Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chicken Soup

To help stimulate mom, I buy her word search books and she works at them when she gets bored.  Her most recent word search book is called "Chicken Soup for the Soul".  Every time she starts to work in her book she reads the title out loud.

Mom:  chicken soup for the soul
Moi:   Do you like that book ma
Mom:  yes

Mom:  did you ever make chicken soup
Moi:  yes
Mom:  really, did you use this recipe book

I was at a conference with Jack Canfield and we were walking down the corridor so I told him my momism story about his word search book ... He one upped me and told me about a time when he was doing a book launch at a hotel a few years back; they delivered the books but nobody could find them; they looked all over the hotel, in the storage room, in the holding dock.

They found them in the kitchen.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sore Back

Mom:   I have a sore back 
Me:      I have I one too ... 
Mom:   Oh my Golly, I hope I didn't give it to you? 
Me:      No ma, it's not contagious, let's both go and have a lie-down

Every single day she comes up with something that makes me smile, chuckle or laugh my head off.   
It must be her naive caring witty nature.

One of her favorite sayings is "oh my golly".  I think it is a saying from when she was younger.   

Monday, February 15, 2016


Mom loves her puzzles ... we separate the colours; this makes it easier and less frustrating for her. When she is bored, it stimulates her.

After she completes one, she is so happy and says "there" ... but does not want me to take it apart.  She wants to put it in a frame and hang it on a wall  ... lol.

 Isn't she cute? 

Going for a Ride

Mom loves going for a ride.  We try to go out every day and sometimes it's just to look around or go pick up some milk.   She gets very bored doing her puzzle book. I don't know what I would do without my car.

Mom:  are we going anywhere
Moi:  yes we're going to go out later for abit
Mom:  where are we going
Moi:   for a ride ... (I used to tell her the details but now I just say for a ride)
Mom:  ok I'm ready
Moi:  where is your buggy
Mom:  in my room
Moi:  I think maybe we should bring it
Mom:  it won't run away on me you know ...

Mom:  are we on Bank street?
Moi:    not right now, we're on Carling
Mom:  oh ok
A few minutes later
Moi:   do you know where we are now? (We're actually now on bank street getting closer to where we live)
Mom:  yes
Moi:  where
Mom:  we're in the car

Mom:  you're such a good driver Michele
Moi:  thank you mom ... do you say that to your other driver Kevin (he picks her up and brings her to Wabano) 
Mom:  no
Moi:  is he a good driver?
Mom:  yes
Moi:  maybe you should tell him
Mom:  but I don't want to disturb him ...
Moi:  I think you should tell him that he is a good driver ... I'm sure he will appreciate that
Mom:  ok I'll tell him the next time I see him 

Moms and their Family

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and today is Family Day.  Sometimes family members are not always able to be there when you want or need them to be.  Recently I was upset with my brother but today it's all good. He really does have a good heart.

Last night Mom and I were sitting around half watching TV when my brother called.  He lives in the same city as we do and sometimes he struggles with his own challenges and limitations, he is not working, he needs back surgery, doesn't have a vehicle, and sometime he gets busy with his own life and forgets to come by and visit.

Just before 9pm, the phone rang and it was my brother calling to wish Mom a happy valentine's day and say that he loves her.  She could not hear him properly, She did not really know it was him.  She could not remember which son he was - she thought it was her other son in Sarnia.  Today upon reflection, I think the thought was so nice.

Moms are special; once a mom always a Mom and they will always care about their children.  No matter what.

