A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Archive for the ‘Mom’ Category


Raisins 1

Me: Mom, don’t you like raisins?

Mom: Yes, I like raisins.

Me: Then why did you take all the raisins out of your cookies?

Mom: Those aren’t raisins.

Me: Yes, you have oatmeal raisin cookies. Those are the raisins.

Mom: Oh. I thought they were just junk.

Me: Why would they put junk in your cookies? They’re raisins!

Mom: Okay.

Raisins 2

Me: Mom! Why are you still taking the raisins out of your cookies?

Mom: What? I can’t hear you.


Mom: Because I don’t want them.

Me: Do you want me to buy you different cookies that don’t have raisins?

Mom: Do you want them?

Me: No, I want you to have cookies you like. Do you want me to buy different cookies?

Mom: No, these are fine.

The Great Napkin Dustup

I like cloth napkins. I like having a substantial bit of cloth to completely cover my lap, catch crumbs, and absorb spills. I can launder them and reuse them over a matter of years and both my pocketbook and my conscience are satisfied with not having to buy consumable paper products. My husband prefers paper napkins. He says that once he’s used a bit of the cloth napkin, he’s never sure where a clean spot is for the next swipe of his mouth. In the spirit of marital harmony and choosing my battles, our household uses paper napkins.

I also like using generic products when they are of equal quality to name brands, but we’ve found that Bounty napkins are really better than generics or any other name brands. So, we have really good paper napkins. So good that Mom saves hers to reuse until she feels they are truly used up – which never actually seems to happen. I end up throwing away the used napkin stack every few days to keep it from taking over the table.

Mom's seat

Mom’s seat at the table

Since she is at home during the day, the napkin holder is right by her seat at the table so she can easily reach it at lunch time. At dinner time, since I sit in the middle of the table, I take napkins from the holder and pass them to my husband. A few weeks ago, I handed him napkins from the napkin holder and he immediately protested that they were dirty, and so they were. I asked Mom if she was putting dirty napkins back in the holder, but she said she wasn’t.  We finally decided that the cleaning ladies, who come every other week, must not realize that the stack of napkins are used and had put them back in with the clean napkins in the holder. I started trying to remember to throw them away more often.

My husband also keeps a short stack of paper napkins on the dining table near his lunchbox, so he’ll remember to take them each day. Last week he came home from work and told me that he had found that the napkins in his lunchbox had been used ones. That night at dinner, when he asked me to pass him a napkin from the napkin holder, I cringed a little, and carefully examined the paper napkins before handing them off. I couldn’t take it any more.

Napkin Solution

Napkin Solution

Fortunately, there’s a Target on my way home from work. We now have two napkin holders for the table. And I’ve asked Mother to start throwing her paper napkins away after every meal, but as these photos were taken this morning, you can see just how well that is working.

Busy Saturday with Mom

I told Mom we’d leave for the bank around 10:00 or 11:00. But since I didn’t get up until almost 10:00, my leisurely coffee drinking and morning surfing delayed our departure until around 11:30. And Mother only told me about three times that she was ready to go whenever I was, and just when was I planning on leaving. When we arrived at the bank, there was a bit of a line, about four people ahead of us. After a couple of minutes, Mom had to maneuver her walker over so that she could lean against one of the cabinets.

When we got back to the car, I told Mom we were going to have lunch before going to Fantastic Sams. She was underwhelmed and said that she wasn’t really hungry, but if I was we could do that. Then she asked me if I needed any money. I told her that I didn’t offer to take her to lunch expecting her to pay for it.

We went around the corner to Nosh! and split one of their breakfast sandwiches they press on Cuban bread. Very yummy. Mom ate every bite of hers, plus a bag of chips. Their special coffee flavor of the day was Honey Almond, which I had iced. Because you can never have too much coffee. Or at least I can’t. Especially not on perm day.

When Mom gets her hair permed, it looks kinda like this (except not blonde):

She’s worn this hairstyle since the early ’80’s. It’s easy for her to care for and she believes it hides that fact that she has a funny-shaped head. (I have never noticed that her head is shaped oddly – must be one of those childhood-anchored self-image things.) The hair stylists tell me that getting her hair trimmed a couple of times in between perms will keep it looking nice, because the weight of the hair that has grown out is what pulls  the curl out. But she won’t believe this, from me or the salon ladies, and so she just waits until it’s time for another perm before going back, which means that by the time I can get her to the salon, she has begun to look an awful lot like Brian May:


Wilma has been giving Mom her perms since we moved here over five years ago, but when we went today, we found that Wilma was no longer there. I thought this might be a problem, but Mother didn’t seem concerned and the owner assured us he could instruct the stylist on mom’s preferences. Her perms take about an hour-and-a-half (it takes awhile to roll up all those little blue rods), so I took myself across the street to Serenity Now to hang out with the very upbeat ladies always womanning the shop, look at all their colorful and bright-and-shiny objects, and try not to spend too much money (successful with #1 and #2, not so much with #3). After hanging out there for what seemed like enough time, I went back across the street to find that Mom still had about a half-hour to go. More waiting. Bummer.

