Tips for Dementia Cargiving

I can’t believe Papa’s been gone for almost 6 months now.  Most of the time I don’t feel as if he’s really gone, it’s more like he’s just with me in a different way.  The unconditional love he gave me knows no death, and I feel his spirit  all the time. I often think back to the times when I would kiss him on his forehead, he would lean into me smelling of old spice and syrup as I would take a deep breath through my nose and pause an extra second to soak in the moment so I could dog-ear it for the years to come. It makes my heart surged with pure love and bliss just thinking about it.

Thankfully I have videos of him as well, so when I’m missing him I’ll just look through my phone and watch a couple and it always lifts my spirits.  I decided to make a montage of my favorite videos of him to share with you.

 

I’ve wanted to share the things we’d learned while caring for Papa in the hopes that it may help someone else going through a similar situation. Most of the things we tried, worked for a while and then they didn’t.  It’s a trial and error situation and you have to keep adapting because their disease is constantly progressing making things more challenging.

HOMEMADE BIBS

Cut a hole in an old towel and use as bib.

We had 5 or 6 old towels we cut holes in and they worked wonderful!

ARROWS ON THE FLOOR

When pops could still understand directions we put electrical tape on the floor with arrows to help guide him to the restroom. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t.

We tried glow in the dark tape too, but it didn’t stay glowing through the night

REUSEABLE UNDER PADS

There will be a time when furniture needs to be covered, we tried the plastic covers and they worked for a while.  Unfortunately they tear and aren’t comfortable for anyone, especially the elderly.

sitting in this chair with the plastic cover felt like we were in the 1950’s!

In the end we found that reusable underpads were the way to go. I’d recommend the standard light blue, it definately did the job and when we used the dark blue super waterproof they seemed to make him sweat, and not let his skin breath causing other problems.

MONITORS

Monitors will make life so much easier. In the beginning we had this fella (pictured below) given to us by a friend and then Mitch went all out getting a surveillance system 2 camera set up making life so much easier.  It alerted us when he was moving, and him having horrible balance gave us just enough time to look at the monitor to see if he was standing up, or he would just be brushing his hair and was moving around.  Either way, it was worth it a million times over.  We still used the little guy shown here in the picture, we put it on the back of the bathroom toilet, so when he was able to take himself into the restroom we weren’t invading his space, but if he was standing and we didn’t see his face, we knew to run in and help.

Monitors will come in super handy

 

LIGHTING UP THE TOILET BOWL

The motion activated toilet bowl night-light (bowl glow) worked wonderfully for us for a long time, long after he forgot what things were used for, he would still head straight for the light in the middle of the night.

we also put a towel underneath just in case he was close, but not close enough

 

It had lots of different colors to choose from

 

it seemed the green and blue he would go to more, the red color didn’t really work for him. Maybe because he was color blind?

 

ROOM DIVIDERS

We found that if there wasn’t anything for him to see, he was less likely to get wrapped up in it.  At night we would take three room dividers and place them in a half circle pattern around his bed with only the portable potty with the toilet bowl night-light in the middle.  It worked really well for us, most of the time.

 

TOOLS TO KEEP HIM OCCUPIED

I took construction paper, made shapes and put magnets inside each one

then I took another magnet, wrapped fishing line from an ice fishing pole around it and then wrapped it all with electrical tape

Pops catching one of the shapes

I created a pillow cover with string and buttons, a zipper, some foreign coins, a crocheted dish cloth I made and put coins between it with the hopes he would want to try and get the coins out to look at.

He fiddled with it for about 20 minutes, and had no interest in it EVER again, but at least I tried.

He spent hours pulling apart paper towels

The best one was a nut and bolt set given to us by a friend who’d worked with dementia patients. It’s different size bolts and nuts on a block of wood. After papa passed we re-gifted it to a dementia care facility.

TAKING THE BLAME

Having to see Dad struggle with the confusion and frustration of dementia was so hard, so any time he thought he was right about something, we just let him be right. The struggle is real! The best way to manage situations is to help them feel like they are making choices (giving two options worked best for us) and their feelings about certain things are justified. Also, know it’s ok to feel your own feelings, just give yourself a break from them during that time to remind yourself that it’s the disease, it’s not them. Sometimes they may hurt your feelings, be combative or even inappropriate and it’s in those times that you have a real opportunity to better yourself because of their disease. Taking time to separate yourself from them while you process your own emotions is vital! We went into each day with compassion for his situation, unconditional love and mindset of forgiveness of whatever transgressions are to come.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I watched video’s, read books and search for insight online that reminded me that this isn’t just our journey, there are so many out there going through the same thing.  Also, if you don’t have a group of people to rely on, get one, the sooner the better. This is definitely not a one person job, not even a two person, it takes a team and the sooner you can build that team the better.  God Bless, and as sissy Annette says, “Do your best, and forget the rest.”

