Saturday, August 16, 2008

Same Old Story...

There is not much new to report. My grandmother has been in a whirlwind of activity with her vegetable freezing - peas and green beans (someone in her church brought her more than a bushel of green beans to string/snap, and another brought her figs for jam!) - and also some wormy apples in her neighbor's yard that she insisted on salvaging and freezing what was good. I guess she thinks she will starve this winter without these things. My freezer and my mom's both house the overflow of peas ... we may never need to buy purple hulls again! Now my grandmother most likely ASKED for all of this food, but why do people bring it... and certainly in a "raw" state? I would never take my grandmother anything that wasn't at least READY to cook, if not cooked and ready to eat.

I am seeing a steady decline in my grandmother, but I can't determine what is causing it... she complains of being tired and cold (although it is a zillion degrees outside in the Arkansas Ozarks summer!)... and she has definitely overdone it with too much activity of late. But still, she doesn't seem quite right - and she isn't thinking clearly at times - worse now than usual.

Last Saturday my cousin married, and my grandmother was considered a "grandmother of the bride" - although technically, she is only related by marriage to my grandfather. However, she looked like a million bucks in her carnation pink dress and jacket, vintage rhinestone earrings and matching beaded bag. She was given a corsage and escorted down the aisle to sit behind the bride's parents and treated like royalty. When I get photos, I will post some. She truly did look beautiful. And after the reception, she had my mother drop her off at a home downtown to visit a family reunion! I have no clue what time those folks finally took her home, so it's no wonder she is tired!

I am noticing more and more elderly men and women and observing how they handle daily living, and none seems to be trying to "conquer the world" like my grandmother. They pace themselves, get Meals on Wheels instead of cooking, and REST when weary. Today I am attending the 90th birthday party of my great-aunt Zula, a retired school teacher. Aunt Zula still lives alone, with a little bit of Home Health assistance and the help of a neighbor and her children and grandchildren. But she gave up cooking and relies on Meals on Wheels, and she is allowing her family and friends to do more and more for her so that she CAN continue to stay at home.

Yesterday, my grandmother's grocery list included salt pork, bologna, and a head of cabbage. I have no doubt she intends to fry the salt pork and cabbage, and I try not to think about the crackling grease that might spew and burn her tissue-paper-like skin. I also try not to envision her blanching peas and green beans in boiling water - or stirring the HEAVY saucepan of scalding candy for peanut brittle. My grandmother's biggest fear is having to return to the nursing home. Now if we can only convince her that in order to stay at home, she will have to chill out a little and let others do some things for her - and give up a few of the activities she so treasures, like cooking! Ah... if only it were that easy!

1 comment:

JJ said...

Hi Debbie
It is oh so hard to watch our loved ones age and take that inevitable trip down hill.

With the passing of the last couple of summers we have watched my Mom after her light heart attack about three years ago head down that trail. This summer even more than last summer she was telling stories she had made up and we knew full well they were not right. Sharon and I thought last summer Mom might be showing some signs of dementia, but other siblings did not believe us and said she was just trying to get attention.

Well long story short, doctors told her she needed to exercise, such as walking to help her spine and back problems, but she was not about to exercise and made it quite clear to everyone but me, and I took her to a spine specialist who told her the same thing about exercise, and then at my request, wrote her a prescription for four therapy sessions to learn some exercises which should help. She again was not going, but did not tell me.

I went to pick her up for the first actual therapy session and she was in bed fully dressed, in the fetal position with her shoes on. When I called out to her several times, she raised up and told me she had fallen because she was sick and dizzy. I called the ambulance which did not set well and she said she didn't need an ambulance. I told her she was going to the hospital since she had fallen and get checked out.

Long story short, we talked her into signing herself into the Behavioral Health unit for evaluation because they could find no evidence of a fall, stroke, or heart attack, and no explanation for the dizzyness and fall. I knew it was time to get her checked.

After five days in the unit, the diagnosis was Dementia with delusions, and it was strongly recommended she not live alone any more. They recommended an Assisted Living center as we also found out she had taken about twice the amount of Darvoset pain pills as were prescribed for her in three days before her fall, which could have contributed to it.

We found a great christian based assisted living residence that has a nurse to take care of medications, and she would qualify for assistance. A beautiful place with lots of activities, a rehab center, and lots of smiling faces were to be seen when we visited it.

Two of the siblings kicked up such a fuss that it finally came down to Mom will be shuttled around month by month to four different homes, which does not set well at all with me, but that vote won. None of my siblings have had any experience with people with dementia and do not understand they need structure and familiarity in their lives, not being uprooted every month. Only time will tell the true story, but I don't see a good outcome and don't think it is right for Mom. She has been ripped from her home of several years, (apartment), be alienated from her friends, and her familiar surroundings. All we can do is pray it turns out for the best.

Hope your grandma gets rested and does great.