Tag Archive | ageing

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Simple Words, Not So Simple

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

So I’m still thinking about getting something for Mom to exercise her brain. I haven’t decided whether or not a tablet is the right tool yet but I’m still going to go look at a few to get a better idea. Someone suggested getting a child’s tablet, but when I researched that online I could only find ones that had very juvenile games. I’m not looking for kids games actually, but more like memory games, quizzes, math challenges – that sort of thing.

I’ve notice more and more lately that my mom is having a hard time with simple words. I can tell it’s frustrating for her because she knows what she’s looking at when she’s talking about it but can’t get the name of it to come to her. For example, when I went over last night she said, “I can’t find my _______.” Of course my first reaction was, “Can’t find your what?” I could see that she was struggling with trying to find the word but it just wouldn’t come to her. Then the hand signals started (I’m terrible at Charades!) and I could see she was getting frustrated. And then she looks at me as if I should know what she’s talking about and says, “You know, my thingy, my ______.  Blog - Pic 123

Well I did finally figure out that she was talking about her cell phone. My first thought was that she flushed it down the toilet (again) but then she mentioned she heard it drop by her sofa. I did the usual first attempt at finding a lost cell phone – I called it using my cell phone. Well I didn’t hear her toilet ringing, so that was a good thing, but I couldn’t hear it ringing anywhere, which means she probably turned the volume down accidentally, as she often does. 

After looking under, over, and around things, I did finally find it – so all is good! I wonder if playing ‘brain games’ will help at this stage of my mom’s life?

What I Learned: I can finally tell my husband that playing games online all these years is good for me! 🙂

Caring For An Elderly Person: Mom Wants To Party!

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

One of the biggest things I have learned while caring for my mom is that she just doesn’t want to be left out of anything – no matter what it is. I can never figure out why she doesn’t understand that I really do want to spent time alone with my husband and do things with him that don’t include other members of my family. She always asks if she can go with us everywhere and makes me feel bad when I say no. She gives me that look like I never want to include her.Blog - Pic 120

Honestly, does she really think we want to (or should) take her to a party at friends houses? Or take her to a get together with friends at a pub? I don’t remember “hanging out” with my parents when they went to parties…. nope, I wasn’t invited.

The dilemma: What do I tell my mom when  my husband and I want to get away together. I know, I shouldn’t have to tell her anything. I’m a grown woman with my own life, and it’s normal to do things that don’t include Mom. It’s just hard to explain that to her. And telling her the truth means I have to deal with the guilt trip she lays on me, not to mention the stress it puts on my mom too. 

So, after countless attempts to enjoy a night out with my husband and dealing with the backlash from my mom, I figured out the best way to handle this situation… lie! Actually, I don’t look at it as a lie, I look at it as a way to have less stress in my life (and my husbands) and less stress for my mom. And when I tell her “it’s work related”, it’s not really a lie – I honestly do something work related whenever I’m with my husband. After all, we do run a business together. 🙂

What I Learned: Enjoy the party while you can! 


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Don’t Eat The Gingerbread House!

Blog - Pic 116“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Yes, the holidays are upon us and the decorations are going up! Mom has two little Christmas trees that she’s had forever – one that is “her’s” with decorations that relate to her years of travel with my dad, and one that is “his” (my dad’s) with decorations that relate to him from their travels. There are some really cool items on those trees, that’s for sure.

I got the trees out and placed them in her living room for her to enjoy. She asked me how they got so small  (what?) and wondered where all the ornaments went (what?).  I guess for some reason she thinks someone stole some ornaments – possibly during the move?  During my research on the elderly I’ve read that thinking things are missing or being stolen is a common occurrence. It’s really difficult to trying to explain to my mom that nothing is missing – she just doesn’t believe me. She also thinks the caregivers are taking her pencils – I’m not sure how she’d think that considering she has a million pencils lying around all over the house.

So the other day our son stops by my mom’s to bring her some gingerbread creations that he had made for her – a gingerbread Christmas tree and four gingerbread houses.  He sets them down on her cabinet beside her tree and arranges them like a little town for her (he’s so sweet!). She is so happy to have them and gives our son a big hug. Then she asks him, “When can we eat them?”  We explained that they are just decoration and not edible. She seemed disappointed but still appreciative.