 

The Call of Doody

Have you ever been enjoying a meal, watching a good show, you go to have your last bite and it’s gone?!  Somehow, inadvertantly you ate it without realzing it?  I had that expeience last week and I was a bit dismayed about my level of sadness about the event.  It was like a moment in time had passed, I forgot to make a point to enjoy that last bite, and now I’d never get it back.  I feel like that’s the way life’s been going for us lately… so consumed by the ever changing world of pops and the level of attention he requires, that I just don’t have anything left in me to pay attention to even the last bite of a good meal.  I’ve somehow self inflicted a world of parallasis to projects knowing that my attention will be needed any minute and indifference to everyday tasks as pops slowly progresses toward the second to final stage of dementia.

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Pops and Happy staring out the window

If it were just dementia maybe it’d seem more managable, but he’s got the trifecta of troubles; Congestive Heart Failure, COPD and Dementia.  Giving him breathing treatments, getting him to stand on a scale so we can weigh him everyday to make sure he’s not retaining water in his lungs from the CHF and trying to find foods he’ll eat just to maintain his weight has become our main focus.

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Pops, its not going to get into your lungs through your eyeball!

He is now at 96 lbs and we try to give him anything we think he might eat, of course sneaking in supplimental drinks into his shakes every chance we get. Food has become a lot more of a challenge, we aren’t sure if it’s the texture of the food, how much chewing is involved, or sweet vs savory. It’s probably all of it, according to the internet and maybe even the plate we put it on.

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At least he plays with his food if he’s not going to eat it.

Last night we made homemade burritos, one of pops favorites and we thought the tortilla would be too tough to chew so we added his favorite sauce ontop of the meat with cheese and tomatoes. He took one bite and set it on the floor.  We then went for cream of wheat and he ended up taking one bite and then smearing it all over his hands and face.  Next we tried Raisin Bran, because he kept saying he was hungry but one bite and then he spit in the bowel.  We gave him a half of a banana and when we got back to him he’d thrown it across the room.  The day before he’d eaten all of a brownie and ice cream so we figured that would be a fail safe…. nope, no luck, and he’s still saying he’s hungry! Finally, I used the rest of a strawberry banana shake with ensure in it and gave that to him.  He probably had half of a glass and didn’t want any more. That is not like him at all, so times are a changing.  Even Pops water needs to be altered since he has a hard time swollowing, and it goes down the wrong pipe. When he swollows down the wrong pipe it causes him to cough and can result in pnumonia.

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We use Thick it and it has really increases the amount of water he’ll drink, so he’s staying hydrated.

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I found the cup on the right at the thrift store, and it has a lid with drinking holes of both sides!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m honored to care for my dad and will be grateful to be there for him till the days end, but sometimes it is really draining. Physically, mentally and emotionally spent, but still grateful! Pops and I  are so blessed to have Mitch carry the weight of these trying times, it would be too much for one person for sure. We are a team and even as I re-read this I know I wouldn’t want it any other way!

He wasn’t sleeping well at night, waking all hours of the night and getting wrapped up in projects, click here to see his oxygen hose art.

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Yes, he has a glove on his hand and a glove on his foot

Being the fact that he, at times, is up all night which in turn makes his days long and rough, the doctor prescribed a different kind of sleeping pill…..BAD news. The side effects made him so weak and off balance that he fell twice in one day, we took him to urgent care thinking he’d broken a rib. Forturnately it wasn’t broken but certainly bruised. We had days of him bouncing off the walls just miserable,… come to find out, it was probably the pain he was feeling and couldn’t express it.  When the doctors asked if he was in pain he said no… but guess what, he was and thats what was causing him to be so loud and anxious. We’ve learned that people with dimentia can’t express things like before and we have to learn how to listen differently! Here’s a video of how he was right after getting home from urgent care, it’s just heart breaking.

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We put his bed on the floor so if he fell out of bed he wouldn’t have far to fall

Now, when he wakes up at 2 in the morning and he’s hungry I make him breakfast and get him ready for the day.  I would rather wake up 20 times a night than to drug him up, make him weak and worry about him falling more than I already do.

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Charlie, Milo, Happy and Papa all napping

Just as we’ve gotten used to pee puddles on the floor at night, we’ve entered into the next phase….that’s right people, its now about the poo, the caca, the crapper doo, the doody magoo!  A few nights ago we were concerned because he hadn’t had a bowel movement for a few days so when he finally went, we were all so happy.

