Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Everyday is Alzheimer's - fan club!

A year ago I was busy working to bring two Japanese documentary films for a special screening to Sapporo and struck very lucky to have the director Yuka Sekiguchi agree to come and do a short talk show about her films.

Now she is launching a group to exchange information about dementia thinking care and services.

You can find out more information on this link.

EIA Friendship Association

AND she is working on the 3rd and final film.....final? Maybe....

Monday, 28 March 2016

Weekend of getting out

Me and Okaasan for the weekend again.

Helped her have a bath on Saturday - well actually helped her END the bath really. I kept checking but finally opened the bathroom door...she was half floating, red-faced and holding onto the side with both hands again.
I let some of the water out. Gave her cold water to drink. Put my hand behind her back to push her upright etc. Gave a bit of friendly chat. Showed her how to put both hands on the handle to pull herself up. Waited...and 5 minutes later she managed to get out herself.

I GOT to get on DS's case about making the bath more Okaasan-friendly. I think just a plastic shelf put across the width of the bath would help. Something to rest her feet against. The bath is too long and deep for her.

Had lunch and dinner together. Wartime food conversation....
I suggested she went out in the sunshine. But she slept all afternoon, so I went out instead and left her.

Sunday I went out : kayak debut on a windy, sunny lake!

And home via a bird watching cafe run by an Australian man and his wife. I met him at Christmas via friends, when he came to the party with a yummy pavlova.....but this time I felt I actually needed slightly better food...so I had the ham and cheese sandwich with a tiny pav for dessert. Oh wow.

Left lunch for Okaasan and made sure she had some money in her purse. Got home at 4 pm and found she'd just left home and gone downtown in the late afternoon chill....wearing her trousers, a sweater and a sleeveless housecoat...and a hat and gloves. The winter coat was on the hanger at home.
But she came home ok just after 6 pm. So all ok. Her walking time is coming...She's lost muscle power this winter and is still getting pretty tired. But at least she is up and out.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Escaping the day care

I'm at work.
Dear Son is in the mobile phone shop getting a good deal.
It's Wednesday and the day care worker arrives at our house for Okaasan's weekly shopping trip.

No Okaasan.
She is out. Gone.

Day care lady telephones DS in a panic: "your mother isn't in the house!"


An hour or two earlier Okaasan had said to DS: "I'll go out today!"
He'd told her:"Well, don't go out yet, the day service lady is coming at 4...so wait for her".

Yeah. Right.


1) Okaasan forgot the details of that conversation and just followed her inclination to go out out.
2) she thought "No way, I don't need  a care worker" and decided to go out on her own.

I am guessing 2). Cos I am mean. 1) is charitable.

This is the hard overlap season. There IS still snow in Sapporo. We actually had a 5 cm snowfall the other day (see pic) and the smaller roads are still messy with ice and snow. Not ideal for Okaasan and her walks. The day care visit is reserved for another two weeks. And also Dear Son is home much more, so it is strange too that we are paying a woman to come in and take Okaasan out - DS could of course do that. But he doesn't know his ski schedule. Nobody knows the weather at the end of March.

So the day care is reserved until the 2nd week of April.
But on this Wednesday when Okaasan looked out - it was sunny and the road immediately outside the house had no snow.

So she went.
Didn't take her telephone. So couldn't be tracked. On purpose? Naah...I am crediting her with two much guile....

Day service lady and DS hunted around the local shops a little. But DS was sure Okaasan had gone off downtown on the subway...so he finally told the lady to go back to her office and that we would accept responsibility for the missing old lady.

Luckily she DID come home safely about 3 hours later. She WAS wearing her hat and coat. She hadn't fallen over. All ok.

When DS told her day service came  and were surprised she was out - Okaasan just made the vague apology words, the noises you make to be polite without any real meaning behind them.

I know that once upon a time she would have been mortified to have inconvenienced someone like that. Somebody coming to the house expecting to meet her. But now she has no guilt or sense of propriety about that situation? Just that she wanted to go out. Didn't want the day care lady. So just went?

I guess so.
Focus on self and the immediate need.

I can't wait until I am in my 80s and have diminished social skills...I'll be horrible!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016


Votes of support!!!


In my last post I was wondering whether there is any value in writing The Boring Blog.

But your quick responses reassured me and gave me determination to continue...to the end. 

Having the overly-fertile imagination I do I always imagine that end:

Okaasan one day will be on the carpet under the heater blanket watching the weather channel and won't be alive when we call her for dinner.
There will be a rush of things to organise for the funeral and maybe the useless older sibling will actually come. Then there will be a massive throwing out of pink and red and flowery old clothes.

