Walking the neighborhood with mom
Well it’s been a long road but somehow through dealing with mom’s dementia, my lack of sleep our new dog escaping every morning at 2am and other shenanigans: I finally obtained my Web /Graphic design degree.
Returning to college at 40 something was intimidating at first.That changed quickly. I ended up taking to it quite well. The younger kids in my class(kids to me if they’re in their 20’s) liked me and I tutored a few of them. I seem to have a knack for digital painting and 3d design.
I ended up being commissioned for book covers,wine labels and splash screens before I even graduated. This blog post is to encourage caregivers and other older adults. You’re never too old to go back to school. It actually is good to get away from the person that you are caring for so that don’t lose yourself. In my case, I discovered some things that I am good at that I wasn’t aware of before I went back to college .
As for caring for mom ? It’s still hard to deal with. I confide in my dog’s way too much and sometimes find myself fantasizing about euthanasia and hiring hit men on a bad day. I can’t do those things since I do believe in God and I want to go to a better place when I die. But sometimes….
I finally published my first e- book on caregiving ! That’s why I haven’t blogged in a while. I wrote a E book about dealing with dementia through humor and faith. You can read it here http://www.amazon.com/The-Fruits-Spirit-family-caregivers-ebook/dp/B00JX3IULG
I am also working on a caregiver cook book and a dog park devotional.
Well mom is eating dinner and I have to clean her room while she’s not in it .
I will go now. I encourage you, if you are a caregiver do something for yourself. Take an art class,start exercising do something you always wanted to do. You will run into obstacles but have faith that the right people will be put on your path to make it happen. As pessimistic as I can be , If I believed it and did it you certainly can.
Happy New year! I haven’t blogged in a while. The real world has a lot going on in it. Near the end of this rant I have a special PSA just for pet parents! I am so glad the holidays are over.Receiving the wrong gifts, fruit cake oh my . I ended up switching presents with my elderly mom because I think one of my relatives got our presents mixed up. I’m in early 40’s and mom is 86 so I don’t think she wears knee length silk bath robes. I traded her the robe for some pretty faux fur slipper socks that I think were intended for her in the first place. I really wanted both but I love her so we traded. Karma is in effect because the new puppy pulled on my newly traded bath robe belt when I was answering the door and it wasn’t good.
So the following is a PSA from my Facebook page that I must share if you have kids and dogs. These events happened to me yesterday so please take heed.
Public Service announcement to kids. Don’t leave open dog food out in the back yard in winter. This attracts squirrels and raccoons to the yard. This in turn causes your dog to go into attack mode and knock over lawn chairs that end up floating in the deep end of the pool causing your mom to stand in the hot tub balancing with a rake fishing for lawn chairs. Don’t make your mom fish for lawn chairs.
I am grateful that I am three weeks into my intense workout. If I had not been I know I would have fallen in the pool with the lounge chairs and my very large dog who also jumped in to attack the pool filter. See there’s always something to be thankful for. Thank You T 25 for teaching me balance. Until next time have a good night! From Shady Pines elder care and pet hotel. (nick name for my house)
If your family and friends are like mine whenever there’s a family event wedding, funeral, birth day BBQ someone will start reminiscing about things that happened. If they are tipsy or have Dementia things that MAY not have happened are now fact .These untruths are reborn and are told with more passion and descriptive imagery than the events that actually happened. This is where the dementia/memory loss sufferers at the party and the tipsy friends who are also temporary memory loss sufferers become a united front of twisted story tellers.
When my Grandpa was alive he had a saying he brought back from Oklahoma that he would say if someone was lying. “That sounds like one of those Shine Copper deals to me” After many years of confusion I finally asked him who in the heck was Shine Cooper. My mom interrupted and said it was a man who travelled in the summer with a chicken who could play songs on a mini baby grand piano. Later they found out the guy was controlling the keys somehow and had scammed people all across Oklahoma. He was pecking but not always the right notes without help. I was about 10 years old and that’s when I began to wonder where my family got these crazy stories and wondered was I adopted. My grandmother said it wasn’t true and gave me some other elaborate story that was worse than my mom’s chicken concerto story.
Over the years I’ve had my own set of crazy experiences that I occasionally talk about. My older relatives have to trump my stories sometimes and every time they tell it more is added.
