Saturday, June 21, 2008
It is day 7 on our trip of new experiences for my 9 year old granddaughter and visiting friends and old haunts of my 85 year old mother. Mother is doing ok...her legs are bothering her (not to my surprise). She has a serious case of arthritis in one knee that has caused disfigurement and pain for years now. She has never said anything to her doctor which is something we need to change when we get home.
Traveling is hard on anyone but having a 9 year old along is a real blessing. She keeps us from dwelling on hurting feet and bowel habits, and negative conversation that seems to creep in with the elderly. Seeing the sights through the eyes of this sweet child is healing for us both.
Today, mother will be with friends for the day and Jenna and I will see the first oil well in the country. We'll ride a train for a tour of the area and spend money on souveniers for her memorybook. Ah....vacations are great!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Time is getting short and 48 hours from now, we should be at my daughter's, the first leg of our trip. I'll be taking my mother, and picking up my granddaughter, for a 1600 mile one-way journey, with lots of interesting stops in between!
I'm taking my computer, but the signal may be spotty. So, please forgive me in advance if I am late in posting...or don't get to post at all. I'll be in touch!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The computer is an awesome tool. With the click of a mouse, you can visit foreign places, order a birthday gift, or write letters. But first, you must learn to use the computer. For older people, this can be especially challenging.
Two of the more popular programs used by many people are Word and Excel. Now, for those of us who learn better by visual teaching rather than text, an online tutorial is available for both Word and Excel. In Pictures began as a research study with a goal to make it easier for people to learn how to use the computer. The tutorials are uncomplicated pictures that show exactly what to do. Best of all, In Pictures programs are FREE!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
In a few days I will be leaving with my mother on a two week "vacation". I alternate from excitement, because I love to travel and am thrilled to be going back "home" for a visit, to dread, when I think of the work and situations we will get ourselves into. I am the only driver, the only physical labor( suitcases in and out, etc.) and the only interpreter between great grandma 85, and great grandchild 9. Great Grandma has hearing problems as well as processing issues in the brain. So this should be an interesting trip! All kidding aside, I know this is the right thing to do. Life is good.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
As each day goes by, I think about what options we have if my mother's health declines or just what the best living arrangement is for her. Wealthy aging parents in good health don't pose such a problem...not that mother is a problem. But things need to be seen as they are. Reality is often hard to swallow.
In my mind, I have planned for everything. Financially, we are limited to the size of our home or what we can afford for long term care, should that become necessary.
We don't talk about it all the time, but several times, Mom has voiced her greatest fear, that of running out of money. This is typical of the elderly, but I try to reassure her that as long as I am livng, she will be cared for.
Like many others, my faith keeps me strong.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Improvements in health care and lifestyles mean that more of us are living longer than ever before. But with that bonus of extra years also comes worries for many of us about the natural reductions in our abilities that occur as we age.
Most of us can accept that our physical abilities decline with age, even beginning at a fairly young age (yes, you're only 41, but your teenage son will probably outrun you). What remains a source of stress is that our mental abilities will also diminish as we get older.
The most immediate sign of the apparent "decline" is when we find we can't remember things. Whether we're 35 or 65, when we begin to notice lessened memory power, it's often stressful and possibly frightening. I know! This is the situation my mother is in.
The reality, of course, is that we all forget things, regardless of our age. As a teenager there were homework assignments or promises to parents that slipped out of your mind just as easily as the name of that colleague your saw at lunch yesterday. The difference is that back then you thought it no big deal, while now you're sure it's a sign that old age has you in its grips.
Experts say that for most people the decline in memory is actually very gradual and usually isn't obvious until age 70 or later. And simple memory loss is not necessarily a sign of dementia. While dementia does cause memory loss, it also includes declines in cognitive and intellectual function such as comprehension, judgment, learning capacity and reasoning.
So while having some trouble remembering doesn't mean you're slipping into senility, if it is something you're finding increasingly troublesome, you might consider ways to improve memory.