Mom:  who is this?
My Bro:  it's me mom, Albert
Mom:  who?
Moi:  it's Albert, your son, Al
Mom:  oh, how are you - what are you doing?
My Bro:  I'm just calling to say Happy Valentine's Day Mom
Mom:  happy what ...
My Bro:   Happy Valentine's Day
Moi:  Happy Valentine's Day
Mom:  Is it Valentine's Day
Moi:  yes Mom
My Bro -  I love you Mom
Mom:  you what?
My Bro:  It's Al Mom, I'm just calling to say Happy Valentine's Day and I love you.
Mom;  Are you still living in Sarnia?
My Bro:  No, Mom I'm Al, Roger lives in Sarnia
Mom:  oh, when did you move?
Moi:   it's Al Mom, he lives here
Mom:   oh,
My Bro:  ok, mom, I'm going to let you go
Mom -  ok, be good
My Bro:  I'm always good Mom - I'm not in jail, yet
Mom:   jail ... what did you do?
My Bro:  It's Ok Mom, everything is ok, I'm always good
Mom:  you think so?  Be good ...
Moi:  Say bye now Mom
Mom:   Ok, be good.  Bye

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Music is like medicine

Music is like medicine to people with dementia.  Mom and I went to a celebration party with some friends; there were two fine fiddlers, a few awesome guitars, excellent home-made food and good friends present.  It made us remember how much we miss the good old days.

When we were young, music played a huge part in our family and our life.  My father played the fiddle, my brothers played the guitar, and the girls would dance (with the dog) and we'd have dance contests.  It was so good for the family and it brought back some fine memories.  

Old-time fiddle music was a daily occurrence in our home and now that my Dad is gone, we don't hear it anymore.  It was so wonderful to see mom enjoying herself,  She was clapping her hands (not missing one beat) and toe tapping to the time of the music and we even got up to shake a leg (while holding both my hands) and jig abit.  We had a wonderful time and it really did us both a ton of good.

Mom played piano when she was a child; she had her grade 8 in music.  There is something about a beat ... almost like the heart beat.

Awesome day.

Click  ((((( H E R E ))))) if you want to hear from great fiddle music.
Mom and I are there, clapping.  She has her mitts on.  LOL

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Getting Dressed

Mom usually needs help dressing.  If she had her way, we would go out with her wearing her colour coordinated pj's not because she knows the difference (she doesn't) but because she is always ready to go at the drop of a hat ...she loves going out, even if only to go for a ride and just look around.  I am so grateful that she is still able to go to her program (it gives me a little break and she gets stimulated).

Mom - Are we going anywhere today?
Moi - Yes Mom, it's Wednesday, you are going to Wabano; let's get you dressed.
Mom - Where's my coat
Moi - No Mom, we need to take off your pj's and put on some clothes.  Let's take those pj's off and we will change your undershirt and put on your bra.
Mom - You just want to see my titties ... (lol ... she says this almost every single day)
Moi - Sure Mom, do you say that to Avan when she gives you a shower?
Mom - No way ... I just say it to you
Moi -  There.  you're all set for the day.

A few minutes later.
Mom - I'm so glad I had a girl first
Moi - I know ... can you imagine if Roger or Albert (my brothers) had to get you dressed in the morning or give you a shower ..
Mom - I know, it's true.

I know she appreciates everything I do for her but not as much as I appreciate everything she has done for me over the past sixty years.

Monday, February 8, 2016


Mom does not connect things properly.  It is part of the disease.  It's almost like there are missing connectors.  Some days are better than others.  Today, she may know that we are related but tomorrow she might think I'm her sister.  And she won't know her other daughter.  Or she will ask when my Dad will come home (he's been dead for 5 years).

Colours have become more and more important to her as she is still able to see things that are the same but she can't she how they are connected.  I'm not sure if I am making any sense. Let me give you an example.

I try to stimulate her on a daily basis.  She can't watch TV because she can't follow the story line but last year I came across these great puzzles; the ones with the large pieces; I get them at the Dollar Store.  They are for pre-school age children but she doesn't know the difference and they entertain her for about 30-40 minutes usually when I am cooking or trying to clean up.  I try not to overwhelm her so I give her 4 or 5 pieces at a time and all the same colour ... she does not look at the picture and try to put it together that way, but she looks at the colours.  When she is done that group, she happily tells me, and I give her a few more pieces usually in another colour.