Wen I was little I was at the neighborhood corner store and a man took out a gun pointed it at me and told the clerk Elaine to empty the register. Elaine was friends with my uncle Frank who worked at the San Jose Police department. The man said I am going to kill this little N word girl if you don’t. I told him to shoot me because my mom worked for criminal court and my uncle worked for the sheriff’s department. Elaine looked like Aunt Bee from the Andy Griffith show. Surprisingly she pulled a 45 out of her apron and said I was telling the truth and the guy got scared and ran. Whenever I tell that story my cousin Helen who is still alive at 91 tells her wild west bank robber story. She tells a tale of a black bank robber on a horse in Oklahoma when she was a little girl. She’s awesome and in good health still drives, gardens and travels so she can tell any story she wants to.
My poor mom however doesn’t remember that my dad passed away. At parties she says my dad is on tour with is band and she thinks he remarried because she hasn’t seen him in a long time. One day mom’s manicurist asked me how my dad could tour at such an old age. She saw my face and realized by my expression that mom had been really convincing.He did play in a band but now as I said before it’s in Heaven.
My grandmothers basement was full of old trunks, lots of rope, linen and china. I still have a lot of those things and every piece prompts a story from a visiting relative. The worst thing I found was crystalized dynamite. I made a call to the non emergency dept. and said “Hey I opened this crate at my grandmas and there is dynamite and this crystalized pile on top of it. Hello?” by the time I hung up the bomb squad and the fire dept. were in the driveway and blocked off our street. I asked mom why did she think her mom ever had such a thing. she said probably bootlegging when Oklahoma was a dry state. She said she was kidding but I think it was one of those shine Cooper Deals like Grandpa use to say.
My friends tell me I should do a stand up routine on this stuff. I just need an agent and a chicken who can play a baby grand piano .lol It would be called stories from a deranged caregiver that are so crazy they just have to be true.
I’m curious have any unbelievable events dynamite, talented chickens or other crazy stories presented themselves at your family gatherings? I ‘dl like to hear them. Just comment below.
It’s Saturday night here in Silicon Valley. I’ve been married 23 years so Saturday night isn’t a big deal. Apparently it isn’t a big deal to my young adult kids that still live here either. Um they’re both home one has his girlfriend here so I have an extra one. Oh and my 85 year old mom with dementia is here. My husband is snoring on the couch and my dog is asleep on a lounge chair by the hot tub. My dog is so about comfort. He actually took a cushion off another patio chair and put it on the lounge chair. I keep hearing other moms complaining about their houses being empty and this empty nest syndrome thing . It isn’t the case here people. I know why. Please pay attention so this doesn’t happen to you.
I bought my house when the kids were small. I wanted a smaller home but my husband said he never wanted to move again so just buy one that has everything . We got a great deal. My kids love to swim (yes some black people swim too ) , It was close to their school and just far enough where relatives couldn’t drop in uninvited and eat dinner after work like they did at my mom’s house. I loved the neighborhood . Every window has a view of mountains and Italian cypress trees. My neighbor’s are all either Italian, Vietnamese or Portuguese. They all brought me dinner or fruit the first week we moved in and we still share food with each other on holidays and when my hubby starts the grill up. I love the variety it’s great. You don’t find that anymore in most cities. The problem is my kids loved all of this too and that is why they are still here. They work and go to college but I have plans for their rooms. Instead of an empty nest I have a nest so full it needs to be remodeled. Mom moved in because she has dementia and if you have read my blog before she came with a whole set of issues that I wont go into right now.
So my first mistake was the house is close to two high schools and down the street from an assisted living home for the elderly. Both of my kids play instruments and sing. They are very popular because of this and after school everyone wants to come here and play the drums, use the recording equipment swim and relax in the hot tub. If you read my blog you also know mom’s friends from the assisted living center got out and they were even here a few times hanging out on the patio. So it isn’t just the kids friends it’s my mom’s friends too ! Oh and Rusty my dog has people friends I didn’t know about as I have mentioned before.
So yes they are in college and or working now but we still have kids coming by. The other thing is don’t be too good of a cook. Their starving student friends will come by after work or class and happen to know when dinner is. My husband makes the best BBQ. Our neighbors even bring us meat when they smell our grill so that my husband can season and cook their meat. Its so bad my neighbor next door gets on a ladder and has created a rope and crate system where he lowers whole chickens down to my husband. He also has another one where he gives treats to my dog. When we’re done we just give him his BBq back over the fence. It’s crazy.
The other thing is don’t be too motherly with their friends. They will come over expecting you to be Deepak Chopra and every time there’s a break up( like every week) you will be there after work listening to their drama and offering left overs.
One last thing don’t let them have a party at your house. It isn’t pin the tail on the donkey anymore. I can’t even go into what happened at my sons last party,but it looked like the Movie The Hangover in my backyard . We just didn’t have any live chickens or a tiger. At least I didn’t see them.