Later that night I woke to the too familiar motion sensor, bleep, bleep, bleep I look up and see on the screen him standing in the middle of the room relieving himself.  I tell myself I don’t need to hurry out to him as he’s already peed, 2 minutes later I hear another bleep, bleep, bleep and see him sitting on the end table, with his pants down.  I manage to drag myself from bed and go to help him get back to his.  Of course first I turn on the lights to clean up the puddle in the middle of the floor.  Right when I turn on the lights pops is like, whoa, there’s a puddle there, what’s that from?  I blame it on the rain, clean up the mess and think its all good to go, until I go to stand him up.  There, in a soft serve massive pile ON THE END TABLE is his latest bowel movement.  Now that’s not the worst part, the worst part is that he’s already forgotten what happend and ends up getting his hands in it, and then touching everything around him, his face, his clothes, me.  Oh boy, after an hour, getting him showered and everything wiped down he was ready to eat and start the day, never mind that it was 3 a.m. by this time.  I make him oatmeal, put on a movie and go back to bed for a couple hours thinking it was a fluke.  I’m sad to say it wasn’t.  Since then we’ve had a few more incidents of incontinence and we know that this too is part of the disease.

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Pops, Mitch, Karen, Mike and Stacey downtown for the memory walk to help end Alzheimers

What hasn’t and never will change is love, his need for love, our love for him and his love for us.  For that we are grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dad’s Endearing Ways

Yes, dementia is a serious disease, but there’s so  many things that dad does now that crack us up and are BEYOND adorable.  We are learning to dance in the rain.

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Looking at life from another perspective

Breakfast is pops favorite meal of the day.

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Do you see what I see

Well, how'd my glasses get in there? Do you think I would do something like that?

Well, how’d my glasses get in there? Do you think I’d do something like that?

The man with a million facial expressions, and each one cuter than the next!

Hey pops, whacha doin?

Hey pops, whacha doin?

I’ll be doing up dishes, look up and there he is, elbow deep in his food.

I don't know how I got my breakfast on my face, but it feels nice.

I don’t know how I got my breakfast on my face, but it sure feels nice… you got coconut oil in the syrup?

I did what?

Oatmeal on my hands… well, how’d that happen?

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The unintentional sock puppet

It took me 5 minutes to get him outside to just relax on the front porch bench, then in the three minutes I was away trying to get ready for work he was able to spill his coffee and get undressed.

Spilled some coffee, not a problem, just get undressed.

Spilled some coffee? Not a problem, just take it off.

He tried to drink dirt from a potted plant once.

He tried to brush his teeth with a straw. He’s also tried to brush his teeth with his fork while watching America’s funniest home videos.

He tried brushing his hair with his toothbrush.

He tried to eat his food with the handle side of his fork.

He’s forgotten he has a fork and attempted to eat his cake with his straw.

He’s poured coffee from his cup to wet his face with it.

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This is Pops with his coffee soaked hair, when I showed him this picture he said, “Well, I’ll be, I look like my Dad”

then he said, " What am I doing?"

then he said, ” What am I doing?” and I reminded him he wanted to brush his hair.

Most noises frighten him, as he can’t distinguish what it is initially, so he’s gotten into the habit of just saying, “aaaaaahhh”, and I’ve gotten in the habit of warning when a loud noise will happen.

He’ll try to put sweatpants on, thinking it’s a shirt. He also did it once with a pillow case.

I’m happy to report that pops is doing really well, after spending 5 days at the Spokane VA for pneumonia we got to bring him home night before last.

2nd visit in 3 days to urgent care, no fun

2nd visit in 3 days to urgent care, no fun

Everyone LOVED him there,

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he was treated wonderfully during his stay and they made sure someone was with him the entire time.

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Embracing the endearing moments and cherishing every moment we have together.

 

Coconut oil and Turmeric for Dementia

I would like to first catch you up on the progression of my dad’s dementia. When I first heard the word dementia I thought, ok, so they forget things and forget how things work, the end.  There is so much more involved with them forgetting.  No, really, SOO much more!  We used to just be able to verbally direct my dad to the bathroom and from there it was all good.  Our first realization that it was no longer “all good” was a couple months ago.  I’d gone into the bathroom, thinking nothing of nothing and then I reached for the toilet paper…. it was soaked with pee. Yep, he thought that was the toilet and from then on we’ve  had to keep on eye on him constantly, and It’s progressively gotten worse.

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Just wait till I wake up, I’ll keep you on your toes… or maybe pee on them!

