Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Brief Update

I just received an email from my sister. She heard from two different caregivers on Monday that our mom's favorite word is NO! She won't change her clothes, let them wash her, put on her slippers, or do anything else that they ask. NO is the one and only answer.
But here she is, two weeks past pacemaker, three weeks past atrial fibrillation, four weeks past vascular dementia and stroke. She's smiling and giving it the best she's got at the moment. We're all still hopeful that she'll reach a baseline that will hold for a while.

Monday night, at the new 24/7 Care Facility, my mom's computer is on the dinner table. They are streaming music from the 1940s and 1950s that my sister put on from Pandora. The staff at the facility said they thought the other residents would love the music. I agree. My sister said my mom was singing all afternoon. Well, after all NO's of the day.

It's still raining here. Raining raining raining. Cabin fever, my friends, serious cabin fever.

36 comments:

  1. Not an easy time for a daughter. Not being able to make things better. But your mother looks fabulous in that picture and it will stop raining one morning.

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    1. Sabine-- My sister lives closest to my mom, and she is shouldering almost all of it right now. We're heading down in March for a few days. Hoping to catch her in a lucid time and saying YES! Looking forward to a dry spell.

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  2. I hope your mother reaches some stability and peace (though I admire her chutzpah, too).

    Send some of that rain to Missouri, will you?

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    1. paullamb-- Thank you! We're hoping for stability and peace as well. She has always had that chutzpah! You can have ALL of the rain headed our way, my friend.

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  3. Been following the ups and downs of your mom's and your walk through this new territory together. My husband and I are going through gradual changes too with several family members (84, 86, 90), so in addition to caring I'm reading your blog with learning in mind as well. Love, love, love the music playing. I remember a friend quietly playing hymns for her mom who was soothed by them. Thinking of you and your family and am lifted by how your whole family pulls together in caring and thoughfulness. Kim in PA

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    1. Kim-- I've been reading fellow bloggers whose family members are going through similar times in their lives. It is absolutely the best part of the social internet for all of us. Thank you for your kind thoughts. We are all teaching each other our way through these changes.

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  4. A friend of mine went through her mother with dementia and she could do art with her and it was the connection despite the other paths not there.

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    1. Rain-- It is so interesting about the parts of the brain that stay connected. Once we find them, we can share it with all of our hearts.

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  5. That's a good photo of your mom; sometimes music is the best medium.
    No umbrellas and raingear? If we didn't walk in rainy weather up here, we'd rarely get out. You can do it! :)

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    1. isabelita-- My sister took that photo on Monday. We were so glad to see her. We have umbrellas and raingear. We just hate the wind, and there is so much of that. And lately it's just been POURING. UGH. Maybe we'll go out today...maybe!

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  6. I have heard music is a wonderful help with dementia. Somethings we never forget and still give pleasure. I love the look on her face. She looks pleased and blissful.

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    1. Patti-- Yes, I had heard that too. I asked my brother to find some old stuff to play for my mom. When she was living here with us, I would put on Benny Goodman, and she would get up and dance!

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  7. The photo of your mom is wonderful. Music is a delight; Larry will attest to that!

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    1. JS-- We love that photo of my mom. So good to see her face. She has always loved music and dancing. It's wonderful to remind her.

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  8. I brought my mother a small digital player with big band music (which she had claimed to like) and some Sergio Franchi. She had no interest in the big band music, but when Sergio was singing she told everyone around her, "It's in my blood! It's in my blood!" She was blissful until an album came on where Sergio sang in English. Outrage: "That's not Italian!"
    It is nice to see your mom smiling. We can only do our best and hope for the best to help our failing parents be at peace.

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    1. CCorax-- I love knowing that your mom loved listening to music too. There's just something about the way music gets into our hearts. We really do our best to help our failing parents be at peace. It's fueled by love, so much love.

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  9. So lovely to see your Mom's smiling face. I am so glad you found something she enjoys.
    Hope the rain stops soon!

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    1. Cat Lover-- I felt the same way, it's so lovely to see my mom's smiling face. Brings me some peace. Raining on and off, on and off. Looking forward to a bit of respite tomorrow.

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  10. Lovely photo of your dear mother. What would we all do without music? Hoping for sunshine breaks in Arcata in between the rain doing its paradoxical work of both healing and devastation in California. This morning I woke up to thick fog. Sending love.

