Friday, January 22, 2016

Breaking past denial

I know it was a dumb question and I knew what the geriatric doc was going to say when I asked it but I had to.  At what point is hubby ready for a memory care unit?  Of course, even you, dear reader, can guess her answer. "When you can't take care of him anymore."  And when and how do I do that? And why did I feel like I was going to burst into tears. I don't know.  The doc wants me back without him for a talk next week.
There are days he drives me nuts with the same questions over and over.  And not being able to follow the simplest directions and work the remote for the TV.  At this point to most anyone else he seems fine, sweet, pleasant and wanting so much to be helpful that he drives some residents on walkers and scooters crazy trying to help.  He can dress himself but it will be in the same clothes he wore the day before if I don't intervene.  I routinely cruise his closet to find his dirty clothes even though the laundry basket sits on the floor of his closet.  He will not brush his teeth unless I tell him to in spite of the reminder I posted on the bathroom mirror.  And he continues to sleep a lot, I mean a lot, like 12 hours if you count the nodding off in his recliner.
        One of the funny/great things he does now is sweep the porch and the walkways.  He will disappear for an hour or so with his red broom.  It is great exercise for him as he comes in sweaty and it has endeared him to our lil' ol' lady neighbors.  It only concerns me that he frequently can't stand up straight after one of his walks.  If I am out of the apartment, he will leave me a cute little note saying "I've gone for a walk."  Sure enough he and the broom are gone.
     Today I had to laugh.  I had an appointment with the eye doctor for a checkup.  I knew it would take a while as I always have to wait while my eyes dilate.  I was thinking I would go alone but my shadow said, "I want to go with you."  Cautioning him that it would be a long wait for him, he still insisted.  "You might be in a wreck or something so I need to go with you."  I said, "What would you do?"  "I don't know but I need to be there."  Sweet man and so he came along.  He hasn't driven a car in 3 years and never carries his cell phone.
      He still loves to go to movies and eat out.  I order for him as he can't remember what he wanted on the menu but we manage.  I choose the movie and he agrees.  And he is willing to sit there through poetry readings and seems to enjoy them.  So I guess we aren't there yet.
       We are still planning to move to San Antonio to be near our son but I'm dreading pulling up roots again.  More loss.  I knew when we moved here that it would be temporary because this community doesn't have continuing care which we will need at some point.  The doc says go now while He-Who-Sleeps-Alot can still get oriented and I know she is right.  Our son says, "Come now while you can choose.  If you wait for a crisis, you may not have what you would like available."  Sooooo....I am looking around at the apartment and deciding what I can get rid of.  I laugh and think "I don't have time to move."
      San Antonio has more retirement communities to choose from than Houston due to the military wanting to retire there.  We have found several we like, none have the space we have here but we can certainly shed some things (I think???).  I insist that our next apartment will have its own washer and dryer and that I can walk to a connected memory care unit.
      So now to unplug from family and friends here and go forward.  Getting old is all about loss I have decided.  One's body can't do what it used to, one doesn't look like one used to, and friends pass away or move away to be near their sons or daughters.  I can't imagine being without family support in this late stage of life.  I'm so grateful for all their support...priceless!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A little TLC goes a long way for a caregiver

Okay, I'm through whining, for now anyway.  Christmas was wonderful!  We were in San Antonio with family and friends.  Next to me is my dear friend, Nancy, and her husband, Robert.  Nancy and I have been friends since first grade and were sorority sisters at UT.  Mexican food is always on the agenda when we get to SA and La Fonda fit the bill.  Nancy had recently had a health crisis but is doing well and Robert has signs of dementia but we still laugh and giggle our way through life.  She is such a lift to my spirits.
This was just one of the highlights of a delightful week with our son, Chris, and his fabulous family in their fabulous house with visits from some of their fun friends.  My daughter-in-law is a wonder!  She cranks out great meals including breakfasts day after day and I really feel pampered!.  They even treated me to a wonderful massage where I walked out like a bowl of jelly but feeling like a Queen.
We toured Santa's Ranch near San Marcos...a wonder of lights with different themes. Pretty amazing and something that He-Who-Sleeps-Alot could really enjoy.  He responds well to music and lights so it was a great excursion.
Once again we toured Incarnate Word Retirement Community, this time to check out their memory care unit and a 2 bedroom apartment.  Then we went on to Brookdale Patriot Heights to do the same.  I loved a 2 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor but it is smaller than what we have now.  Beautiful view from the balcony and 5 minutes from our son's office.  We really liked the adjacent memory care unit....a small cottage with 10 residents...a real family feeling.  Definitely worth considering.
On Christmas Eve we all went to Oak Hill Church, heard a fine message from Max Lacado, the minister, and some beautiful holiday music and singing.  Then home to a Cox traditional Christmas Eve dinner of homemade tamales and Mexican food.  Our son had found a little house on the way to Boerne that sold delicious homemade tamales of all kinds...the spinach and cheese were delicious as well as the chicken.  We were joined for dinner by another family with 3 children which added to the frivolity.
Lots of treats and surprises on Christmas Day topped off with another delicious dinner.  We gave our granddaughter something that was on her list but I had never heard EcoSphere...fascinating glass globe with a plant and some teensy shrimp.  It will go on independently forever and what fun to watch!!  Her brother called it "a nerd" thing but we all were fascinated.  Then it was off to the movies and then dinner.  Whew!  Just wonderful.
We departed the next day as the family was headed to NYC for New Year's Eve on Times Square.  I came home rested and refreshed.  So grateful for all the love and pampering.
I came down with a cold or something just in time for New Year's.  Had soup bubbling on the stove and the table all set ready for my Artist Way girlfriends dinner when I developed fever and stomach upset and had to cancel.  Bummer!!!!!  Much better now, thank goodness.

But I just have to remember this gorgeous sunset in the Hill Country and be grateful that we are so blessed.  May the New Year bring joy and health and all things good to all our friends and family.