The second time it happened was when we returned home from camping at Noisy Creek. We stopped at the grocery store to pick up some things for dinner and when I hopped into the front seat I hear this splattering sound, like something liquid was being poured into metal behind my seat in Harvey the RV. Yep, there was dad, peeing in the empty metal dog dish, splattering all over, unaware of anything. Thankfully most of it ended up in the dish. Since then, it’s been peeville, pee patrol and for pee’s sake.  Thankfully he still knows when he has to go, but no place is safe. He’s lifted the seat cushion of his chair (thinking it’s the toilet lid) and pee’d all over it before I could run in to redirect him. He’s went in the trash, in the middle of the floor, in front of the sink and a few times he’s almost went on his end table and tv tray. Thankfully we don’t have carpet anywhere!  There’s no point in ever getting bothered about it, it’s just part of the disease. Since no place is safe we have everything covered in his room, so his place is pee proofed, (at least it wont soak into anything again) and when he comes over to the house we make sure he’s not left alone for a second, cuz that’s all it takes!

You're not the only one pooped pops, would you nap for us to?

You’re not the only one pooped pops, would you nap for us to0?

Mitch even got extra camera’s set up around Pops place to really keep an eye on him. They have motion sensor’s on them so they beep when they sense movement. We’ve gotten trained like pavlov’s dog to respond when we hear that bleep, bleep, bleep. It’s 20 steps to make it into his place, and 9 times out of 10 we can redirect him to the bathroom in time, thankfully!

Yep, he's reloading

Yep, he’s reloading

The newest thing is him spitting on the floor, where ever he is, what ever it is.. snot, flem, his pills, water, and anything in his mouth at the time, it will be on the floor right in front of him or on his plate. He’ll even take a drink of his coffee, swish it around in his mouth and spit it out, just cuz. That is this disease! Recently we’ve noticed that he will hold liquid in his mouth and not swallow for quite a while (we think he forgets he even has it in his mouth).  It’s called dysphagia, and unfortunately this also comes with the territory.

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wait papa, don’t spit it out!

From what I’ve learned they will even forget how to swallow, how to chew, how to speak. It’s not ok, I can’t just watch this happen, we’ve got to try everything we can. We tried a couple different kinds of medications on him. One to slow the progression, it was awful. He could barely walk, vomiting, sleeping half the day and a zombie the other half of the day.  We stopped giving it to him after the first night. Another drug was to help him relax, not get so aggitated and to sleep through the night.  Talk about sleep, they said to give him half a pill, so we did that first night and he fell asleep with a fork in his hand and cake on his plate, then he was still up half the night, bouncing off the walls.  We thought maybe it was just too strong so we gave him 1/4 of a pill and that seemed to slightly help him but still he was having such difficulty walking and focusing and sleeping.  During this time he stopped laughing at things, he wasn’t even able to finish the words of songs that he knew. These signs seems to say that soon we would need to start feeding him.  After talking with his doctor about my concerns and hopes to get him off that medicine he said I could stop giving them to him immediatiely.  There was a difference in his disposition as soon as it was out of his system. Drugs were doing more harm than good, so I opted to see what is out there in the world that is natural.  I was shocked to find out about the great success people are having with natural products and I was honestly quite annoyed that it’s not common knowledge that these things really can help. I wish I’d known sooner!

Studies have shown that you’ve got to be your own advocate,

do the research and seek the truth,

especially if it’s something that nature already provides!

Pops getting some vitiman D

Pops getting some vitiman D

One really good thing from all of this is that he has totally forgotten that he smokes.  On occasion he’ll ask where his lighter is and then forget that’s what he was looking for and rarely does he mention cigarettes.  When he does want a smoke we give him the electronic one, he’ll take one puff and be done or he ends up playing with it for 20 minutes taking it apart and putting it back together just to hand it back to us completely disinterested.

Going nuts for coconut oil….

Seriously, I think that coconut oil and turmeric is helping my dad and his dementia!

Anyone and everyone, please hear me when I say…………………….

COCONUT OIL AND TUMERIC MAY HELP SOME PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA!

do some googling, watch video’s and read all about the best kind and what people are doing for their loved ones. I’m not giving any medical advice, I’m just a daughter trying to bring back her father. That being said, it’s only been a couple weeks, but for everyone who knows anyone that is affected by this awefulness of dementia what’s the harm in learning more about it and giving it a try?

I’ll list a few of the changes we’ve (including caregivers) noticed:

he’s laughing again at things on TV.

he stopped saying he doesn’t care (as that’s been his latest saying for the last couple weeks).

he’ll still ask what’s happening, and ask the good Lord to help him, but it’s not for hours on end.

He calls the dogs by their names again.

He has an interest in things again, so much so he put some almonds in the sink and clogged up the drain.  This may seem trivial but before that he had no interest in anything!

He has been more alert than he’s been in months!!

He sleeps better at night.

He’s even joking around like he used to.

