Tips For Caregiver's

People with Alzheimer's disease frequently become more disoriented after dark or when waking. Leaving a night-light on in the bedroom may be helpful.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Next Chapter

It is with a sad heart that I write this post... Muddear left us yesterday to be with the Lord. While it sounds like a cliche even as I type, I know it is true - Muddear loved the Lord. I am thankful for the years I have had to care for Muddear. It was a shock to realize that I have cared for her for over 10 years. Five years in my home, a year and a half in the nursing home and almost five years while Muddear lived in her apartment after my grandfather died.

Caregiving has many ups and downs. There were times when the responsibility became overwhelming and then there were times when her laughter made it all worthwhile. There were times when I wanted to give up and then I would see the recognition in Muddear's eyes that she knew who I was and where she lived and there was a squeeze in my heart. There were even times when I wanted my life back with the ability to come and go as I pleased. And then I would remember how sick and depressed she had become at the nursing home and knew God had set me on this path for a reason.

For I know in my heart that being with Muddear, moving her into our home, prolonged her life by five years. As a grandparent she had given me many things. I was glad to have been able to give her those five years. That was the only thing she ever asked of me... "that if life would take a turn where she was unable to care for herself, could she live with me." I am glad that I was able to give Muddear that one thing. My life will have an empty spot that was once filled with caring for Muddear. I will miss her feisty personality, her stubbornness, and her joy.

I am thankful to God for His grace and mercy that gave us the strength to care for her. I am thankful for the family members (especially Sheena) and friends that assisted us in times of need. I am thankful for every nurse's assistant (especially Sharon), social worker (especially Bonnie), and nurse that made up our support system. I pray that God blesses you 30, 60, and 100 fold for your kindness and generosity toward us and Muddear.

And now we begin the next chapter in our lives. For five years, our lives have focused on two things: grandma and the kids. Grandma is no longer with us and the kids... well one is heading to college and the other has two years to go. My husband and I joked last night, that we could begin dating again. My heart fluttered!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hospital Discharge

This will just be a quick post for those that follow Dementia Thoughts. Almost two weeks ago, Muddear was discharged from the Hospital. Both the blood transfusion was successful as well as the round of antibiotics to cure the pneumonia. Unfortunately, a few days prior to discharge, Muddear took a downward turn and to date has not been able to recover.

She is home with us and we have signed on with hospice to assist with Muddear's care. At this moment, although weak and non-responsive, she is resting peacefully and listening to the "spirituals" - Flossie's word for gospel music or any church related program on television.

I will keep you posted on her condition.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Year Another Blood Transfusion

About three weeks ago, after Muddear's respite stay at Brookwood Retirement Community, it was time for a doctor's appointment. Thank goodness! I was worried that she was coming down with another upper respiratory infection - Muddear had been complaining of a severe sore throat and coughing.

We utilize visiting physicians - what a blessing to have doctor's come to your home instead of the cumbersome job of transporting a wheelchair bound person from home to doctor and back again. The doctor - Dr. Amin - ordered chest x-rays, which thankfully came back negative. Additionally, I requested blood work, because it had been a few months since Muddear had blood tests. This is critical due to the sheer number of medications she has been prescribed. Surprisingly, Muddear's hemoglobin levels came back extremely low. As you know, Muddear is normally anemic, nevertheless I was quite surprised when the doctor advised that I should take Muddear to the hospital for a possible blood transfusion. Surprised, but not alarmed - we went through this same "exercise" in March of 2009.

Typically, we take Muddear to Mercy Hospital - this time was no different. Let me take a moment to say kudos to Mercy's new ER check-in process. Within 30 minutes Muddear had a room and had been seen by an aide, her nurse, and the doctor! Never before have I received such speedy and attentive service in the emergency room. Kind of like an episode from Gray's Anatomy!

So fast forwarding this account...

Muddear did in fact receive a blood transfusion. For those of you with small veins, be advised that if a small IV needle is used for your IV it is not large enough to accommodate a blood transfusion. A PICC Line (pictured in the beginning of the post), by definition and per its acronym, a peripherally inserted central catheter. It is long, slender, small, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, typically in the upper arm, and advanced until the catheter tip terminates in a large vein in the chest near the heart to obtain intravenous access. It is similar to other central lines as it terminates into a large vessel near the heart. However, unlike other central lines, its point of entry is from the periphery of the body the extremities. And typicallythe upper arm is the area of choice. (This information was pulled from the website, PICC Line Nursing:

Once inserted an x-ray must be conducted to confirm accurate placement - see picture to the right. I was once again surprised - this time to discover from the x-rays - that Muddear now had pneumonia. That is, however, a story for another day. With the PICC Line in position, Muddear was ready to receive her two units of blood. The procedure went incredibly well and Muddear was subsequently treated for pneumonia and later discharged, but not without some drama. That will be the subject of another post.

