email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Late December

I wish everyone a Happy Holiday.  Mine was a few days ago, but that doesn't matter.  I enjoyed it.  This is for most of the rest of you.

May this be a day that stays in your heart the year-round.  Holidays exist for reasons.  We need times to reflect and think about what makes us a society.  We have Christmas but also 4th of July.  We have Easter, but also Thanksgiving Day. 

We even have Groundhogs Day.  Do you know why?  It's the midwinter day...  Please feel free to check your calendar.

All the oldest holidays have a reason.  It doesn't matter that Christmas is a steal from the Winter Solstice, we ALL NEED a holiday at the shortest time of the year.  It keeps our hopes alive of longer days to come and the annual promise of warmth and successful planting.  We NEED that, because without the promise of new crops we would all die. 

The lengthening days told our ancestors that there would come a time to sow the seeds again.  Ritual days helped them to know when those seeding days would come, and to help us endure the hungry nights until then.

Some people grant the days of planting (and harvest) to deities.  Others don't.  But we have learned to plant seeds at the proper times, and historically, that was at certain holidays (and that was the reason for the holidays).

I wish you a Happy Solstice holiday for whatever reason you give it.  I will celebrate it for the reasons our ancestors did. 

A Happy Holiday to all for all reasons.  May hope and promise of better days follow you all the days of your lives...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dad Again

Oops, I mentioned that Dad didn't remember to put butter on his potatoes, and it was rightly pointed out that it was a minor matter.  I didn't explain well.

I had made shrimp and fish sticks for dinner and made cocktail sauce to go with them.  And I provided Dad's daily potato and put out butter.  He always puts butter on his potatoes (a family/cultural thing).

The other day, he couldn't remember what he usually puts on his potato!  And he has been eating a potato with almost every meal for all his life.  He has always put butter on them.  (OK, sometimes there was probably gravy).  But for the first time I know of, he couldn't connect butter with potatoes.  Its just one more thing he is forgetting that I find hard to understand.

I would say that I am learning from Dad's experience what I will be forgetting myself one day, but obviously by that time, I won't be remembering these days myself either.

These posts are only helpful to other elderly caretakers, I suppose...

Dad has worse memory failures than butter on potatoes.  He doesn't recall the daughter who died in 2010, he recall recall the least detail of the house he lived in before he moved in with me (and even that he just sold it 2 weeks ago - he seems to think he sold a rental condo in NH).  He became annoyed at a tax bill from NH because "I never lived there" (he lived there for 25 years).

Sometimes he thinks he has lived with me for "may years" and sometimes he thinks "about a month".  In practical terms, it doesn't really matter where he thinks he has lived before, but it does make it difficult getting him to pay bills and taxes regarding places he doesn't remember.

And something else I really need to explain for those of you who are just beginning to take care of an elder parent(s); they can remember things in detail one day and have no recollection of the same things the day after.  Dad can describe his previous house in FL one day right down to the color of the carpets, and not remember ever living there the next day or week or sometimes in the same day.

Don't let it get you down when that happens.  I am still struggling with that, but I AM learning.

Your elder parent has the memories of the hour or day FOR the hour or the day, and there isn't anything you or they can do to change it. (I keep reminding myself of that, I keep reminding myself of that, I keep reminding myself of that...)  Doesn't help, I keep forgetting and expecting consistent memory or non-memory.

The fluctuations in memory are going to be what drives you the craziest.  You never know what to expect for day, one hour, to another.  It is for me at least.

Dad is also failing physically rather fast.  A few months ago, he could walk in straight lines.  A few weeks ago, he could walk in straight lines with a cane, but had trouble turning in any direction.  Now it can take him 10 minutes to walk from the TV chair to the bathroom.

There are lots of turns involved, and he tends to freeze in place then.  And he tends to freeze in place under doorless doorways.  I don't mean there are doors involved, just that opening between rooms baffle him because there is some choice to be made as to where to go.

Any technology baffles him.  The "elder-friendly" remote control doesn't help much.  There are still too many choices.  I am going to cover most of the buttons with opaque tape and see if that helps.  That's a clue, "simplify everything".  It won't help completely.  Couple weeks ago, Dad was flicking light switches trying to get the drapes to close...

Your elder will eat less as time goes on, but get confused about whether he/she is gaining or losing weight.  Dad equates tight waists on his pants with "eating too much", but he is eating less these days.  And some random days he decides he is not eating enough and so needs ice cream.  Hey, if Dad wants ice cream after dinner, that's fine with me.  I always keep some available.  But the confusion is that it has nothing to do with his weight.

Relations with older relatives will also be confusing.  Dad says he calls one SIL  (LOL!  I had to stop and think of the term for the relation between Dad and one of my aunts) almost every week for the past months.  I know he he hasn't because he can't figure out my phone.  Yet even when I mention that, he remains convinced he calls her every week.  He doesn't, because he CAN'T.  So tomorrow, I will help him call her and HOPE that he makes some sense in the conversation.  I MIGHT listen in with the aunt's permission.