When I start a song now, he’ll finish the line!  I’ll sing ” Tie a yellow ribbon” and he’ll say “round the old oak tree” or I’ll say, “A bushel and a peck” and he’ll say, “and a hug around the neck”.  I just can’t express the joy it brings me to have him doing this again.

Intially I bought everything in pill form, thinking it would be the best and the easiest to monitor his intake.  After reading and learning more, I am now using the real deal of each.

We are using  Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut oil right now, but love Island Fresh Superior Organic Coconut Oil from Amazon and already went through one container and ran out.  It doesn’t have a strong smell and is a great price for the value!

 

virgin cold pressed, not refined, deodorized or bleached. (make sure you read those labels, found a couple brands that looked like they were exactly the same, until I came across one little word that means lots,… refined) I give him

Coconut oil -two tablespoons in the morning and plan to work him up to two at night.

Turmeric-1 teaspoon in the morning

They say not to heat the oil in the microwave as it removes nutrients, thankfully it melts easily so I just put it in a little glass then dunk the glass in some hot water, it melts within a couple minutes.

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melting the coconut oil and turmeric in a little glass sitting inside a cup of hot water

The other morning for the first time I gave it to dad to drink, along with the teaspoon of Tumeric.

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Doesn’t that look delicious!

Initially I tried to put it in his oatmeal, he ate it the first day, the next day he hardly ate any.  I put it in his coffee, he drank less than half a cup. Finally I decided the best way to make sure he gets all the goodness is just give it to him straight.  I thought he would be grossed out by the taste, so I took a video of his first time drinking it.  When I asked him what he thought, I meant the taste of the mixture but he thought I meant did he think it was working already, so cute.

Two days after having him drink it straight, it went straight through him…. literally! Always best to ease them up to 4 tbsp. and mix with food…. or it might just hit the fan, (or the chair) if you know what I mean. My bad, I was overly excited to get it started in his system! Sorry poops, I mean Pops!

As of now, I put the turmeric in the pancake batter, and melt the coconut oil in with his syrup and that has been the best process so far. And in the evening, I plan to put it in a yummy little shake for him (after his body gets used to the 2 tbsp).

You're doing what to my breakfast?

You’re doing what to my breakfast?

He is by no means cured, but his disposition is better, his quality of life is better and that’s what really matters at this point.

Watch the video of him, these clips are from the middle of May 2016  through to the middle of July 2016.

The Endurance of Love

Letting go of a loved one is something you can never really be ready for. My mom left this world in 2003 after a long battle with cancer, yet the day death came I wasn’t prepared. The humid Oklahoma air hung heavier than usual and my heart ached as I sat next to my mom’s bedside holding onto her hand for dear life, knowing that soon she would be gone. I tried to memorize her face, the softness of her hands and the smell of her lavender lotion. My Aunt, holding my mom’s other hand said through sorrowful tears “Jackie, it’s ok, we love you and you can let go now.” I couldn’t say it, I didn’t want her to go, she was my mom! In my heart I begged her not go, I remained silent, but inside I screamed and cried for my mom to stay with me. I never really knew the comfort her love provided me until her last breath and she was no more of this world.  I’ve felt bad for not saying it was ok to go, but for all my life she never knew how much I needed her. I’d like to think that me being honest and somewhat selfish at the end, made her spirit soar to heaven feeling beyond loved and forever needed.

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It’s been almost 13 years and still when I think of that day, I feel all those feelings as if it just happened. I want to be more benevolent in dealing with my dad’s disease, especially seeing him struggle so hard at this stage.

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Hours on end he’ll try to figure out what is going on with his mind,but he no longer remembers what’s causing these problems and doesn’t realize that he’s saying the same things over and over. During these challenging times he’ll say, “Oh Lord, help me please! What is happening? Oh, Lord, please, help me. What am I doing? Please, someone help me, what is happening. I don’t understand. Lord please, HELP ME!”

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Even the doctor ran tests because he was so not himself last time we went to the VA, but all the tests came back fine.

We try to distract him, we’ll explain that it’s the dementia, we’ll tell him how sorry we are that it’s happening and it’ll stay with him for seconds and then he forgets what we just told him and he’s back to that horrible feeling that he’s loosing his mind….because he is. Sometimes distractions work and he’ll relax and enjoy the moment, but other times he wont let it go and we just tell him he’s asking the right guy.

Sometimes if he naps it helps to relax him and he'll have a better day afterwards.

Sometimes if he naps it helps to relax him and he’ll have a better day afterwards.

