CAREGIVING AND OUTSIDE HELP

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Woman doing dishing by hand.

A kitchen is never big enough for two women.

A KITCHEN IS NEVER BIG ENOUGH FOR TWO WOMEN

February 20, 2015 – Often in family caregiving,  family members need to  turn to outside help. My mother used to say that no one could ever build a kitchen big enough for two women. She then related a family story about her sister.

Mama’s brother-in-law and a good friend agreed to manage a piece of land in the Sacramento Valley for one of their former employers. Everything was provided in the way of farm equipment, tools and supplies. All the men had to do was make it work. The glitch in the whole agreement was that there was a large 10 room Victorian house with a full basement that would house the two families. To meet personal expenses a generous monthly salary was also provided. Continue reading

SEXY FOOD AND VALENTINE’S DAY

Candle light and entwined hearts

A romantic dinner is much more in keeping with Valentine’s Day tradition than sexy food. (Image Creative Commons)

A WORD IS A WORD – SEXY

February 13,14,2015 – I watched a Valentine’s Day TV show the other day about sexy food. The participants were either chefs or invited good cooks. They all prepared so-called sexy dishes as a suggestion to the viewers for what might be served on day 14 of this month to anyone’s special person. Personally, I’ve never encountered sexy food, but I’ve often heard of certain foods being an aphrodisiac, such as lobster drizzled with butter or oysters on the half shell. I’ve eaten both, but found no special yearnings for either me or Ken to get a room following consumption. Continue reading

A FAMILY DISEASE: ALZHEIMER’S

eyes4

Those with Alzheimer’s often h aave dull eyes. They have lost their sparkle. Image courtesy of Cretive Commons.

THE EYES HAVE IT

February 6, 2015 – Who in the family gets Alzheimer’s disease and who doesn”t The eyes, it has been said, are the windows to the soul. They are also the windows to illness. “Do I have sick eyes?” my little one used to ask when I told her that I knew she wasn’t feeling well because I could see it in her eyes. A  fever and a cough or other youthful maladies could keep my children home from school, but the first tell-tale sign was often their glassy eyes. When they started feeling better those eyes were usually back to normal and it was time to go back to school. Continue reading

REINVENTING YOURSELF AFTER ALZHEIMERS

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WHERE DO I BEGIN?

home during improvement

Improving my home is one of the ways I am reinventing myself after Alzheimer’s.

January 30, 2015 – Reinventing yourself is a lifetime challenge and often occurs after a major life change. When Ken was with me it was much easier to make changes in our home and  our lives. We could meld our ideas which we did. Then when he was out of town, I would began. For one whole week during the summer of ’96, Ken was away at Girl’s Camp volunteering for security duty as well as a highly experienced guide for an overnight backpacking trip. I jam-packed each of the seven days with projects that I just knew would merit his approval. Not only approve, but he would be surprised and so pleased with the outcome. Of that I was certain because he was always pleased with what I did. Continue reading

A DIFFERENT KIND OF ANNIVERSARY

hands touching

After the death of my husband from Alzheimer’s, celebrating what would have been my 65th anniversary had its challenges.

January 21, 2015 – Today is mine and Ken’s 65th wedding anniversary. I usually think of our years together as more than 50. 65 is considerably more than 50, but I’ve known of others who have reached higher numbers in their pledge to one another. That’s a wonderful thing.

DEVOTION PLUS – SOMETIMES

Marriages that last until one of the partners passes on are apparently rare. What is the national average now? One in three fails in divorce, and stats tell us that with a second or third marriage, divorce is even more at risk. I don’t profess to know what makes committed partners split. I’m sure it can be any number of things. What I do know is that in my immediate family the stats aren’t even one of our three. It’s more like three out of five, but I know the reasons are as different as the people involved. I’m just very glad that Ken and I were able to support them in whatever decisions they made. But more, I’m happy that the two of us made it to the end. Continue reading

MOURNING THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE

DEPRESSION

Mabel Ann & Kenneth Romick at the beginning of Alzheimer's onset.