Graduation and Respite Stays

I haven't posted in a few weeks. Things have been hectic in our household.

Earlier this month, May 1st to be exact, I attended the official commencement ceremony for my Masters Degree. Yay!!!! We took grandma to a respite stay for the weekend. I tell you, Brookwood Retirement Community has become a strategic alliance. Unlike recent times past, we had no problems with Muddear's stay.

We returned home with the things we packed. The nurses and aides were there waiting when we arrived. She was checked in and I was able to leave within 30 minutes. Nevertheless, we had a great weekend getaway - at least as great as you can driving up to Marion, Indiana on Saturday, May 1st for graduation and returning on May 2nd. There were, however, several highlights of the event. Obviously the graduation signifying the end of that chapter in my life. Additionally, meeting up with "friends" that I only new online. Putting a name with the face was great! Finally, having dinner with my online friends and their families.

As always, I am thankful for respite stays that allow caregivers the opportunity to get away. If you are a caregiver, make sure you find out how you can take advantage of the benefits of a respite stay for your loved one.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How the iPad Has Changed One 99-Year-Old Woman’s Life

There are times when two mutually exclusive events collide to create unexpected yet amazing results. During the last few weeks there has been significant media coverage about the release of Apple's new iPad. Like many others, I eagerly anticipated the iPad, because of my love for new technology. Never in my wildest imagination did I consider the impact this new product could have on the life of an elderly person like, Virginia, the woman in this story written by Ben Parr at Mashable...

"We’ve seen iPads and cats go viral. We’ve seen iPads and dogs go viral. But the latest iPad YouTube sensation is far more special: it depicts how the device has changed one 99-year-old woman’s life.

99-year-old Virgina Cambell of Lake Oswego, Oregon is an avid reader, according to The Oregonian. Unfortunately she has glaucoma, which affects her vision and makes it difficult for her to read books. Her solution? The iPad, which is her first computer according to the now-viral video depicting her with the device. Its ability to change fonts and increase screen brightness has given her the ability to read again. It has “changed her life,” according to one of her daughters.

She’s even used the device’s virtual keyvboard to write limericks, like this one about her new Apple tablet:

To this technology-ninny it’s clear
In my compromised 100th year,
That to read and to write
Are again within sight
Of this Apple iPad pioneer.

Apple has to be loving this type of free advertising for its newest product. With more stories like this one popping up every day, it’s no wonder Apple can’t keep up with iPad demand."

Check out the video:

For caregivers, there is always joy to be found when a product or service changes the life of the one we love for the better. If you have a story of your own, please send to it would be a blessing to share with the readers of Dementia Thoughts.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hair Net Surprises

Muddear wears a hairnet - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So imagine my surprise when I realized that she had removed her hairnet yesterday and sat around bareheaded all evening. Of course, if Muddear didn't mention the fact, I wasn't going to either.

At bedtime, after assisting Muddear with changing from clothes to nightgown, I picked up her hairnet and proceeded to unfold it. It was then I realized the reason why Muddear was not wearing it. The hairnet was covered in feces! Apparently she did not see the toilet paper next to the bedside commode and commenced to utilize her hairnet to handle her business.

So here is the insanity that travels from Dementia patients to their caregivers. I was disgusted by the feces covered hairnet, but thankful Muddear realized the need to clean herself by any means necessary. So I tossed the hairnet in the trash and life proceeded like normal... with a twist!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Full Moon

I have never been one to keep up with the cycles of the moon. I have no idea from one day to the next whether it's going to be a full moon, half moon, or quarter moon. However, the last full moon was on Tuesday, March 30, 2010. With the full moon came increased confusion for Muddear. For the sake of clarity, I am not saying there is a connection between Dementia and the lunar cycle. But, what I am saying, is that was the last time Muddear exhibited "normal", and I say that lightly, behavior.

For almost two weeks Muddear has gone through cycles of non-eating and then eating again. Refusal to sleep for 24 hours straight to refusing to stay awake. Arguing and fussing non-stop to very short periods, and I mean short, periods of silence. Every other night Muddear barricaded the door with her wheelchair or tray table or anything else she could find. A few nights, Muddear completely trashed her room. The sheets were pulled off the bed, her clothes were pulled out of the drawers, and her furniture was rearranged. I'm still not sure how Muddear accomplished this feat! And then there were the nights she spent paranoid and full of fear.

There have been no changes in Muddear's medication. Typically, when this type of behavior occurs, I request the doctor or nurse to conduct a urine culture to determine if Muddear has a urinary tract or bladder infection. This time I did not, because in the past, the answer has always been No. I will wait another week.

The next full moon is supposed to occur on April 28, 2010. I can only hope that Muddear will return to "normal" before then.