JANUARY 21, 2010

“I’ll phone you tomorrow early afternoon,” said my daughter, Julie, calling me yesterday reminding me that Ken and I had a wedding anniversary today, the 21st of January.   “There’s a new tea room uptown and we can go there for lunch depending on how Dad is doing.”   “That will be great,” I answered, thanking her for the invitation and for remembering our special day, as if she could forget.

Last year Ken was less demented than he is now, but still had little memory of us as a couple.  Nevertheless, as dinner time approached, marking our anniversary, I decided to “celebrate” by taking him to Neumanli’s, Julie’s restaurant.    He agreed that going out for dinner sounded good.  In my ever-hopeful mind I envisioned the two of us at our intimate table for two tucked in a quiet corner; the romance of us — who we had been —  pulling him into some kind of lucidity, if only for a brief time.

Of course, there was no miracle.  He wolfed down his food and asked me to take him home as his wife was probably waiting.  I explained to him that I hadn’t finished my dinner.   He was without any kind of good manners, almost like a naughty child.  When I didn’t leap up from the table to accomodate his request my “date” became so obnoxious I hurriedly ate the rest of my food, and we left before his annoying manners caused the other patrons to wish they had dined elsewhere. Thanking Julie for dinner, I scurried him to the car declaring to myself there would be no more celebrations, nor any more attempts at celebrating.

Yet, here it was again.  That’s the trouble with special days, they keep showing up on the calendar with no escape.  I had vowed to ignore the whole thing, but somehow the longing for even a small observance of our togetherness remained so strong I became hopeful that perhaps a short outing with him would suffice for me.   However, this morning was no different from how Ken has been lately as his Alzheimer’s takes him further and further away from me, the person who loves him most in all the world.  Lately, he sleeps until noon or 1:00, gets up, eats and naps a bit on the couch, then wanders around the house in his sleepware refusing any and all suggestions.  I wonder if it’s all the rain we’ve been having that makes him so gloomy?  The days are so dark and dreary.  Seldom does he want to shave and shower or become part of the real world until around 6:00 p.m., at which time he is willing to do anything I ask, but only during a limited window of opportunity.  By then, there is only time to get him cleaned up.  Still, I wanted today to be different.  If only he had cooperated, we could have taken in a movie as well as lunch with our daughter.

Julie called at 1:00 and I told her it wasn’t going to happen, and I thanked her for the effort.  Wistfully, she said, “Happy Anniversary.”   I looked out of the window at the rain; such a gray day.  I so wanted to get out, feeling a little cabin fever after so much wetness.  Ken was content doing nothing, which is not good for him either.

At 6:30 p.m. the phone rang again.  “Hi,” said Julie.  “Can you open the front door.  It’s pouring out here and I want to make a quick run into the house.”  There she was,  still wearing her chef’s coat, taking a few stolen minutes from her restaurant and holding a tray carrying two speciality desserts zigzagged with chocolate sauce just as if we were at our intimate table for two.   Tucked under one arm a dozen long-stemmed yellow roses glistened with raindrops.  “Here,” she said, setting down the tray and handing me the bouquet, “I know it isn’t the same, but just pretend.”  I felt moisture puddle in my eyes as I put my favorite flowers in water while she visited with her father.  He may have recognized her, at least he was friendly and allowed a hug and a kiss goodbye as she dashed away.

I had already planned dinner, and now I could really pretend:  Little Caesar’s Hot-N-Ready pizza with two green salads arranged on a dinner plate looked a bit more exciting when placed next to a candle and a vase of roses, especially on the kitchen snack bar.    To add to the festivities, I filled two flute glasses from a chilled bottle of  Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider.  Ken lifted his glass as I lifted mine.  “To us,” I said.  “God bless you,” he returned.

He gobbled down his dinner, as usual, telling me that everything was very good.  I cleared the dishes and served (complimentary from the best restaurant in town) our beautiful dessert.   “Did you cook all of this,” he asked.  “Of course,” came my answer.  I suppose it was all right if I kept pretending for a while — and thank you Julie — for allowing me to celebrate one more time.