I went next door to Gino’s NY Style Pizzeria, bought a large soda (Coca-Cola, with about 20% root beer – try it, really), and finally did my morning journaling at 2:30 in the afternoon. I grabbed one of their take-away menus to look over for our next “Try A New Restaurant Night”, since everything on the menu looked great, and the manager was very attentive, even though I was just having a soda and taking up space while waiting for Mom to be done.

When she was finally ready, we made our one last stop at the drug store to pick up her scripts and headed home, four hours after we had started out.




Lunch With Mom




Me: Okay, Mom! We’re through with our Saturday errands. What do you want to have for lunch? Mexican? Chinese? A sandwich?

Mom: I’ll just decided when I look at the menu.

Me: But if we want Mexican or Chinese we have to decide to go to that restaurant.

Mom: I don’t care. Anything’s fine.

(After our arrival at Daddy’s Grill)

Me: Oh, good – we can choose between the breakfast or lunch menus. I think I’m going to have breakfast. What about you?

Mom: Do they have Mexican food?

Mother and the Dementia Paradigm Shift

(Please note: this is a lecture slide, not Mom’s scan.)

This past Tuesday, Mother and I headed over to USF for her first-ever MRI.  She did wonderfully, and they got very good images, which they then handed to us on a CD to carry to our later appointment at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. After a nice lunch at Panera, we were able to make our noon appointment with Dr. Fargher with 10 minutes to spare.

While I waited in the lobby, Dr. Fargher escorted Mother back for an MMSE and evaluation. Afterward, it was my turn in the doctor’s office to talk about the results. Mother scored higher on the MMSE this time than she did when we visited two years ago. This does not usually happen. What made the biggest difference was one item that last time Mother didn’t even try, saying “I can’t”, that this time she attempted and got 4 out of 5 points for. I told Dr. Fargher that when we had visited before, Mother had only just started going to the Neighborly Care Network senior center, and for the past 1.5 years or so, she has been attending three days per week.

With the report Dr. Fargher had received from the imaging lab, and the CD I had in hand, we looked at the brain images together which showed some overall shrinkage (not uncommon given Mom’s age), very little shrinkage in the areas of the brain normally connected with Alzheimer’s, and a couple of spots indicating small strokes (ischemic incidents, for you medically-oriented family members). This indicates that most of Mother’s dementia is actually vascular in origin.

We also talked about Mom’s hearing loss, and the doctor mentioned that she had to resort to using a pen and paper to clarify some of the questions, and Mother was able to easily understand and answer, even doing fairly well on remembering a set of three words, after they were written down. The doctor suggested we keep a whiteboard handy at home for times when Steve or I didn’t feel like we were getting an idea across. We decided that Mother’s current meds were all good, and that there was no reason to set up regular appointments, but to call if any additional problems arose.

This really changes everything! 

The length of time from diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to death is usually 3-7 years, depending on what stage the person is when evaluated. Since Mom’s initial diagnosis for Alzheimer’s-type Dementia back in 2007 (no MRI done at that time), I’ve been worrying about how I would handle her inevitable decline, starting with having to work part-time so I’d be home with her anytime she wasn’t at the senior center, and of not being able to leave her alone even for short periods of time. I’ve been waiting for the horrible eventuality of Mom deteriorating into some mere shell of herself, not remembering anything or recognizing anyone.  

For vascular dementia, if the stroke risk is addressed, then relatively normal functioning can be maintained indefinitely. All this time, I just thought that her meds were working really well, as the decline we’ve seen is really minimal, and the memory loss patchy and not interfering that much with her daily functioning. (You don’t really need to remember what a hush puppy is in order to fix yourself a sandwich for lunch.)

With the realization that a lot of Mom’s seeming inability to grasp what we’re telling her is probably directly linked to her hearing loss, my falling-off-to-sleep self wondered last night about the possibility of us all learning some basic sign language. I already know how to sign “thank you” and “good morning” – maybe Mom and I will start working on that today.


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