I’ve heard people say, dementia is a difficult disease but to see a loved one, day in and day out struggle so hard trying to figure out what is happening, is a whole other beast of burden. A couple of weeks ago dad was going through a particularly rough time, unable make eye contact, he was pleading in desperation for help to understand what was happening, engulfed in his own world of dispare there was no connecting with him. Heart broken and feeling helpless I said the one thing I would never want to happen. Sitting on a little stool next to him in his chair I said “Dad, I’m okay if you need to go to the next stage of this disease and forget that I’m you daughter, if it helps you to not feel lost anymore.” After I said it out loud I began crying so hard my shoulders were doing the up and down shake as I gasped for air, my face drenched in tears and red splotches I let all my sadness out. I was mourning the loss of my dad as I’ve always known him to be and trying to make myself accept how things are now. To my astonishment he stops repeating his cycle of words, turns and looks directly at me with sympathy and attentiveness and says, “What’s wrong baby girl?”  He placed one hand on the top of my head and ran it over my hair down to the side of my cheek and then cuped my face with both hands. So beyond grateful for this moment, I desprately tried to utter my feelings as my sobbing is now uncontrollable. Through gasps, I say, “I just miss you already, this sucks! I’m so sorry this is happening. I love you! Thank you for being here with me in this moment. I needed you, and you came back to me! I love you.”  He pulls my head to him, gives me a huge love hug and says, “It’ll all work out baby girl, it’s ok. I love you.”  Seconds later he was back to trying to figure out what was happening, but I had just experience the true endurance of love, a precious gift of a moment in time that will give me everlasting joy and help me get through the tough times to come.

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Love endures all things!

 

Our Neck Of The Woods

Although we’ve lived in Medical Lake for many years, we’re surprised we haven’t been to more places and done more things that are so close to home.

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Klinks

We decided that we would try Klinks, out on Williams Lake. It’s only about a 40 minute drive from our house.

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Initially we just wanted to rent kayaks and see what kind we liked best, but decided to try out the restaurant since we’d be there.

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The view from inside the restaurant, the kayaks they have for rent are on the right side of the picture.

It was only coincidence that it was on Mother’s day and they were having a brunch.  If you ever do decide to go, it’s best to make reservations since it is a small establishment.

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The restaurant Klinks is hidden within the trees

When we got there it was really windy, thought maybe it would die down after breakfast but that didn’t happen, so we took a peek at the kayaks they had and said, nah, lets just get the ones we want.

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Some of the yummy pastries they had available to eat

The cream puffs were divine, strawberries and raspberries super fresh and the wait staff were attentive and kind.

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We were overall quite happy with our meals, except we each had a little portion of egg whites that weren’t cooked well enough, for us that will ruin even the greatest meal.

I was beyond adventurous in my breakfast choice, I had a shrimp and asparagus omelet, if you can see I was so excited to dig in I got a picture after I'd eaten half.

I was beyond adventurous in my breakfast choice, especially since I am not a breakfast girl, at all. I had a shrimp and asparagus omelet, if you can see I was so excited to dig in I got a picture after I’d eaten half. Loved the taste.

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

On our way back home we decided to go through Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, we’d always talked about checking out, just hadn’t made time to do it before, but when in the vicinity, it must be divinity! Oh I don’t know, just trying to make a rhyme, please don’t give me a hard time.

Finally made a turn to go see Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

It was beautiful, no one around, wild flowers blooming everywhere and the weather was ideal!

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Pops on the other hand was a “I want a smoke” Nut that day.  Every 5 minutes while we were driving he wanted us to pull over so he could have another cigarette, we would tell him he just had one, and he wouldn’t believe us and start threatening to light up in the car.

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Needless to say, the calm enjoyable experience became overwrought with Pops endless craving to smoke, after less than 45 minutes we high-tailed it out of there with hopes of going back another time when he isn’t dying to smoke every other mile.

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Sometimes you just have to grin and barn it!

He did end the day with a grand finale of, “This is what I think of your rules” when he lit up in the back of the car only miles from home, just because he wanted a smoke now and wasn’t about to wait another minute. I turned around and there he was, smoking away. Frustrated, I said, “Dad are you kidding me! You couldn’t wait just one minute?” We pull over, I finally get him to throw it down and I grind it into the ground until there’s nothing left. There was just no reasoning with him, but then again how can you when dementia is in the picture?  Seconds later the event has already been forgotten by dad, knowing there’s no reason to remain bothered, we do our best to join him in forgetting all about it.  Since this all happened a couple months ago, as you know things have drastically changed in the smoking department, thankfully.

Lefevre St. Bakery

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The outside of the remodeled building that used to be Chan’s Chinese restaurant.

I can’t express how excited the town of Medical Lake is about the new bakery in town!

 

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An adorable ambiance with a super cute guy in the picture

Deliciously divine and cute as can be!

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Fresh baked huge pastries

 

 

Kayaking Medical Lake

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Our first kayak outing, we brought pops and we had a little picnic afterwards. Thankfully he doesn’t wander off…..yet.

