I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

30 July 2011

Why Visiting Nursing Homes Is Crucial

One thing that I noticed while visiting my mom at the nursing home every day; few people have visitors.  It's sad. These folks have been abandoned, put into a holding pen while they wait for their turn with the Grim Reaper.

I noticed something else while visiting; the people in the nursing home are far from dead.  I've gotten to know the residents.  Those who can ambulate on their own, follow me; I wonder if it's because I always come with ice cream or cookies.  Treats put a smile on their faces and gives them something to look forward to every day.

I listen.

Rarely do I understand what the resident is chattering about but I make believe I know.  I give general answers.  I use expression.  A smile or laughter is the sign that the memory challenged individual feels satisfied.  Someone listened to them, someone answered their cry; it was easy with the only cost being time.

I love all the residents where my mom is living.  I have my favorites; Bob, Ruth, Jean, Mary and Caroline are the tops.  Bob worked with my dad, they were work friends.  Ruth reminds me of a little girl; she listens to everything and laughs at the right times.  Jean is a joy, she loves to jump up and dance.  Mary, she is sweet, always telling me not to worry about all of them so much because it will end up killing me.  She worries that I'll die and not be able to visit.  Carol is my mom's roommate, she doesn't talk much.  I give her a little Reiki every day to help ease her pain.  She rewards me with a smile or a big "God Bless You!"

Nursing homes are understaffed.  I'm learning the hard way what it means to have sufficient care hours for each patient.  Care hours is what to look for when searching for a nursing home for someone that you love.  I didn't find a home with enough care hours; my biggest regret.

I visit the home twice a day in the morning and in the evening.  I walk my mom.  I listen to her hallucinations and give her answers.  Sometimes on a good day I take her out for a ride to Whole Foods.  I wheel her around in her chair, she holds a little basket in her lap for the items that she selects.  Shopping makes her happy; greetings by the store employees makes her smile.

Once folks go to a home, it's not the end; they need their families and friends more than ever.  Someone needs to watch out for them from the outside.  Someone needs to make sure that the individual isn't a victim of abuse.  It takes vigilance and it's the main reason why visiting nursing homes is crucial to the health and safety of the people we love.

Have you visited a nursing home lately or are you full of excuses why you can't?

15 July 2011

Jay's First Day At Day Care

Jay and the Day Program nurse
Jay started to enjoy herself with in 5 minutes of entering the building

I have an awesome Aunt... her name is Jay.  Jay has always been a part of our lives.  She never married; she spoiled all of her nieces and nephews.  Jay was a Care Giver to my Bacci; she was the one who taught me the importance of caring for seniors, especially my mother.

If you talked to Jay before today she would often say, "I'm a lost soul."  She was displaced from her home because of black mold.  My brother Marty and my favorite Sister-in-law Patricia moved her in to their house to live.

It's been tough for Jay this last year.  She's been away from her neighborhood, her church and all things familiar.

Life happens.

Jay's friends are passing and she's found herself with no friends.  She was a social butterfly, trapped in a net; until today!

I found an awesome Day Program for Jay to attend not far from her home.  Nurses, a staff of people to wait on her and a room full of happy seniors was exactly what Jay needed.  Our challenge was convincing her that this was the place for her, not the senior center in town.

On the drive, Jay thought I was taking her to a nursing home.  She was peeved off at me.  I said, "Jay, give it a chance... I know you are going to LOVE this place that I found for you."

She wouldn't believe me; instead she coped an attitude.  One excuse after another she offered; all reasons for her not needing to go.

"Oh, Marty will miss me."  Jay said.

"No he won't because you will be home for dinner."  I replied.

"Well, the dogs.  I can't leave the dogs home all day alone.  The dogs will miss me."  Jay softly interjected.

"Aw, the dogs will be fine; dogs can't tell time... when you get home they'll be happy to see you... "  I shot back an answer, anything to debunk her fear.

Convinced that Jay would love the place I said, "Ok, so when you love the place will you say, Susan, you were right!"  I asked.

Clutching her purse she seemed nervous as she agreed to my request.

The unexpected road detour didn't help, all of a sudden the road that the navigation system told me to take had ended.  Now what?!  Is all I could think to myself.

Turning left and right, this way and that way; I was lost and the trip to the Day Program was taking 3 times longer than expected.  Jay was becoming more anxious because it seemed so far away.

"Patricia is wonderful.  She's like my sister."  Jay began an attempt to change the subject to calm her thoughts.

I agreed.  I love Patricia.

Finally, we arrived.

We were greeted by the owner with a warm welcome.  Immediately, she put Jay at ease.  She showed us around.  Jay looked at me with wide eyes and a big smile as she said, "I thought you were taking me to a nursing home!"