And room cleaning. The carpet she has lived and  slept on for years will have to be thrown out.

And then?

Dear Son and I will eat cheese fondue for dinner at home. The house will be too big for the two of us. We'd have to get a lodger to help pay the rent. Or move my English school to this building in a residential area. Or move?

And consider what to do with the rest of our lives....aged around 60 years old.
Move to a ski resort and ski bum until we die?

But that is all in the future. And it won't happen like that, I am sure.

Will keep writing. Promise!

Monday, 21 March 2016

A women's weekend

That title conjures up images of fluffy towels, bottles of champers, masseurs-on-tap and a stripper.

But in fact it was just 3 days of me and Okaasan co-existing on different floors of the same house and coming together briefly for what needed to be done.

Dear Son is away for the final gulp of ski teaching work. The weather was foul. I spent Saturday in my pajamas and took Marie Kondo's decluttering advice to my overflowing bookcases. Sorted out piles of stuff - old teaching materials I once cut up and laminated...and then haven't used in years. Endless little notebook presents....I don't have enough thoughts to fill all these little pads of paper that students and friends give me. Four bags of trash at the end and a much more organised book case.

Meals with Okaasan. Pretty silent. She doesn't talk much. Even when prompted. Conversation flickers around the food, the flowers in the vase, the cat on my knee.

I tried to spike some interest in the topic of spicy food - Korean - food - Korean restaurants - that Korean place in Ikebukuro station you used to go to...

Zilch. That memory has vanished. Permanently probably. Used to be one of her stock stories about going to the Korean restaurant at the top of the department store, before getting the train to the suburbs. How it was so popular lines of people sat at tables.

Now I could be telling my OWN story. She listened to my words and had no reaction to them. Nothing in what I said sounded familiar.

So, pretty silent meals.

Okaasan sits or lays on the carpet in front of the TV a lot. Often what is on TV is a topic that she can't be interested in: making cabinets for a garage or economists discussing the price of oil...but she just watches it. I wonder how much she is understanding now. If I notice it is the shopping or weather channel I switch it onto something more entertaining.

But on Sunday afternoon she responded to my prompts and accepted a lift in the car to the subway station. Disappeared alone downtown for about 3 hours. Came home safely - well, confusing the station staff as usual with a rail pass/ticket combination. Had no memory of what she had done downtown. Handbag receipts told the story of going to her usual coffee shop and eating a cake.

All pretty boring. Sorry. this blog IS boring now......I wonder if  I should stop?

I started it in the expectation that Okaasan would only live a few years, that her decline into dementia would be sharper....that our struggles to care for her would make interesting reading.

But...here we are. 7 years on.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Aches and pains


Still here. Thankyou for waiting.

Of course, Dear Son finally came home from the busiest part of the ski season. He came home for a few days...and that became a few more days....and now it's been almost 2 weeks of him home: taking charge of shopping, cooking and Okaasan.
I can focus on work. And going to the gym. And my taxes. And friends. And cats....and ME.

Okaasan hasn't been so great since last week. She complains sometimes of pain in her lower back/side. She hasn't eaten a few meals. Taken a long time to stand up and get to the toilet. The room smells as if she didn't reach the toilet in time a few times.
We don't think it is a serious problem. Maybe the way she sleeps/rests - half sitting and laying down on the carpet. On her side, under the heated table blanket. Not the best position. But after 8 years of that...too late to change her habit.

Dear Son used his considerable charm (it's in there when he isn't farting and slurping beers by the TV) and persuaded her to stand up and come and eat a bit. Cajoled her gently into a bath and hair wash. Tempted her with a lunch out and walk. The model of firm patience.

While he was out I blitzed her room. Vacuumed. Put air freshener everywhere. Threw open windows, Cleared the sofa and put a new clean cover down. Scooped up all the clothes for washing.
When Okaasan came home I told her I'd done it - in case she complains about me moving or stealing her things. But she just thanked me and accepted it. I don't think she is so aware of her room surroundings now.

My birthday is coming this weekend: FIFTY FIVE years old!!!!

We are hoping to go away for one night skiing. The cats are booked into cat hotel hell. Day service are booked to come and feed Okaasan in the evenings. Lunch boxes are booked. We hope this back pain isn't anything major.

The roads are still bad. The side roads specially near the house, snow and ice. Okaasan can't go out walking alone for at least another month. A little bit more of winter to go.
Where will she go to this year? As far as the Seicomart and Seiyu? Or will that be too far? Will she venture downtown on the subway? 2016....what will her routine be?