POWER IN PRAYER
July 24, 2015 – Many of my previous posts have been concerning the power of prayer. I believe that, with certainty. There is an axiom which reminds us that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams.” Throughout the experience of Alzheimer’s which Ken and I have endured for more than 15 years there have been many times when prayer has brought not only comfort and peace, but through prayer I have found solutions to many of my problems. I do believe that we are cared for by a loving Father in Heaven and Alzherimer’s is just one of the adversities that challenge our lives.
GUIDELINES THROUGH PROMPTINGS
By the same understanding I believe we receive promptings to help us over some of the rough spots in our lives. Or we have an urging to do, or not to do something which may result in a normal situation becoming better, or a feeling not to do something resulting not in our betterment. There are times when we respond, or not, to the prompting never knowing if the chosen action,or non-action would bring about a positive or negative impact in our life.
CASE IN POINT
Today I had a date to visit my very best friend, Sofia. “We’ll have lunch,” I said. “I’ll bring the lunch and bring the sodas.” She agreed. I looked forward to this visit as our friendship had been solid and devoted for more than a half century. Sofia had not been feeling well for the past few months and I wanted to see if our time together might cheer her as her husband of more than 50 years was showing severe signs of dementia with his future not looking good.
The night before I thought to myself that I should fill up my gas tank as the round-trip journey would be approximately 100 miles. The lines at my gas station of choice were endless. “Tomorrow,” I said to myself. I’ll fill up tomorrow.” I was unconcerned as the needle appeared to rest in the middle. With half a tank I’d be all right getting there, but would need more to get back home.
Highway 5 stretched eastward this morning like a thick gray ribbon cutting through the East Bay hills. Leaving 5 just past Livermore I caught Vasco Road which would meander through that part of Contra Costa’s hills covered with the golden grasses of a hot summer in the midst of California’s longest drought. As I approached the first intersection there was a gas station to my right with prices lower that what was posted at home. “You should stop and fill up,” I was prompted. “Then you’ll have more than enough fuel to get back home. Do it now and you won’t have to think about it again,” my promptings continued. My vehicle, however, behaved like an old work horse headed for the barn and kept moving up into the hills.
GOOD FOLKS ARE OUT THERE
Merging onto Highway 4 near Brentwood the engine spluttered, but I thought nothing of it until I approached the off ramp when the engine spluttered one last time and died. I coasted to a halt. Rolling down the window after turning on my hazard lights I motioned to the motorists behind me to go around. After about 10 minutes one of the cars turned in front of me and stopped on the main throughfare. Approaching my stalled vehicle, he asked, “Do you need some help?” “I’m out of gas,” I explained. “I was certain I had half a tank, but it’s on empty”. In my hand I held my AAA card. My cell hadn’t been working so I asked if he a cell phone. “Do you want me to call AAA for you,” he asked. “Please,” I replied handing him my card. A few minutes later he returned saying that it would take about 30 to 45 minutes or less. I was just happy to be getting the much-needed help. “May I use your phone,” I asked. “I’d like to call my friend to tell her I will be late. Her phone rang several times until I hung up. I thanked my good Samaritan profusely. “Will you be all right waiting alone,” he asked. “I’ll be fine,” I assured him. As he walked back to his own car he added, “I hope the day gets better for you.”
The time passed quickly and before I knew it, the tow truck arrived with my gallon of needed gasoline. “Turn off the hazard lights and after the gas is in the tank turn on the dashboard and let it rest a while.. In 20 seconds you can start the motor.” He then directed me to the nearest gas station. I drove in and filled the tank Fifteen minutes later I rang Sofia’s doorbell. Before I could explain, she said, “I know,” You ran out of gas. I heard the phone ring just as you hung up so I called the number back, introduced myself and asked if he had called me.” “Your friend will be late,” he said. “She ran out of gas.”
Lesson learned: If I had paid attention to the prompting I wouldn’t have had an empty tank, wouldn’t have been late for our luncheon and would have saved a few dollars as my fill-up gas station was more costly than the station I chose to pass by.
JEOPARDY AT THE SNACK BAR
July 24, 2015 – Watching game shows together on TV were a mutual “like” for my husband Ken and I before he became lost in the confursion of Alzheimer’s. Like so many others we enjoyed watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Ken was a very competitive person and Jeopardy ofen became a regular part of our dinner. Sitting at the snack bar Ken enjoyed making a stab at the answers right along with the guests. “Ha,” he would say if he was correct, bet you didn’t know that one.” Before long it became a personal challenge as we watched together.