Originally posted 2010-01-22 09:56:59.


This gallery contains 1 photo.

Various capital 'A' letters.

These simple tips for Alzheimers Care will help you in your caregiving  tasks.

January 29, 2016 – Alzheimers Care as a whole is difficult. Caregivers have a lot on their plate. Furthermore, there is no due date on this mission of mercy. There are times when it appears to be endless as the months turn into years, and no one has an answer. According to studies on Alzheimer’s disease it can last 20 years or more. Unlike measles or mumps there is no time limit, nor will there be a scheduled time when the disease will be over.

Meanwhile, caregivers endure as best they can. Suggestions and help to me were always welcome. Though this may seem succinct, these brief descriptions offer a lot of important advice. From a booklet I have read published by the Alzheimer’s Aid Society of Northern California, “A Practical Guide For the Alzheimer Caregivers, complied by John and Bea Gorman, they have introduced ten A’s for Alzheimer’s Care. Check it over and put to use whatever you may find helpful in your daily battle against this or any disastrous disease.



ALLOW – as much freedom as possible.

ACTIONS – help when verbal communications fail.

ASSUME – the patient can understand you.

APPRECIATE – good moments and good days.

APPROPRIATE– activities help pass time, reduce agitation & boredom

AGITATION – can be alleviated if you stay calm, reassuring and respectful.

ADULTS – Mental level is not always equal to social level.

ADAPT – the task to fit the ability. Break tasks into steps.

ASSESSMENT – Ongoing. What is safe and works now, may not later

on. Keep watching, evaluating and be open to changes.

Originally posted 2016-01-30 18:32:32.


warpped present

Thoughtfulness is appreciated whether one is a mother or caregiver.

 May 16 2014 — I recently read a blog by Megan Tietz directed at making  “Stay-at-home moms” happier. As I noted all of the nice things friends and family can do for these hard-working and dedicated women I couldn’t help but think about a whole bevy of women who are “Stay-at-home caregivers.”


Their jobs are similar, but more than likely the two are separated by decades.  The moms, of course, are caring for little people who can’t care for themselves.  A.D. Caregivers, who were likely stay-at-home moms spending earlier years caring for a young family are now caring for older loved ones who can’t care for themselves either.


 Furthermore, both jobs require a certain amount of confinement in the home (also known as cabin fever) which makes their job a bit isolated and often lonely. It’s been said from moms of small ones that their days of excitement are often topped off with a lunch of peanut butter/jelly sandwishes and the stimulating conversation of a three-year old.

 While rearing the next generation, though, moms can thrill as the children learn, grow and develop. In contrast the Alzheimer’s caregivers have no delightful or encourageing rewards. In caring for the elderly who are losing memory the experience is laced with sadness and often sorrow as the loved one slowly fades into the ghostly and lost world of Alzheimer’s.  As with rearing children, caregiving is a labor of love:  An unselfish choice made with love and devotion. Continue reading

Originally posted 2014-05-17 04:06:16.



Sad globe with Alzheimer's.

Living in the Alzheimer’s world is confusing to both those who have the disease and their caregivers.


 It’s different now.  Holidays are different.  Life is different.  Our world is different. We now live in the World of Alzheimer’s, a place we would have never chosen.  But then, we don’t always get to choose the road where life takes us.  However, we do adjust.  That’s what one of Ken’s caregivers Crizaldo said, when we talked about world conditions and the never-ending problems constantly on the horizon. “No matter where we are or what happens,” he said, “it’s how we adjust that’s important.”


