There are Angels Among Us

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Angels are everywhere. I am not talking about the ones with big feathery white wings and a glistening halo, although the angel I am thinking about probably has wings and a halo in her closet.

We have been very blessed to have some wonderful women help my parents. They were hired to help my mom over three years ago and as it turns out, they are now helping both of my parents. We are lucky and we know it.

The other day my mom called me with such excitement in her voice. To be honest, I was prepared for her to tell me that dad thought he was in another foreign country but instead she told me that dad was going to a baseball game! OK?

I was reminded that the SEC baseball tournament is in Hoover this week and Alabama was playing. Peaches, the night sitter, watched baseball with daddy the night before and heard  him say how much he wished he could go see Alabama play. The next morning Peaches asked if my father could go to the baseball game with her. You would have thought she had given my dad the greatest gift in the world! Of course my mom said yes!

It was a double gift because it meant that mom got a break too! Maybe that is the real reason mom was so excited.

Now keep in mind that Peaches is the night sitter and had been with my parents all night. Most nights are quiet and fortunately that night was quiet but she had still worked a twelve hour shift AND now she is returning in a few short hours to take my dad to a baseball game! Who does that?

I immediately felt guilty because he is my dad and the thought of taking him to a baseball game NEVER crossed my mind! As a matter of fact, my mind immediately thought of all the barriers that they would encounter at the Hoover Met. Where would they have to park? How far will he have to walk? She cannot drop him off and park the car because what if he wanders off? What about the steep stairs in the stadium? What about when he has to go to the bathroom? What would I do with him when I have to go to the bathroom? What is Peaches thinking???

Clearly she is an angel and angels don’t worry about these silly things. Peaches is a wonderful christian woman and you know this about her after spending a little time with her. She is calm and patient even when there is a storm brewing in my dad’s head. She has a way about her. She can calm him down when no one else can and obviously she can take him to a baseball game for almost EIGHT hours. If that is not an angel, I do not know who is.

I am so glad there are angels around us. I am so glad that all of our sitters offer their own gifts to my parents. Peaches is the calm. Janice is the laughter. Marcella is the protector and Roxanne is the energy. What more could we ask for?

I cannot think of a thing.

 

Bad Moon Rising

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The song  “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival has a whole new meaning when you live with a loved one with dementia! I remember hearing people say “It IS a full moon” after a crazy day. I am sure I have said the same thing after a hectic day with four small children. I might even say it now that my four children are no longer small.

Some people in the medical field will tell you that the labor and delivery floor is busier when there is a full moon. I think the same thing is true when you live with a person with dementia!

If a full moon promises crazy behavior then we were not disappointed this weekend. Dad traveled quite a bit this weekend. At one point he was in Tuscaloosa, then Mobile and today, France! Not only did he “travel” but his furniture traveled with him. AMAZING!

I took the time to Google the effects of a dementia patients and a full moon. Most studies. . and YES there are studies on this idea, believe that there is no correlation between a full moon and the human behavior. Alan M. Beck of Purdue University feels differently. Beck observed increased anxiety, wandering and aggression in many dementia patients. This is what we see in my dad during a full moon.

Whatever you believe, I think it is helpful to know that the next full moon is June 20, 2016. My sister and I will plan accordingly for this moon event. Note to self: Buy more wine! At the very least, we will make sure we are busy on June 20th!

 

I Never Liked Roller Coasters

 

 

 

885050What a day! My ordinary Tuesday morning started with a pounding headache that managed to out live four extra strength Excedrin and three ibuprofen tablets. I should have known my day was going to be a roller coaster.

My sister and I have learned that my parents have their own clock and they really think everyone should be on “their time-table.” You can tell them they have an appointment at two and they will interpret that as any time after two but before three. The appointment time is more like  a first offer rather than a real-time set aside for them. We NEVER schedule anything before 10 in the morning. Never! There are so many things that can happen to totally throw off their schedule.

For example, my dad has a totally new sleep schedule now. He seldom sleeps though the night. A few nights ago he woke up at four in the morning to direct a funeral in the living room. Before that, he woke my mom up to tell her she had to get out of bed or she would freeze to death. And then there was the night he woke up insisting that the building was on fire. Obviously all of these spontaneous activities interrupt my mom’s sleep as well. Sleepless nights mean naps during the day!