One evening I got a paper and pencil. “Okay smarty,” I said, “let’s see who will get the most right for the evening, and a bonus to the one answering the final jeopardy question. “I’m going to keep score and we’ll see who is the smart one in the family. For a week or so I kept track of which one of us could get the most answers along with the contestants. As I recall we were pretty evenly matched when we decided to just watch the game show and cheer for our favorite contestant.
Watching Vanna and Pat was another story. I suppose I was never very good at “Hangman” the childhood game upon which Wheel of Fortune is based. Ken was pretty much in the lead with that game show.
Whenever anyone tells me they don’t believe in luck I ask if they have ever watched Wheel of Fortune. Some contestants just can’t get past bankrupt or lose a turn. It would appear that the wheel has its favorite people and a losing contestant goes home with a token amount of money because the wheel is so mean to them. Notice, they always smile and tell Pat they had a great time. I wonder when they get home with family what they say? I would feel really dumb. Sometimes it’s more luck than knowledge although some are quick as a flash in figuring out the puzzles, but some people never get the chance to solve even one.
DINNER AND HANGMAN
There have been numerous times when Ken and I have had dinner at restaurants that provided pencils and crayons for adults and a paper table cloth. I guess it’s for folks who like to doodle on the paper napkins, but the paper covering is even better. It’s then I see him draw the scaffolding and I knew we were entering into a game of hangman. He would wink at me and jot down the lines for the letters. He gave me a hint and the games began. One evening, without thinking, I jotted down the lines for the sentence, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” Not a smart puzzle on my part. We were half way through his solving the “can’t lose” puzzle when it dawned on me that this was an old typing exercise which contains every letter in the alphabet. He would have won, hands down, had I not scribbled through the puzzle and told him I had made a mistake and needed to begin again.
FUN TIMES DISAPPEAR
His Alzheimer’s had taken him well into the disease. After several years there were no more thoughts of “Hangman,” “Wheel” or “Jeopardy.” Our fun times with my fun date were vanishing like hot summer days in late-September. The last time we went to a movie, Ken asked, “How long do I have to sit here?” Being with me on a date was becoming more of punishment to him than pleasure. Sad as it is, there comes a time in this game of life when games are cancelled, not because of rain, but because of pain – his pain and mine as my heart aches for him and see that he is no longer the man I married.
PROBLEMS WITHOUT A PERMANENT SOLUTION
July 10, 2015 – As the horizon of the future looms ahead, we know with certainty that nothing about Alzheimer’s is permanent. Plans for the future will be riddled with adjustment. The one thing, we can count on for certain, is that there is no such thing as a permanent solution.
TV AND OTHER SOURCES
Being able to go on line to do some shopping becomes increasingly easy. I’ve noticed that there are advertisements for finding a place for mom (and dad I suppose if needed). As I peruse our age group within the community I find many more widows than widowers. Yes, more women are left alone than are men which might indicate a need for being concerned about “what will we do with mom?”
CLUES TO HER CONDITION: BE UP FRONT
When the family believes a problem of placement for mom (or dad), but we’ll concentrate on mom, is just around the corner, think again. How old is she? Is she showing signs of dementia? Does she keep her financial affairs in check, or are bill collectors ringing her doorbell constantly? Is she still driving? Is there reason for concern that she should give up her keys? How is her general health? Have there been issues for concern? If the answer to these questions is “no,” then there may not be a problem.
If there are some “yes” answers, then don’t be sneaky about your concern. If it’s about mom, then bring her into the conversation. Most people, of any age, are happier in their own home surrounded by their “stuff” that has been a part of their life possibly since long before the family came along.
THE ANSWER IS: THERE IS NO PERMANENT SOLUTION
Case in point: My mother-in-law, Rose, stayed in her home following the death of her husband, Nick, for a very short period of time. She was not capable of caring for herself all alone. She also had bladder cancer. Serious though it was the doctor explained that it could be clipped back (like a tree is pruned), have chemo inserted into the bladder periodically and still enjoy a few good years. Rose left her home to go to the hospital for the first surgery on her cancer. From the hospital she qualified for assisted living. The family found a lovely facility and Rose was content, although she constantly asked when would she be going home. As a family we assured her that she could go back home when the doctor felt she was well and strong enough. That, of course, would never be.