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What a wonderfully serene experience it was!

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There’s even a cup holder for iced coffee!            Livin the dream

 

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Pops stayed and held down the park bench while we took our maiden voyage

 

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I’ll never take this life for granted! I’m especially grateful to have this wonderful man as my traveling companion.

 

 

Dad and His Dementia

The confusion, the frustration about being confused, and the acceptance of just feeling lost has become Pops reality.

Dad giving his confused face for the camera

Dad pretending to be confused

His disposition is still one of love and patience (ok, and a little ornery when he’s tired), but his ability to do every day tasks on his own is no more.  He’s made coffee everyday for at least the last 55 years and now he just can’t remember the steps. He’s like 10 second Tom from 50 First Dates, he’ll ask what day it is, and less than 30 seconds later inquire as to what day it is. I’ve been trying to help him keep track of the days by marking them off on the calendar, but he forgets to look at the calendar. I’m learning that he really doesn’t need to know what day it is, so when he guesses the day, no matter what the day, it’s the day he guesses. There’s no need for him to get bothered and frustrated with guessing the wrong day. Especially since I’ll tell him the actual day and he doesn’t agree with me, and says,  “No it isn’t. Is it? No.  Oh,I don’t know what I’m doing.  I’m confused.” He’ll scratch his head trying to make sense of being wrong and that’s when I’ll say, “Well pops, all you need to remember is how much we love you, other than that, Mitch and I got everything taken care of.”

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Pops favorite chair to sit and rock in when i give him the task of watering the flowers.

Getting him out of the house has become a much longer process, by the time he’s loaded up his pockets, he’s forgotten that he already did it and feels like he’s forgetting something.  Thankfully he trusts me enough that when I tell him I got him covered, he’ll let the worry go and finally head out the door.

re-arranged his room so we could add a chair for when company comes to sit with him

re-arranged his room so we could add a chair for when company comes to sit with him

Now armed with oxygen he’s been going on walks with me, of course searching high and low for change.  A couple days ago, again leaving him treasures to find, he was so happy he just kept saying, “If you don’t look for it, you’ll never find it.” And boy does he look, and look….. so much so, it took us 30 minutes to do a half block, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Almost home, he see’s something shiny in the middle of the road, he stops, stares at it and says,” just a minute”.  He leaves his walker next to me and heads straight for the shiny spot, until the oxygen hose stops him in his tracks half way to his destination. He walks back and says, “Well that was pretty silly of me, forgot I had this thing on.”  We both giggled about it and he was right back to searching.

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Pops looks for shiny and I look for pretty, together we’re pretty shiny!

 

I got him a game called Quirkle to try and keep his mind active since he no longer does his word searches.

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It’s a game where you match colors and shapes, but being color blind, pops never was very good with colors, so he just matches the shapes. When I first got this game for him March of this year, 2016, it brought to light how difficult things had gotten for him mentally. He struggles to match all the different shapes, but he takes his time and will finally find where each piece goes, except distinguishing between the square and the circle, those two he gets mixed up.  I won’t say anything and a minute later he’ll catch it and say, “Who put that there?”

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One of the most interesting things about his dementia are the things he misses visually. It’s as if his eyes and his brain take longer to connect what’s in front of him. The things that are in front of him, he just cannot see it, or maybe it’s just that he’s not comprehending what’s in front of him.

Pops trying to remember how the remote works.

Dad actually being confused. Lately he’ll see the time on the microwave and tries to enter it on the remote.

I was washing dishes after his breakfast the other day and he was looking all around, as if he were searching for something and finally he looks at me for the 3rd time in his search and with a look of surprise and happiness he says, “There you are!”  and I smile back and say, “Here I am!”

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He still loves to help when he can. Lately he’s been pulling weeds while I’m at work, unfortunately they all aren’t weeds…. but he tries his best, so I go behind him and replant the flowers.

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I’m planning to create a few projects for him to work on while I’m gone, things like separating a box of mixed screws and nails (especially since he used to be a carpenter ) I think that’ll make him feel good and give him a sense of purpose.

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I don’t know what in the hay I am doing.

I just got a book called Creating Moments of Joy by Jolene Brackey, it is a very useful and enlightening.

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I highly recommend it for anyone who has someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s in their life. The best part was learning how to live his new reality and how to prevent more confusion . Hence, agreeing with him about whatever day he thinks it is!

Every day is flower smelling life loving day with pops in it

Every day we try to stop and smell the flowers, no matter the circumstances.

The outreach and understanding from others has been nothing short of amazing.  It all started when my dear friend Amy’s parents gave us a monitor to keep an eye on pops.  They had used it while caring for her Grandmother, doing all they could do for her during her last years and knew after she passed that our time of need would be approaching soon.

