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.....

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Downtown Okaasan

Life is getting better for Okaasan - freedom to get out and about.

Saturday I took her downtown in the car. Released her in the city center in a familiar place. Let her roam free. Checked on her a few hours later and found she'd already safely made her way home by subway. Successful outing.

Getting her ready was the usual run-around-of-confusion...

Couldn't find her purse at all. Hunted for about 30 minutes among piles of clothes, multiple bags, newspapers and stuff. Couldn't locate it.
Finally I gave her shopping money in a different little plastic pouch. But - of course - she wasn't able to remember from minute to minute that today her money was IN this lots of confusion.

On the drive downtown I stopped at the bank to use the ATM.
"Shall I walk from here?".
Stopped at a convenience store to buy something and get change.
"Why am I here? Shall I walk from here? Do I have any money? What did I buy here? Shall I walk from here?"
Endless...endless little checking questions. It makes me realize that increasingly Okaasan needs reassurance about the immediate world around her and what her place is in it.

At home too...the little questions we notice more and more....
"Is this tomorrow's rice?"
"Because we are going to eat ramen? That is the ramen bowl?" was actually a ramen bowl, but being used to mix salad in on the table.....

...oh...and the Japanese tea....expensive Japanese tea that we can only buy in one shop in Sapporo. 
Okaasan is having a harder and harder time making the tea for herself. Almost every day now there are cups of water/cups of tea powder/cold water/forgotten tea around the kitchen.
She probably drinks only 50% of the tea we buy for her. The rest is wasted and thrown away.

The correct tea making order: heat water/put powder in cup/wait/put hot water on powder/whisk with bamboo whisk/wait/drink - all of that is getting more and more confusing for Okaasan.
It's a basic series of actions she has seen/done all her life. Now, getting it done in the correct order is getting harder.

Spring is a-coming and today will be the last day helper visit day for this winter season (must leave note about the missing/substitute purse). From now on we hope Okaasan can go out and walk on her own. Have freeeeeeedom. And get more mentally alert.


Sunday, 15 March 2015


Two posts in 48 hours!!! wooohooo!

Confession time: today I spied on my Okaasan. Followed her around downtown, lurking in doorways, diving into shops to fake-browse....
Spy Oyomesan!

I really must get a life. This is sad.

No. There WAS a good reason. Really.

I wanted to see how she was on her own downtown after a long winter absence. Whether she could walk ok, whether she would know where to go...she has spent four months in front of the TV with only twice a week walks round shopping centers. She is 84 years old. I want to feel confident that she is going to cope with the cage doors - sorry house door - open again.
At the moment the road right outside the house is snowy and icy. But within 2-3 weeks? It'll be clear and one day she is going to set out alone again.

So, after lunch I took her by car to the local subway station. Left the car at the supermarket and rode the subway with her downtown. At every direction choice place I hung back so that she had to make the decision about which way to go.
Odori subway station in the center of town has had a big facelift this winter - new public seating area (that local homeless have already adopted) and even new  elevators and exits.
Once I felt Okaasan was in a familiar place I told her I had to meet a friend for an hour to help with a translation and that we'd meet near 4 pm in her favorite coffee chain shop.

Off she staggered, clutching a bag.
I fiddled on my cell phone a bit.
Then followed her.

She went along the shopping mall.
Into the 7-11 convenience store.
Bought a coffee.
Drank it for 10 mins.
Then bought a magazine.
Came back along the mall to the station area.
Stood for several minutes looking at the subway ticket machines: probably trying to think how she had come downtown.
Then walked to a different underground shopping area.
Up the escalators. Sat in the bank foyer, chatted a few minutes to an old man.
Out into the street and across the park area to her favorite coffee shop.

I was a super spy.

I went to a different coffee shop and read a book.
Ironically a great book a friend gave me about a woman...with dementia: Elizabeth is Missing....

At 4 pm I went to "find" her.....
Sitting with her magazine and empty coffee cup. Didn't want to come home yet!!
Of course. Enjoying her freedom.
First time out alone for four months. I am sure it was a great feeling.