She lived in her assisted living facility until her needs were beyond the perimeters outlined in her contract. The next step in her living arrangement was a full-care facility where she received constant 24/7 care which was what she needed. With loving caregivers and family, it was her last stop. Her health continued to deteriorate until she passed on.
Families should always be prepared with suggestions and options for elderly parents, but the operative word for a happy solution is to make sure to include mom or dad in the discussions. When we fall into the trap of deciding on a permanent solution, just sit back for a moment and count how many permanent decisions “you” have made, and how many times permanent has been changed. Mom and/or dad just might have something in mind not thought of by the grown children. After all, it is their life and they need to be included in decisions pertaining to that life.
NEIGHBORHOOD ALZHEIMER’S: BAD NEWS – GOOD NEWS
July 3, 2015 – The typical neighborhood of the 1950’s, with its endless blocks of matching homes has started to fill with the latest threat to suburban bliss. As occupants become older, the disease of the day, Alzheimer’s, rears its ugly head to defy the happiness such living arrangements were meant to deliver. It’s bad enough that we can’t seem to turn on TV or a radio without being barraged by bad news. If I were Chicken Little I would be screaming “the sky is falling,” but I know it’s not. At least now yf et. However, in a world of constant change with news casters lamenting the latest disaster every half hour, home life no longer gives us the comfort or sanctuary it once promised to the weary occupants. At any moment in time our pathway in life can make a disyeastrous turn causing untold worry, distress and misery at just the mere thought of what may be ahead in our future.
My neighbor experienced her earth-shattering news during last year’s summer months. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. For over 50 years, she and I, our husbands and children have been almost like family, perhaps even more so, living in such close proximity as “just across the street.” We have lived in the same house with them as neighbors since our oldest girls were still toddlers. She and I exchanged baby sitting for years, sharing the ups and downs of family life and growing children. And now sharing the worry of advancing years.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD CURSE
It might appear that we have a small pocket of dementia in our neighborhood. Our neighbor, Val, just three doors to the north began her strange behavior about 30 years ago. Ken and I, as concerned neighbors watched over her making sure she was always all right in her “neat as a pin” home while her mind faded away. Val’s son and his family lived four hours away and knew of her condition, but had not made plans for her future. As she regressed Val began having delusions that the neighbor who lived between her house and our house was stealing her canned goods, some stored in the garage. He also stole her pantyhose, she claimed. To protect her belongings she locked all she could in the trunk of her car. She complained to us and her friends across the street, even going so far as to call the police with her accusations. One evening as the patrol car pulled up in front of Val’s house Ken talked with the officer explaining that Val was having mental problems and that Derwood, the accused party was innocent. “Nevertheless,” the officer replied, “if I get one more complaint about him, I’ll have to run him in.”
She also complained to her son about Derwood. To prevent Derwood from her rants, the son moved her to Northern California where the rest of the family lived.
NEXT DOOR DEMENTIA
The following year we, and several other neighbors, noticed that Derwood began suffering with hallucinations and moments of agitation. It appeared that his torment was applied to his daughter who was devoted. Living only a few miles away, she gave us her phone number and spent hours with her father until he needed a caregiver in the house. Derwood’s bout with the demon A.D. was very quick and within a few months he passed on.
THE THIRD HOUSE
That would be our house with Ken being the victim of Alzheimer’s. It was easily 16 years ago that I noticed those first signs of confusion and forgetfulness even though his actual diagnosis wasn’t made until 2004. And now my long-time friend across the street was showing signs of dementia.
NOW THE GOOD NEWS
While I was working in the front of my house my friend walked across our quiet street with a smiling face. “I’ve been to the doctor,” she stated. “I don’t have Alzheimer’s.” We gave one another a hug to celebrate the happy news. Details would come later. But for that moment we just slowed down the time to enjoy the moment.
There are reasons for a misdiagnosis with dementia. How is the patient’s thyroid? When was it last checked? It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion. For my friend the news couldn’t have come at a better time. Whether or not the symptoms will show up again remains to be seen. She and her family will just have to wait. Right now, it’s time for a deep breath and a thank you.