On the up side they both cook pretty well, they are very helpful to my mom and they even buy their own groceries. it could be worse. I would love to have an art room and an extra guest room but I guess it can wait. If I had extra room my mother in law would visit more often so I can definitely wait.
I am the youngest of two sisters. My oldest sister is 16 years older than I am. She is very stylish a world traveler and all around conversationalist. She is “The most interesting woman in the world”
My other sister? Well she’s 13 years older than I am very eclectic and I’ll leave it at that.Then there’s me.I am a caregiver, pet mom, real mom and wife. I dress depending on what life dictates on any given day.
Most of the time I have to walk my very large dog Rusty in the morning. He walks me most of the time. That requires pockets for baggies to hold poop, jeans or sweats and very good running shoes. I pray every morning that we don’t see cats. He is in his own little zone once he locks in on a cat. On those morning I don’t care what I look like but I always run into someone I know on those days. They look at me like I committed the fashion sin of the century. I really don’t care early in the morning at the park with dogs and squirrels what I look like. By the end of my walk I probably will have ivy in my hair and dog hair on my sweats. One of my friend’s mom’s is retired. She is always at the park that I go to early with her husband. They are in matching sweat suits and she always tells me not to let myself go. She then reminds me how cute I was in college and how tiny I use to be. Thanks a lot and good morning to you too. I really need to find another park but the dog really likes it there. My favorite bakery is over that way too.
Most days when I get home my mom who has dementia is asking where I got the large dog from.
I explain he is mine and I had him since he was a puppy .Depending on if she remembers who I am that day she tells me that I use to dress better.Yes I did before I became a caregiver and a pet mom.
On Sundays people from my mom’s church drop by to visit her. I am in my own home and I am not changing clothes because they are coming by. I am sure if Jesus were here he would be wearing comfortable sandals and shorts like me. I go to my own church early in the A.M. It’s a multi cultural church where no one cares what you have on. It’s great. On one of my grumpy days I let her friends know that. So now just one cool deacon visits her and he always laughs at how I told the others to stop caring what I had on when they came by and that at least I let them in.
So caregivers we know how hard our day is, how we have to juggle work and caring and parenting and whatever else. So if you are in pajamas or Prada you don’t owe anyone an explanation. You are awesome and doing one of the hardest jobs in the world.
I blog about caregiving to inspire other caregivers.
As a caregiver to a mom with vascular dementia I have come to the realization that, over the years, I have become sort of numb and unexcitable during an emergency. I wonder if that’s a bad thing. It seemed to work for Spock.
I hadn’t thought about it really until mom’s last ER visit. The EMT asked me if I was a nurse. I asked him why and he said because I told him all of the clinical terms for what had led up to my mom needing an ambulance that day. Instead of telling him she fainted, I said it was vasovagal syncope. He also said I was so calm and had the meds ready for the ambulance and wasn’t frantic like most people. I’ve been a part of this caregiving thing since my grandparents were alive so I think sometimes I’m so used to caregiving and experiencing emergencies it doesn’t phase me anymore.
To me it was a no brainer because she had this happen at least five times before. Her triggers for her vasovagal syncope are large crowds, too much excitement and decision making. Every time this happens we have either been out at a restaurant, a family dinner or a mall and upon getting up from either the table or the bathroom she faints. These places and events prove to be too much for her and she has a attack and loses consciousness. At first I thought she was having TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) but I have come to know the difference. If she has been sitting a long time and gets up suddenly this happens.
The scary part is right before she faints she becomes really cold, can’t talk, drools and it does seem to mimic a stroke. Bad thing for me is it takes me back to when I was 19 and my grandpa had a stroke at the dinner table. He lived a few years after that event but it was a scary experience at the time. Some attacks are worse than others and if it’s bad enough I do call an ambulance.
This year I have not taken on so much. When relatives want me to do something like babysit or drive them somewhere, I tell them I take care of mom and that’s my job right now. I really want to say in my Bones from Star Trek voice, “Damn it, Jim, I’m a caregiver not a therapist or babysitter!” I can’t add on anymore stress. My husband and I used to do way too much for people which lead to our own health issues.
Some of my relatives think I should get excited and worry like them, I guess, when they have a minor crisis. I really am not concerned when they have a babysitting issue or their boyfriend left them for the 10th time. I just listen, don’t offer to babysit anymore and hope they “Live Long and Prosper”.
I shared this from my other blog on caregiving.com http://www.caregiving.com/2013/09/am-i-becoming-a-vulcan/