Aftergiving Caregiving Sharing and Christianity

If you follow my blog you know that I am a 40 something, Sandwich generation caregiver to my mom Grace who suffers from mixed dementia.As I have mentioned before,her old church friends still visit her on Sundays and the deacons from her church bring her communion.This is a nice gesture because nowadays the elderly are forgotten and written off and in some countries euthanized.

I joke about me being a Vulcan like Spock (RIP Leonard Nimoy). Like Spock,I tend to rationalize situations, because you can not argue with dementia patients. Their reasoning is gone. If you argue, like I use to do early on in the care giving game, you’ll get chronic migraines and submit to stress eating.In my case stress cooking.

The past two Sundays mom’s  friends didn’t stop by. They are both elderly gentlemen and I was hoping they hadn’t taken ill or worse.

I called their church today, and I learned that one of them had lost his wife to illness and he hadn’t even had her memorial service yet. I was so glad that I had saved his number on my phone .I called and he answered right away. At first he said I had the wrong number then I reminded him that I’m Grace’s daughter the one that cooks and gives him gumbo or BBQ  to take home. He surprised me by saying that he had been wanting to call me and my husband because we are always so nice when he comes by and he felt like we were part of his family.I was surprised by that. I was even more surprised that he said he was alone and his kids bring food by but no one was staying with him during this time. I was shocked because he has many children and grandchildren that he has raised and supported financially  and not one of them could stay with him at least until he had the memorial next week? My daughter  who is a young adult was shocked and told me she  would visit him and go with me to his wife’s memorial. .He asked if we  would come to the memorial and to  please stay for  the family dinner because  we are  his family too. He said he felt alone and couldn’t believe how much he had to do as far as planning by himself.

Enter after giving. When care giving ends the hospice nurses are gone and your relatives don’t understand the stages of grief.I explained to the deacon that I went down that road in my 30’s when my grandma died. The only comment Ii got from one of my siblings was “At least she left YOU a house” Well yeah I took care of her and you visited like twice a year.I cursed her out repented later and went on planning the funeral.My mom was diagnosed with dementia while grandma was sick so I really planned everything alone with the exception of one cousin who helped out. The deacon knew my grandma and said he had no idea I went through that.

See sharing your past hurts when others are in similar situations helps. They know you aren’t blowing smoke you really can relate to them.I don’t want sugary talk and hugs when I hurt I want the real deal and some comfort from a sincere person.

Since I am a Christian that is what is so cool to me  about Jesus. He experienced hurt,suffering and rejection. I can relate to him because when I pray he understands. He’s not floating on a cloud somewhere untouched by my pain, he gets it.

The deacon said he was glad that God put it on my heart to call him and I made his morning. I was having a bad morning myself but I felt better after I called him. funny how that works isn’t it?

For more encouragement for caregivers  you can read my books of  short stories for free on Kindle on this link

Caregiving Bloopers

Caregivging , Chardonnay,pinot noir and Cruise ships Oh My!

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As the holidays approach I have mixed emotions on what to expect from Mom during the festivities.(Content repost from my blog on caregiving.com)

A few weeks ago we hosted an epic baby shower for my son and his girlfriend. I considered it a dress rehearsal for the upcoming holiday season.

With my new addiction to Pinterest and vintage shabby chic decor (see how I made them on my website), I think I went over board on the decorations.

Unfortunately decorating too early confused Mom into believing the candy table was part of our luxury buffet on a cruise ship. I am not making this up.

I came downstairs to hear Mom calling my husband “Captain” and asking where the other guests were. My husband over did the role play and put on his chef hat that I had bought him a few years ago. So I played along and told her I was the event planner and I wasn’t quite done with the decorations. To make her take a nap we told her the ship was departing soon and to go back to her cabin.

diapercakeangieholmesThe next day she thought it was her birthday and was going toward the gift table to open the baby shower presents. I told her we had to wait until the guests arrived which was a few days from then. I had paper lanterns, shabby chic bottles and diaper cakes that looked like real cakes so it made it worse. Maybe I should have made a Depends diaper cake for her? That’s a picture of the diaper cake to the right.

I started thinking of Mom as Mrs. Haversham from the Dickens novel, Great Expectations, because every day Mom visited the buffet table until the actual day of the baby shower. I almost started wondering if I had actually had the baby shower already myself but the clocks weren’t stopped.

The day of the shower Mom thought it was her birthday again because all of our old friends were there. It was at least 60 people. The mom-to-be made out pretty good.

Mom kept eating cupcakes at every turn and tried to leave a few times. For Thanksgiving I will be prepared. She probably will take my drumstick off my plate again though. She had a good time and even played Baby Shower Bingo and Baby Lotto. The guests got pretty competitive though with the Mardis Gras game I made up. Everyone wore beads and if someone said “baby” you take their beads. Mom told me it was nice that everyone came so sparkly and dressed up. I didn’t explain it was part of the game. So all in all it was a good time and it was a great dress rehearsal for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We made it through Thanksgiving. At one point she got a hold of my dessert wine instead of her punch. Alzheimer’s pills and dessert wine are an interesting mix. Please don’t leave the spiked punch around dementia sufferers.Just don;t.

I have learned not to decorate too early or I will be subject to being Julie from the “Love Boat” again along with the hubby portraying Captain Stubing.

Until next time, me hearties. Keep calm and I hope your ships stay afloat with smooth sailing for the holidays. Also if you know a caregiver that needs hope this holiday season my Funny yet Inspirational book “The Fruits of the Spirit for Family” caregivers is available on Amazon.

Dementia Dogs Diplomas and Design

Walking the neighborhood with mom

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.

 

 

 

 

Gift exchanges,bad dogs and lawn chairs is it just my house?

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)

Outlaws dementia and chickens. Some family stories are lost in translation.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

What is this Empty Nest I hear about ? Advice to parents don’t make your house too comfy. Start now people before it’s too late.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Caregiver Canine Couture What’s in my caregiver closet and why should you care?

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.