ALZHEIMER’S AND FATHERS’ DAY
it’s always difficult to stumb;e through those first special days and holidays after losing a loved one. Father’s Day can be especially poignant when the day is all about someone now out of your life. I suppose that even after a year it won’t be any easier to celebrate without a touch of melancholy in the air. It’s a natural response following the loss of someone who has played such an important role in so many lives.
A LIFETIME OF TITLES
My husband, like all other human males, began his journey as a baby, a son, a boy, a little brother, a nephew, a youth, a teen, a student,a young man, a sailor, a man, a bachelor, a boyfriend, a steady, a fiance, a groom, a husband, perhaps an uncle along the way, and after a time as a husband, he became a father. That is, in the ideal natural order of things. Hopefully, along the way, he became responsible, respectable, conscientious, loyal, loving, devoted, hard-working, likable and lovable. And that’s all in one breath. I’m sure there are many other titles earned throughout life’s journey here on earth. Hopefully, for a child of God, they are all positive and create, after years of learning, the kind of human being that would please his Heavenly Father.
FROM HIS CHILDREN
The other day I received an email as the week before Fathers’ Day appeared on the calendar. The thought was about her father. “Thinking of dad,” she wrote, “wonderful memories.”
Knowing my two daughters and three sons, I am sure their thoughts this week were also turned to their father and their growing years with him. Just as I thought about him each day and missed him. June was a busy month for Ken. Not only did we celebrate Fathers’ Day, but June is also his birth month.
When he passed on I asked each of our children if they would share some of their thoughts about their dad at his funeral. They all agreed, and I am sure it was a difficult time for them to put a pause on the emotions still raw from his death and speak from their heart about the man I had chosen to be their male parent.
There were memories of childhood, teen years, deserved discipline, camping trips, daddy-daughter dates, and scouting days with Ken as the Scout Master taking the troop, which included his sons, on 50-mile hikes through California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.
THE PATHWAY OF FATHERHOOD
He walked his daughters down the aisle of marriage and gently slapped his sons on the shoulder as they took their journey down the path of matrimony with their chosen wife-to-be. It’s all part of being a dad and part of the family passageway to happiness, which is the goal of man: to have joy.
The one quality that our children were certain about was that he was always there for each of them. Trouble and adversity are part of life’s journey in the experimental course taken by growing and developing humans. We taught them all about right and wrong explaining that they could always choose their own walkway, but they could not choose the consequences. Hopefully, they understood that unchangeable rule. If they were wrong, there was penalty and a lesson learned, but no matter what they did, without a doubt, they knew that their father had their back.
May 29, 2015 – So many great writers are out there. I often find verses to share from Anonymous and the other day I ran across one by Unknown. I commend them for their thoughts, verses and prose often filled with wisdom, good advice and poignancy. See if you don’t agree with the following.
LISTEN WHILE I TELL YOU
Do not ask me to remember
Don’t try to make me understand
Let me rest and know that you are with me
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept
I am sad and sick and lost
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me
Do not scold or curse or cry
I can’t help the way I’m acting
Can’t be different though I try.
Please listen while I tell you
Though my words come out all wrong
Just remember that I need you
For the best of me is gone.
Our loved ones live in another world that we don’t really understand and can hardly imagine, the best we can do is to be patient with them, love them and remember that they can’t help themselves, but we can help them. Often, we are all they have. God bless the caregivers.
May 11, 2015 — Do you remember the singing/dancing California raisins from years ago. In addition to the dance, the crinkled group sang a little ditty about “I heard it on the grapevine.” We know that whatever we hear on the grapevine, in all probability, is gossip or rumor. In today’s world of technology we see it, read it, and even hear it on the internet. Just as on the grapevine the information is often gossip or rumor, and sometimes completely false information.
QUOTES FROM THE MASTERS
“Don’t believe everything you read and only half of what you see.” With a little variation there are several other quotes out there from Ben Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe and others that say just about the same thing. How often should we apply this wisdom to newspapers, radio, TV and in today’s world with vast information at our fingertips: the internet? Too many times we quote the new marvel as though it were the last word of truth. And that, my friends, needs to stop for our own good.
KEN AND ALZHEIMER’S
Of course, when a loved one is stricken with a terminal disease, and once we’ve seen the doctor and picked up the latest in medications, we go immediately to the internet in search of not only additional knowledge/information, but our own magic cure that, we believe, has somehow escaped our doctor’s constant stream of new updates on the world of disease and medicine.
