Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Home and Away


Life with Okaasan pottering along - no big dramas. She seems very mellow these days. Basically happy in her day to day routines.
Going for walks in the neighborhood late afternoon - once or twice downtown alone. But her Going Out trips are generally more limited in scope now. She sits and watches TV, sleeps, watches more TV.
This week's bath time I was in the house to make sure she got out ok - which she did unaided. We had lunch together, a little chat about wartime Japan. 
Okaasan did some "smalls" washing the other day - managed to use the washing machine on spin cycle, but then got pretty confused about HOW to hang the clothes up outside: the outside sandals, the clothes hangers, the space, the inside shoes - all those steps took a bit of time.

There was a program on TV about a manga artist and his mother who has dementia. Okaasan was watching it and laughing as the mother failed to recognize her son in a hat etc - and she actually came to the dinner table and talked about it: how funny it was. Unusual really - she hardly ever talks about what she has just been watching on TV. This obviously made an impact on her.

I've written before: the elephant in our midst is Dementia. 

It's a very big topic in Japan right now of course - all this aging society etc. But we don't talk about it at all within our family. Seems too sensitive? Recently I found myself stopping my chat-flow as I described an 89-year-old student who is caring for his wife with dementia...."err...err..he is very active....err..and he is caring for his wife...err...she is sick...". Self-censoring.

I have film promotion flyers/posters for the film screening this Saturday - and I am trying to be careful to take the car window flyer down when the car is parked outside the house. In case Okaasan sees it and feels something negative about me and this event. Over-sensitive?

She knows she is "bokke" - "forgetful" - but has the storyline to us that it isn't so bad really. Just natural old age. Whether she has deeper worries on the topic we don't know. If we react to an incident of memory-/confusion we try to joke about it and laugh: your body is healthy, but your brain is a bit...you know!! It's ok, we can help you. No problem!

But we have to be watchful about her life - care for her and fill in the gaps.

I watched the film "Everyday is Alzheimer's"on DVD again yesterday at home - because on Saturday I probably won't get the chance to enjoy my own film event...

There's a scene where the day care staff come and discover that Hiroko has long, yellow talon like toe nails. I remember that when I saw this scene 3 years ago in the cinema I was amazed: how could the family not notice this? Shocking! (and kind of brave to admit that on film...)

Now I watched it and realized we had exactly the same situation with Okaasan this winter: finally realized that she had stopped cutting her own finger and toe nails. Long talons growing and curling around the toes. Yuk. Actually her finger nails are long now....
You CAN live with people and not see this stuff. They are wearing socks. You don't focus on the details of their personal care. They are walking and talking, not incapable in a bed. So you aren't looking out for such personal things.

It was good to see the film again.


If you are in Sapporo, north Japan this Saturday....

COME TO THE FILM!S!!!!!!! and come and say "Hi Amanda, I read your blog!". I'll be the curly-haired foreign woman running around in a panic....easy to spot. 
Lots of good buzz about the event - local newspapers will feature it this week and I have a wonderful team of helpers ready to staff the event. The theater seats over 300 people....
Come and join us for toe nail clipping and other tales.
Personally I am so looking forward to meeting the director Yuka Sekiguchi - she has been my inspiration for care with humor. It'll be great to hear her talk about her films and after it is all done, I get to have dinner with her too. :-)


  1. Good luck this weekend. I know you have worked very hard on this project and it will be a great success. I admire you for your kindness and dedication to your MIL. Enjoy your weekend, you've earned it.

    1. Thankyou!! Until about two days ago I was in a panic about the screening day - now everytyhing is falling into place and I am looking forward to it.

  2. I wish you a full house on Saturday. You are doing a wonderful thing. Really.


    1. Thankyou - it's like having a party - you imagine two scenarios: NOBODY will come/THOUSANDS will come. A little bit scary. But but yesterday I went to check at the City Information Counter in the main subway station and found almost all the flyers I'd put there last week had gone - kind of amazing to me...so somebody out there must be interested in this event...and hopefully coming.