Enough for today...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Food Toppings and Hand Washing

Dad constantly surprises me these days.  Mainly about things that I never thought anyone could get confused about.

Like butter...  Dad's memory is weak about recent events but reasonably good about longer-ago events.  Dad loves potatoes, and has been putting butter on them all his life.  Until tonight, when he forgot (for the first time I am aware of).

I made shrimp and fishsticks, potatoes, green beans, and a salad.  So I had cocktail and tarter sauce out long with the butter.  For the past couple of months, he has asked me which of the sauces go with the fishsticks vs the shrimp, and I always tell him that either sauce if fine with either meat, just personal preference.  I've gotten used to that question being asked every time.

But he couldn't figure out what he put on his potatoes?  That is probably the most basic thing he has ever forgotten, because it goes so far back into his past.  He remembered he wanted it on bread...

I'm glad his body is working better than his mind these days.  Answering questions about what to put on potatoes is a lot easier than having to help with personal hygiene.

Hygiene is probably the next problem, though.  I didn't hear sink water running the last time he  used the bathroom.  I think I won't be sharing bowls of chips or nuts in the future.  Seriously, I know he washes his hands sometimes, but I think he is forgetting more often.

I'm not in the habit of doing this degree of monitoring an adult's personal practices.  I can make meals, do laundry, give him his pills, arrange haircuts, write his bill checks for him to sign, arrange taxes, house sale, get him to a dentist or doctor, buy things he needs, etc, etc, etc.

But I can't do the more personal stuff...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Small Victory, But Concerns

Dad got his last haircut in late August.  He hates doing that, but I got him to go with me today. 

I learned something about Dad today.  He loves looking good.  But he is also a cheap tightwad.  Well, OK, I knew that before about his spendig on family, but I never knew about it regarding tipping.

He won't.  The barber said it was $13 and Dad counted out 13 $1 dollar bills like it was pulling fingernails.

I had my haircut and I tipped the barber 15%.  Dad didn't.  So I slipped my friendly barber of many year another $2 as Dad left.  I'll add that to Dad's monthly personal costs for the month.  LOL!

But I hope I don't get like that when I get older...

Dad talked to my BIL Corey today.  Dad has been paying for a portion of a grand-daughters college tuition. 

But this time he didn't remember who she was.  Or who her mother was (a daughter of Dad).  Or who he talked to (the partner of my sister).  Nothing.

And yet, he agreed to send a check, not knowing any of the people involved.  It was a good reason to send a check, but a bad reason not knowing who he was talking to.

I think I better make sure to answer the phone every time.  Dad is in the "sucker" range now.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I had a good day outside!  Temps around 60 and sunny.

Today was the day for cutting down all the spent flower stems (that didn't have good seeds for the birds).  I cut down the mums, the asters, the sedums, the other asters, the coneflowers, the monarda, the goldenrods, and the black-eyed susans.  And I am leaving them in cages in the empty annual beds in case the birds can get something from them.

I filled the birdfeeder with sunflower seeds, the finch feeder with thistle, and set out suet.  I have plans for a board to spread organic peanut butter on. 

I swept the patio of blown-in leaves and dumped them on the lawn where I can shred them with the mower. 

And I just stood outside looking at the yard.  My yard.  Lots of things still to do, but I was done for the day.  The weather is supposed to be better the next few day.  I'll be out there...

Saturday, December 1, 2012


This week, I got Dad's 2011 taxes finalized and sent.  It was horrible.  Dad seems to have decided last March that he didn't need to keep tax documents anymore.  And I have spent months searching out all his investment companies and banks to get replacement documents.  HE had no idea who they were, of course, but thank goodness for required quarterly statements and postal forwarding!  I finally found them all and contacted them for replacement tax forms.   Some needed several requests, but in the end, all were GOT!

AND I got the sales documents for Dad's house in FL signed, notarized, and witnessed.  And FedEx'd to the realtor (an adventure in itself).

So, how did Dad thank me for these months of effort?  He asked for a listing of all his funds.  And then he quizzed me about how accurate they all were.  Like I would know if the monthly or quarterly statements were lies?


I spent an hour sitting by his chair after dinner answering all his (often inane) questions patiently and repeatedly.  Did I mention repeatedly?  And repeatedly?  And often?

He is SURE I missed some investment fund somewhere.  I explained that all investment funds send regular statements of net worth, but he is sure there are some I haven't (had the wit) to find.  Old people are maddening...  And Dad is (and always has been) stupidly insulting.

But at least I have the taxes and house sale finished.  Everything from here on out should be just repeated stupid questions and I spent years in my career answering repeated stupid questions.

I just never thought I would have to keep doing it after I retired...