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I  have the sound on at night, the second I hear him cough I know he’s up.

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this is the camera in his room, we’ve told him it’s there so we can make sure he’s ok

Pops trying to figure out what the light on the camera was for

Pops trying to use the camera to turn on the TV.

 

From the time I started writing this post a couple weeks ago to now, I’m sad to report things have gotten drastically worse. He’s not able to find the bathroom, has no understanding of whether its day or night, and will wake up around 1:15 feeling ready to start his day. We can no longer leave him alone. They call it stepwise progression for those who have vascular dementia.  It happened on the 14th of May, Dad officially lost his way, we morned the changed and accepted the challenge with tears in our eyes and love in our hearts. I was beyond heartbroken to see such a change from one day to the next.

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I tried to get him to sort the rocks into light and dark piles; didn’t happen. I’ll try again another day

He’s reached a new level of adorable;

Mitch went over to check on him one morning last week and there was Dad, standing in the bathroom brushing his hair……with his toothbrush.

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Uhhhh, baby girl, I think these bubbles are getting kinda high

He’s reached a new level of dangerous;

Pops is a smoker, he has smoked since he was around the age of 14. Last week Mitch and I were picking up our kayaks and learning how to tie them down. On the opposite side of the car was pops who was winded from having a smoke, thus needing oxygen to breathe (which has been the norm, smoke, oxygen, smoke, oxygen, etc.) So Mitch got him set up and not even a minute later Dad lit up another cigarette with oxygen around his nose, while in my car! My heart stops and I immediately reach for it, hoping we won’t get blown up.  Of course Pops doesn’t understand and begins resisting my attempts to take it from him.  Thankfully crisis averted.  Then the next morning when Mitch went over to check on dad and what do you know, he’s smoking in his room!  Oh my goodness, he is a loose smoking cannon!   I’ve asked him time and time again, “does smoking bring you joy?” and he would say, “Yes.” He’d given up other vices in his life for the ones he loved through the years, so I told him I wouldn’t try to make him stop smoking. But now, we see it killing him, and it is literally speeding up his demise.

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He was just watching a movie last week and when it ended he decided to go out and smoke. Before going he said he was feeling good, so I thought this was a good time to really get a gauge on how much one cigarette does to him physically, so I asked him with 10 feeling great, how good did he feel.  He said, “I would have to say an 8, I feel pretty good.”  After his outing, he came back in trying to catch his breath, drained and tired.  When I asked him how he felt between 1-10 and he said, “oh, I don’t know, around the same, I can’t say, I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you, ugh. I’m just so tired right now, I could sleep. ”  I wrote the numbers on a piece of paper and asked him to point to the number that he felt.  He put his finger between the 5 and the 6, so I asked him, “So you feel like a 5 or a 6?”  He said, gasping for air, “Oh i guess, maybe a 5.” Making a point to him about how bad he now feels, I asked him if he would rather keep smoking and feel like he does and die sooner, or stop smoking and have a good quality of life from now on?” He said, “The last one, I haven’t been smoking as much and I’m ok with that, I’m doing better.” So it’s in his mind about quitting.  Being an ex-smoker myself I haven’t forgotten the kind of “hold” that cigarettes can have on a person, so I wouldn’t make light of how challenging it is to move on without them, but it has become beyond obvious that getting him to stop smoking will drastically improve his remaining quality of life.  We’ve got our wheels turning, he’s already agreed to let us hold onto his lighter from now on.

Five days later…He’s reached a new level of cooperation;

Latest update….We’ve persuaded him to use an e-cig in place of cigarettes. Yes, we know it’s still harmful, it’s still nicotine and not a cure, but it’s a much better alternative!

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Pops smoking his e-cig

For the last week we’ve been trying to control the number of cigarettes he’s had, and the more we did, the more he wanted. Just Yesterday, after a morning of diverting and distracting him from thinking of cigarettes, he remembered what he wanted and was digging out butts from a can, at one point having a smoke in each hand! But with that being said, only three smokes all day….YES!!  We’ve had the e-cig from a couple weeks ago when I first tried to get him to switch over and he just wasn’t having it, but today, today it stuck!

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It is now 3:10 in the afternoon, he’s used his e-cig three different occasions and not near the amount of one regular cigarette (had he been smoking he’d already be on his 12th cigarette of the day) and he has not once asked for the real thing! So long, putrid nose burning stink, sprinkled butts around our yard, ash and burn holes on pops clothes and the deep gut churning fear of him burning himself or the house down! Hallelujah!

 

Pops trying to make face like Milo with his bottom teeth out

Pops making his Milo face with his bottom teeth out