“Incurable” suddenly becomes a word of challenge; something that surely can be overcome with just the right information, and so we go on searching. At the beginning of my husband’s journey into A.D. my grandson sent me a print article about AD and the vast difference of cases in India compared to the epidemic that seems to rage in the United States. While in India the A.D. cases total about 4% of the population. Here in our country the numbers are staggering.
The study group, of course, wondered what they do in India that was so different than what we do here in the U. S. One thing that was noticed: They use a lot of Curry in their cooking. In my desperation I bought my own capsule kit, some curry from the health food store and began giving a few to Ken along with an array of his usual vitamins.
Soon the India researchers decided it wasn’t the curry itself that was of benefit but the turmeric within the curry which is a blend of various spices. I told our doctor that I would be adding turmeric to Ken’s daily doses of meds. He glanced at me with that adult eye roll and I asked, “What can the medical community do for him. The good doctor thoughtfully paused and said, “Nothing.” At the health food store I purchased an ample supply of turmeric. Our doctor had cautioned that if I gave Ken too much he would probably throw it all up. This theory is not so far-fetched after all, and is still included in studies just as virgin cocoanut oil.
SEARCHING FOR HOPE, WITH OTHER MALADIES
About ten years ago my oldest daughter Debbie was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. She, of course, turned to the internet to find all she could about her coming life-time battle. She has always been a natural foods kind of person, so it was prudent that she search for her own magic cure. Debbie tried everything she could find with suggestions about curing diabetes coming at her from every direction. She was striving with every ounce of energy to avoid taking the artificial insulin, but finally she had been convinced to give the insulin a try. She did.
A few weeks back, following her first shot, Debbie’s husband Mark found her unresponsive on the living room floor. They live in Ogden, Utah. Local doctors sent her to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City where the facilities with a more comprehensive neurological department and neurologists were better prepared to handle an insulin-induced coma. Further MRIs and X-rays found an infection on the frontal lobe of her brain and a pulmonary embolism in her lung. Out of immediate danger she was transferred to a rehab facility and appears to be responding well to continued treatment and therapy.
I can understand her zeal to find another way to help herself. In my own desperation to help my husband I do believe I would have even tried arsenic with a splash of rum, or perhaps, a bit of “Old Lace”suggestions from the famous stageplay, had there been indication of cure – anything to restore Ken to his former self. There is something so final and frightening to be diagnosed with a terminal illness (which fosters denial). Currently, with Alzheimer’s there are just two pharmaceutical drugs on the market for treatment. Furthermore the treatment only delays the ravages that will eventually come to the Alzheimer’s victim.
EVEN EXPERTS CAN MAKE RASH STATEMENTS
We all know about a healthy diet and the importance of eating right, but I did take issue with America’s favorite doctor, Doctor Oz, when he said that if you eat enough broccoli you won’t get Alzheimer’s. Even an expert in medicine can be mistaken. Using our own experience as an example that statement is just not true. That green healthy vegetable has been a staple in our home forever and yet my husband had a severe case of A.D.
With diabetes there is insulin. Perhaps not the very best solution, but it beats nothing. And when all was said and done there was nothing on the internet that would restore Debbie’s pancreas to a working organ.
A GRAIN OF SALT
I believe that both Debbie and I have taken some advice from the old masters and while the internet and other Social Media are both great assets for our use. They should always be used with wisdom, and a grain of salt. “Don’t believe everything you read and only half of what you see. And that applies to the internet as well.
THE WAITING ROOM
May 15, 2015 – Alzheimer’s disease is gone from my house, and while I miss Ken more than my words can say, I don’t miss his Alzheimer’s. I wonder at times if the “golden years” are supposed to be golden., or are they as my friend Frances used to say, the “rusting years.” “Well put,” I would tell her as together we mused about all that can, and often does, go wrong while we pull up a chair, grab a dated magazine and make ourselves comfortable in God’s waiting room.
OR LIFE’S CONVEYOR BELT
That’s how I refer to the “rusty golden years.” Our late-years’ life is like a conveyor belt and much like Lucy and Ethel boxing chocolates in a candy factory. We humans just move along the conveyor belt, faster than we like because we can’t slow it down or make it stop for a rest, to our final destination also in a box.
My intent is not to be morbid or insensitive about death or living our last days or decades. It’s all a part of the cycle of life, and as they tell us when there is a new birth that life for everyone is a temporary place where we, hopefully, spend the better part of a century, but no one gets out of it alive.
