Alzheimer's

LOVE LETTERS AND ALZHEIMER’S

 

love letters

Love letters from the past bring thoughts of old times to this Alzheimer’s caregiver.

March 1, 2013 — Spending an evening with granddaughter Liz we ran across a decorative box filled with letters. 

Out of college she has traveled the world and was stopping by for a few weeks to visit with me and Ken before deciding what might be next on her youthful bucket list.  Memorable as our young beauty is her Alzheimer’s grandfather has shown no signs of recognition, viewing her with suspicion whenever she coos him a hello while passing his chair or chats with him for a minute or two.

OLD LETTERS

Holding the box and peering inside her big blue eyes opened wide as if she had found “pay dirt.”

“Yes,” I told her, “those are letters from me and your grandfather written before we married.  He was working for the railroad in central California and I lived and worked in San Francisco.  The two of us kept in touch by writing letters to one another.”

Love letters,” she asked?  “I suppose you could call them love letters,” I answered.  It was before we became engaged, during and right up until we got married.” Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-03-02 03:52:26.

ALZHEIMER’S AND THE ART OF DOWNSIZING

DOWNSIZING: TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Holding back full closet

Whether you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or not, downsizing is easier to do sooner than later.

February 1, 2013 – As we continue with life’s journey along its often bumpy highway there comes a time to think about, if not begin, downsizing; a polite way of saying “get rid of some of that stuff.”  Whether the husband or wife has Alzheimer’s, or any other kind of debilitating or terminal illness, isn’t necessarily part of this decision. Possessions – stuff – have a tendency to reproduce and accumulate; well perhaps not reproduce, it just feels that way.  However, stuff does seem to constantly collect jamming drawers, crowding closets and overwhelming the garage while the inhabitants continue searching for additional storage.

(Special Note: This blog has been nominated for  The Best Seniorhomes.com Senior Living Award, Personal Blog. Please give it a vote by clicking on the certificate to the left. Thanks!) Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-02-02 19:41:24.

JUNIOR THE CAT AND ALZHEIMER’S

“DEATH” COMES TO JUNIOR

orange tabby cat

Junior’s personality made him a good companion for my husband with Alzheimer”s.

November 29, 2012 – Two weeks ago we buried our big orange tabby cat who had been hit by a car in front of our neighbor’s home.  It was dark and near seven when our friend Debbie, who was the first to know, sent her granddaughter Drew to our house with the sad news.  “We’ll take care of him,” Drew said noting my gathering tears.  Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-12-02 16:38:51.

ALZHEIMER’S, PAIN AND THANKSGIVING

PAIN AND ALZHEIMER’S

 A woman cries in pain

Pain comes in many forms to different people.

November 16, 2012 – Pain:  Something we all experience in many forms yet it remains undecribed and unmeasured because there is no scale or other device to record those calculations.  The severity of the pain may be determined really bad as medics watch a patient’s blood pressure skyrocket under many kinds of duress, or the doctor will summarize it with, “She/he is in a lot of pain.”

A friend might say, “I feel your pain.”  Perhaps.  But to what degree?  So the remark should be graciously accepted for what it is: concern, sympathy, comfort, recognition or even empathy for where you are in life’s battle at that moment, and for what discomfort you are feeling – either mentally, emotionally, physically or all of the above. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-11-17 21:48:36.

EVEN 33 HOURS CAN BE A VACATION

My grand daughter Katie and her new husband Brian

My granddaughter Katie and her new husband Brian

July 20, 2012 — Alzheimer’s is a prison for the victim and often for the caregiver.  As caregivers, especially those of us who care for our loved one at home, we struggle against the confinement.  Keeping our head above water in the never-ending stream of responsibilities and duties we must fight diligently to give ourselves the needed breaks we not only deserve, but desperately need.  I periodically write about breaks” for caregivers and the different things we can do, places to go and the importance of friends not only to keep us as a viable part of society, but to keep us sane as well.  Undoubtedly, all of those suggestions seem to work for the day-to-day functions of our busy and often stressful lives. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-07-20 21:21:59.

IGNORANCE IS ALIVE AND WELL

June 29, 2012 – I cried today for Virginia even though we’ve never met.  If she and I were close enough I would

Caregiver crying

No matter what caregivers do, sometimes it’s not enough. It is important to not feel guilt for circumstances beyond one’s control.

have put my arms around her and we would have cried together feeling the despair, the anger and the guilt. I suppose I cried for humanity as well, for its ignorance and for all those who are afflicted with any of the diseases found under the Dementia Umbrella.  I would have cried for the countless numbers of caregivers because it’s the caregivers who feel so responsible living constantly with the “burden” of that insurmountable weight of accountability, and the awful smothering blame we feel when something goes wrong.  What happened to Virginia’s husband James was terribly wrong. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-06-30 04:37:53.

