Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Dodging fire...

Dodging fire....the wrapping paper round my birthday present last month said something about women-in-unhappy-homes-may-be-too-busy-dodging-fire-to-find-themselves etc...
This week we've been firefighting I guess: for the kittens and Okaasan.

Yujiro's home. Okaasan still hasn't been out. I've had the new term of classes start. Sapporo had rain. A crocus came up.

* The kittens have suddenly started scaling the ceiling-to-floor net that is meant to stop them falling into the stairwell and down into the kitchen and Okaasan's life. They scramble up it every 3 minutes when the hormones are particularly racing. * And Chichi managed to jump from the printer TO the top of the bookcase finally and attack all the wintering houseplants. * And they've been waking up at 4.30 am......

So we've been trying to dodge the fires - working out a new barrier system on the stairs/removing all the houseplants/going to bed ourselves early so we get some sleep in before the kitten alarm.

Okaasan still has an ugly yellow bruise on her face from the fall, and she hasn't been out since Friday. I understand she doesn't want to go to Hula dance and have everyone see her face and ask endless questions. But I think we should get her out of the house today for something. Otherwise she is just sitting watching TV.

So, dodging Okaasan "fires" - * Yujiro sat down with all her stuff and tried to find the concert ticket she thinks she already bought. No luck. * The hula dance friend called to check Okaasan is ok and said she'd ordered a video of the hula dance event...Okaasan has never mentioned this, and we don't have a video machine anymore - so more wasted money....ho hum...

And we went across the road to Hoshiba-san to apologise formally for Okaasan borrowing taxi money and forgetting to return it.
Hoshiba-san invited us in and gave us beers to drink.
Such a nice woman - she is in her mid-80s, but compared to Okaasan all there mentally - her home was neat and clean. Loads of family pics, wintering plants and knick-knacks.
We gave her some flowers and asked her to tell us directly if Okaasan borrows any more money etc.
She chatted about the neighborhood because she's lived here 50 years. She urged us to get Okaasan doing stuff around the home and bring Okaasan over for tea etc...

We should try to get Okaasan more connected to the neighbourhood for some social connections. We checked with Hoshiba-san about the Neighborhood Association - that would be one way for Okaasan to get information about events locally and get her more connected.

But I came away a little sad because Hoshiba-san's life is so much better than Okaasan's....she loves gardening, she has family visiting, she has a nice, organised home - Okaasan in contrast sits and watches TV, goes once a week to hula dance, has no family contact apart from us and sits amid piles of clothes, newspapers and old food wrappings...

* I'm getting more into dementia research. I just ordered 2 books  from the UK and they arrived this week. When I get a moment I will read more.
I think we are doing ok for Okaaasan. Basically. But she would be so much better with more social connections - more activity. She IS good at talking to strangers - staff in shops/women on the train - but apart from the hula dance women and us she has no on-going relationships with people. No friends/family from Saitama telephone her.

I wish we could do more for her.


  1. Is there any kind of drop in center or elder care center in your town/city? The mother of a former student of mine had dementia and I think the day that her mother was picked up and taken to the center gave my student a well deserved break. The older lady seemed to like it too.

    I don't know the town's situation, but there might be something, if Okaasan(-san) would be willing to go.

  2. Yes, Sapporo has lots of drop-in/day care centers...but the HUGE obstacle to all of that is that Okaasan has enough self-awareness at the moment to think she is basically ok - just a few forgetful incidents...she would absolutely fight any suggestion of going to a Place-for-Old-Sick people....she is proud of the fact that she is the oldest in the hula dance class. It's just a regular group of people and she of course considers herself a regular person!
    No, I have to find some way of encouraging her to have more REGULAR contacts - the Neighborhood Association, the lady across the road etc...these are real possibles.
    But I think too - and it's something I've read about early stage dementia - that the person concerned starts choosing to avoid closer, regular contacts because those social exchanges demand effort/remembering personal information to play a proper part in the conversation and relationship. Somehow they know that it's getting harder to do things like talking to a) random strangers or b) very close family/friend is easier - a) are people who don't know you at all and you can escape easily and b) people who know you very well and accept your lack of social skills.

    I'm going to try and get Okaasan more connected in with Hoshiba-san across the road - but it has to be done so carefully...she has to feel that SHE is the one making that connection, not me on her behalf!