Good starting points are eating a healthy diet, staying physically active and getting plenty of rest. All can help combat memory loss while helping you feel and function better overall.
Mental health experts also advise that memory can be improved and preserved through training and practicing of memory skills. There are numerous books, and even computer programs, with exercises to improve memory. Learning a new skill, like cooking or chess, is another way to challenge and strengthen your mind.
But, if memory issues are truly bothering you, consider consulting a counseling professional. A counselor specializing in aging can offer diagnostic tests, as well as techniques, strategies and advice to make memory loss less of an issue in your life.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I recently came across an article in the Times Leader about a group called the Working Caregiver Initiative. This group has banded together to organize a workplace and community project intended to provide education, information, resources and solutions on elder care issues to the working caregiver. My only disappointment is that the contact numbers don't show area codes, leaving me to believe this is a local organization. Even so, caregivers who come across this website should be able to call one of these participants and receive whatever information and resources they can. Our local areas offer support in many different ways, but if offered online, please complete your contact information. It could mean so much.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Mom has been having more periods of confusion as well as the failure to recall nouns in everyday conversation. Time and days are becoming more illusive for her also. This morning I brought up the subject again of having the doctor go ahead and order the MRI and other tests that may help in a diagnosis.
In a previous post, I reported on brief testing done at the memory clinic of our local hospital. At that time, the doctor reading the results felt enough concern that he suggested the full battery of tests to understand what was happening to her and, if it was Alzheimer's, possibly slow things down with the proper medication. At first, Mom was receptive to the idea. Then, because a friend suggested they take a "memory class", she wanted to fore go the tests until a later time, if at all.
Well, the class never happened and I think the time for testing has come. Her regular doctor's appointment is the first week in July. When I eased into the subject this morning, she was agreeable and said yes, she would do anything. I don't want to force her...some people may not want to know their future. Especially if that future includes memory loss.
Mother and I will be away for two weeks before her doctor's appointment, having the time of her life, I hope. We'll be seeing old friends, relatives and familiar places for what will surely be the last time in my mother's life. Traveling is becoming a hardship for her, but I feel this may well be the last gift of this type I can give her that she will enjoy...and hopefully, remember.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Being married to a fire safety inspector has it's interesting points. Not that my husband himself is not interesting, but certain aspects of his work shed some light on MY interests...and provide content for this blog!
On our recent trip to northwest Georgia, we stopped at a chain restaurant for breakfast. The omelets are delicious, the coffee acceptable, and the atmosphere,second to none. Yes, I love going to that area of the country because the people are extraordinary. They are so welcoming and friendly. Acceptance is the norm, not rejectance. Doesn't that make sense? I like being accepted no matter what I'm wearing, no matter how I talk, no matter the state my license plate is from. The people in the state of Georgia where we vacation, are more than friendly. They treat us as family.
Fire Inspector that he is, on leaving the restaurant, my husband stated quietly to me that the entrance door needed repair. He would have given a citation in our state because the door did not open easily (evidenced by my 3 attempts to leave the restaurant)! And in this case, I understand why he would have served a citation.
Without sufficient strength, it was HARD to open the exit door! It took three attempts on my part to get out of the building!! The older members of the family (88 and 89) walked though the doors held open but this situation is an evident hazard!
My in-laws do not have the strength to open such a door normally, let alone in the event of a fire or other situation. If they were alone, instability would stop them in their tracks!
While I love the place and the people, I now worry about their safety in the event of a fire. I have to work on letting them know.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I'm back! Sorry to have been away from the blog so long. My aircard had spotty coverage for most of the time away. Unfortunately, once I could connect to begin a post, I would lose the signal!
My in-laws did well on the trip. I'm sure they were tired out, as is to be expected at their ages! Most older people wouldn't have attempted what they did. And I must say, they were game for any suggestion. I'll follow up in more detail in subsequent posts about some of the situations we found ourselves in and how they we handled them. Thanks for following along!