Later that night when I went over to check on her before bed she was still going on about how great the gingerbread ornaments are and how wonderful her grandson is. We chatted for a bit and I did my usual routine of checking to make sure she was situated for the night. On my way out she calls to me and asks, “When were we going to eat the gingerbread house again?”

I’m afraid when I go over there tomorrow the gingerbread tree and houses will be gone! Uh oh!

What I Learned: Be careful what you bring into the house – you can’t be sure what the mind is thinking.





Caring For An Elderly Parent: Dealing With Caregiver #2

Blog - Pic 106“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

We all know that I am Mom’s primary caregiver, but like all jobs, we could all use a little help. Enter Caregiver #2 – Alameda.  We started having Alameda come seven days a week from 9 AM until 5 PM – seemed like normal working hours. Well I quickly realized that those hours weren’t working for me because of my routine with Mom and because of the working hours my husband and I keep.

You see, my daily routine consists of the following: up at 9 AM (there about… I know, bankers hours), put the coffee on, go next door to give Mom her medication, read Mom’s notepad to get a feel for what she’s been doing, refill her juice glasses she keeps in the fridge, check her thermostat, and put out her garbage if needed. Head back home, get our breakfast ready while my husband takes care of business on the phone, discuss our schedule for the day while we eat breakfast and then I head back over to Mom’s to check on her and see if she needs help with her breakfast, and whatever else she may need help with. Then my husband and I would get on with our day, which usually had us travelling and not returning home sometimes until after 5 PM. Well that just didn’t work! My mom is extremely uneasy when she is left alone – especially when it gets dark and she knows no one is on the property.

So I realized that having a caregiver there during the morning routine was very stressful for my mom, as well as not having a caregiver there later than 5 PM. It was also stressful for me. So realizing that, I had to rethink the schedule, talk it over with my husband, and put the changes into play.

The new schedule is now in place with Alameda coming from 11 AM to 7 PM. This has been working out quite well for my mom and me, so I feel good about accomplishing what we intended to do – that is, have a schedule that works for all of us.

What I Learned: Schedules are meant to be changed if it benefits everyone.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Finding A Second Caregiver and What To Do With Them

Blog - Pic7
Deciding on a caregiver was quite stressful for me. I just had so much going through my mind about it that I couldn’t think about much else. I knew Mom needed someone to help with her daily routine but I had trouble figuring out a schedule – after all, this is the first time I’ve done this.

So… after talking it through with my husband and really giving it a lot of thought about what would work best for all of us, we decided to try having someone come in during the day while my husband and I are the busiest.  Now all we had to do was figure out who to call to find the right person.

I talked with my mom’s primary doctor to see if he had any suggestions; I talked with a gentleman we know who runs  two assisted living houses; I called numerous agencies to get information on the who, what, when and how much; and I talked with a caregiver we had when my husband and I went away. One thing I did learn is that it was going to be expensive having someone come in eight hours a day, seven days a week – most agencies charge between $18.00 – $26.00 per hour.

After more talks with my husband, we decided to give the caregiver we had when we went away a try – her name is Sue. Sue has been working in the caregiving industry for many years and has about five caregivers working with her as well. So Mom will have one main caregiver and others that fill in at times.

OK, so we’ve figured out the who, the when and the how much, now we have to figure out the what… meaning what do we need the caregiver to do to help with Mom’s daily routine? My mom is so particular about everything and she has a real problem having strangers in her life. She’s never be very sociable and definitely has some OCD going on, which is going to make things a bit touchy having a strange person in her life who wants to “help”.

So we’re going to “ease” Mom into this new situation. She was not a happy camper about the whole thing but considering all her options would be uncomfortable, this is the best uncomfortable option we have.

What I Learned:  Dealing with an ageing parent is not easy; especially when it comes to handing them over to someone else.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Sleep Deprivation = A Whole Lot of Stress For Me

Yawning Smiley“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I think I may have figured out why my mom goes completely berserk when there are people working in her house – sleep deprivation.  And not only that, it probably has a lot to do with her OCD – her routine is completely out of whack. The last few times that we’ve had work done on the house my mom has been so out of sorts. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with her, but now I do.