THAT FAMILY THING
I am blessed. My family has been there for me through all of those Alzheimer’s years and nursing me along when I was badly hurt in an automobile accident. Recently it was my turn to be there even though I couldn’t be with her physically, daughter Debbie knew I was with her in a spiritual sense.
The call came to Kristina from her father who found his wife unresponsive on the living room floor the Friday before Mothers’ Day. Local doctors sent her to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Deborah suffers from Type II diabetes. For the past ten years she has convinced herself that using holistic treatments she could avoid insulin. None of us like to take medicines, but her avoiding what was missing from her body only complicated her condition. When she finally began taking the shot, her confused system sent her into a coma. She was awake and talked to me on Mothers’ Day although she doesn’t remember our conversation. Following an MRI her doctors believe there has been no damage to her brain after finding an infection in the frontal lobe. However, she will be spending a week or so in their rehab facility to strengthen her walking and speech skills, both of which seem to be slightly impaired by her experience. Her children have been with her, praying and encouraging their mom that she can overcome this.
Kristina, who is living with me, hopped in her car that first night and drove straight through to be with her mom during this serious turn of her health problems. She took Buddy, the nine-month-old puppy with her. He proved to be a good traveler and a welcome companion. I worried, though, Buddy couldn’t change a tire if that became a need.
WE ALL HAVE ADVERSITY
At times I believe that we are given adversity to remind us of how sweet life is when it isn’t with us. Often we struggle against it, but when things go wrong. and we have no control, then we must remind ourselves that we do have Heavenly help. We have to let go and let God. That’s our part to allow Him to answer all of the prayers and healing blessings. Our prayers continue asking that she may have a full recovery and return to her former self. Like other life-long illnesses where there is only treatment and not a cure, we must accept what is reality and continue on doing the best we can. As a family, we are grateful for our faith and prayers, and the prayers from others to help and see us through these difficulties in life.
REMEMBERING MY MOTHERS
May 20, 2015 – The other day I was shopping when suddenly appeared before me a rack filled with Mothers’ Day cards. Years ago I always stopped to check through the assortment looking for two perfect cards: one for my mother and another for my mother-in-law. It’s been a long time, more than 25 years, since I had reason to buy a card for these special women in my life, but now I have long-since realized that there was no reason for me to browse through the rack. Both mothers have passed on.
The two women were similar: stay-at-home moms who canned fruit during the summer months to be enjoyed throughout the rest of the year, both were devoted to family, both were interested in gardening and took pride in their flowers and a patch of chard, tomatoes, zucchini vines, and a scattering of herbs They were church-goers and were women of faith devoted to God and His son Jesus Christ. They also both died with Alzheimer’s disease.
Both mothers could administer a quick swat to get a youngster’s attention without any worry about warping their offspring believing in a fast act of discipline rather than the disciplines of today’s experts. Both moms were experts in just about anything and everything and could have, no doubt, taught the experts of today a thing or two.
For me that would be my mother’s mother better known as grandma. I still picture her in my mind in a house dress with her hair pulled up and pinned back into a bun, and in all the years she lived she never seemed to change. She stayed on the family farm for as long as she was able, then spent the remainder of her life with any one of her 10 children. Her last few years were spent at our house where my mom cared for her until she died.
Her farm will always be etched in my memory as a place of contentment. I wrote a poem about it at one time. There was the house, of course, with a large lawn in front edged by a mulberry trees and near the house a perfect tree for climbing, sitting and watching the world go by. My uncle taught me how to make a whistle from one of the leaves found on the old cottonwood tree.
My grandmother’s house sat back from the road,
as much as my mind discloses,
And next to the lane,
was a long, long fence filled with fragrant yellow roses.
The summer when my mother and I visited her grandma taught me how to make flower dolls with full billowing skirts and ruffled bonnets using hollyhocks. She also baked bread and the most delicious rolls using her ancient wood burning stove and oven. Testing the oven temperature by waving her hand inside the dark interior she knew exactly when it was hot enough for a successful batch of bread, or cookies, or whatever she was making for the family dinner.
This woman was of pioneer stock, and could milk a cow as efficiently as any man. She beat off rattlesnakes and spiders who threatened her children in their play. She and her husband Joseph were prepared for any calamity.
ALZHEIMER’S THE FAMILY DISEASE?
