Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Heat is On...

In case you are unaware, it's hot in Arkansas right now - REALLY HOT!  Grass is turning brown and crunching, some spots have had torrential rain while others have had none, and the "dogs days of summer" came about a month early this year.

None of this has deterred my grandmother, who told me, "I just hate for my yard to look bare."  For the record, bare would NEVER describe my grandmother's yard, and to make sure of it, she has been watering her flower beds and vegetable garden.  She claims she starts early - like 6:00 a.m. - but the humidity is so high here that even at that early hour, it's hard for someone her age, and with her health issues, to breathe.  So I should have known what was wrong when she told me yesterday, "I'm not real steady, and I can hardly go." 

On the way home from the hairdresser's, I mentioned that I would have to water our yard if we didn't get an afternoon thundershower.  Mam-ma replied, "Well, I watered and watered this morning, and now I'm give out."  ("Give out" is her term for being exhausted.)   AHA!  So this explains being unsteady and not being able to go!  Anyone half her age would be sacked out under an air conditioner after such a workout, but at 3:00 p.m., in 99-degree heat, she is trudging to my car for the ride back to her house and who knows what else!

Oh, and the air conditioner service call?  She got it... and the bill was sent to me... PAID IN FULL!  I called to inquire, and the receptionist said, "Oh, it's no problem...we can do that for her.  She's just so stinkin' sweet!"  I stuttered and sputtered and thanked the woman and said, "Not always, but thank you!"  She assured me that my grandmother was "so cute" and "knew my grandmother," and I realized... there is no telling what Mam-ma said to this girl.  I can hear it now... "Sugar, I'm just a poor widder woman... how much will this cost me?  I'm not sure I can afford it, but I sure need to have my air conditioner."  Or, "Honey, I'm on a fixed income, so I don't know how I'll pay for this, but I need it!"

I told my mother that I look at these things as "fodder for the blog," and I wondered aloud what I will do for material when Mam-ma is gone.  My mother said, "Oh, I don't know - I just hope your mother doesn't provide it!"  Somehow, I think I'll be just fine.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Timmy came yesterday morning early and stayed until mid-morning today.  This afternoon was "beauty shop" day and errands.  I went from a morning of diapers and chasing a toddler to an afternoon of Ensure and folding up my grandmother's walker!

My grandmother's grocery list included vinegar.  I just bought her a half gallon of vinegar either last week or the week before.  I said, "Now, I'm just asking... but whatcha gonna do with all the vinegar?"  As she shuffled slowly across the room, she said, "Well, I thought I might make pickles."  She has grown the cucumbers in her little garden.  I didn't say anything else - but I bought another half gallon of vinegar!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

There are No Safety Tips for Pole Bean Planting

My mom said she sat by my grandmother during the opening service at her church's Sunday School.  A deacon (who is in his 80's) slid a bulging envelope into Mam-ma's hands, and she quickly stuffed it into her purse as if it were diamonds!  It was pole bean seeds!  Mom said he began to tell Mam-ma how to plant them, and she said (I'm sure rather curtly), "Oh, I know how to plant them!"

For the record, summer has come early to the Ozarks.  It's 95 in the shade, with humidity almost that high... and a heat index well above 100 degrees.  The last place my nearly 98-year-old grandmother needs to be is puttering in her yard, much less planting pole beans.  I feel quite certain she has had my cousin (who has a heart condition) plant them for her, as he tends to planting much of her summer garden now.  But she did go out and water her plants and ferns last week, much to Mother's chagrin.  She said they needed watering!

When I did errands last Friday, Mam-ma said, "I talked to a friend, and she asked, 'Have you seen the baby lately?'  I told her 'No... GREG was supposed to bring him over to see me, and he never did.'"  Now, my husband did stop by to visit my grandmother one day (totally his idea and unbeknownst to me), and he did tell her that he would bring the baby by sometime when we were keeping him.  BUT... last week, my sister took the baby by for a 2-hour visit with Mam-ma, and the next day, the baby came to our house.  We did not see the need to return to Mam-ma's with said baby in such short order.  I reminded Mam-ma of this, and she said, "But Greg didn't bring him."  So you see, there is no pleasing her.  And I had to laugh - neither my husband OR my sister got credit for a visit and bringing the baby!

Summer is upon us, and I'm quite sure that it will mean phone calls for us to come pick up fresh vegetables... those grown by my grandmother - but more likely, the bushels and bags full that she will request from friends and church members.  She recently called one evening and asked if I wanted fresh lettuce.  A man in her church had just brought her a big bag full of garden lettuce... and my grandmother cannot eat lettuce!  Rather than refuse it and let him give it to someone who can eat it, she accepted the gift.  I had just bought lettuce that day, so I had all I could use.  I think she told my sister she tossed lettuce in her back yard - probably to lure the baby rabbit that ate her first crop of beans so she can have a chance at nabbing him!

Somehow, the "Ten Steps to Easier Care of Your Senior Adult" phamplet (see post below) did not have a section for preventing your grandma from gardening!  Maybe it should have... if you figure out how that's done, let me know!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ten Steps to Easier Care of Your Senior Adult

Knowledge is power... and I've harnessed many of my personal experiences into a list of ten steps that can help you better manage the care of your senior adult.  They are not rocket science, but I bet some of them will be new to you - or offered in a manner you had not previously considered.