Jay met a new friend named Betty a firecracker of a woman about the same age.  Immediately they began to chat.

Jay's new friend... Betty

"I'm so light headed."  Jay said to her new friend.

"I get that way too."  She said. "But, what I do is take a little salt in the palm of my hand and lick it and the lightheaded feeling goes away."  Betty added.

Before long, Jay was asking for salt to lick out of her hand; she instantly liked her new friend.  Jay loves remedies that are simple.

Music to my ears.

09 July 2011

32 Years

Ma and Dad
25th Wedding Anniversary Party

Today is the 32nd anniversary of my dad's passing; he was 49.

I was 18 going on 19 when one of my childhood nightmares manifested.  Dad's illness came on suddenly.  The cancer in his body took over and he was dead within 7 months.

Pancreatic cancer was my dad's killer.

Dad was my biggest fan.  He encouraged my creativity and listened to my dreams.  I was fortunate to have him as my father; he taught me lessons that have carried me through life.

Thanks Dad!

Today, dad is in my thoughts as I wonder what life would have been like for my family and me if he had lived to be an old man.

32 years... it seems like yesterday.

If the spirit of those we love can hear us, I have a message for my dad...

I love you dad!  Please help me with Ma.

07 July 2011

Managing Hallucinations

My mom's in a nursing home.  She's not sleeping at night.  She's hallucinating.  She's disagreeable.  She's getting lots of skin tears.

Unfortunately, her illness is misunderstood.  I am on a mission to help everyone who cares for her to understand how to manage my mom's hallucinations without drugs.

What I've observed is those who listen to her, have the most success with keeping her calm and with fewer hallucinations.  Discrediting her and her hallucinations does nothing but agitate her more.

Acknowledging her hallucinations and entering her world, help her to release the thought.  Once she's got an answer, she is easily redirected.  If she is not given an opportunity to resolve the hallucination or thought, she will obsess on it and become more agitated.  Agitation leads to behavior issues and night disturbances.

Following are 4 actions that I have taken with good results.

  1. Listen
  2. Agree
  3. Control
  4. Creative thinking


Ask simple questions, one at a time.  Wait.  Let the person talk.  Sometimes with my mom she gets so excited that I can only hear every couple of words.  I listen for clues.


I agree with my mom.  Even when her hallucinations are off the wall and scaring her, I do an action that shows her that she’s “not crazy.”  Agreeing with her seems to allow her to perceive that she has control of her mind when she doesn't.


Ask the individual, “What do we need to do?  How do you think we should solve this problem?”

Taking the cues from the person with the hallucination allows the care giver to make up a story that is believable to the person, giving the patient a sense of control and helps calm them down so they can be redirected.

No way can an LBD patient be redirected if their hallucination isn’t addressed first.

Often, my mom will want to get up and look out the window at a hallucination.  Allowing her to lead, answering her questions (even if it's a wild story) is the best way to help her remain calm without the use of any drugs.

Creative Thinking

After listening to the person ramble on about their hallucinations, answer their question.  Be creative.  Use your imagination and always use the imagery in your stories and actions that the patient described initially.  Logic is out the window.  Personal experience has taught me that fantasy and far fetched concepts work best.

Use props like a phone not plugged in to call Dream Master.

The original person who used Dream Master concept was brilliant.  I found her solution and used it with great success.  The woman’s husband was hallucinating one night and got out of bed.  His wife said to him, "Why are you up?"  The husband said, "I can't sleep in that bed, there's a man in that bed and I'm not gay!"

The wife went into the room and picked up the phone and pretend called "The Dream Master."  How I remember the story...

Wife:  "Hi Dream Master?  (brief pause like she's listening.)  Yes, I'm calling to cancel all of Henry's nightmares.  (pause.)  (excited voice) "OH, YOU CAN!  Well that is great.  Super.  Thank you Dream Master, I'll tell him."

The husband went back to sleep, the hallucination of the man in bed went away.

I used the Dream Master concept on my mom when she began to wake up at 12 and again at 2am.  I told her that I called the Dream Master and cancelled all of her nightmares from now on, only happy dreams.  My mom, upon hearing the news said, "Oh Good... now I can get some sleep."

Dream Master is the one I call to solve all of her hallucination troubles… it works.

03 July 2011

Do You Have the Courage?

Acupuncture seemed to cure my mom's insomnia for 2 nights.  

Last night, mom was up all night.

I expected it.  

Mom was wild yesterday.  Eyes closed, hallucinations as real as life and words strung together that made no sense at all.  Lifting her legs, attempting to climb out of any chair that she's belted into; mom reminded me of a very big two year old.

