Monday, 27 January 2020

On top of the world...wooo...hoooo

Such a feelin's coming over me....
wooo hoooo!!!!

Karaoke star.
In the care home twice-a-month karaoke club.

We've been going to the Sunday afternoon the staff canteen...with about 12 residents...listening and applauding performances of mostly enka - Japanese, ballads about missed hometowns, rain, bars, women who wait and snowy scenes...lost love, regret and unfulfilled lust.
All of THAT on a Sunday.

Okaasan really seems to enjoy. She claps along...we went to a concert event with two volunteers in kimono singing...and Okaasan loved that too...apart from the three trips we had to make to the toilet with her. The staff had given her an enema in the morning...and we got the results as she relaxed.

Anyway. Suddenly, the organizer of the club approached me yesterday.
Would I like to sing? singing is best done and listened to with a lot of alcohol. Which wasn't available at 3 pm on a Sunday.
I scanned the karaoke machine for something I knew. For something this generation of audience would know...
Madonna? Maybe no.
Queen and Adam Lambert?
Disney songs?

Chose the Carpenters...On Top of the World.....
Which is how I came to be chirping along a la Karen Carpenter in a solo performance in the care home canteen. Dear Son completely refusing to help me out, even though he as a far better voice than me.....Okaasan head bobbing and swaying along.

The oldies seemed to love it...clapped's a popular song in Japan...even people in their 80s have probably heard it somewhere.

I reached the end. Relief. Finished. Done.

Oh...........................da da....Such a Feelin's coming over me...

I'd pressed the Song Choice button twice on the machine.
Pressed by the organiser...I had to do it all a second time...


I am thinking of some Sinatra next time..."My Way"???

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Happy New Year!

YES!!!   Still here!!!

Somehow we slipped  from 2019 into 2020 and I never even blogged about it...furiously busy actually doing tour guide work over the so-called winter holidays and hardly time to change socks.

Okaasan. Fine. Hasn't got the influenza yet. Pretty lively when we go to see her.
Not much talking...and walking is shaky.

The last month or two we (or usually Dear Son) has taken her to the karaoke group that meets in the staff dining room of the care home. It is organised by one of the residents, and usually about 10 people get together round the big TV and a few of them sing songs with microphone.
Okaasan claims she doesn't know any of the songs, but since the average age of the group is 80 and all Japanese, it&S a fair bet that she does know them. She nods her head in time to the music, even claps...and looks happy.

So good.

Dear Son has had some health problems this winter. Not serious, we hope. But he hasn't worked so much and so Okaasan has had weekly visits from him. With me occasionally. 
Near Year Day we went and had sweetened sake and chat. The care home had decorated the walls, finally! And there was special food on the menu.

So. Onwards into 2020. The Year of the Rat!

Really I should blog more. But working life is busy with the teaching and the guiding. So I hardly sit here calmly at the computer and think about this blog. But I WILL try harder this year to average more than once-a-month blog....

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Who am I? :-)

Comes a time in every dementia story when recognizing loved ones becomes a problem: the vague feeling that the smiling face is connected...but not sure who...

Okaasan's take on this was a winner.

"Who am I?" asked Dear Son recently.

"You are Japanese!" countered Okaasan.


Mainly she still know us, actually...a few  times she thinks Dear Son is her all is pretty ok still.

I've been away from the family for almost 2 weeks. Had a wonderful holiday in south central Japan - driving around in a camping car to explore the beaches, forests and tiny villages. Met friends to do two days hiking on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage was wonderful.
Living in Japan...but I don't explore it enough. Domestic travel used to be very expensive, and with family in the UK my holidays were locked in to the Return to Uk mode for years. 

But now, thanks to LCC air tickets...and Dear Son staying home with the cats - I could get away and have a real holiday in the country that has been home forever.

It was a great holiday. The Kumano Kodo trails in particular, now World Heritage, so there is lots of online free info to help plan. I managed two days of NINE mountain miles each day...which with my knee history was great.

Back home in Sapporo....changes are happening in Okaasan's care home..
The whole two-care-companies-in-one-home  thing finally imploded and droves of families appear to have left...presumably moving their elderly to a care home run by the old staff?
Okaasan's floor has 30 rooms. At the last count there are only 12 residents, and the old care staff - who were not allowed behind the nurse station and operated out of an office down the street - they are nowhere to be seen.

So, that is the result, inevitably, of all those angry meetings last year when the hospital/care home dropped the bombshell that they'd switched owners...and switched care companies...without telling any of the customers.
We decided to switch to the new care company...because it seemed to be the way the thing was going anyway...but many families didn't. We also didn't want to move Okaasan...she is settled there now and knows the environment and staff.

I guess she is having GREAT service now. Only 12 residents!

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Winter carer


Almost forgotten HOW to blog....which part of the website do I click on....

Hopefully this one...

Winter is here. First snow in Sapporo yesterday. Mostly gone from downtown, but out in the countryside it's all looking white.

Okaasan. How is she?
The latest meeting of care workers/nurses/doctors etc decided that her Care Service level has gone up to Level 5. I think there are 7 levels.
Level 5 means that she needs a nurse visit once a week to check on her overall health, and that the care home staff are doing much more support for toilet/walking and even feeding.

We have noticed a decline in her mental and physical abilities. She needs to be guided to do simple actions like sitting upright in a chair, or grasping onto a support bar. Not many full sentences now; inarticulate sounds like a small animal....laughs, grunts of agreement. A full exchange of communication is rare.

But she knows us...mostly. And is happy to see us.
We took her in the wheelchair for a car-ride downtown to see a flower festival. She just slumped and looked...not always at the flowers themselves...sometimes just at the wheelchair side bar.
But when we took her back to the familiar surroundings of the 10th floor of the care home...she actually said:
"Oh, I live here, this is my curtain!"

Mostly we go and try to get her to walk a little with the walking frame (above). Actually, once in it she is a fast walker...but tires quickly. And she needs major guidance on how to stand and reach into the frame from her wheelchair.

Lots of sleeping now. Staring at the TV.
But smiles and laughs.
Dear Son is away this week on the annual Trip South for Drinking. So I am stepping into my winter care role. I told Okaasan he was busy at a ski work meeting because he is an important person who will teach rich foreigners in English etc
She loves that story and laughed out loud: my son speaks English well enough to work and get paid extra. Ha ha!

We've replaced her black trousers, taken the red cardigan to the sewing shop for more is trickling on.
I will go and see her once a week this winter. But, I don't feel confident enough to take her out in the car now on my own. Just getting her in and out of the car is hard, and toilets while out. It'll be care home visits - 10th floor and little trips to the lobby. 

A friend who reads this blog says I should include update here on Dear Son, me and cats....
Dear Son. Another summer of bike taxi work. He is about to start the ski season.
Cats - aged 10 now...fatter and fatter. But beginning to enjoy the fact that my English students come to the house for classes now. Moving the classroom here in the spring was a good of the cats even sits on my knee during classes.
Me: a summer of teaching and tour guide work. Very enjoyed the tour work - mainly day trips with guests from Asian countries. family groups to local beauty spots, some easy hikes. Steep learning curve in trying to do the social media for the tour company and writing a blog.
Next week I go off on holiday to central Japan, to hike with friends from the UK and enjoy temples and ancient forests. In a tiny camping car!

That's us.....thankyou for dropping by :-)