The leaflet is only $3 and is available in PDF format... e-mailed directly to you.  You can order online using the info on the left-hand sidebar of this blog... PayPal and credit card payments are accepted. 

More informational data sheets may be offered at a later date.  If you have suggestions for topics that might be helpful, please contact me.  I welcome your feedback!

Just in Case...

Things have gone pretty smoothly of late with my grandmother's care.  She has been fairly agreeable, and she has thanked me often - and told me numerous times that she loves me.  Last week I took her to our local hospital for an outpatient check of her pacemaker.  I dropped her off at the covered walkway adjacent to the cafeteria, since we planned to have lunch there afterward.  It was a short elevator ride to her appointment. 

As I drove away, I thought, "Wait!  She's going to be 98 years old this fall, and I just dropped her off at the doorway unattended?"  But then I looked back and she was moving right along on her walker, entering the building.  I reminded myself she takes an almost daily walk around the block without any assistance, so while this was remarkable, getting inside a building by herself was no big deal... to her!

We kept Timothy for three days and nights last week, and he was so much fun, but we were pooped by the time he left.  He still doesn't consistently sleep well... a three-hour nap one day followed by no nap the next!  He fell asleep two nights running while eating dinner in his high chair.  I whisked him to a bath and into jammies... and then he got a "second wind" and was awake for a few more hours.  He walks and crawls everywhere, so we're in a constant state of motion when he is awake as we attempt to keep up with him.

Sunday, my grandmother phoned to ask, "Is it hot at your house?"  Yes, I assume it was the same temperature here as it was three miles on the other side of town.  The real purpose of her call was not determined... and that's okay.  At least it wasn't as bizarre as her call the Sunday before:

Mam-ma: "Are your mother and Lee gone?"

Me: "Yes, they went to have lunch with cousins in Quitman."
Mam-ma:  "Well, I just wondered.  Lee wasn't at church.  Your momma was there, but I didn't see him, so I wondered if they were okay."
Me:  "I don't know what to tell you.  Maybe he had to stay home and do something to get ready for their trip to Branson tomorrow."
Mam-ma:  "Well, I seen him headed toward the basement."
Me:  "The basement where?" (Their house has a basement.)
Mam-ma:  "The basement at church - that's where he parks his truck."
Me:  "So Lee was at church?"

Mam-ma:  "No, he wasn't at church.  He must have taught his Sunday School class and then left."
Me:  "Well, Mam-ma, I don't know what to tell you.  Maybe he got sick or something."
Mam-ma:  "Well, he played his trumpet with the band."
Me:  "So how did he play his trumpet if he didn't go to church?"
Mam-ma:  "He played with the band, but he didn't go to the choir after that."
Me:  "So he was at church?"
Mam-ma:  "Yes, but he didn't stay."
Me:  "I don't know what to tell you.  Obviously they have both gone to Quitman, so he must be okay now."

This was a bizarre conversation, to say the least.  I also told her at least twice that my mom and her husband were going to Branson for a week, so that my mom could do interviews and research for a book she is writing about the history of the entertainment industry in Branson. 

That evening, I related this conversation to my mom, and she said, "That is so weird.  I talked to your Mam-ma when we got home, and she asked if Lee was okay, and I said yes, and she said, 'Well, I didn't see him at church.'  I told her he was there and played his trumpet and sang in the choir as usual, and she said, 'Well I never saw him.'"  (Insert theme music from The Twilight Zone here!)

I tell all of this to explain my title - you knew I'd get to it eventually!  Several weeks ago, Mam-ma called one night and asked me if I thought she should have her air conditioner serviced, "just in case it doesn't work when I turn it on."  Now first of all, Mam-ma's house probably never gets any cooler than 85 degrees, so an air conditioner working at half capacity would most likely serve her needs just fine.  But I told her that it was up to her... the big worry on her part was whether she could afford it.  I assured her she could afford to have the unit serviced, but my husband told her that she should turn it on, see if it worked, and then decide if she needed service.  That was the last we heard about the air conditioner... until last night.

My phone rang about 6:30 p.m. as I was preparing our dinner... Mam-ma. 

Mam-ma:  "Debbie, I think maybe I better have my air conditioner serviced."
Me:  "That's fine.  Call Ricky (my cousin who used to work for a local company who did work on heating and air conditioning units) and ask him who you should contact.
Mam-ma:  "I just got off the phone with Ricky.  He told me to call XYZ.

Me:  "Fine.  We've used him before.  Call him tomorrow."
Mam-ma:  "Well, I'm not sure I can afford it."
Me:  "We've been through this before... you can afford it."
Mam-ma:  "Well, I really don't need it right now, but you just never know.  It's working fine for me, but I am just thinking about other people."
Me:  "You sleep on it, and if you want to call someone tomorrow morning, go ahead.  Have them send a bill, and I will pay it."
Mam-ma:  "Okay."

Figuring out why Timothy is cranky and crying is often a much easier dilemma than trying to decipher some of these "adult" conversations!  In the end, I can see that my grandmother is slipping, becoming more forgetful, and losing concentration.  I am taking one day at a time with her... and honestly, I find myself feeling more patient.  I know the time is short...and I am sure she senses that, too.  For now, we are taking things as they are, and as she would put it, trying to "make do."