So I left her. A little concerned that she would walk too far, fall down etc etc
But decided to take the risk.

I came home. Shopped for dinner and an hour later...on the computer GPS system I saw her on the subway heading home.
Mission accomplished. She is tired a little, but ok.

I do feel reassured, that she has the physical energy to walk downtown. And the mental power to look after herself.

Luckily there will be snow outside the front door for another few weeks, so she won't actually be able to set out alone. The day helper is still coming for another 4 weeks for the Wednesday trips. DS will be here more.

Spying!! It was kind of fun....

Saturday, 14 March 2015

I am alive. Older. Alive.

This blog will get wiped off the Internet as unused if I don't check in!

Am alive. All well in Okaasan-land.

It's been a busy few weeks for me: two headcolds, tax season, the publishing of my friend's Hokkaido-in-English book with my voice on the CD, a book Talk Show event with a speech and book signings, two TV CM commercial auditions (didn't get either job), and moving into the next stage of planning the Mainichi ga Alzheimer's film screening in May. was my 54th birthday. He and I escaped for one night to a big ski resort, for skiing and onsen and food. It was great.
We booked the Day Helper to come in and take Okaasan to the supermarket and settle her in for the night. This time we left cat feeding duties with the Day Helper and a friend who came in the next morning. Didn't want to change Okaasan's routines by giving her a stress-inducing responsibility.

Luckily - Dear Son was home a lot of the time, as the ski season winds down. So he was shopping and cooking a lot. Chatting to Okaasan.

She asked why the Day Helper was coming in. "I don't need someone to take me out" - he pointed out that this will continue until April when the roads might finally be walkable. Made it appear that the Helper's main role is helping Okaasan get exercise in winter. 
We think/hope that in spring and summer she will be able to go walking alone again. Maybe will need some training trips with one of us - to make sure her legs are strong enough.

We took Okaasan out for a family dinner. Ordered a small bottle of sake for her. She drank a cup in about 20 seconds and looked around for more, we gave her a tiny amount and then hid the bottle. Now at home we put a little in the cup and hide the bottle quickly.
She really has no control over how she eats/drinks something she likes.

The repeat phrases and stories are pretty bad at the moment.
And random topics.
One dinner we talked about horse racing courses (one of the TV CM jobs was the voice of a horse!!). Then DS and my chat went onto other subjects, we all ate. Okaasan ate. Dinner had ended and we were clearing the table..
"There was a horse racing course near my house when I was a child, because Mrs X used to take us there when she was looking after us!"
And then she told us the same story again. Same words. At three 30 second intervals. Each time as fresh at before. Some 20 minutes after the topic had first been in the room.

Our dementia-moments

Living close with dementia you are horribly aware of your own life, and the spells of confusion. Can't help thinking: "and me?"
When DS and I went away for the weekend: I almost left the wrong key hidden in the garden for the cat-feeding-friend. Almost left the office key instead. Had to stare at the remaining key on the key ring for about a minute to know that I'd made a mistake.
And DS changed by the car after skiing, put his gloves with expensive watch attached on the roof  of the car. And forgot them. We drove 7 km away to the guest house and checked in before realizing the mistake...had to drive back along the road looking for the gloves and watch....thankfully only the watch face was a little damaged.

Can't think what else to write really.
Still waiting for spring. I've broken ice in the street to make little channels for melting water to escape down. Bits of grass are appearing on the edges of the garden. but there are heavy, wet snow storms.

Onwards. Apologies for boring blogging :-)

*** Almost forgot. OMG - my brain IS getting sieve-like!
Okaasan realised it was my birthday - maybe saw a delivery of flowers or a large box of craft beers. She told the Day Helper that she was going to buy a present for me. Actually bought two boxes of chocolate almonds...and remembered to come and give them to me at breakfast time :-)
It is a small thing: but good. That she realized there was a birthday, felt friendly about getting me something, executed that plan and then followed thru by giving me the present.