If you remember my previous posts about how my mom was acting when the workmen were here, you’ll remember how bizarre it was. Well this time wasn’t any different – maybe a little more bizarre. Not only did Mom keep locking the door on them again, but this time she was hearing people knocking in her bedroom and she kept unplugging their power cord.

Not only does Mom hear and do strange things, she just seems to get really wiggy about everything. She calls my cell all day long, she keeps thinking she hears me outside her door when it’s actually the workmen talking (I guess I sound like a male Mexican), she asks about going out to eat every time I talk to her and keeps asking about it even when I tell her we won’t be going out, and then she asks me why I never tell her anything – when I actually have.

The only thing that changes when the workmen are here is the fact that she doesn’t sleep. Her normal routine is to basically sleep on and off all day – lately it’s been mostly on. I can tell that Mom is tired, and even when I try to persuade her to nap she refuses to believe that she is tired. I know if she sleeps she’ll feel so much better.

Well my theory was proved right. Today Mom slept while the workmen were here and she seems so much better. She even said to me that she feels better when she sleeps. I hate to say I told you so, but…..

What I Learned: I’m learning how to “read” Mom’s signs and figuring out a way to deal with them.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Call The Police – There’s Nobody There!

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Three-thirty AM…. ring, ring. “Angel, there’s people at my door…. bring the gang down the street.” I didn’t think much about what Mom was saying at the time – my husband and I just bolted out of bed and ran next door. We were pretty sure it was another one of Mom’s hallucinations but you just never know. I’d feel terrible if there really was someone out there and I ignored it.

My husband took off around the front of the house and I headed inside to see Mom. She was lying on her sofa, not looking very upsetBlog - Pic 112 at all. I asked if she could still hear them and she said yes. I could not. Then Mom asked when the police would arrive. I told her the police were not called. She looked at me as if I were crazy and said, “I told you to bring the gang down the street.” Oh, now I get it. The “gang’ down the street is the police – the police department is just down the street from our house.

My husband came inside and told us there was nobody around and no one on the street in either direction. We both knew it was another hallucination but there was no way we could tell Mom that – she was positive she heard them. It was hard for me to explain to her why we weren’t calling the police without telling her she was hearing things again. I tried a bunch of different tactics, none of which seemed to really help.

Unfortunately, the only thing that got Mom to calm down was me telling her that maybe we’d have to find her a different place to live if she wasn’t feeling safe and secure in the house – somewhere that had 24 hour security and people around all the time. She knew exactly what I was talking about, and although I wasn’t trying to make it sound like a threat, she was probably thinking that a home for the elderly was the last place she wanted to be.

So I spent some time comforting Mom and she seemed to calm down after a bit. She got to sleep finally – I did not.

My mind was whirling around trying to figure out what I can do with these late night calls about nothing. At least it’s not happening often. My husband and I will need to talk about this situation again – what are we going to do if it continues and becomes too difficult for us to handle?

 What I Learned: Taking care of my mom may get more and more difficult for me to handle as she continues to age – I may have to make a change in the near future.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Now We’re Going To A Party!

Blog - Pic 111“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I really felt bad for Mom the other day. Her hallucinations seem to be getting worse and I’m having a hard time dealing with them. She seems to have the most hallucinations when my husband and I are away from home for most of the day. Like the other day, I stopped by Mom’s and told her I was leaving with my husband for work and I’d see her when we got home. I’ve learned from past experience that I never give my Mom an actual time that we’ll be home because she will hold me to it.

So on our way home I called our son to see how things were going with him. He just happened to be outside talking with my mom at the time and Mom was questioning when I’d be home. I told our son we’d be home in about 30 minutes, which he relayed to my mom. We did get home within 30 mins but I didn’t talk with my mom right away because we had some internet problems we had to deal with – oh boy, what a mistake.

While I was on the phone with the internet company my mom must have called through about 5 times. Since I didn’t answer she started calling our son’s phone. Finally I went over to her house and asked her what the problem was – why was she calling so frantically? She told me I wasn’t home in 30 minutes and she was worried and then she saw me get into our son’s car and leave. What?! Then she asked me how the party was. Wait…. what party?

