Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Sauce recipe - A Favorite of Mom's

This recipe is an all time favorite of my mothers. She used to make this all the time when I was a child and a teenager; she would pour it over our ice cream. It is from an old recipe book of hers that I now have in my posession called "Custom Osterizer Recipes". This book was copyrighted in 1962 but I'm posting it anyway since it's 50 years old. The cost of this book at the time was $1 (unbelieveable). This book is in fragile condition, even has chocolate sauce stains, as you can see. Anyway, here is the delicious recipe!

Chocolate Sauce
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, cut up
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons hot milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt

Method: Put chocolate, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a 1/2-pint OSTERIZER jar. Add the hot milk. Use processing blades without the rubber gasket. Process at Hi Speed until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).
Yield: 1 cup

I hope you will give it a try then come back to my website to comment on how you liked it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Background Information on Mom

Mom is 74. Up until she was diagnosed with heart disease Mom was a heavy smoker. At the age of 40 she was diagnosed with severe coronary artery heart disease and she underwent her first double bypass open heart surgery. Six months later her bypasses failed and had to undergo another double bypass. We were told she would not live to the age of 42 and Hospice was brought in. Needless to say Mom lived beyond her given lifespan. In 1994 she had her third bypass, this time a triple. It was a risky surgery, we all said our good-byes to her before she was taken back to the operating room because we knew the odds were not in her favor. Mom actually died on the operating table and was brought back with the shock paddles.
Over the years she had several angioplasies and received a stent or two.

Since all of this Mom also was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, a host of other smaller but difficult ailments, and now dementia. She also has an inoperable leak in one of her main heart valves (I can't remember the medical term for this) which requires her to be on oxygen. Because of all of these medical conditions the typical medication used to treat symptoms of dementia are no good for her.

My parents still love each other deeply. My father stayed by my mothers side through it all, never once having an itch to leave. A true love story. Much of the time throughout Mom's illnesses my father was a single father. Mom was in the hospital for months on end.

My father is struggling so, losing his bride of over 50 years this way. He still doesn't believe it and (I think) has adjusted his reality much of the time to hers, believeing that her truth IS the truth. To my sister and me it is frustrating but apparently it is his way of coping. I cannot imagine his pain and grief. My sister and I are in pain and grieving too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Misc. Thoughts and Facebook

I saw Mom on Monday and she was in such a good mood. Full of smiles and hugs.

On Tuesday morning Mom called and said she hadn't seen or talked to me in a while and wanted to check in to see how I and my family were doing. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had seen her less than 24 hours ago. Instead I went along with her reality and told her a theraputic lie. I told her that I was sorry I hadn't been around, that David and I had been very busy with our kids schedules with their spring sports. In all honesty though, that really wasn't a lie.....the kids spring sports are now in full swing.

Wednesday afternoon I received the same call from Mom, again saying that she hadn't seen or talked to me in what seemed like several weeks.

Yesterday (Thursday) I talked to my sister. She told me that Mom had called her on Wednesday to invite her to lunch at 11:30. Camille went to the deli where they agreed to meet (Mom's caregiver would have taken her over). Camille said she waited and waited and Mom with her caregiver never showed up. Camille said she tried calling Mom at home and on Mom's cell phone but no one answered either phone.

Apparently Mom's caregiver had not been informed of the lunch date plans that Mom set up with Camille. Later that day Camille mentioned it to Dad. Dad said Mom had no memory of even talking to Camille.

I have started a fan page on Facebook because I have had over 4000 views on my blog which I find incredible! My writing is what has saved me from the stress of the disease, dementia, that has taken over my mother. I have learned a lot from reading and attending support groups. My blog isn't really about dementia, the disease, it's mostly my random thoughts about my mom living with the disease, my family, and a few tidbits of advise for those reading. Another thing I have discovered to help me get through is to help others by sharing all that I have learned along the way. Take a look at my page by copying this link to your web browser and if it interests you then please "LIKE" it and feel free to post anything relative to dementia and Alzheimers disease. Also, share it with anyone else with whom you think might benefit.

