Dec 17, 2009

I'm Hungry and the First Uh Oh of the Alzheimer's Day

I'm too...and the first UH OH of the day.............

Dorothy DeMarco
by Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

We are off to a very good start today. My mother didn't say -- I'm hungry -- until 10:03 AM.

Previously I wrote these articles:

I'm Hungry, I'm Starving

Thyroid and Alzheimer's

How We Beat Alzheimer's Incontinence -- The Solution

Communicating in Alzheimer's World

I'll tie those articles together by describing our morning.

7:30 AM
I wake my mother up to give her her medication. One thing I have to do is give her the Thyroid medication. I need to do this early because you are not supposed to eat anything for one hour after you take the medication. If you want the medication to work effectively you should follow this rule.

Once I give her the medications, I get her up to take her first pee of the day. I know we are off to a "potential" good start because Mom made it through the night without the dreaded pee pee pajama's.

I put her back in bed.

8:55 AM
I hear Mom saying-- I'm up you know. Another good sign, her voice is strong. She sounds just like she did thirty years ago.

Get Mom up. Pee.

Put her at the kitchen table. Coffee. Comics. Crossword puzzle.

Look up to the heavens. Amen.

9:20 AM
The Alzheimer's wandering syndrome takes effect -- Mom can't see me. Bobby, Bobby. I shout out, I'm right here Mom.

This is when another one of my strategic ideas helps. Get Mom on the sofa. I am at the computer in the Florida room. Mom can see me. This avoids the constant Bobby, Bobby, Bobby.

My sister will tell you. Even when she is in the kitchen with someone, Mom will start yelling Bobby if she can't see me.

Pee on the trip from the kitchen to the living room sofa. This is how you beat incontinence. Pee before its time to pee. When its time to pee its too late. My mother has not yet said, I don't need to pee today. Its early.

10:03 AM
I get up from computer to go take a pit stop. I look at Mom and smile. I am already wondering why I am not hearing those words.

Check that. She smiles back. Says, I'm Hungry. That is it. Not one single extra word.

I respond good (positive reinforcement), I'm hungry too. I say, let's go. I head out to the kitchen.

No mom. Wait a few minutes go back and I say, let's go. She asks, where are we going? In the old days I might have felt a little nutso. Now? I laugh, smile, and say -- its time to eat.

Mom says, good. Her voice is strong today. Is this going to be a good day? I had her out a couple of times yesterday. Blood test, then later in the day, brain scan. Its socialization no matter how you spell it. If I want her to stay in the world, I have to take her out into the world.

10:13 AM
Mom sits up, but can't stand up. Time for me to help her. Tip #57, let them try and do it first. Always. Let them do it. Mom walks slower than a snail. Can't always get up on her own. But no walker, and no falls. She can walk on a treadmill, so this tells me she can do it.

A week never goes by without someone -- some doctor, friend, or someone I never saw before in my life tell me I should get a walker for Mom.

Some people must think I am brain dead. I know what Mom can and can't do. I'm not going to let anything bad or horrible happen to Mom.

Read my lips -- let them do it. I'll get a walker for Mom when I know in my mind and heart she can't go without it. If you don't like this tough luck. You should do all the things that you think are necessary, and leave us to our own design.

Mom's feet are sticking to the ground. That is the best way I can describe it. She stops walking. She is stuck.

She is also telling me her legs hurt. I use this opportunity to use some real positive reinforcement -- we need to get over to the gym and get those legs some exercise. Strengthen em up. Every time my mother tells me her legs or knees hurt I say the same thing -- we need to get some exercise to strengthen them up. After years of saying this she no longer tells me no way. She agrees.

When it is time to exercise I remind Mom, the purpose is to strengthen up her legs. Instead of fighting me on this, now she usually agrees. Not all the time, most of the time.

Did I imprint in her brain the importance of keeping her legs strong through exercise? Beats me. Maybe I did, or maybe it is the stage of Alzheimer's. Either way, its not as hard as it use to be. I'll accept that.

On the way to the kitchen Mom says, dizzy a few times. She seems to be getting dizzier all the time. But, she isn't falling.

Today's breakfast menu, Fiber One cereal with a little bit of banana. I have to tell you, this cereal is really delicious.

I would like to do a commercial for General Mills and the Fiber One cereal. Imagine Mom and me hawking cereal, I bet the sales would go up. One thing for sure, at 93 years old Mom is a lot cuter than the woman that use to shout -- Where's the Beef.

Mom would shout -- cardboard no, delicious yes. ;>)

She has me convinced.

11:12 AM
First Uh Oh of the day. I notice Mom is holding her elbow like she has her arm in a sling.

I ask, elbow pain? She says terrible. Mom and I now have a way of communicating in very short bursts. I explain to Mom that we are going to take care of that right now.

Keep in mind, Mom is not going to tell me she is in pain -- she can't tell me. So I have to use my eyes all the time.

We have a medication for this. Worked like a charm the last time around. Prior to that Mom had a couple of cortisone shots over the last few years. I don't like the shots. All they do is mask the problem.

Mom is now using her little girl voice. This means pain. Big pain. We'll take care of it. I hope.

Who knows. Good day, bad day. Still to be determined.

My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer's caregiver. My mother Dorothy, now 93 years old, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. We live our life one day at a time. If you ask me, I'll tell you, I think we are doing well.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room