Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Winterising Okaasan

Our new normal. Wonderful handgrip structure in the hallway. Useful when we roll home drunk and can't get up the step....

Day service have taken us under their wing for winter. Like all of us in north Japan at the moment, busy winterising our homes and gardens by wrapping/tieing/staking plants - the winter care system for Okaasan is falling into place.

Twice a week. But maybe only an hour on the 2nd day, because they have staff shortages.
Trip to the supermarket by taxi to walk around inside.
Dinner and chat.
And this snazzy handgrip in the entrance hall.

I feel a little bad about taking up a care worker time for our old lady - she isn't SO bad. But also twice a week would be great for her body and brain, and help me enormously. If the weather is so bad at the weekend, or I am busy...I will at least know she has been beyond the front door twice that week.

Dear Son said that interestingly, Okaasan used the handgrip without any comment. As if it had always been there. So, useful. It will cost us only Y300 a month to rent!

He took Okaasan out yesterday to walk round the vastness of American shopping that is our local Costco. They stopped off in a local supermarket on the way home...Okaasan went to the toilets...only Japanese squat style...she got stuck. Couldn't stand up , down on the floor...Dear Son and staff assistance to get the cubical door open and Okaasan up off the floor.

It's good that he has these experiences with her. Reinforces in his brain that his mum needs our watch and care and help.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Day care cometh...

Tomorrow in the kitchen there will be a summit of Dear Son, Okaasan, Day Care Manager and maybe a cat, to decide what kind of help we will get this winter.
I will be away on a work trip that got rescheduled - somehow addressing a group of local government people IN JAPANESE for 40 minutes about how to attract foreign visitors to their area.

Anyway - in the kitchen the important people, plus cat, will decide whether Okaasan gets once or twice a week visits from the care worker for chat, shopping by taxi and dinner.

Dear Son was shocked when I told him about Okaasan's lost in the street episode, and has readily agreed that we should try and increase her care level this winter. Twice a week we hope. She is already weak about standing up off the carpet at home. She really needs more exercise.
Still don't think we can get her to go out in a mini bus to a care center and join others...she is still too aware of things to pull that one off. I think there would be a fight.
But three to four months of twice a week visits.

Winter, here we go.
Bloody FREEZING here today. Coldest for years for a November day. We walked in the park early this morning and snow if coming. Maybe one of our last walks like this?

And....ho ho ho....if you want to see what Oyomesan looks and sounds like...and what a messy room can look like on TV....check out the first 4 minutes of this made for foreign-TV show....I had a job to report on a morning fish market in my area.

I think I look strange. Nervous. And behind me you can see the chair holding the door firmly closed..because beyond that was a lurking cat with a dead rat...

Anyway...here is the link...J-Trip Plan/NHK World TV.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Pokemon to the rescue :-)

Yes. That's a click bait title...but actually true.

Yesterday Pokemon rescued Okaasan. Kind of.

I'd been out working and at lunch with a friend all Saturday morning, unusual for me to work at a weekend. But a high level translator group invited me. Lots of translators and interpreters gearing up in Sapporo now as we'll stage the 2017 Asia Winter Games in February.

Anyway. The weather was finally a kind autumn day again. Okaasan hadn't been out for a walk in a week. I called her from the restaurant and told her to go out.
45 mins I got home and she was still fussing around with sweaters and gloves, but I got her set up and escorted her down the street round melting snow lumps. Sent her on her way.
Her walking looked frail, but the weather was kind and the cell phone with GPS was in her bag. I noted the time and thought I'd probably go and get her in an hour or so.

Came back into the house, did a few things. Then...as you do...if you are addicted to Pokemon like me...I realised I was a little low on balls, and popped out to the local park to stock up.

To my surprise I could see Okaasan down the street, standing looking at the cars on the main road leading to the shops. Hmm..."must be frailer than I thought, she needs a rest after walking only so far...but good that she is pausing".

I went to stock up on balls.
10 mins later I circuited back to home. Okaasan was in the same position.
I watched her. She stood there. And stood.

