My experiences while living with my mother and her Alzheimer's Disease.(her birthdate = January 2, 1925)

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Last weekend Mama kept Beverly hopping. In the middle of the night, Beverly heard Mama moving around in her room (via the monitor). She went to check on Mama, but had trouble opening her bedroom door. She discovered that Mama had moved her wicker chair in front of the door, moved her vanity dressing table away from the wall, and was standing behind the vanity with her feet in a box filled with shoes. Guess Mama did this several times last Saturday night. We never did figure out what she was trying to do or where she wanted to go. I wondered if she got turned around because Michelle and I usually leave her bedroom door open. Guess we will never know for sure what prompted her to go to all that trouble.

I had read that water and soft light might have a soothing effect on Alzheimer’s Patients. I found one of those lighted calming water fountains for Mama’s bedroom. It has several glass cylinders of various heights on the top portion. The water is pumped up the center and then spills out both sides to the other cylinders. I am not sure if Mama likes it, but all of her care givers are enjoying looking at it when we are summoned to the “Queen’s Chambers.”

I think I promised to tell you about some of the “toys” I have bought to try to keep Mama from being so bored. I found a couple of soft dolls with zippers and buttons and snaps for her to dress and undress. She will mess with them some, but usually just hugs them, gives a kiss, tells them she loves them, and then puts them down. I ordered an activity apron from the Alzheimer’s store, but she hasn’t been to keen on messing with that. Maybe later she will focus on it.

I was so excited to find an Alzheimer’s store on the Internet. I spent boo coos of bucks on fun stuff for Mama’s entertainment. The apron was one thing. They also had a wooden box with little doors on the sides and top of it. Each of the doors has a different type of latch keeping it closed. There are three compartments where we can hide things for Mama to find. She took it, looked at it, opened a few of the doors, ignored the “prize” I had hidden in it, handed it back to me, and said, “That’s nice. Here you take it.” Once again, maybe it will catch her interest later on.

Penny brought some of her daughter’s toys from her younger years. Mama was really into the sewing card for a little while. We figured it might have reminded her of the days she used to sew. Or maybe she just liked the motion of it. I think she grew bored with that after just a short while.

Penny also brought a wire structure with beads to slide on it. I think Mama messed with that a little while. When I tried to get her interested in it, she just tried to pull the wire out of the wooden frame!!

I brought some books with the flip up doors. I thought maybe she would like seeing what was hidden underneath the “doors”. I was wrong. She just did a cursory inspection of those!

I found some beads for her to string, but don’t know if anyone has had the energy to try to teach her how to use them.

Beverly’s daughter tried to teach Mama how to play with some paper dolls I found in Lake Jackson. They were a little difficult for Mama to maneuver so Beverly decided to fix them up in a notebook. She is taping down the dolls to cardstock and dressing the up in different outfits. We can test Mama’s ability to find certain pieces of clothing or let her change their clothes. We are willing to try just about anything to keep Mama from getting worse.

Beverly and Michelle brought Mama up to my classroom on Friday morning. My class lined up and let Mama hug and kiss them several times. One time I told them if they let her give them a second kiss, I would give them a 5 point bonus on their test. A few of them told me they would hug and kiss her for no points. But one boy decided to go for broke and asked if I would make it 5 points for each hug and kiss. Then he grinned and said he was just kidding. The kids were really good with Mama, and she loved coming to see them. The girls said she told everyone she saw about going to Connie’s class and getting all that attention from the kids. She doesn’t have all the words, so sometimes she just shows us what she did by kissing the air.

For the first time in a long, long. long time, Mama pointed to the pictures of us kids on the living room wall and told Beverly all about us. She pointed to my picture and said, “That’s my daughter, Connie. She lives with me.” She pointed to Tommy’s picture and said, “That’s Tommy, and he lives way up there.” She couldn’t remember David’s name, but she knew he was her son and he lives up “up there”—closer than Tommy. She pointed to George’s picture, and said, “He’s mine, but he died.” So maybe us trying to work with her using the toys is helping work her brain.

Michelle came last night. She said Mama woke up around 3 AM so she got her dressed and they went to Michelle’s house. I didn’t even hear them leave. I did get up around 7:00 to see if she wanted to leave, but they were not here so I went back to sleep for a bit. I woke up to Beverly yelling for Michelle to come help her. I guess she had been giving Mama a bath when Mama pooped in the bathtub. Mama started grabbing up the little poops, and Beverly was trying to get it away from her. She would get one hand clean, and Mama would grab up a pile with the other hand. Beverly needed someone to help hold her clean hand while she cleaned the other one. Mama definitely has a grip. We all end up working up a sweat when we try to get anything away from her.

I am taking off Monday because Mama has a doctor’s appointment. Her regular doctor retired so we now need to break in a new one. It is during Penny’s regular shift so I asked her to go with us. Beverly said she and Michelle want to go too so they can get all the information first hand. That doctor doesn’t know what she is getting in to. I should have some interesting stories when we finish if I am not too exhausted to type them up.

Mama has been in bed most of the afternoon. Beverly is here, and we are now taking turns going back every few minutes when Mama calls, “Come to me!” We have both tried to talk her into getting up and dressing, but she doesn’t seem to want that. She will probably decide to get dressed about the time we call it a night. That is her usual pattern.

I worked in my classroom for a while this afternoon. Progress Reports go out on Monday and I needed to get a few more grades recorded before I ran them off. After that, I went to get my hair cut, and hit the grocery store. Now I am here ready to prop my feet up and watch a little television.

Hugs to all until next time,