Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The winter plan...

The plan is: every Wednesday  late afternoon a day care person will come to the house, help Okaasan get ready for going out, take her by taxi to the local big supermarket, walk around it with her for exercise and chat, come home by taxi, cook/heat up food for her dinner and leave her to eat it.
I will be out working. DS will be away ski teaching.

That's the plan.

The day care manager, Dear Son and maybe Okaasan...have agreed to that.

I was out at work. But I agree to that.

It'll start next week. And we'll see if that is a good idea. Exercise/chat/someone apart from me to stimulate Okaasan's body and brain in the long winter months.

DS says Okaasan was a bit negative about it all - of course didn't think she needed outside help etc. But the carrot of "going to the supermarket for a walk" seemed to work.

Crossed fingers.

One side point: she is happy to go to Supermarket A...but not Supermarket B, because "the staff are bullies"......first we've heard of her having a negative about that supermarket. We wonder what happened to her there, or what she thinks happened to her there.... need to see this cat picture...current cat craze sweeping Japan....Neko Montage....give your cat cartoon eyes:-)
Have you got a cat handy now? Pick up a pen and a bit of paper - give it a go!

Saturday, 22 November 2014


Did I ask Okaasan how to cook burdock and carrots?
I came home on Monday at 6 pm after 4 hours of classroom time and NINETY minutes of the dentist chair (ongoing and almost finished root canal treatment) and poured myself a large glass of Chardonnay. Flopped on the sofa with a cat draped over my knees.
Dragged myself upright enough to put the burdock and carrot in a miso soup creation, and heat up supermarket fried fish for dinner. Gave Okaasan 30 minutes of chat time at dinner.
And retreated back to a 2nd large glass of wine and more TV.

Didn't have the warm, relationship building joint cooking thing at all.
I have a dream, that if I wasn't working full time I would be spending lots of quality time with Okaasan chatting to and doing things with her to build our connections and give her fun in life.
But - too many days are like this Monday. Work comes first, and Okaasan care is limited to getting some kind of food on the table by 7 pm every day.
In between work we fit in the bathtimes/the walk times/the laundry/the cleaning/the lunches left on the table or ordered in for her.
Two people working don't have much extra time to give to quality caring.

We do what we can fit in, without feeling too guilty.

Meanwhile - DS is back from Tokyo and getting ready for his ski season.
I've turned up the nagging level so that he has been forced to call the day care manager and arrange a home visit for next week to discuss what they can do to help Okaasan this winter.
We are hoping for a friendly woman to come every Wednesday afternoon and take Okaasan out to a local big supermarket, let her walk and shop for snacks and magazines, bring her home and maybe cook some dinner for her. If that happens mid week thru December to March, then I can take her out at weekends.
If she gets out of the house and walks at least twice a week - it is a good enough basis for life.
Plus - if I can get that Nishi Guru exercise video set up....

Have to give up on going to day care for now. She is too negative about it. And DS isn't eager enough to push her.

We did a big clean of her room today. Got the carpet back from the dry cleaners and threw away a lot of papers and stuff in her room. 
Found more #$*?<" in a supermarket flyer...left on the heater in the kitchen :-( I'd noticed the paper there for a few days...hadn't realised what was inside the fold....


We really HAVE to check and clean her room and areas more now.....

Dear Son has realised that his mum's walking isn't steady at all. He doesn't want her going on her own to much. In fact she hasn't been out on her own for a walk for a week or two, and she has been downtown on the subway for maybe a month or more.
With winter coming her life is about to get much smaller...

and my life is about to get....BUSY!
This blog, which has been comatose during summer will probably liven up.

Monday, 17 November 2014

#$%* Happens

Hope you're not eating breakfast.

Cos it's unhealthy for you to eat breakfast and surf the Internet at the same time!

And you might find topics like this.

Found a nasty little parcel in Okaasan's room yesterday.
Casually left next to the sofa and the recycle newspaper box. A supermarket flyer crumpled up. ThankGOODNESS I didn't grab it.
Something brown and squishy inside.

Set me off on a hunt for the pants or pajamas that she'd been wearing at the time. Soon located the nice flowery jimjams I bought her this spring. Squishy and probably stained beyond rescue.