Mabel Ann & Kenneth Romick at the beginning of Alzheimer’s onset.

When a spouse, or any loved one  dies,  there should be time for mourning. After all an important person is gone from your life. Whether it be a parent, a child, a dear friend or a spouse you have to adjust to that person being absent from your entire life. For as long as you live they are gone. In and of itself, it gives you the right for extreme sadness. Sadness expressed in whatever manner you reflect or choose.

Unfortunately, depression often comes as a part of mourning. As a major component of the mourning process, it needs to be fought with all of the emotional forces you can muster, controlled and put aside as soon as possible. It can manifest itself in many ways other than sadness: Lack of sleep or sleeping too much is a sign of depression as well as losing your ambition or interest in doing much of anything. Of course, feeling sad is a natural emotion with a loss as great as death. But depression shouldn’t be allowed to remain and alter your everyday life. Your doctor can help. Medication for a short term can be helpful and is permissible. So is professional counseling. Continue reading

HOLIDAY CHANGES 2015

To-do list in a notebook

Photo courtsey Creative Commons
My to-do list has dramatically changed this holiday season.

January 10, 2015 – Many people write a holiday letter telling all about life and their past year. Expounding on accomplishments, not only by the family, but an update on the mailman, the neighbors, the pets and so on and on. Just kidding here. The big change that came into my life this year was Ken’s passing.  It turned my life upside down. I started living in a more laid-back kind way, letting go of many of the things I thought I had to do.  These are some things I haven’t done, becaue everything is no longer as important as it was when he was alive and before AD took him away.

THINGS I DIDN’T GET DONE FOR THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY

1. My Christmas cards are still in their boxes. They won’t be ready to mail until around December of this year, 2015. Meanwhile instead of resolutions I’ve decided to reinvent myself. I read a bit of Wayne Dyer on the internet and he advised against resolutions. Instead he advised change, and not a commitment to change overnight, but to begin on a change taking small steps. You can do anything for five minutes. So if you are going to work out. Do it, but start a little at a time. Yes. Five minutes is a good goal and one that just about anybody can do. Who can fail in five minutes? Then when you do the five minutes you can extend your time. Be a success with your changes to a better you by establishing attainable and realistic goals.

2. So, back to Christmas cards. My friend Jane in Idaho is always the first card to be received. If I mailed mine now, January, then I would be the first in 2015 to get my cards out. Instead be ready for new news when this year’s Season arrives again – any time after Halloween.

3. I didn’t wrap many of my Christmas gifts. The ones that got wrapped granddaughter Kristina did for me. I did manage to stuff grandson’s new socks in a Costco pharmacy bag and stapled it shut. At least he had to work a little getting it open, so it was almost like a wrapped gift.  

4. I didn’t wrap daughter-in-law Sabina’s gift either, and lost track of where it was, so she got it in a Macy’s bag on the morning of December 26.  I’m not getting forgetful I’m just taking life easy.

5. I didn’t put up the Christmas tree for a few reasons. The first was because I didn’t feel up to getting everything down and up and then down again, then back up in the rafters. Even though Ken could see the tree in previous years, it was meaningless. With his Alzheimer’s he has long since forgotten all about celebrations. His last comment when seeing the tree decorated with lights twinkling was, “Pretty, what’s it for?”

The second reason is because Buddy, the new dog gets tangled up with the computer wires under my desk. I didn’t want to have him take down the tree if he did the same thing with the decorations, lights and garland.

6. I didn’t have any of the men put up the outside lights either. That decision was part of taking down everything from the garage then putting it all back. Because I didn’t put up the tree or other decorations, I didn’t have to do anything on New Year’s Day. That was always the day I used to take it all down while Ken watched all of the New Year’s Day football games. January 1st was his day and that’s what he always chose to do.