We who have known cases of AD in the family often wonder which of our parents had inherited the gene from one or both of their parents. Unfortunately, if it was there in previous generations before Grandma or Grandpa, there appears to be no record. However, I would guess it came from Grandpa Joseph because Grandma who became a bit cantankerous as she grew older had no signs of memory loss. It was Grandpa who was a little weird at about 50. In all likelihood he was the gene carrier. But not all family members are subject to getting the disease. It was Mama and two of her brothers who inherited AD.
With my husband Ken, we know that his Alzheimer’s could have come from either parent. But today we won’t dwell on.the sad part of remembering., Only that we had wonderful mothers and today is the day of honoring them. Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mothers out there.
ALZHEIMER’S AND THE SWINDLER
CLOSING A BANK ACCOUNT
May 1, 2015 – In my last post I mentioned the father of one of my young friends, and how he had closed his bank account without anyone in the family knowing what he had done. Furthermore, the money is still nowhere to be found. That’s why it has been assumed that someone swindled it from Dad, and Dad, trusting and friendly, possibly only thought someone was being helpful.
CON JOBS – AS OLD AS THE HILLS
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who are unscrupulous in their dealings with their fellow man or woman. Our loved ones with AD often fall victim to these dishonest predators preying on the child-like innocence of demented older people, their confusion, their forgetfulness and their disease. It really doesn’t take much observation to notice when someone is not fully aware of his or her surroundings, and often the original ploy of the con job can be presented long before the actual swindle. The whole con job can be set up well in advance.
FAMILY TO THE RESCUE
Several years before Ken’s Alzheimer’s the two of us were at our bank doing our usual monthly rent deposits. As we finished our transaction we bumped into another couple that we had known for several years. We walked to the exit together, and talked about banking at the same bank, and how pleased we were with the service. “They won’t let us take out our money,” said Wilma, somewhat exasperated at not being able to make a withdrawal. “We were going to open an account elsewhere and use the money for a good investment,” explained her husband Howard, equally frustrated. Both Ken and I wondered why they were having a problem and suggested they talk with the bank manager. Apparently the couple had mentioned an intended investment they wanted to make to their son, Hank. Being somewhat suspicious Hank talked with the bank manager regarding his concern for his parents. While they could not refuse to give Wilma and Howard their money, had they insisted, they could stall. Another day when Howard and Wilma requested a large withdrawal Hank was called and saved the day by meeting his parents at the bank where his parents finally explained their desired but bogus investment. Hank’s mom and dad were willing to give their money to a perfect stranger who had set up the investment to take place at the couple’s home. Because of Hank’s attentive caring for the welfare of his parent’s the money stayed in the bank. Eventually, the account was changed to require two signatures on any check or withdrawal slip with Hank being one of the signers.
OTHER WAYS TO WARD OFF PREDATORS
Ken’s parents, Rose and Nick, were reluctant to add either Ken’s or Loretta’s name to their bank accounts. I suppose parents like to believe they will always be capable of handling their own affairs. However, both of them were having memory and confusion problems. Even to make a simple deposit I had to search the house for any check that needed to be deposited. (Of course all of this was before direct deposit.) The couple had other issues as well. It was decided by Ken and Loretta, to have a conservatorship obtained for their ill and aging parents. This, of course, is much more involved than having signatures added to accounts, or a POA. The conservatorship is a legal procedure and carefully evaluated by authorities, with the accounts audited by an attorney of the conservators choice. With Rose and Nick representatives from the county came to the house to interview the couple and to check the house for other signs of failing health or cognative loss, and their inability to properly care for themselves. Following the interview and a time period for input from family and other experts, and more evaluation the conservatorship was granted much to the relief of family. Anyone with aging parents needs to be aware of the pitfalls that can cause great financial loss during the later years of their older loved ones.
In an effort to obtain full cooperation from elderly parents, it might be best to begin a discussion early on suggesting a possible family trust with a competent executor, power of attorney for someone in the family or a devoted and trusted friend. It doesn’t hurt to question expenditures remembering always to tread lightly. We want to keep them safe and protect their needed finances. However, in your effort to be of help be careful and don’t offend. You don’t want to get a “Mind your own business” response from them. Anyone with aging parents needs to be aware of the pitfalls that can cause great financial loss during the later years of their older loved ones, especially when we all know there may be a need for some solid financial funds relating to their care needs in the future.