I walked down to her. A confused, uncertain face -"I'm deciding where to go..."
I reminded her that the supermarket was straight. Offered to walk with her. Got rejected.

I left her. Walked home...got the car....10 mins later I was back. Okaasan was in the same position.
Standing by the motorbike shop and the trash bins. Staring down the street.

How long? Maybe 25 mins in all? A street she has used regularly.
Lost. Not sure where it all was. For sure.

If I hadn't gone out to get balls for Pokemon - HOW long would she have stood there? Would somebody have helped her eventually? Would she turn around and make it home ok?
Pokemon luck!

Big light bulb moment. Why she hasn't been going out this summer. Confusion about location.
Totally. Coupled with frailty after not going out for a week, of course. We have reached that stage in her dementia. Sad. Walking out alone was her big pleasure. It kept her physically healthy and was an independent pleasure.


I persuaded her to get in the car. Took her to the supermarket. Picked her up an hour later in Macdonalds next door. Took her home for dinner. She was much brighter of course, having been out. The bad experience of standing by the roadside lost seemed to have gone - but I guess the bad feeling from that experience has got attached to "Going out" this summer and so...we are for sure entering a different phase in her care.

Spent my summer walking the injured cat on a leash.
Gonna be walking the Okaasan from now on...

Dear Son is still away. Back next week. I've got several big proof reading jobs and a speech in Japanese to prep. a Long week..

and oh hell...that fucker Trump won the US election. What a week....

Monday, 7 November 2016

Where IS the toilet?

Okaasan came home yesterday evening all happy from the hair salon.
New cut and perm. Looked good.
Dear Son had taken her to the salon thru an amazing November record-breaking 23cm of snow and then picked her up two hours later and brought her home.
I welcomed them in the hallway and went with Okaasan into her room - hanging up her coat, switching on the TV etc.

"I want to go to the toilet. Where is the toilet?" came the voice behind me.
She looked around the room and the kitchen beyond. The living space she has been in every day for the past 8 years...and had no idea where the toilet might have flitted to at the moment.

Oh god. It was amazing. 

I showed her. Go thru this door into the kitchen, then left into the hallway and that door in front of you is - as it has been for 8 years - the toilet.

Amazing. These moments of dementia in action just blow my mind.

Maybe. Just maybe she was confused about the place because I was talking about her hair cut and how nice it was. maybe she thought this was still the hair salon and didn't know where the toilet was.

But all around her was her own room. Her own clothes and Tv etc.

It was pretty amazing. And scary.

Time for signs to the toilet???

Recently she has soiled her clothes/pajamas more. We always assume it is because she can't stand up quick enough to reach the toilet. But maybe it is worse. maybe she stands and looks at the two doors in her room - and doesn't know where the toilet is?

A winter of Okaasaning - which I now make as a new verb - it has begun.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Winter arrives.

Wednesday was this....

Saturday is this....

BANG into winter in Hokkaido, north Japan. It is a little early, but there is rain in the forecast for next week. But, still impressive. Will put a dampener - snower?? - on my Pokemon Go addiction....

And for Okaasan the winter lock in will start. We'll have the meeting with the day care people soon and arrange for her weekly visits and trips out to the local store. Dear Son is finishing bike taxi work and off on holiday next week to Tokyo - then ski season will start. He will be away working a lot till March.

Sigh. And another winter of Okaasan and Me. Maybe the blog posts will increase!

Overall her condition has worsened this summer.

Loss of motivation/confidence to go out for walks alone.
Diminishing conversation.
Diminishing activity inside with towels, laundry, self-care.

We try to make the Japanese tea for her now after dinner each evening, because Okaasan is spooning in heaps of the expensive tea powder into a cup. Seems to have lots the knowledge of how much is enough.
Walking round the local store as a family the other day - once round each floor for walking exercise - we were stopped in pet supplies and Okaasan chose dog chews for the shopping basket....wonder what she thought they were???!! Snacks for in front of the TV?

Anyway. Sliding, snowily onwards...