Several of the folks were agitated yesterday.  I wonder if emotions are contagious between residents?

"Help me.  Please help me."  A frail old lady cried to me; reminisce of a haunted house on Halloween.  The resident is scary looking and her voice is just as frightening.  

"Take me with you.  I love you.  I love you."  The old woman cried as she took my hand and kissed it.

I had to take my mom out for awhile, maybe a ride in the car would help calm her down.

It didn't.

It seemed to make her more agitated.

I took her to Mann Orchard for a cup of coffee; often I'd take her there for a coffee while I shopped for fresh fruit and vegetables.  Yesterday, we just had a cup of coffee because I couldn't leave my mom unattended.

The visit to the farm triggered a memory of my sister.  

"Where's Donna?  I haven't seen her in awhile."  Mom asked.  

How do I answer?

Mom became more agitated as she said, "Looks like it's just you and me."

Her day began to take a nose dive.  She felt my anxiety that I feel when she asks about her other children.  Mom can read my emotions, she feels them; I was not helping her have a good day.

I walked away.  I cried on the drive home and selfishly wished for my mom's end to come soon.  

Visiting mom can range from difficult to extremely rewarding.  It takes courage to visit a nursing home; to fearlessly walk into the unknown world of the demented.   

I have one question...

Do you have the courage?  

02 July 2011

On the Move

Acupuncture worked very well for my mom.

She was a total basket case before her session; hallucinations, unable to stand and words that made no sense.

Mom was not able to get on the table in the doctor's office.  She wouldn't lay down.  Her treatment was done while she sat in her wheelchair.  I held her hands to help keep her from removing the pins.

Mom was calmer.  On the drive back to the home, she was tapping her feet and singing along to the music that filled the car.

Mom allowed me to wheel her back inside the nursing home.  She lifted her feet, she remembered how!

Mom was able to walk.  She walked up and down the hall with me.

She slept through the night.  Alleluia!!!!

Yesterday, she was talking and walking.  She was on the move.  She slept through the night again.

Acupuncture seems to have reset her internal clock, thank God!

01 July 2011

Acupuncture... the Insomnia Cure?

Mom, Nikki and me visiting Ma the day after a sleepless night
Sleep has escaped my mom's grip for a few weeks.  It was hard to see her flailing arms, wildly looking for something, propelling herself in her wheelchair; searching with her eyes closed.  

"Where is it?  Come on!  Come here!  Where's the little girl?"  Mom has been frantic and confused during the days following her sleepless nights.

Walking is out of the question when she has not had rest.   Mom's care givers and I find ourselves in a catch-22 situation; no walking leads to agitation and more sleepless nights.  Nocturnal wakefulness causes her more confusion and her state of being is worse than the day before.

It's been a difficult week.

What can we do?  A question that consumed my thoughts, unable to think of any thing else, I took a deep breath and cleared my mind.

ACUPUNCTURE!  Of course...  I set my mom up with an appointment to have acupuncture with Dr. Barton, our favorite Naturopath Doctor and Acupuncturist.  He has helped my mom in the past to have better days, why couldn't he help her now?

Yesterday afternoon was mom's appointment with our Naturopath.  She was super insane; one minute she was agitated, the next she was in a state of bliss.  Getting her into the car was easy; getting her to walk into the doctor's office was nearly impossible.  She started out walking well and then suddenly as we were walking up the ramp, she decided it was time to sit.  

"No!  Not here Ma!  Please, stand.  A few more steps and you can sit on the bench."  I pleaded with her.

My words fell on deaf ears, she decided to sit.  I bent my leg, supporting her fanny as I held her up.  No one could see us because of where we were on the ramp.  What was I going to do?  Why didn't I take her wheelchair out of the trunk and use it?  Why did I think she could walk 20 feet up a ramp?

Taking a deep breath, I put my arms under my mom's and I lifted her.  I carried her up the ramp and into the office; we made it.

Mom couldn't get on the table as she had been able to do in the past.  She couldn't lay down flat when I did get her on the table.  Her treatment was done while she sat in her wheelchair.

Dr. Barton gave her a one time drink of a homeopathic remedy; something to calm her.  

It worked!

On the drive back to the nursing home, mom was settled down.  She tapped her foot to the music that played; her favorite Frank Sinatra crooned "I"ve got the world on a string... sitting on a rainbow..."

Pushing her wheelchair, she lifted her feet.  She didn't try to put the breaks on, confused with what to do with her feet or where she needed to go.  Mom was noticeably more calm.

I called her night nurse this morning; mom slept through the night.  She was still sleeping at 6 AM this morning; mom should have a very good day today.

Acupuncture, is it an insomnia cure?  If you ask me, YES!