The link is here.... https://www.facebook.com/DealingWithDementia ......or you can click on the link on the right-hand side of this page by scrolling down to where it says "My Facebook Fan Page" under "LINKS".

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Learning Curve for How to Pay for Nursing Home Care

A Facebook friend of mine posted a thought today. She asked the question "how does anyone afford nursing home care?".

I was so happy that I actually knew the answer!! I was so happy to give her the answer because I didn't know myself until a couple of months ago. I was so completely stressed out and overwhelmed by that same question. How on earth would my parents have enough money for nursing home care should the time come that my mother would need it permanently? Well, my question was answered when my sister and I had an appointment with an elder law attorney back in January.

Our elder care attorney answered all of our questions!

If I can give anyone going through this process of caring for someone with this disease any one tidbit of very important advise it would be to GO TO AN ELDER CARE ATTORNEY!! Since then, I have felt that a tremendous weight has been lifted off of me. I know what steps are left to take, I know that my mom will be taken care of, and I know that I will be able to sleep at night without worry.

We found out that in order for Mom to go into the nursing home permanently we have to spend all of HER money. Her money will pay the nursing home. Once ALL of her money is gone then she can go on Medicaid and that will pay for her to stay at the nursing home. And fortunately, Dad will still have money to live on, to keep their patio home, to keep one car.

~PLEASE MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT TODAY WITH AN ELDER CARE ATTORNEY~ Don't be afraid to take notes, don't be afraid to ask questions. This is all very important information and it will help all the way around!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Am I Different?

I've read blogs written by strangers, blogs they have written about their loved one with alzheimers or dementia. Their writings talk of having more love, feeling more love, feeling that their loved one is their hero, a whole new admiration for their loved one with dementia. I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes because these writings move me. But mostly I get the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes because I DON'T feel that way about my mother. Why am I different than the strangers whose writings I read? I don't feel more love or that my mother is my hero (at least not in the way the 'strangers' write); what I feel is sadness, anger, frustration, resentment, guilt, hopelessness, dismay, annoyed. Everything I'm feeling is negative. I've gotten to a point where I don't want to talk to my mom on the phone and I don't want to see her very often. Why do I feel this way? I know it isn't because I don't love my mother any less than I ever have. I love my mother the same that I always have....I love her a lot.

This is upsetting to me. Before Mom's dementia got too bad I talked with her on the phone daily, saw her several times during the week, and we'd meet out for lunch regularly. I really enjoyed the time I spent with Mom and our talks on the phone. I truly considered Mom one of my very dear friends in addition to being my mother. I loved calling her for advise, she could always give the best. I really miss those times. This disease has made my mother an angry person, a person that I no longer know. Maybe I'm afraid of her, afraid to be around her?

Now when I talk to Mom her conversations always revolve around being sick; Dad being sick; Dad leaving her stranded somewhere unknown; Dad refusing to "take me home" (when she IS at home but she doesn't know it); being left with her father (who died in 1974); Dad leaving her with a strange man (who is actually my dad). There is rarely any conversation with her that is in the present day. Phone calls and visits feel very stressful to me.

I miss the relationship I had with Mom. I miss it terribly. I go to a support group for advise and to learn but they don't help me feel the "love" that I think I'm missing or the admiration I once had for her.

I have a family of my own. I'm married with two children. I love them more than my own life. But part of me feels hollow, I guess, because my mother is still 'here' physically but her 'real-self' is gone. That is the only way I can think of to define this situation. I do have some great female mentors in my life and I love them very much....my mom's sister Margaret, my mother-in-law Rose. I lean on each of them a lot with different things but the bottom line is that they aren't Mom.

I AM around to help my parents, both of them, when they need help. I AM around to help take care of some of their 'business' when it's needed. But it's so difficult for me to go for a casual visit. It's almost more than I can bare. I am on edge because of the unknown with Mom, not knowing what she will say, what story will she "make up", will she be angry. Frankly, for me, it is exhausting.

Dad, if you read this I'm so sorry for feeling this way. I'm really struggling to work through this on top of everything else and still stay focused enough to raise my own kids and keep my relationship with my husband in tact.