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  11. am-- What would we all do without music? Seriously, I have no idea. I just turned on our music player and Jackson Browne's song "Before the Deluge" came on. So apropos. Glad you liked the photo of my mum!

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  12. We played music and old movies for my mother in her last couple of weeks at home. We couldn't tell for sure whether she enjoyed it because she was not very responsive by that time.

    I know this is a hard time for you all. We are thinking about you.

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    1. Mark-- My mom is still pretty responsive, so the music really works for her. We're all a bit overwhelmed, but mostly my sister who lives the closest and really has to manage it all.

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  13. That is a sweet photo! And I'm glad the music is brightening things up.

    I think I mentioned before the "yes, we have no bananas" approach, when someone's brain is struggling. Basically, never say no if they ask something -- frame it as "sure, but we need to look into that" or suchlike.

    Since mom is in the NO mode, might it help to offer 2 options -- both acceptable -- instead of saying "we must do this?" It is a tool in the box from when my kids were little, but seems to help my relative with dementia.

    xoxoxo

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    1. kathy-- I really like your advice here. I'll definitely send that on to my sister. She'll appreciate it so much. It's amazing how fast we have to learn this new way of being and communicating.

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  14. Your mom looks content in the photo. Sounds like the music is a great idea. I sure hope your weather clears up. Nothing worse than cabin fever.

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    1. Sharon-- She does look content, doesn't she? We're heading south in March to see her, and we're hoping she'll look just as happy (if not happier!). So far there seems to be no end in sight for our lousy weather. Ugh.

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  15. Your mom is beautiful, with a great smile. NO is a perfectly good word, it gives one control when all else fails.

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    1. Colette-- Thank you for that. My mom does look beautiful, doesn't she! Well, her "no" is a bit like a two-year old's. I think everyone is learning how to work with it.

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  16. I can only imagine how difficult this time must be what with worry about your mother and the non-stop rain. Day after day of rain can be such a drain for a skywatcher and sunshine lover like you. Enough already!

    I am a great believer in the power of music. I'm rarely without music in the foreground or background. iPod playlists tremendously reduced the pain and relaxed by husband following his recent surgery.

    I'm so glad your mother has happy times in spite of her negative days. And it's possible that "NO" is just easier to say and may not mean the same to her now as it did before.

    Still sending soothing thoughts to you, Roger, your mom, and the family.

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    1. NCmountainwoman-- That's how I feel, Enough already! Well, we've heard the rumor that there is supposed to be sunshine tomorrow. So, we're hopeful. It's going to be cold, but sunny! Yay! My mom's lucidity is improving everyday. We're looking forward to when she is more cognizant and can articulate her desires. Music works GREAT. Thank you so much for your good thoughts.

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  17. Good to hear your mum is holding up even if she says NO all the time. We just had a hurricane here or very strond winds with trees getting blown down. Lucky not a lot happend round here apart from some branches coming down. Glad you like the sunrise this week, they were taken just outside the village I live in.

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    1. Bill-- Winter still has quite a grip. We're so looking forward to spring whenever it gets here. I always love your photos. It's the closest to England I'm ever going to get!

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  18. Hi Robin! With all shes been through lately, she's entitled to some no's. Clearly, something about music is very good for us. Healing and therapeutic, at the same time.

    After barely having any rain at all for the past several years, now it seems that it won't stop.

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    1. Pat-- I love your attitude. I guess that's true, sometimes you just get to say "NO!" The rain has been seriously unbelievable. More than a foot of rain has fallen here this month alone, and we're in for more. I think we've had enough!

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  19. Just found your blog and enjoyed your post. Your mother looks very nice. I am pleased that she enjoys the music. These illnesses are not easy on the family and I understand it well. My husband has had Alzheimer’s now for almost 10 years and is in the “middle” stages. I am his only caregiver, 24/7, with no help, so it is often depressing and stressing. Music is a big help for me – when I get too stressed I listen to Chopin, and when I need some cheering up I listen to some old French songs – music is a great comfort.

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    1. Vagabonde-- It's so good to hear from you. I am so glad you found us. I am sorry to read about your husband and you being his only caregiver 24/7. I hope you find ways to get relief and support. Music truly is an amazing support, even when old songs make me cry. Thank you again for stopping by, sending you good wishes.

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