and were even surprised that she answered some questions for them that she hadn’t been able to do in previous visits!

Fast forward to yesterday.  We had our traditional family gathering with the family.  Most everyone was able to be there.  We’re all grateful for the privilege we have of spending one more Season of Giving and Loving with Mom.  Lots of precious memories were shared and I’m pretty sure that most everyone spent more time doing the same on their trips home.  More time was spent sharing stories than taking pictures.  We’ll take those pictures with Mom today and add them to the growing “library” of memories in our family’s dropbox folder.

Wishing you all joy-filled moments and memories to treasure today and throughout the days to come.  Happy Holidays!

     Our thoughts shape who we are.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

find joy

Grateful for the moments…

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There have been so many moments this past week that have reminded us to find Joy.  See the joy and live the joy, regardless of the circumstances.  Thankfully, we were able to find some in nearly every instance and happening.  While “change” was definitely a huge part of our week,  maintaining the routine for Mom’s sake proved a bit challenging at times.  However, even with things being a bit up in the air and the routine slightly out of sync for a few days, we all managed well and thankfully, at the end of each day, the smiles, thank you’s and I love you’s continued to fill the air.

 

a smile

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There’s generally a smile — as the day begins and again as the day ends. Some days the smiles are bigger and her face and eyes light up with such a sweet and delightful energy.  But those days are becoming fewer and definitely farther apart.  Alzheimer’s is taking that away too.  She slips a little further into the forest every month.  It’s hard to gauge how far sometimes as there are flickers of lucidity… moments of being “all present” that bless us with an all too brief glimpse at the Mom we all know and love — and will continue to love.

Mom, your light continues to “glow” albeit a bit dimmer as your Alzheimer’s   progresses.  We reflect on moments, experiences, your growing up years and friendships past and present.  There are days your smiles are much broader as the memories flood and bring joy to your heart.

You gave us perfect examples of:

  • Family first.
  • Service.
  • Work Ethic.
  • Education.
  • Art.
  • Play.

These were and are all important components in our lives.  You set a wonderful example for us – and we are truly blessed to call you Mother.  Thanks for being our light for all these years and guiding our paths… your gentleness, sweet smiles, thoughtfulness never cease to amaze me even on the darkest of days when your light seems to go a little dimmer.