Still, wondering why I'm so different than those strangers. I hope my feelings will change before it is too late. I love both of my parents so much. I am so confused.

This picture is Mom helping me down the slide in our backyard. I remember this moment, somehow, like it was yesterday. I wonder if Mom does? (circa 1969)

Too Much Sleep?

My sister emailed this to me this afternoon. It's from the website called Caring.com. This is all too familiar with my mother.

Alzheimer's Symptom: Sleeps a lot during the day

By Caring.com Staff
When it happens: Severe-stage dementia

Why it happens: If your loved one's sleep-wake cycle doesn't seem too disrupted -- that is, he or she also sleeps at night -- this daytime sleep is likely a function of the toll that the disease is taking (along with other chronic illnesses, if they're present). It may not be sleep at all, but a resting state. Other medical causes can include depression, medication side effects, or another health issue.

What you can do:

1. Be sure to mention a noticeable increase in sleep to your loved one's doctor in case it's a sign of something correctible, such as a medication.

2. Don't just give up. It can be hard to communicate with, or know what to say to, a person who seems pretty much sacked-out and unresponsive. But your presence is felt and probably appreciated, so you don't want to leave the person alone constantly. You may also be needed.

3. Still, don't feel you must be a 24-hour entertainment channel, either. The resting is biologically necessary.

4. Stop talking when the person seems to shut down, and casually pick up talking when your loved one seems alert again.

5. If you're concerned about your loved one oversleeping or "zoning out" in the middle of a conversation or activity, try gently rubbing his or her hand. This gentle stimulation may be just rousing enough.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Week Is This?

I received a very anxious, upset phone call from my mom late afternoon yesterday. She told me that she wanted me to know that Dad was in hospital in a lot of pain, very sick, and not doing well. The tone in her voice made it sound as if Dad was on his deathbed.

Back up to this time last week (Monday), Dad WAS taken to the hospital because of pretty serious swelling in both his legs. Turns out he was admitted for 3 days due to weak kidneys which caused the swelling. Medications were moved around and 'redone' for him and he was sent home on Thursday.

Now back to yesterdays phone call from Mom....I asked her if he was in the hospital right that very moment. "YES" she said.

Me: Who took Dad to the hospital?

Mom: Diane and me. (Diane is Mom's caregiver)

Me: Which hospital did you take him to?

Mom: Baptist East. Wait a minute....Diane, which hospital is Hal in?

((I hear Diane in the background say)): "he's in bed, asleep."

Mom: OH.....((long pause)).....well, I just wanted you to know that your dad isn't doing well.

I explained to Mom that I knew he didn't feel well and that his legs hurt. I also explained that he HAD been in the hospital the week before and that was probably what she was remembering and that everything was going to be okay. I told her to please not worry or be upset, that Dad was just taking a nap trying to 'live' through the pain he was in.

That phone call was such an awkward experience for me and by Mom's reaction after Diane mentioned that Dad was asleep in bed that it was just as awkward for Mom.

At the end of our conversation Mom said in tone that seemed to be filled with shame and embarrassment "well, I'm obviously very confused.".

My poor mother. I cannot imagine living in the fear that she must be in constantly.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Haven't written in a few weeks, really not much to report. My sister and I met with an elderlaw attorney, once with Dad (and he brought Mom along). We were able to get some things straightened out which helps me feel less stressed.

Mom called last night leaving a message on our answering machine saying she was with "Dado" (her father) at his house and was going to stay with him all night because he wasn't feeling well. In fact, she was with Dad. Dado passed away in 1974.

I don't think I'm in a good spot now. I have been avoiding as much contact with my parents as possible. I know that is not good but I've let so much of what is going on with THEM effect me and things with MY OWN family and it wasn't fair to my kids. I was giving up so much time with my kids and I was growing resentful. However, I still have so much guilt by the avoidence. So.....I guess I am a work in process with all of this, even after all these years of dealing with Mom's dementia. This disease has changed my family so much in such a bad way. I honestly don't know how this disease doesn't effect every family the way it has effected mine. How do other families do it?