REMEMBERING MY FATHER

Edwin Weeks with horse

My father Edwin Weeks

June 15, 2012 — My father was a big burley man born at the beginning of the last century. With good looks, little education, and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit he managed to attract lovely Irene, artistic Irene and scholarly Irene. Having one semester of college she continued learning nearly all of her life. Their story is another of Alzheimer’s and love and caregiving.  In spite of his dirt-farmer background with no other experience, the couple moved from eastern Utah to San Francisco where he found sporadic work during the Great Depression. The dollars were scarce, but they managed, barely keeping their small family housed and fed.

THE WAR YEARS

“Give it a try,” Irene advised her hard-working, but reluctant, husband as he read the ad for workers at Vallejo, California’s Mare Island Shipyard, “all they can say is no.” Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-06-16 06:18:22.

THE ALZHEIMER’S LETTER

junk mail

Responding to donations for one cause resulted in a whole slew of more requests.

 

 

June 8, 2012 — There are times when I look back on Ken’s diagnosis and wonder if he went into immediate denial or if he just didn’t understand the full ramifications of Alzheimer’s.

CROHN’S

I did write about Crohn’s a while back in “Okay, Give Me My Shot,” loosely defining it because it has been a major health issue with Ken for decades.  Among the indicators of the disease is pain. To eliminate the pain and the accompanying symptoms of Crohn’s required an extreme change in diet.  High protein, low residue: meat, potatoes and white bread.  “That’s all,” the doctor said. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-06-09 04:50:06.

AFTER ALZHEIMER’S — WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW?

Author Ann Romick

Alzheimer’s caregiver and blog author Ann Romick

June 1 2012 — Good question.  As a caregiver, you can wonder what will happen after Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body dementia, MS, cancer and a host of other awful diseases that are, in most cases, terminal.  Spouses, lovers and family members become caregivers, and often caregivers become shadows of their former selves.  Not to be dreary – that isn’t my intent.  It’s just that as caregivers we are duty bound and love bound to our patients, and responsibilities filling our every minute with something to do: constant busyness – an observation to be given considerable thought.

THE RAT RACE

It’s a rat race not only out there, but in here as well, and caregivers are the runners. As a spouse you soon become aware of how much the other spouse did in this partnership, and now you’re accountable for doing it all.  Coming, going, rushing in every which direction to get it done and still there is more to do.  Each day ends in exhaustion: physical, emotional – most of the time both — but before you can drop into bed you must make one more check to ensure your patient is all right: covered, comfortable and asleep. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-06-02 02:59:27.

ALZHEIMER’S: WHEN THE DAUGHTER BECOMES THE MOTHER

adult-child silohuette

It’s a heart-rending transition, but when does it happen that the parent becomes a child and the child becomes the parent?

 

 

 

 

 

May 11, 2012 — There is never a set time for this exchange to happen.  It’s not like turning 18 when you’re miraculously transformed into a legal adult or being 21 and you can toss the phony ID before entering certain establishments previously forbidden, nor is it anything like having that first baby when the full glory of inescapable motherhood is thrust upon you.  The mother becoming the child and the child becoming the mother is an act of acceptance and compassion on the part of the child and never sought after by either adult.  Furthermore, not every child has the calling, challenge or even the temperament to accept the transition.  It’s a journey stumbled into as the older mother slips into a need either through old age, poor health or falls under the dreaded umbrella of dementia, which in our family is and has been  Alzheimer’s disease.

SO….  WHEN?

Was it when my mother, Irene, broke a hip and the doctor forbad her climbing any more ladders.  She had planned on painting the kitchen and felt frustrated at not being able to follow her schedule. To get the job done and soothe her jangled nerves my sister Janet and I painted it for her.  With her strong, but recovering, body and equally sound mind it wasn’t then that Janet nor I stepped forward to become our mother’s caregiver.  Mom wasn’t ready. We weren’t ready either nor had the thought even passed through out minds.  Perhaps it was a few years later  in the car when I suddenly braked and my protective arm flew out across her chest as I had automatically done for my children before seat belts.  Could that have been a beginning or was it when at 85 my mother began to lose touch with reality.

The stats tell us that if we live long enough one half of the population will have AD. In the case of my parents, the stats were right on target.  My father was as sound as the dollar had been long ago, and it was he who made the decision to leave their beautiful country home in Sonoma County, California and move closer to us on the east side of San Francisco’s bay because he could see his beloved wife of nearly 65 years slipping away.  “I don’t want to live with you,” he proclaimed as we searched for their new home, “We just need to be near you.”

ILLS AND BROKEN HIPS

They did well by themselves in the house nearby which was a 15-minute walk or a quick ride for Ken and me.  I saw them every day and whenever Dad called which was the case one evening when the phone rang.  “I think Mama broke her other hip,” he stated.  Already deep into forgetting, the recovery took longer than it should and she never really regained what was lost. Previously, she and I had taken short walks through the neighborhood.  No longer steady on her feet I pushed her along the same route in a wheel chair. Had I become the mother then?  Or was it when I helped her get ready for bed, or pulled a comb through her tangled hair and she screamed like a young banshee, and I scolded her? Could it have been when she needed to be checked by her p.c. and I held her hand during the exam, or the time before they moved when she had a painful kidney stone and I worried about possible surgery?  Was she the child and I the mother? Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-05-12 20:14:42.

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