Friday, 10 April 2015

...and back...

Not a good day.

Okaasan had a great pan-burning event at lunchtime. Really, REALLY burned the pan I had left her lunchtime tofu/onions/egg dish inside. 
I could smell the burn as soon as I opened the front door. MUST use/get better hot flask thing to leave her lunches in. She is beyond heating stuff up now. And I am beyond pan rescue.

And then evening....

Okaasan went out for a walk. Cell phone - OK. Coat - OK. Hat - OK.
No front door key.
I had evening classes and left her dinner all ready in the table top hot pot. At 7 pm I called to see that she was home and eating it.
Found she was in the old neighbor's house. In the phone call I couldn't really clearly understand from her if she was because she was being social (unlikely) or because she had no front door key (more likely). My student arrive 3 minutes later - so at 8.45 pm when I got home I discovered it was the No Key scenario and so Okaasan needing digging out from the neighbor's living room and feeding a very late dinner.


My fault really - I didn't check that she had her key when she left the house at 4 pm.

We have to check all of this every time for her. We should also put a big notice by the shoe box in the hall, to remind her to check.

Not a great day.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Springing forward

"Spring" as a concept is almost here in Sapporo.
Sometimes. Maybe.
There are days of warm sunshine, when crocus flowers crowd the gardens and park. We walk around smiling.
Then there are days of ear-burning temperatures, swirling snow flakes. Hunched shoulders and grimaces.

Okaasan is alternatively out and about vs snuggled in the heated table asleep.
Her solo walking is getting more regular and safer. A few times coming home late and tired. A few times with no telephone/GPS. No falls.
Dear Son has been home more as the ski season sputters on - so Okaasan has had more conversation and family mealtimes. She even washed up the dinner dishes twice - but the fact that I remember that and recall it here shows you how irregular that action is.

We notice little things about Okaasan and her life-view that tell us her brain cells are drifting away, although day to day she is a happy old lady - giggly and smiley.

* VERY giggly and smiley if she can get alcohol! We have just finished the small bottle of sake that we've been giving her tiny amounts of at dinner time recently. We pour a little in a cup and then hide the bottle quickly.
On the last night I gave Okaasan the bottle and cup so she could look at the label and pour for herself. She put the bottle to her lips, threw back her head - and downed the remaining sake in one! Guy style!
No Japanese ladies of her generation - and probably many generations after too - would ever do something as uncouth as that :-) It's a childlike untrammeled joy in something tasting good. Very uncharacteristic of a polite, elderly lady.
And a very good reason for hiding bottles of alcohol.
I think the day is a-coming when DS and I won't be able to have glasses/cans of alcohol on the dinner table - because if we have it and Okaasan spies it - she wants it, and more, and more...

* Another evening we gave her the box of heated rice and her rice bowl to serve herself. However, there was a tea cup in front of her too - and I watched Okaasan carefully move the steaming rice with her chopsticks - from the box into the tea cup.

Giggles all round.

* Missing stories:

Sad proof that one of Okaasan's old stories has gone - temporarily or for ever.

I have a new student who is born in Japan, but introduces himself as Korean. I was talking about that with Okaasan. How many such people have "yagi" as part of their Japanese family name etc.
I waited for her once-familiar story to appear: My friend at school was called Tamako Yagi, but the day the war ended, she never came back to school - maybe she was Korean and her family went back? 
I've heard that story a million times. Three/four years ago.
Now I told my story a few times, she told me that "Yagi" is a common name used by Korean families in Japan etc. But her school friend's story didn't emerge.
THEN I told her story as if it were my own.
One of my students wartime had a school friend named Tamako Yagi, but the day war ended she didn't come back to school...
Okaasan just made "really? Yagi is a name used by Koreans in Japan" replies. 
Her own story, once an endless part of her repertoire, just gone?

As a reader of this blog commented once: the annoying, repeated stories become almost like friends - when they have apparently gone, you kind of miss them.

The Oliver James book Contented Dementia recommends identifying A Primary Theme - a story/experience that the "client" holds special, that as the dementia progresses you can use to enter their world by key words/gestures - when speech is disappearing.

I made a list of Okaasan's favorite stories when I read the book - four years ago?