THINGS I DID THIS SEASON

1. I said goodbye to my dear husband of nearly 65 years and have just about finished with the thank you notes for those who participated in his service and for the other help I received during this difficult time for our family        

2. I made cookies which had been Ken’s job during those years without AD. He baked, I boxed and he delivered, but if the baking and boxing was completed, I went with him to give our love and holiday greeting to everyone on our list. I delivered by myself this year. That’s all right. Ken’s tradition of good will goes on

3. I took a box to my cousin Pat whose health has reached a point in her life where living in a care facility is best for all concerned. I also take my abundance of used magazines for her to share with the other residents.

4. I visited with another friend at a different care facility. She is also a victim of AD, but she still knows who I am and reaches out for a hug when I come in. Unable to eat sweets because of her diabetes I took her a tiny artificial plant.

5, I said, “Yes,” to Kristinia when she brought a tiny puppy home that she found abandoned with his three sisters in the bushes outside of her friend’s house the evening her grandfather passed. We named him Buddy – Ken’s nickname as a little boy. 10 weeks later he’s up from tiny to 25 pounds. Three of her friends took the female pups.

MY CHRISTMAS CARD LIST GROWS SHORTER EACH YEAR

I suppose it has to do with the cycle of life. I notice that many of my friends are passing on, and as a woman of faith I know they are passing on to something better. But while we are here, we have a most important calling: That is to care for one another. As we do this we can resolve that during the coming year we will all do our best in seeing that we extend ourselves to caring and helping one another. And while we’re thinking of the new year, may your troubles be small and your joy large as we continue through these happy holidays into another chapter of our lives.

GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR

May I leave with you a scripture from Matthew 25:35-40  For I was hungered and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink.  I was a stranger and ye took me in. Naked and ye clothed me, I was sick and ye visited me. I was in prison and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered and fed thee? or thirsty and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in? or naked? and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison , and came unto thee?                                                 

And the King shall answer and say unto them. Verily I say unto you. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.

 

FINDING THE NEW YEAR MAGIC

Happy New Year and fireworks

Photo courtesy Creative Commons Finding the New ?year’s magic has to do with finding the magic throughout the year.

January 2, 2015 — Happy New Year to all of my friends, family and readers. As we begin another new year, let’s hope for the best in having all we need in health, happiness, and new jobs. I wish all of you joy as I repost this older blog from a few years back. In my youthful search for something special happening on New Year’s Eve I found that what I thought was magic was not magic at all. The magic is what we do with what we have including the love shared with our family and friends.

SEARCHING FOR THE MAGIC

From the time I was old enough to remember hearing adults shout “Happy New Year,” I believed there was something magical happening as the clock chimed 12:00 p.m.  Furthermore, I was missing it all because I was a child and had to be in bed early. Then one year my parents went out with friends on December 31, leaving my sister, Janet, and me in the care of our older sister, Polly, who was 16. At last, Janet and I knew we could stay up until the bewitching hour because Polly was caught up in her own reverie of sadness in not having a boy friend at year’s end.

THERE HAD TO BE NOISE

The two of us knew there must be noise to welcome in The New Year so Janet fortified us with metal dish pans and wooden spoons. Polly didn’t care what we were doing, taking to her bed early. My favorite big sister planned we would march up and down the sidewalk in front of our building (the fourth floor flat being our home) banging our dish pans at the first sounds of celebration. At 12:00 we heard horns honking and whistles blowing in the distance, but that was all, so we high stepped our march and drummed our pans more vigorously. Still nothing. “Is that all?” I whined with great disappointment. “Come with me,” ordered Janet. I followed her up the flights of stairs into the kitchen where she took one of Mama’s best cooking pots (the heaviest of her hammered aluminum cookware) and ran to the front of the flat overlooking the street. Throwing up the window and calling, “Look out below,” Janet tossed the pot into space watching it fall down and down until it hit the sidewalk. Still no magic. If San Francisco had no magic, where could it be found? Janet tried three more times with the same result, “Thud, clunk, clunk, clunk.” We retrieved the pot (fortunate that it hadn’t taken out a drunk from the corner bar) put it back in the kitchen and we both went to bed still wondering where was the magic — the celebration — this miraculous thing that changed one year into another — where was the old bearded man carrying the sickle — and the stork delivering the Baby New Year? Continue reading