The sun is up and now it is time to Rise and Shine . . . all with a little help from the sitters! Dad used to get up early all the time! He woke up and was ready to start his day. On the weekends we were often roused from our sleep by the head light of the Hoover vacuum cleaner. On school days dad would pretend to play a bugle in the hall. Time to get up and greet the day! Now dad would rather pull the covers up and stay in bed. The sitters help my mom get up and get dressed all while encouraging dad to get up and get moving! Some days he is willing to cooperate and other days the sitters will gang up on him and two of them will drag him out of bed. Rise and shine whether you want to or not!

Another activity that can throw off the early morning appointments is breakfast. Every day starts with a good breakfast. As a child mom would make a full breakfast and we would all sit at the table in the den and eat together. Now my parents still enjoy a nice breakfast but sometimes it is closer to lunch than the standard breakfast time.

Today, I was determined to get my parents up and downstairs to listen to the Junior League choral group. I told them they had to be downstairs by 10:30! This allowed time for them to be late and still be in the gazebo room by 10:45. Believe it or not, it worked and they even saved me a seat.

I quickly realized that dad was not on the top of his game today. I mentioned that he did not have his hearing aids on and he told me that it was ok because it was hard to hear with his helmet on anyway. Hmmmmm. Wonder what kind of helmet he thought he was wearing. I am going to go with football because there were several other football related comments made during the day.

The choir was great! They sang so many great songs from Big Band era. There was a lot of toe tapping and head nodding going on in the gazebo room. So I mentioned a roller coaster… This was not music from my era but it was music that spoke to me. I found my eyes tearing up as they sang about younger men and the way life used to be. I looked at my dad out of the corner of my eye and I could tell he was not really tuned into the music. I wanted to see my dad as that younger man engaged in the world around him. I tried pointing out the ladies in the choir that I knew he might be familiar with. I was trying to help him make some type of connection. Trying to help him find himself.

Don’t get me wrong. I think he enjoyed the choir and the music but it was like someone took the sparkle out of his eyes. As we were leaving the gazebo room I felt like he had something to say to me. I asked him if something was wrong and he hesitated but then told me there was nothing wrong. It was time to go. After all the choir was going to sing at the football game next!??

It breaks my heart when the sparkle goes out of his eyes. I am not sure he is sad although I know he is frustrated with himself and US from time to time. I hurt for my mother because she gets frustrated with him even when she knows he cannot help himself. This is definitely the part about loving your soul mate through sickness and through health.

And I love both of them even with a headache that stays with me on this roller coaster.

But man am I tired . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Spy Something . . .

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I never know what I might get when I go see my parents. I know that my mom will be dressed for the day (most of the time, if it is after 10am) and lately, I know that I will find my dad asleep in a chair. But what I do not know is will my dad be “with the program” or will he be “goofy.”

Today my sister picked up my mom and took her to a doctor appointment. That left my dad at home with a sitter. This was a good deal for my dad because we knew the appointment would be a long one and after all, who wants to sit and wait at a doctor’s office!

Dad was right where I thought he might be . . . asleep in a chair covered up with a blanket. After I made a loud entrance so that he would wake up, he greeted me with a big smile and a familiar hello. All was good in our world.

So we had a quick visit. He dozed and I puttered about. He finally woke up and finished dressing for the day and then he asked me the strangest question.

“Do you like my black hair?” he asked.

Hmmm. Are we playing a game or does he really think his full head of gray hair is black? I just laughed and told him I thought his hair looked great but it was not black. Instead his hair was a beautiful soft shade of gray. A gray that we can all hope to achieve one day. He smiled and asked me if it was really gray.  He made a slight turn and looked again in the mirror. I wonder what he saw? Was he seeing my 87 year old dad or was he seeing a handsome man in his 30’s with smooth jet black hair. I guess he spied something black while I spied something gray.

Regardless of the color, he is handsome as ever and today he was my hero again. He might have been a bit goofy. After all, he told me that he had been looking for the fleece vest I gave him to wear (yes it is May and he wears fleece!). He told me that the vest was in the closet at his house and he is never there. Good thing I found the vest . . . It is the perfect color. Gray! Just like his hair.

I spy something gray. I wonder what my dad spies?