Whose Birthday?

So my birthday falls on the first of this month and this year it was a special one so my family gathered around me and bought Swiss Chalet for supper and an ice cream cake.

Grandma was upstairs when I arrived and she never said anything which I was anticipating.  We ate supper which she thought was great.  We held off on cake because my brother had to go out to work for an hour and a half after supper so when he got back we did the cake thing.  That’s when she was surprised it was my birthday.  She cornered my mom to ask if she’d gotten me a card and was relieved when my mom had informed her that she had.  I get the feeling that this will probably be my last birthday with her in attendance.

Four days after mine, my brother celebrates his.  We moved it from Friday to Sunday celebrating and the same thing happened.

Yesterday we celebrated my nephew’s fourth birthday and it pretty well played out the same way except that my other brother was there with his wife and kids.  Apparently she was quite familiar with them upon their arrival–knew they belonged there.  She had gone downstairs by the time I arrived so I didn’t see her until suppertime.  She stood (while we waited for pizza to arrive) next to me asking questions.  She asked me who a number of people were including my nephew, the birthday boy.  She called me her dictionary which, I think, is better than Millie!

She wasn’t even sure of her age.  She was talking about being 84 or 85 or 93 but she wasn’t sure which.

A number of things have happened over the course of two weeks that show that she’s not herself anymore. She couldn’t find her purse and she had put it in a drawer, she talked about “that guy upstairs” and asked if he had a girlfriend less than a day after he asked him why he lived at the house when he has a great wife at home.  He reminded her that he and his wife had not been together for almost a year and she said that she was talking about ‘his girlfriend’.  (I apologized to him for missing the wedding!)

She doesn’t clean or do housework, she doesn’t wash unless she’s told to and she can’t tell time.  She looks at her watch and then she looks at the wall clock and then she asks what time it is.

A mere shell of who she used to be.  A woman who was so dedicated to her church and, more so, the church choir that she would go out to church on a weekday and fix choir gowns.  She would be there ahead of everybody on a Sunday morning and put everyone’s folders together with music and bulletins.  When she wasn’t there, which was rare, the choir practically fell apart.  I was a member of that choir for so many years.

I’m not sure why I’m nostalgic about that today but it’s the right day anyway.

My mom has to meet with the CCAC coordinator again because she now has a new one.  This system is ridiculous.

I like a lot of things the old way!

It is another long weekend and the gang is away.  The last long weekend they will be away until next summer.  I know I’ve said this all summer but this one probably really truly be grandma’s last up at the trailer.  She’s really not doing so hot… on so many levels.  Her walking has become more staggered and it doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is when she becomes more confused.  Often it was related to “sundowning” but that too has passed.

I went up yesterday for my usual long weekend day trip and she was okay when I got there, knew who I was but an hour later during lunch, she asked “what’s that little girl eating?” about my daughter!  We’d all tucked into ham/cheese/tomato on kaiser rolls which my daughter doesn’t eat so we were in the process of making her some KD.  I guess the big deal with that is she knows my daughter and I.  She might mix up our names but then my great-grandmother was also extremely good for that with no other signs of dementia.  So we teased “little girl” about that for the remainder of the afternoon.  Well…

Karma is a B!#$h!!  Grandma insisted we go into town for supper.  So off we went at 4:00 and we ended up at McDonald’s.  The seating was a bench seat with a table for 4 flanked by 2 tables for 2.  Chairs ran the opposite sides (standard seating for any McDonald’s).  There were 2 trays for the 5 of us and my dad was ahead of me with the first.  I heard her ask, as I approached the table, where the 3 missing people are.  Guess who’s coming to dinner!  Your guess is as good as ours was.  After supper, I went back up and got an ice cream cone and on my way back they were all laughing.  Turns out that I had magically transformed into “Millie” again, a woman she hasn’t seen for years that she grew up with. 

So the tables turned and I was endlessly tortured about this.  It also didn’t help that when I got into the backseat of the truck, ice cream cone in hand, flanked by grandma on my right and my daughter on my left, that grandma grabbed the roll of paper towels, ripped off a section and set it across my lap!!!

Thank goodness we were only back at the trailer for a half hour before I had to go… it’s not the teasing per se, it just gets really tough sometimes.  I was glad, this one time, to tuck tail and run.

Mom’s not having any better a day today according to her texts. 

I do believe that this will be her last.

Tour #1…

The tour itself wasn’t so bad.  I’d supervised a group of PSW students there several years ago so I’d been there.  It was more for my mom.

But… it’s still different, more emotional, when you’re looking at it as a loved one’s final home.  Despite knowing she’d be in excellent hands (and might be happier for a short time when she started engaging with those her own age and involves herself in activities), it’s still tough.  You picture yourself visiting her there thereby spending more time there yourself.  There’s also the knowledge that she’d be in the locked unit for dementia and, yes, this unit looks the same but what will it be like to visit her there?  Can we still take her out of that unit to the cafe or are we stuck on the inside?

The last short while she hasn’t been too bad but it’s always right there, under the surface (of course).  My other brother was over Sunday with the girls and she wasn’t upstairs for quite a while, then came up later in the afternoon.  She had to ask my brother’s name and who the girls were.  She seemed okay for a while before she started to falter again.