She is cute as a button ... really she is.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lost Shoes

Mom is very unstable on her feet.  She uses a walker unless it is too complicated and I will hang onto her arm/hand so she does not fall.  It  has become our habit to always keep either her moccasins or  shoes on all the time.
Today we went visiting to one of my friend's hime.  We removed mom shoes at the door.  We were enjoying quiet pleasant conversation and mom was sitting there next to me.  One of the guests was talking  and mom leans over and blurps out.
"Michele.  Michele, where are my shoes? (She was distraught)  I lost them.  I don't know where they are.  Can you help me find them."  She was so serious. 
"It's ok mom, we left them at the front door and we will put them back on before we leave."  It was hard not to laugh because she might have felt embarrassed. 
She is like a young child.  She needs to feel safe and secure and part of that is having the reassurance that everything is ok and knowing that both her shoes are on her feet. 

Minor Surgery

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bed Time

Getting ready for bed is usually not too bad.  I like her to have a shower first, then it is easier to put her down. When she was raising us kids, rarely did she ever worry about matching tops and bottoms or colour coordination, but now it seems to be important to her.

Mom:  Are you going anywhere tonight?
Moi:     No, mom, it's almost time for bed.  Let's get you a shower and then you will be ready.  It's 7:30, let's go
Mom:   It's not thirty (30) yet, it's only at the five.
Moi:   Ok, you're right.  Let's go.

After shower.

Mom:  Are these mine?  (points to the PJ bottom and top)
Moi:  Yes, I bought them for you.  Do you like them (they are purple and have barbie dolls on them but they don't sell matching tops so I paired them up with a hot pink PJ top).
Mom:  Well, I like purple and I like the picture.  But, they don't match.
Moi:   I know Mom.  It's okay, you're just going to bed.  And besides they don't make a top to match.
Mom:  What do they expect you to do?
Moi:   I don't think anyone is going to notice.
Mom:  I guess it will have to do but i think they should make matching tops.



Mom is unable to make simple decisions for herself. She lives in the moment and cannot think beyond right now.   Though she seems to get a little anxious about things that involve her.  She puts a new meaning to the term - living in the moment.  

Mom:  What are we going to do today?
Moi:   I don't know yet - What were you thinking about
Mom:  Me? Thinking.  I'm not thinking 
Giggle, giggle, giggle.  She realized what she said.    

As she goes to bed, she usually asks about tomorrow.  Of course, she will ask at least 5 or 6 times until I need to say, it's time to go to bed now Mom.  

Mom:  Am I going anywhere tomorrow?
Moi:    Yes Mom, tomorrow is Wednesday.  Wednesday is for ??? W e.  I try to get her to play along with me to see if she can figure it out.  
Mom:  Wabano
Giggle, giggle, giggle.  She is happy because she got it right. 

One day at a time
Mom living in the moment

Her Shower

When Mom was first diagnosed, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and thank God I got some help though CCAC and Carefor.  At this time, a lovely lady Avan comes to the house to give Mom a shower a few nights per week (she is also incontinent).  This gives me a little time to work on my business, go get a few groceries or spend some time with friends.   

Mom:  You know that lady that comes here to give me a shower?
Moi:  Yes ... Avan (she still cannot remember her name and she has been coming for at least 1.5 years)
Mom:  Yes 
Mom:  Does she give you a shower too
Moi:  No, Mom, just you 
Mom:  Do we need to pay her?
Moi:  No Mom
Mom:  That is so nice of her, isn't it?
Moi:  Indeed it is nice of her

Everything is so simple with her.  It is either black or white.  No gray.  

New Shoes

In the Fall of 2015, Mom was tested and they told me that she has the mental age of 6 or 7. I hope you will understand and appreciate that these stories are meant to reflect the joy of caring for her and the laughter we share on a regular basis.  They are not intended to mock her or be hurtful in any way shape or form.