She was so positive that I was at her house earlier telling her that we were going to a party. I’ve tried telling her that what she’s seeing and hearing is really not happening, but obviously to her it is real. She truly believes we went to a party and there’s no telling her any differently.

So….  do I go along with her hallucinations? Do I stick to my story and tell her what she saw and heard is not real? Everything I read says don’t tell them their hallucinations are not real – it will just upset them. Yup! That is true. But going along with them can lead to other problems – my mom would want to know why we didn’t take her to the party with us!

What I Learned: Hallucinations are real to the person having them and it’s impossible to convince them otherwise.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Cell Phone Nightmare

Blog - Pic 98“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Is it just my mom or do most elderly people have a problem understanding someone on a cell phone? Honestly, it’s like trying to talk to someone who doesn’t understand English. Is it her hearing? Is it her cognitive ability? Maybe both?

The other night I called Mom back after she left me multiple messages – which I couldn’t understand. The first thing she always asks me is “Are you home?”  And for some reason when I say yes she always says “No?” It takes a few back and forth ‘yes’ and ‘no’s’ for her to get it.

Then we’ll talk about the simplest things and she’ll twist everything around.She’ll have us going to a party and ask when we’ll be home, then she’ll have us going to bed when it’s seven o’clock at night.

I get a little stressed with it because while I’m trying to correct her she keeps talking over me and making things worse. I’m not really sure how she hears some of the things she hears (like us going to a party) but it certainly makes for an interesting conversation. I’ve gotten to the point now where it’s just easier to go over and talk with her instead of trying to converse on the cell phone.

And, of course, it’s always MY cell phone that’s the problem, or MY hearing that’s the problem. Oh…. don’t get me started on MY hearing problem….

What I Learned: Arguing doesn’t make things any better…. and stay away from the cell phone!


Caring For An Elderly Parent: We’re Going To A Concert!

Blog - Pic 110“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

The mind is an interesting thing. The one thing I’ve never understood about ageing is hallucinations. Today was a very strange day with Mom – I wonder if it has anything to do with the events that have happened over the last few days because Mom has been out of sorts for a while now.

But today was just strange. My husband and I thought we’d take Mom out for dinner since she’s been asking to go out for the past couple of days. We don’t usually go out during the week because we are so busy, but for some reason Mom has mentioned going out to eat every time I’ve seen her. She is always so happy about going out to eat that I thought that this is just what she needs.

So off we went to a local restaurant where everything went well. Mom enjoyed her dinner (as did we) and, of course, she took home a dessert for later. We noticed that she was not quite herself tho, so when we dropped her off at home I told her I’d come over a little later and spend some time with her.

A few hours later I went over to see how she was doing. My husband came with me to check her kitchen tap (which she mentioned earlier was leaking) – so he got to see Mom in one of her “confused” moments. When we walked in the back door she was on her cell phone calling me, and then she told me she was all ready to go to the concert.

What? She had her shoes on and everything. I, on the other hand, was in my pj’s ready for bed. So Mom starts telling me about how Elsie and Harry (her deceased sister and brother) were telling her to call me so we wouldn’t be late for the concert. Mom couldn’t remember what concert we were going to but I had lots of tickets and a whole bunch of us were going. WOW! My husband looked at me with a WTF look on his face.

I took Mom into the living room and we talked for a bit. She explained what she heard and who was saying it and then I explained that we weren’t going to a concert. She looked at me like I was lying about what went on – she really believes that the whole concert conversation happened.

I’m really having a hard time dealing with Mom’s hallucinations because she believes they are real and can’t understand why I keep telling her they aren’t. Should I NOT tell her they aren’t real? I can’t try to pretend that it’s real. Am I doing more harm than good by trying to let her know that what she’s hearing is in her mind?

It’s just getting weirder and weirder  every day. I usually try to let her know that the noises she hears can be explained by normal old house noises, like irrigation pumps under the house, A/C running, the washer/dryer running, the refrigerator making noise, etc. so she feels more at ease. The one thing I can’t explain to her is the people in the TV behind the program running singing or talking – that is just unexplainable.

What I Learned: I am going to do what ever I can to keep my mind from hallucinating – I sure hope I can.