Her deafness doesn’t allow her to keep up with conversations either and if you mention it she says there’s nothing wrong with her hearing.  We also figure that she’d forget to put her hearing aids in anyway if she did have them.

So, now I need to book a few more tours.

Adult to Child…

Dementia and all it entails takes a grown, experienced adult and whittles them down to the child they once were. 

Grandma continues to decline.  She’s back at the trailer and was surprised when my daughter and I showed up yesterday.  At least she didn’t ask how we got there.

She rarely knows where she is anymore.  A few nights ago they move they were watching a movie and it ended.  She asked “where do I go?”.  She was directed downstairs but still came up a short time later surprised that all her stuff was downstairs and once she got her bearings she walked up the stairs again to see if it was still the same place and if those stairs led her there. 

On Friday, she came upstairs with her suitcase ready to go to the trailer.  My mom reminded her that she had to go get her hair done first.  She came up a second time (this time in time to go to her hair appointment) and brought her suitcase! My mom went through it after she’d taken grandma to the hairdresser and she hadn’t packed enough clothing.  She had also packed two toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste.  She doesn’t think she even brushes her teeth anymore. 

She also had to tell her the other day to have a wash and asked if she needed one.  She is no longer performing Activities of Daily Living. 

I finally made a few phone calls and mom and I go for our first LTC facility tour next Sunday at 10:30 a.m.  Will set up a few more. Once place only does them Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 p.m.  Doesn’t help when I’m working.  That one might have to wait until the end of the month when I’m on vacation.  Have to discuss others so we can get as many tours in as possible. 

It’s a long, daunting process and difficult when it’s a loved one and you need that care to continue from those who know what they’re dealing with.

Downhill Slide

It’s been a week and a half and there is much I have seen and been told. 

Grandma doesn’t know days of the weeks or even times of the year.  Her short-term memory is fading even faster now. 

My parents took her to the trailer yesterday, for the day, so they could cut the grass and water the flowers, etc. 

She was upset because the neighbour was there and felt he should be at work; she wondered if he was retired now.  My mom told her it was Saturday.

Then she was upset by the kids being up there and riding around on their bikes, walking by, etc. and felt they should be in school.  My mom once again told her it was Saturday (for starters).  A short while later she once again seemed angry about the kids not being in school.  My mom then explained that it was July and the kids don’t go to school in July.  Grandma wanted to know when they would be going to school.  When told September she got angry and said they should be in school.

I know that even in 30’s and 40’s they did not go to school in summer.  They may have gone from 9-4 but it was still September to June, or so I believe.

She will ask the same questions and can be told the same things repeatedly.  I know it’s unfortunate for me to have to watch it but it’s sad for the kids to have to see it.  My daughter is old enough to understand better but my nieces and nephew are not. 

I got to spend fourteen years of my life with my great-grandma which were wonderful.  My daughter, nearly sixteen years with hers.  To the little ones, she may be a distant memory only.

Bad to Worse…

So even though Grandma wasn’t too bad the first day (and the day I was there), things progressively got worse as the weekend went on.  They did not stay the extra day.

She once again latched on to my mom and I think she’s starting to lose the memory of my daughter and I.  My mom seems to be the mainstay in her memory.  She no longer has the ability to know the days of the week or even the times of the year.  Monday my daughter texted to say that Grandma thought my dad was at work.

Her nights became worse and then when they told her after lunch yesterday they were going home, she sat on the couch with her purse and looked through it 4 times.  But never said what she was looking for.

When they arrived at the house, I was there and the first through the door was the pug, followed by Grandma who said that the little dog had just thrown up in the driveway (it was the Golden!).  Then she asked me if my little one had been at the trailer with them.

It’s as though she’s going downhill at lightening speed now.  And her memories of me and my daughter are slowly going with it.

Even my mom said yesterday that she’s going to have to go to a home sooner than later.  I agree but will continue to speak quietly to her about that.  It will be quite the transition for my mom as well!

Will continue to post.

Well mom insisted on taking her to the trailer again for the long weekend!

The first morning, she managed to miss a step and fell.  She hurt her back and she skinned her elbow.  In so many ways it’s like looking after a child.  My mom had used some gauze and fixed it up before I arrived but I talked my mom into getting some non-stick pads (always the nurse) to use because it had bled through.

Before I changed it, I kept watching the blood seep through the thin gauze and grandma saw me.  She told me what had happened and then said that she’s getting old.  I told her we all are really and that she has to be careful.  I didn’t tell her that maybe she should think about a cane or a walker to help her out with these things.

She had a pretty good night I heard.  She wasn’t too disruptive.  Maybe because they have A/C up there and they cooled it down?  We didn’t let her have the cup of tea she’d wanted with supper and she hardly drank anything yesterday (at least while I was there) though with the heat that’s not wise.  My mom gave her a glass of water and kept checking it but she would only sip it.  With a back injury, maybe she didn’t want to drink too much so she wouldn’t have to try to manipulate her way to the bathroom too often.

I hope that she has a good time up there.  We keep wondering how many times it will be her last.  It’s not a call we make.  We can only do our best to look after her while she’s here.

She’s still behaving the same with the Golden.  Poor guy.  One minute she’s feeding him treats and the next minute she’s grabbing his nose and cursing at him.

My uncle now understands where her mental state is at… it’s always shocking.

Until next time…


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