Living in the Alzheimer’s world is always a learning situation.  We learn early on that our loved one is constantly changing often taking on different personalities, some we don’t much like, but that’s not the point.  The loved one is still our loved one and the disease is taking them into a place they don’t much like either.  Our friend Ila of long ago must have known somehow that she was falling into a deteriorating condition.  There were times when she would ask her husband or friends, “What’s happening to me?”  My own mother would say, “Something’s wrong with me.”  Gripping onto who they had been, both women were puzzled as they recognized changes which must have been a very frightening experience for them.  As friends, family and cargivers we need to know how to ease their worries and set their minds to rest.  When memory is illusive it’s all right to change the subject.  If they have been diagnosed then we can just blame it onto the disease.  If not the patient can feel at ease knowing they are scheduled to see their doctor.


 Check your community.  My friend Darline goes to adult daycare three times during the week. This is not only good for the AD patient, it’s good for her daughter caregiver to have a break.  Activities at daycare may resemble nursery school, but that’s all right.  Whatever keeps the Alzheimer’s patient occupied is a gift and just what they need.


 At home activities can be something the patient has been doing all their life.  I gave my mom, who had been an expert seamstress and needle woman, a small square of quilting so she could stitch the layers together.  Unfortunately, she had lost her sewing skills and complained about the needle and the thread, and then handed the project back to me.   Perhaps I had overestimated her capabilities and it was too complex at that point in her disease so I gave her a box of trim to untangle.  This she did with great relish.  It was a challenge which she understood and did by gently undoing knots and tangles, and then she rolled each piece into a ball. When one thing doesn’t work, then try something else.


 Yes, life with Alzheimer’s is different, but it’s when we finally accept where we are and where our loved one is, that together we can move on.  I try to think of this experience as my Alzheimer’s husband’s caregiver as just another chapter in our book of life. Remember they can’t help what has happened to them so it’s our responsibility to help them through their confusing Alzheimer’s world. 

Alzheimer’s World photo courtesy of Creative Commons.


Originally posted 2014-02-02 18:46:45.

The Suprising Optimism of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

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Lipizzaner Stallions

In reality, going to see the Lipizzaner Stallions would be impossible, but my optimistic self sometimes forgets.


November 15, 2014 –  As Ken’s caregiver for the past ten years I know with certainty that he isn’t going to get better, yet sometimes even myflash- optimism surprises me.  Of course he has some days that are better than others, but in the grand scheme of life and fate my husband is deep into Alzheimer’s disease.  And yet, there are times when I do forget – not really forget – but have a flash-moment every so often when I think of his illness as simply a bad cold or some other temporary setbnack.  You remember times when you  thought of things in the future when you said to yourself, “When he/she gets better we’ll go here or there, and “He would really enjoy seeing that, or he always  said he wanted to try sushi, especially with that super hot sauce.


 I believe it’s part of the human psyche  to be optimistic about the future and to think of times when things are better – at least things being better — if not the person.

 Recently when I have watched “Wheel Of Fortune” and the player wins a holiday at some distant exotic and exciting get-away island I think to myself.  Ken would enjoy a week there, and the flash-thought is immediately followed by, “ When he gets better we’ll have to check it out.”


 Several years ago I noticed numerous TV ads for the Lipizzaner Stallion shows.  A special breed of horse which has been trained in almost ballet performances where riders and horses are spectacularly graceful together.  World famous they travel throughout Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States.  Every time the ads were shown my mind dipped and I thought Ken would really enjoy watching that show. We had often talked about getting tickets in the past, but never did.  So, when he gets better, we’ll go. These thoughts, are momentary and brief because reality quickly sets in reminding me that my husband is deep into Alzheimer’s and cannot go with me, nor can we explore the new sushi restaurant that just opened uptown.


The poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, It might have been.”

But I don’t dwell on what might have been lamenting what Ken and I cannot do any more.  I strive to recall the good times we’ve had together and offer my gratitude prayers for what has been positive rather than dwell in what was possible had Ken not slipped away into Alzheimer’s disease.  Because this is reality and this is the moment, and this is where we live right now so it would be foolish to spend time and energy lamenting what we couldn’t do and can’t control.Yet, I am certain there will be times when something exciting comes my way and my underlying optimistic flash-thought, “When Ken gets better we’ll do that,” will run through my mind because that’s who I am.