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AFTER ALZHEIMER’S

 CHRISTMAS ON DISPLAY SINCE HALLOWEEN

Christmas shopping at Costco

Though it was crowded, people were in a festive mood while Christmas shopping at Costco. (image courtsey Creative Commons)

December 19, 2014 – Actually it’s been looking a lot like Christmas since before Halloween. Then when the ghosts and goblins disappeared, there seemed to be a blitz of the coming Christmas celebration everywhere you looked. By all appearances anyone would guess that Santa was due the very next day. The Christmas shopping frenzy had begun. 

COSTCO HAS EVERYTHING

I had a long list of necessities to buy, but my list has reverted to just about normal. Normal, that is, before Alzheimer’s became the major focus of our everyday life. No longer on the list were Depends, soft adhesive patches for Ken’s pressure sores or other supplies for his hospital-like room at home: no more disposable gloves for the caregivers, no more wipes, no more baby soap for Ken’s tender skin, no more Vaseline for his sensitive areas. He is free from the torment, and, being a woman of faith, I am happy for his relief and joy beyond this veil of pain, sorrow and tears.

I’LL BUY YOU LUNCH”

That’s what he used to tell me whenever we planned our trip to the big warehouse store before AD.  Christmas shopping or just the weekly trip. He was kidding, although we might buy a pizza for dinner. What he made reference to was stopping by the numerous vendors and sampling what they were hawking. Samples were usually very good, and often we bought the product, but after six or so samples, who needed lunch. Produce, eggs and other dairy products and dog food for Doc and Charlie, our two loveable K-9s from many years ago, it was time for home. Shopping done.

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING ALL BY MYSELF

I left early and without breakfast telling myself that I would eat at Costco, and I did. Following our old pattern I stopped by the vendors and sampled a smorgasbord of treats including some delicious tamales that I bought for Christmas breakfast when some of our grown children drop by to open their gifts.

CHRISTMAS CHEER AND GOODNESS IS IN THE AIR

I felt cheered by the Christmas spirit that was in the air as customers smiled, then stepped aside allowing a grocery cart to pass. Stopping by the food court I picked up a large pizza for Kris and her brother Karl who drops by every day or so. The three of us could almost finish it off and still have leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

As I exited the food court with my loaded cart a woman backing up with her cart walked right into me. We both smiled and she said, “Backing up is dangerous.” I smiled back and agreed. It was a good day: light and fun and filled with good cheer and good people, a fun Christmas shopping experience. That’s how the season should be. “Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men.” And cart-backing women too.

LIFE CHANGES OF AN ALZHEIMER’S WIDOW

VOCABULARY ADJUSTMENTS

old fashioned picture of a young widow

Adjusting to being an Alzheimer’s widow is a whole new mindset. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

December 13, 2014 – So many adjustments to make when one becomes a widow. Yes, the correct term is widow, but it still filters down to being single again. Being single is a lonely place to be, but I am not looking to change my status. I will accept and adapt to thinking and living as a single person.

I do recall an old country song from years ago: Sleeping single in a double bed. For me, though, it’s even more dramatic. I’m sleeping single in our king-sized bed. Alone except for the cat Gouda. She has been my sweet feline company for a few years since Ken went into a hospital bed in the family room. 

My husband and I elected the larger bed because he was over 6′ and I was a tall woman. With a double bed we found that our feet hung over the bottom, and they got a bit chilly on cold nights.  Continue reading

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