These "toilet accidents" at more than before. We use to find them in winter, or when her legs painful. Times when maybe she hadn't got to the toilet in time.
DS also has a theory that sushi is to blame. He's stopped taking her to sushi or buying it for meals at home. I think that's sad - she loves sushi and sashimi. A little is ok. But gorging out at a revolving sushi bar is probably a bad idea.
Maybe slightly old food in the fridge is also a bad idea?

Old people and their digestion? Or something more? We'll never know if it is something medically wrong. Cos she will never go to a doctor.

Anyway. About once a week now.

Can't talk to her about it. Tried that in the past. She doesn't remember the incident afterward.
Could try putting a toilet style trash box by the door in her room? Would that be enough of an association to get her to put soiled things there?

Onwards thinking.

Peaceful Sunday.
I got her into a bath, gave her lunch and then went out myself for a long walk and a movie.

Came home with a small amount of raw fish and tried to cook the burdock and carrot dish. It didn't look so good and Okaasan told me I'd done it wrong - I used to flare up at her advice. Now I just let it was over me and nod, and aplogise for being a bad cook. I have learned to control my flare up feelings over the last few years!
If I am home early enough tonight I might ask HER to show me how to cook it.
Or I might come in thru the front door, pour myself some Chardonnay and watch TV.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Winter caring warm up

Into my first weekend of winter care.
DS buggered off to Tokyo on Thursday morning - leaving me the health insurance card, and the number of the day care manager. No Letter of Authorization this time. That's ok, while he is drinking and eating his way round Tokyo he is easier to phone contact than somewhere out on a ski area in real winter.
He left on a lunchtime flight.
There were flurries of snow.
By 6 pm winter had arrived. It snowed non-stop from Thursday at 6 pm until Saturday at lunchtime. 10 -15 cm. Wet, heavy snow.
So, my trial run with Okaasan for this winter season really felt like winter.

First two days a bit crazy. The snow, I had dawn till dusk work. Came home between classes Thursday and Friday to prep dinner for Okaasan.
I ate with her Thursday. Quick before my work.
Thursday's White Lie was that DS was at a party.
Friday/Weekend's White Lie was that he has gone to Tokyo for a ski instructor's big meeting.
She doesn't seem bothered, either way.

So, she and  I did Saturday lunch together, and then Saturday dinner. Lunchtime I got her chatting about her hydrangea plant at her home in Saitama. A familiar story: how the old man who grew plants professionally gave her a hydrangea, how it was better than regular plants, how people in the street commented on it - but Okaasan wouldn't give them a cutting...because then everyone would come and take flowers.
Why do some stories in our life become THE stories we treasure and retell. Especially in dementia?
I guess this one has elements of special service/praise from others/home/flower?
But funny: when I broke the hamster wheel of chat about this famed hydrangea plant...."How nice, what color is it? Pink?"...Okaasan looked around the kitchen as if hunting for a clue right there: "Pink? no, I don't think so, what color? Not really a pink....."....before getting back onto the main rails with "...and there was this old man who grew plants professionally...."

Her memory stories are stories, rather than memories? Words that give a sense of comfort. Not the detail of the event?

Anyway, Saturday night dinner - I tried, oh I TRIED, to leave the silence as we ate and see if she would fill it herself. Nothing. She ate. I ate. The minutes ticked by. I said nothing. Neither did she. It is so unnerving. Silent eating.
Finally I asked her about her Japanese tea bowl that was on the table and got her onto a 15 minute hamster wheel about the bowl, the design, samurai, men doing tea ceremony/tea ceremony school etc etc

Apart from that: took her in the car to the big supermarket yesterday. Let her loose in there for 30 mins. Today she'll have a bath.

So. Winter mode.
I miss my man. My TV companion and joker. But in a way it is easier to be in full responsible mode for Okaasan. I will decide everything she does today: the bath, the lunch, the dinner. Probably even the curtain opening and closing times. Whether she goes out or not. Not. It's my turn today, she can stay home and watch TV,

Working life is busy at the moment. Classes, narrations and editing work. I'm happy. But tired this weekend. Lots of sitting and watching TV. I even went to bed at 9 pm last night.
The cats are amazed about snow. 4th year for them. But still amazed.