Originally posted 2013-11-17 04:11:29.



Cat hiding under a blanket

A playful game of peek-a-boo with Gouda the cat helped me make a spring resolution to schedule time for “goofing off” and taking better care of me.


April 26, 2013 — I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions for many years, but I have decided to make a resolution this spring: to take better care of me.  As a caregiver that is often the most difficult of all tasks.  Being the first assistant to Ben and Crizaldo in caring for my Alzheimer’s husband Ken I do manage to visit friends, meet people for lunch and see some of the latest movies, but the one area which I have neglected terribly is taking care of the physical me.


 When Ken was well, especially after he retired and before AD we went to the gym and actually worked out three times a week.  Plus, he (some days coaxing me to go along) walked the dogs along the bay. Last year I managed to get to the gym all of a dozen times, if that many, although it was and is on my Monday, Wednesday and Friday to-do list.  Even though it remains at the top of my TDL the gym does manage to slip by the wayside when the list gets too long.

 At one time I also did a half-hour workout on my living room floor, but even that has been dropped from my Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday routine.  Nor have I been walking.  All of these activities have fallen into an “I don’t want to and I don’t care” bad-attitude phase.  I have asked me many times the “Why” question, but haven’t found a good answer.


Having lunch one day with my friend Madalyn I mentioned that I really didn’t care that my car needed some TLC, even though I felt a little embarrassed about picking her up with so much grime on the outside of my reliable vehicle. 

“I just don’t care,” I apologized, and then repeated the IJDC about a few other things on the list.

“Do you know that not caring can be a sign of depression and stress,” she said.

I have always thought I had a good handle on the depression demon and actually don’t feel too stressed.  However, I must admit that I have been hampered about getting things done because I have fallen into the habit of not caring.  Thinking I would start to care again once the warm weather arrived, the days grew longer and our skies were clear and blue, it was easy to procastinate.  I was certain I would snap right back into wanting to get the car washed – and caring – but it wasn’t happening.  Perhaps Madalyn was right.  Could I kick the “I just don’t care” attitude, feel better and less stressed if I could get beyond this rebelliousness?  Possibly, but how? 


Kristina dropped by for a quick visit and to give Ken his monthly vitamin B shot.  She is a very “up” person and right now she lives her life with her secondary goal as having fun.  That doesn’t mean to say she doesn’t earn a living.  She does and enjoys her work as a caregiver for disabled people, and has been wonderful, at times, helping with her Alzheimer’s grandfather.  Right now, though, she and her boyfriend are pretty much into amusement when they aren’t working, and she mentioned looking forward to the weekend so she could goof off.

“Hummmm,” I hummed, how long has it been since I goofed off wondering if I still knew how.  Ken, before AD, knew how to goof off and was an expert.  Watching sports on TV was goofing off and visiting with the neighbors instead of cutting the lawn were two of his favorite goof off non-activities.  I’m not sure if wives were as good at this talent as are their husbands, especially if life dishes them a full plate of Alzheimer’s complete with accessorized ramifications. there lives would perk alone like the early morning brew — bubbly and strong.   I’ll have to think about resurrecting this goof-off idea.


Gouda the cat and I have a continuing contest over “Whose bed (chair) is this anyway?”  She either occupies my computer chair or the bed after I get up.  So far it’s a standoff.  Going in the other day to make up the bed I pulled at the covers which immediately awakened the ball-of-fur feline.  Instead of leaving her comfort zone she attacked the moving blankets.  I pulled and she dove into the exchange. “Fun,” her action declared.