1. Korean food is best - New York and the JTB guide - Ikebukuro restaurant.
2. Tamako Yagi and school.
3. Father bought crab home and I waited up for him.
4. Father drank sake and gave me drinking snacks.
5. Our house had a telephone and neighbors came to use it.
6. War started and there were no lessons, I made army underwear and picked vegetables. No food.
7. I played with my brothers by the river.
8.The US didn't bomb Kawagoe because of its history.

Now? 1 and 2 seem to have gone. We don't hear those stories now. Even if we prompt with the key words. The others are maybe there - 6 and 8 particularly.
And so it goes....

MY life - and kind DS too - was rather than over my the cat crisis of a close friend. One of her indoor cats vanished for 9 days. As she had just come out of hospital after knee replacement, we headed the search for her - with a poster and flyer blitz of the neighborhood. Police and vets and every possible way we could think. Rushing away with a cat trap in the middle of dinner when a possible sighting was reported etc
On the 9th day - my friend found cat poop and hairs in her English classroom........
A few hours later she had caught her kitty and he is fine. We are all amazed.


Plans for the screening of Mainichi ga Alzheimer/Everyday is Alzheimer, the documentary films by Yuka Sekiguchi - plans are in motion. Just about to get the event flyer printed...6 weeks now to the event, time to crank up the promotion and gather a screening day team for May 23.

More on that later.

I see sunshine and blue may be spring...I should go check. :-)

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Better walking

Yesterday better.

Okaasan appeared to have suffered nothing at all from her fall in the street - really surprising. Not even grazes or cuts? Human body is strong.
I'll get her to have a bath today and manage to check her body a little - she always walks around naked after her bath, drying hair etc.

Yesterday I came home in the afternoon to do a big editing job on the computer.
Okaasan was asleep at 2 pm.
At 2.30 she woke up and I told her to go out and enjoy the sunshine. She finally got out - after much faffing about - at about 4 pm.

And at 6.10? Safely home again! She only walked round the immediate neighborhood and came home ok. Big relief.
I cooked her dinner, ate it with her and made sure she was settled in with tea and the TV. 
Then I went out to a friend's jazz concert in a local restaurant. And relaxed.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Out...and down :-(

And. Another fall.
How many times can an old lady fall down without seriously injuring herself? We are finding out.
Not sure MY nerves can stand the stress, though.

It was a beautiful day - getting warm, sunshine and springy.
I called Okaasan from the office at 2 pm. Told her the weather was great and that now was the time to go for a walk. I'd given her some money at breakfast time.

So. A little surprised, and worried that I got home at 6.10 pm and she was out. Now the spring day had turned dark and cold.
Tracked her on the GPS and saw that she was near the local MacDonald s. I called her and told her to come home soon for dinner. I asked about her legs and she claimed she was fine and didn't need a ride in the car.

THEN I realised her winter coat was still hanging in her room. She'd gone out wearing a blouse and a cardigan?
So I jumped in the car and went looking for her, in the evening rush hour. Couldn't find her and had left my phone on the kitchen table.

So, back home. Started cooking dinner...waited. Checked the GPS again....finally near 7 pm could see her on the GPS in the next street.
Waited. 10 minutes, she didn't return.

I walked outside to look: found her sitting in the dark, cold street - with legs nearly drawn up in front of a prim girl sitting at a picnic.
84 years old and sitting in the street at 7 pm on a March night in 5 C.

She seemed ok though. Kept saying it was too soon to stand up,  getting testy with me for worrying. I brought a chair out of the house  so she could get to her feet. Then took her hand firmly and walked her inside.
Gave her dinner - and watched her do the whole tea/water/powder/cold water/hot water dance while the food got cold on the table.

Finally I escaped.

Luckily, luckily she seems ok. I haven't seen her body - I am sure there will be bruises/cuts from falling on the road surface. But no broken bones. Amazing, really.

What could I have done differently?
Is it too soon for her to walk alone outside?

I should have hunted for her more in the car and brought her home. That's for sure. Despite her refusal of a lift. My decision making about her ability is better than her own ability.
I should have called her again at 2.30 pm to make sure she really WAS going out for a walk in daylight?

We shouldn't be letting her walk out alone yet?

aghhh..........have to talk to DS (who is away at a ski resort for 4 days)....

Mean thought of the Day: I wish she WOULD injure herself and end up in hospital. Life would be easier.

Can't say that anywhere else....but here.....