Pandemic – Alzheimer’s in the Family

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This is my first blog since February 18. A lot has transpired since then. Mom celebrated her 84th birthday on February 27th and family and friends were there to help her celebrate. She received many cards, bouquets of flowers, and gifts. She received many word find and coloring books and a few books to read. Alas, she can no longer read books as she can’t follow the story and has to start over each time she picks the book up.

Amos and mom
Glenda and mom
Mom with Glenda’s family

We appreciate everyone who made Mom’s birthday a beautiful time for her.

On March 10, Dayspring started protective methods for visits to the facility and by the 14th all visits were suspended due to the COVID 19 virus. I am happy that they acted early to protect mom and the other residents. They put in protocols for staff and residents in an effort to prevent an outbreak and so far it has been working.

Pre Pandemic

I speak with Dayspring management and staff weekly for reports and updates. I also call and they put mom on the phone a couple of times a week. They help mom with the phone as she doesn’t remember how to use it.

Mom seems to be doing well and she tells me that she is in lockdown several times in each conversation. She says they take very good care of her and that she is happy there. We are fortunate to have found this wonderful facility.

One word of advice: don’t phone mom during bingo. If she’s winning she’ll be a little short and want to get off the phone to get back to her game. She loves bingo.

Pre pandemic

Just before Easter I received a phone call from the activities director at Dayspring. Mom had participated in an Easter art project and she wanted permission to post it on the social media page. I gave permission. She then went on to say that mom had asked her that morning if she was tired. When she responded that she was tired, mom said, “Sit down and rest, I’ll take care if things.” Mom then rounded up several of the women, sat them down and started reading the newspaper to them. She kept them occupied for a while by reading the front page over and over. It didn’t matter because they are in the memory care unit and just like mom, each time she read it, it was all new to them. It was a sweet story.

I love you to the moon and back.

Life during lockdown and stay at home orders is very difficult and necessary to protect life and our loved ones. I’m still struggling with heart issues with an EF function of 30% and a wildly ranging blood pressure of 79/40 to 130/79. When it’s low I get dizzy and almost black out. Meds are being adjusted and changed trying to stabilize me and help my heart pump until I can have the next procedure. This will not happen unless COVID restrictions are released or I am taken in through the ER. Today doctors ruled out any problems with my lungs. It is a waiting game.

At the hospital today.

I’m not used to living life with so many restrictions due to both health and the pandemic. I do know that all this will eventually pass. I’ll be glad when it does. I miss my family and friends tremendously.

As always, more later.

Restrictions- Alzheimer’s in the Family

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This is my first blog since 2/18/2020. Since then mom has her 84th birthday and her facility has been locked down to protect the residents from COVID-19. Our family also lost a dear cousin, Kim, after a valiant fight with cancer. These are trying times.

Mom has continued to decline since about mid February. She is more frail and her mind is so confused. We knew that the plateau wouldn’t last but I treasure the memories that we made during that time.

Several family members visited with us for her birthday on February 27th. We had a great time with her. Spring cupcakes, bouquets of flowers plus gifts and cards. Thanks to Amos, Glenda, Kathy (and kids) for making her day special. Thank you to all her friends and family for sending the cards and packages. She reads the cards over and over and smiles. Any kind gesture is so appreciated.

Queen for the day

After everyone left, mom and I were visiting in her room. She asked me where Tom was and how he was doing. I didn’t expect that question as she had been remembering that he passed. I told her that he died over 3 years ago and she looked confused and then she just sobbed and sobbed. In the future I will tell her a fiblet, that he is in Myrtle Beach. She doesn’t need to grieve over and over because she doesn’t remember. It’s so heartbreaking.

Glenda and mom
Amos and mom
Glenda and family with mom

I have been visiting mom at least twice a week since we moved her in. The visit after her birthday I noticed that she had picked large sores on her legs. Many Alzheimer’s patients pick their skin and mom has done this for 2+ years. When she is awake you can redirect by giving her a word find book and pencil or other busy activity things but at night, when she picks in her sleep, there is nothing you can do. There is no treatment for skin picking. I talked to the unit manager and they had already called the doctor in to treat the sores. They saw them at bath time and immediately called the doctor. They take such good care of her there. Another good thing is that she hasn’t picked her arms in a long time so her arms have healed, even where she developed callouses from her picking.

On my visit on March 11th, last week, facility management was enacting safety measures due to the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic. They limited visitation to hours 1-3 pm and 6-8 pm, the main door was locked and you had to be buzzed in and register at the door. The director told me to call before coming as that was subject to change. By Saturday I received a call that the facility was in lockdown until further notice. They explained everything to me and I’m satisfied with their proactive stance to protect the residents.

If that virus got into that facility it would be a death sentence. Sad to say. We can telephone and talk to mom as much as we would like. The most important thing is that my mom remains safe and cared for.

One thing that is interesting and frustrating for me is the number of people who are upset and angry about being inconvenienced and people who think this virus is a hoax. It isn’t a hoax and I prefer that extreme caution be taken to protect my mom and other frail and compromised people. It’s time to stop being selfish and care about others. It isn’t rocket science.

On my last visit mom told me that she liked it at Dayspring and the people were nice but she was ready to go home. I told her that she had to stay there as I couldn’t care for her anymore because of my health. She told me to give her the car keys and she would drive home and that she could take care of herself. I told her she wasn’t allowed to drive or live alone anymore. She got angry and asked who told me that. I told her that her doctors had all told us that back in June. After some discussion she settled down and forgot about going home. It’s so sad to see her on this downward spiral.

We received news last week that mom was finally approved for assistance. Over the last 8 months we had been turned down twice. The lesson here is to not give up. Apparently the third time is a charm and it doesn’t hurt to have a great caseworker like mom’s. She was awesome in helping me navigate the confusing red tape of the healthcare bureaucracy in this country. I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

We continue to play this one day at a time. I keep in touch by phone and talking with her, her caregivers and the director. They could be in lockdown for 8-10 weeks. It’s necessary for their safety. I can live with that and I just ask that folks be patient and kind as we maneuver through these times.

More later.