My arm went under several layers of blankets for protection from her sharp, needle-point claws which were in full flight as I snaked my hand in every which direction across the bottom sheet.  She was doing what cat’s do best — chasing  a moving object.  I reacted with full participation – always guarding against Gouda’s prowess skills and weapons which now included teeth and her back feet.  Bounding here and there she was all over the “map.” My armored arm, hand and fingers became her prey as she challenged them from on top of the swathed surface.  After several minutes I said to myself, “Good grief, I’m playing with the cat.”  Do you suppose that could be considered goofing off?  Playing?  Wasting time?  Indulging in nonsense?  If that’s what it’s called – then this could be the start of something big.  I’ll put that on my to-do list: schedule goof-off time — ten minutes to play with the cat — well, maybe at least five.

Originally posted 2013-04-27 12:08:07.


lonely desert road

A lonely stretch of desert highway similar to where Buddy had his accident


For the most part I dislike nicknames.  When I met Ken he was introduced to me as “Bud.”  Bud, I thought, he doesn’t look like a Bud.  Actually, I didn’t even know what a Bud was supposed to look like.  Perhaps someone small, around seven with no front teeth, but this Bud had his teeth and was over six feet, and rather handsome.  I just knew I didn’t like the name, Bud.  In making further conversation he mentioned that his uncles back in Colorado liked to call him Buckshot.


Ugh, that was worse than Bud was my second thought: “Buckshot?  Why?”

“Just nicknames,” he continued.

“Do you have a real name,” I questioned?

“Ken,” he answered.  “My full name is Kenneth Richard Romick,” but most everyone calls me Bud.  All of my life I have been Bud, and my sister Loretta has been Sis.”

“Do you mind if I call you Ken,” I asked. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-04-14 00:21:22.

Alzheimer’s Caregiving and More Service

March 29, 2013 – Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is more often than not just about all a caregiver can do.  Actually, that’s enough. Yet, outside of our AD world life goes on and for others there still is a need for someone who cares.

Sermon on the Mount

The greatest example of service that we can follow.

As the primary caregiver of my husband there is so much more involved than just the daily seeing and caring for his needs.  Still living in our home and having rental property to help with our income, it is a business requiring management and maintenance. That was something Ken handled as well as paying all the bills and keeping track of expenditures for income tax purposes, and so on and on.  I hadn’t properly appreciated him until I had to take on all of his responsibilites leaving not a great deal of time for doing much of anything else. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-03-30 18:31:28.


Man and woman in a canoe.

Borrowed from a Facebook post. Love the quote attached to it.

March 15, 2013 — Every so often we run across a story that touches our heart in many ways.  I have a lot of friends on Facebook; that social media thing which could command much of our time if allowed, but today I am pleased to have skimmed through and found my cousin Sara had added an Alzheimer’s video to my page, a story about an older male  caregiver, responsible  for his sweet wife.  I stopped and watched “Bill and Glad: a love story.” Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-03-16 21:44:11.


January 18, 2013 — Disclaimer up front:  Tattoos have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s.  However, Ken does have both.  Not tons of tattoos, but more than the average sailor from WWII.  He also continues his journey into the dense fog of dementia’s number one disease.

tattoo on shoulder

After just one tattoo Ken’s mom made him promise, “no more.”  16 tattoos later he obeyed.

A few evenings ago as I sat on the couch next to Ken’s bed watching Wheel of Fortune while my husband, having completed another day in his battle with AD, settled in for a good night’s sleep.  He turned a little, raised one arm high into the air, pulled at his sleeve until it fell past the elbow, and then scratched where it itched.  I glanced over to make sure he didn’t need anything more for his comfort.  In doing so, my eyes drifted to the array of pictures covering the  aging skin of his arm, and I thought of our third meeting (not a date) at my company picnic.

Ken didn’t work there, but our mutual friend Jim did and invited him to come along.  The men, already relaxed after a few beers in the sun, were tossing around a football on a nearby lawn.  Off to the side a pile of sports shirts grew as the players threw off their superfluous clothing in favor of either bare chests or white tees with a crew neck.  Good grief, I thought to myself, both of Ken’s arms are covered with tattoos. I did not know about his tattoos before the picnic and the discovery reminded me that I hated the ugly markings with  an unbelievable passion. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-01-19 08:02:18.

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