Today was not a good day for Rosie. It’s sad to see that mind is declining so rapidly. She does not understand and cannot repeat back anything that is said to her. Even one or two words escape her immediately. We see her frustration as she fights for words to express herself.
I’m cautiously optimistic that the new day care place she will attend next week will help her through the interactions with some amazing women who work and visit there. We know she needs more interactions.
We pray tomorrow is a better day.
Last night after dinner Rosie came to me with a tangerine in her hand. She had procured it at Bingo earlier in the day and she was unable to peel it so she asked me for help. I peeled the tangerine for her and she ate it with her usual “yummy food sounds”. She announced that she was going to bed and disappeared to her upstairs bedroom only to reappear a few minutes later with a KitKat bar which she apparently also confiscated from Bingo earlier in the day. She handed it to me and asked me to open it. I told her that I would not because it was candy and (because of her severe diabetes) she could not eat it. She offered to hold on to it and take it back upstairs but I declined her offer explaining again that she can’t have candy because of all the sugar. She gave me a look of disbelief mixed with some confusion, turned around and mumbled under her breath “I didn’t know it was candy; I just thought it was chocolate”
In recent months, we have noticed that Rosie wears the same things every day, despite the fact that she has a closet and dresser full of clothes. I also noticed that after taking a shower, she put on the same clothes she’d been wearing for several days. Something had to change.
So, now every time she’s in the shower, it becomes my challenge to quickly remove her worn clothes from her bedroom and lay out something else for her to wear. This effort has backfired once or twice when she decided she “couldn’t find her pants” and came out of her room without pants on. Luckily, my husband has not been subjected to this sight.
As with all challenges we have faced over the past 2 years, we will adjust.
As we take it day by day with Rosie, there are good days and there are less than good days. We make the best of every day.
Yesterday I found an old photo album from a trip I took to Germany back in 1989. Rosie asked if she could take it upstairs to her room to look at the picture. After a stern warning from me not to shred the pictures (a new habit she has) and her promise not to do so, she went upstairs to look at the pictures.
Still a bit apprehensive I checked in on her and as promised she was just looking at the pictures. About 30 minutes later she came into my office to return the photo album. She handed it to me and said “the lady downstairs said I could look at this and I want to give it back”. I asked “what lady downstairs?” Her response “the one that lives here”. When I tried to explain that I was the lady who gave her the photo album downstairs she gave me a blank stare, handed me the book and walked out.
About 30 minutes after that she came back into the office with a photo collage comprised of pictures of her, me as a little girl and my step dad. She started to explain that the little girl was her daughter and that one picture was of her first day of school. I pointed at the girl and said “that’s me, I’m your daughter”. She looked at the picture very intently and said “I don’t remember you ever being that short” …… #OurLifeWithRosie
After hearing Rosie talk about how one of our neighbors who we do not know, got out of his truck to hug her and offer her a ride I am no longer allowing her to walk alone.
I feel guilty because I don’t want to go walking when all I can do is think about all the productive things I could do at home. I am also feeling guilty because while we are walking I cannot have a conversation with her. Don’t get me wrong, Rosie talks non-stop, however little if anything is understandable. If I ask her to clarify something she said, the explaination is usually 5x more confusing than the original statement. I started turning on my iPhone music (no headphones) and listen to music while we are walking.
That’s all for today …. I just needed to vent. Thanks readers.
When you hear that from your child, it’s not that uncommon, but when those words come from your Mom, it breaks your heart.
Last week, Rosie decided one day to eat dinner very early, around 4 pm. That in itself is not unusual but around 7:30 pm, around the time she usually gets ready for bed, she came downstairs and said “Mommy I’m still hungry”. The words tore at my heart, not because she was hungry. That’s easily fixed. I was torn because I realized that more and more she’s looking at me as her mom as opposed to her daughter. She’s forgotten my name and my husband’s name but it doesn’t seem to dampen her spirits, so we do our best not to let it dampen ours. She has decided to take on watering plants in our vast back yard, which totally exhausted her but she was proud of the work she got done.
On Valentine’s day, she had a visit from an old beau who brought her flowers, a balloon and candy (SMH) which brought her to tears. I was happy to see she recognized him. We had to confiscate the candy and allow her one piece a day if she wants it. With her diabetes and lack of sugar self control, we cannot trust her not to OD on the candy like a 5-year old on Halloween.
