Posts tagged ‘sandwich generation’

October 17, 2011

I hear the Sunrise symphony…..

People with dementia have limited, if any, filters. They say what’s on their mind and don’t give a hoot about manners. It can be shocking and hilarious at the same time to watch this in action especially at the dinnertime “symphony” at Sunrise.

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March 3, 2011

I suffer from inappropriate laughter syndrome

I have a laughter problem.

I don’t know why or how it started but I distinctly remember numerous incidents of uncontrollable laughter throughout my life, like cracking up during mandatory mass in Catholic School, or giggling during a very serious seminar course on architectural theory in college, or snickering during a fellow student’s presentation of sketches in grad school (though I still think I deserve a pass on that one-we were supposed to create sketches using magazine images and I swear this student used porn as his inspiration…).

For those of you who also suffer from this problem, and I know there are others…someone who shall remain nameless, not me BTW, laughed throughout her wedding vows…… I have developed a very simple technique to nip it in the bud. Pinch yourself! Pain stops laughter. I highly recommend a thigh or  upper arm, easy to do without being spotted.

Okay so last week I had a terrible incident of ILS. My father and I were discussing a project in his office while my mom sat beside us. She always gets frustrated when people are talking near her but not including her. At one point she stopped us and started insisting that we deal with “the people”. And boy was she was serious. My dad has developed a very sweet way of dealing with my mom’s nonsensical conversations. He politely listens and emphatically nods his head and says something like, “You are absolutely right.” or “Definitely, thank  you for the suggestions.” It’s a great technique for pacifying my mom and making her feel included. But for whatever reason last week I looked at my dad as he spoke to my mom and I burst out laughing.  I was mortified but as usual couldn’t help myself. These are my parents but still I don’t want to seem like an ingrate! I jumped up out of my seat and scrambled out of there to avoid a scene.

Around the corner I discreetly pinched myself, took a deep breath, then calmly reentered the room. Lucky for me my parents barely noticed. Phew! The last thing I want to do is make anyone feel self-conscious. I mean what kind of a person laughs at a sick man? Apparently me.

February 9, 2011

I Left My Purse At Brats Brothers

Yesterday was a challenge.

One of the duties I have at my son’s preschool is to go out into the community and solicit donations for the annual fundraiser. Last Friday I called Brats Brothers about a possible donation and the owner told me to stop  in on Tuesday afternoon to talk more. Tuesdays my mom is with me.

So it’s about time to go over to Brats Brothers and I have the following caregiver dilemma: my dad is at a meeting, my brother can’t come over, and my husband is working on two deadlines…..do I take my mom and the kids and make the meeting, or go another time and risk looking flaky? My mom had been off and on crazy and emotional all day, so I hand her a small glass of wine, get the kids dressed, and decide to make the meeting.

We head over to Brats Brothers and the owner is amazing, not only is he willing to donate to our event, he whips us up a sample platter, AND it turns out he used to be an architect! So of course we hit it off, chatting about the state of the architectural business; meanwhile my kids are puttering around the restaurant and my mom is, well, at first she was smiling but after a couple minutes of me gabbing with the owner she is now scowling, at him!  I whisper to him that she has dementia and he smiles and tells me his father is also suffering with it.

Skip ahead a few minutes, we are waiting for the sample platter and my mom is now pacing the restaurant angrily. Between watching the kids and calming her down, I try to hold a conversation with the staff members so we don’t look like a freak show. At one point I take her outside to try to reason with her but she is on the verge of tears. Finally I go inside and ask if we can take the sample to go, and the owner understandingly says, “No problem!”. A minute later we hightail it out of there and I avoid a major mom meltdown in public.

We head back to the house and my dad has just come to pick my mom up, my husband is taking out the trash and asks me for something out of my purse…my purse, my purse it’s in the car, right? Uh, no…..it’s nowhere to be found so it must be, OMG at Brats Brothers! Haven’t I caused enough commotion there for one day? My son and I head back over there where my purse is waiting. Once again I explain about my mom and once again the owners are nice and understanding.

The point of this story? Even though things are stressful, most people have a lot of empathy (or sympathy) for our situation. That goes for strangers, co-workers, fellow families at my son’s school. I don’t know if secretly people are ready to run away from us but outwardly their show of support and understanding is amazingly comforting. Thank you!

BTW the brats were amazing!

February 6, 2011

I Know They Mean Well….

I know people mean well when they give me advice or ask questions about my mom. I try to be open because I often don’t know the right thing to say to people in tough situations and have put my foot in my mouth enough times to get a taste of the pavement. But in all honesty there are a few questions/comments that drive me bananas.

I’ll post about the first one here, it goes something like this, “Beyond forgetting things, what else does Alzheimer’s do?” Hmmmmmmmmmm where to begin, forgetting what you did yesterday or what you had for lunch does seem harmless, but forgetting how to use the restroom, how to read, how to use a fork, how to even speak, well, it impairs your whole life.

At the beginning when my mom was just really forgetful we found a way to deal with the seemingly minute problems associated with memory loss. When she forgot to turn off the faucet and flooded the bathroom at work TWICE, we installed an automatic shut-off faucet, when she stored raw chicken in the fruit bowl, we politely threw it in the trash and cleaned up the sticky bowl. But as her condition progresses forgetting impairs every aspect of her life, she can’t dress herself, bathe herself, prepare food, put on a seatbelt or open a car door. And soon I know she will forget even the things she can do now, like call me by name, laugh, feed herself, draw…..

So while the question is well meaning, think through what you can do without any form of memory. You are pretty much left with nothing.