Mom:  oh I love these shoes
Moi:  really, why is that
Mom:  they make my feet look smaller (she has size 11 feet - I know)
Moi:  ahh.
Next Day
Mom:  oh I love these shoes
Moi:  really - I bet you I know why
Mom:  why
Moi:  Because they make your feet look smaller
Mom:  How did you know
Giggle, giggle, giggle.

Repetition and saying the same thing over and over again can be annoying and frustrating.  She has no idea she is repeating herself.  I listen and respond just like she is telling me something for the very first time.

More History

Mom is First Nation from Aamjiwnaang First Nation in South Ontario (near Sarnia).  In the fifties, she married the boy across the street and they decided to leave and make a life somewhere else.  First stop was Hamilton then mom was traumatized by a stranger, they decided to move to the outskirts of Ottawa.  Having six kids in seven years was a little tough especially at the beginning because we lived in a basement with no running water but we always had food thanks to Dad's annual hunting trips.  For the first fifteen years of my life (I'm the first born), Mom stayed home to look after the kids while Dad worked in construction.  It took everything they had to raise a large family.  One thing for sure though, Mom was always there for us kids.  She was the best cook, she baked, she canned, made all our clothes, handmade quilts and managed to run a household while raising her family.  

Sometimes I would kid her and say "Mom, you're the best Mom I ever had".  She would blush a little, giggle, and say "Yah right ... how many mothers do you think you have?".  She had a little sense of humor but mostly I remember her as being kind with a lovely disposition.  She was (and still is) the best mom ever.  Always there, kind, sweet and helpful.  I think I remember her raising her voice once and I believe it was because I had wet the bed at age 7 or 8.  

Later when the kids started hanging out with friends, she got bored and decided she wanted to start working. I was 15 and she was a cashier at Loblaws.  She was a strong, healthy and wise woman.     

At 42, Mom was diagnosed with type 2 diabetis; this was the beginning of her health challenges.  She had a few falls, knee replacement, and an operation on her ankle.  Then in the early fall of 1997, at the age of 62, she was sitting at the kitchen table, and just like that, she fainted and fell to the floor. We rushed her to the Winchester Hospital, and they couldn't figure out what it was, so they sent her home with some medication.  A few weeks later, she was not feeling well and we brought her to the Riverside.  There were some challenges trying to keep her alive. We almost lost her.   She was weak, had no appetite, her blood pressure was high one day and low the next and her sugar was extremely high. She was having bad reactions to some of the meds.  I went out a purchased a book on the medications and to try and educate myself,  I was convinced they were over-medicating her.  She spent most of her day in bed, weak, dizzy, nauseous, no appetite.  Finally in January 1998 during the ice storm, she was in the hospital and they figured it out.  They decided she needed a pacemaker.  This was the beginning of what was about to come.    

Friday, February 5, 2016

A little history

It is important to document a journey that could help others. As a caregiver of a parent with dementia, there are some days that you can imagine can be quite stressful but there are others that give so much joy, laughter and love.  This is Mom's journey and I am documenting it for her.  You will find some of the funniest little stories that make it all worthwhile.

First a little history.  Mom was diagnosed about five plus years ago shortly after she broke her hip from a fall.  After the operation we noticed she seemed to be a little confused and we figured it was because of the operation.  The health team were surprised to learn that she had no recollection of the fall and she was not able to answer some basic questions.  They decided to keep her a little longer to do a geriatric assessment to determine if there were other health issues.

Well, after many tests and a month long stay in the Geriatric Assessment Unit, she failed the kitchen test.  That meant that she was no longer able to cook.  They wanted to put her into a facility.  They called us into a family meeting to break the news,  We decided as a family that she was not going into any facility.  My dad had kidney disease and he went to dialysis three times a week so we needed to find a suitable arrangement to ensure she was not left alone.

We decided that she was coming home with us and we would figure it out.  That meant someone had to take care of her and that meant me.  I was retirement age.  I was eligible for my full pension.  I had a home-based business that I could manage at home.

The Geriatric Assessment Unit at the Ottawa Hospital was very helpful in getting things organized for CCAC, home care and physio therapy.