Every day we find her memory leaving more and more but she continues to be interactive and seemingly happy. She’s the self appointed responsible keeper of the dogs and cat to make sure they are accounted for at all times. She doesn’t cook so we don’t have a problem leaving her alone for very short periods of time. She very confidently uses the microwave for all her food heating and we happily allow her to do as much for herself as possible. We know the day will come when she won’t be able to do things for herself any more, right now we simply enjoy her as she is.
NOTE: As always, if you or someone you know is dealing with Parenting a Parent, please feel free to share your experiences. Support is a wonderful thing and sharing is caring. When it comes to taking care of our parents, for some of us it’s not an option. If I can help someone with this blog, it’s my pleasure to do so.
We have learned that, when dealing with a parent with memory loss, you will get asked the same questions over and over again. In Rosie’s case, she brings me the same pictures every week to ask me if I know who those people are. Usually they are pictures of her, my brothers and me. Sometimes I feel a bit irritated when she brings me the same pictures again, but then I quickly remember that she’s just trying to sort things out in her mind. She also brings me the same jewelry and the same clothes to ask if I’d seen them on her before. In some ways I do envy her the ability to have all things new each and every day, but I know when I see her tears that she’s frustrated with not knowing. I ask her several times a week if she knows who I am. The answers vary from “you’re my sister” to “you’re the mommy of the house” to just plain “no”. It breaks my heart but we try to make light of it, smile and giggle with her to let her believe that not knowing is no big deal to us. We don’t ever want her to feel like she has an illness that’s robbing her of precious memories. As long as we can keep her smiling, we feel like we are winning.
Most of us, when we were young, asserted a small part of our independence by eating what we decided we wanted to eat. We have all had the peanut butter and whatever sandwich or, in my case a full school year of nothing but white bread, bologna and Miracle Whip sandwiches. It was something we could control to a certain degree.
With Rosie, it’s a bit like that except I believe she uses her food choices as her way to gain back memories. I can tell you that in her entire adult life up to now she has never ever eaten guacamole and salsa sandwiches before, but that’s what she likes now. She’s also into turkey and cheese (not too strange) with strawberry jam added. Because of her medical issues we have to control some of what she eats but as long as she’s not eating anything that would be counterproductive to her medical treatments, we allow her to do what she wants and we allow her to fix it herself.
Thankfully, she’s not interested in cooking anything or using the stove. The microwave is her friend and she uses it daily and correctly. We have learned to pick our battles, and realistically there are very few. When we do put our foot down, she’s usually cooperative and accommodating to our requests. We can only hope that things will continue to stay that way for a long while to come.
As we enter 2015, we find ourselves seeing more of a decline in Rosie’s memories but she continues to smile, joke and keep us smiling (mostly).
Recently, while at my brother’s house, she didn’t recognize him as her son and asked him out on a date. She now believes that Berlin Germany is ‘just down the street’ and that she didn’t really give birth to any of her children. These notions change from day to day and we just try to roll with the notions as they emerge.
She is active, walking on a daily basis as weather permits. She plays bingo 3 times a week and watches the news – and Let’s Make A Deal – religiously. We feed her books and magazines at every opportunity. She does enjoy reading and we know it’s a good way to keep her mind engaged.
I hope that this year this blog will engage others who want to share their experiences with parenting their parents or loved ones. I will try to bring you weekly updates and encourage questions and conversation around dementia and Alzheimer’s… Here’s to a good 2015!!
Today is October 22nd. Rosie and I just had an interesting conversation. On a daily basis we try to keep her mind in the present by taking her what our names are and who we are in relation to her. Tonight’s conversation went something like this:
Me: So, do you remember my name
Me: Do you know who I am?
Her: No, who are you?
Me: I’m your daughter
Her: No! That can’t be right. How old were you when we met?
Me: (chuckling) … You gave birth to me
Her: I’m just flabbergasted …. Are you sure?
Me: (sigh) … Yeah, I’m pretty sure :-/
These conversations are coming more and more and are very disheartening. Rosie is in good spirits, happy and smiling most of the time. That makes this situation both much easier but also somewhat more difficult. She wants so much to remember and it often brings her to tears when she hears something that she doesn’t believe AND can’t remember. This whole thing would be so much worse if she were also mean and hard to get along with. Many days she believes I’m her sister, that cool and it makes her happy. She’s also called me her mom a time or two. Since I favor her mom in some ways, that too is cool.
Right now we are doing all we can to keep her healthy, which she is, so that we can continue to keep her with us. None of us can even conceive of placing Rosie in a home. She has appointed herself the keeper of our two dogs and one cat. They love all the attention and she has purpose in keeping track of their every move. So, life is not ideal but it is certainly good.