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.

22 August 2011

It Made A Difference

Yesterday, my sister visited our mom; it made a difference in Ma's happiness.

Arriving at 6:30 PM to help get mom ready for bed, walk with her and give her a little bit of a homeopathic remedy that helps her sleep, I noticed a different mom.

She was calm.

She ate her dinner.

Her cognition was clear and she was able to talk to me.

I brought a new treat stash for my mom and her friends that brought a big smile to my friend Ruthie's face.  Mom enjoyed the zucchini fritters that I had made special for her.  "Oh, can I have one?"  She asked as I opened the container to show her the contents.

Bob was alert too.  He didn't want any treats, he ate his dinner and was talking up a storm.  Mom and Bob were on the move, ready to get somewhere.  My left hand held Bob's hand and my right hand held my mom's hand as we walked down the hall of the nursing home.

Bob was talking on and on, not making much sense except for every so often I'd understand a name so I'd ask a generic question.  Generic questions are how I converse with Bob and my mom; they work to keep them calm.

Mom had a good day yesterday.

My resident friends told me that my sister visited.  Bob commented how we look alike.  Ruthie told me that my sister's voice fooled her because when she heard it, she started to look for me.  Mom, she was at peace, she saw one of her children that wasn't me.

Thank you for visiting, it made a difference.

18 August 2011

Do You Need The Toilet?

Anna is one of my friends at the home; she doesn't speak English.  Greek is her native tongue; she seems to speak louder and slower hoping that I'll understand what she's saying.  How many times have I done the same thing throughout my life, even though I know it doesn't elicit understanding.

Tuesday afternoon when I was visiting my mom, Anna stopped me in the hall.  Looking up at me with tired eyes, she grabbed my hand and began to speak in Greek to me.  She was anxious as she tried like hell to get me to understand her.  I didn't.

Suddenly, it dawned on me.

Holding Anna's hand I said to her, "Ah, I bet my Italian grandmother had the same communication problem.  It must have been so frustrating and scary for her."

My mom's mom never spoke English, just like Anna.

I want to talk to Anna.  I want to have a conversation with her because she can... only her voice is Greek.

I thought, "How can I talk to her?  There's got to be an answer."

Of course!  My iPad.  If I could find a translation app it could possibly open up Anna's world of jumbled sounds.  We'd be able to converse.  The Tower of Babble would be torn down between us.

Yesterday, I got an app working on my iPad.  I couldn't wait to get to the home to see Anna and try to talk to her.  Mom was in a good place after her nap, so I had her sit with Anna and me as I tried to make the idea work.

Reminisce of days gone by when we used to use dial up to connect to the internet, the connection was turtle slow.  It made it difficult to keep Anna and Mom's attention while my iPad seemed to spin through the translator.

I followed Anna around with my iPad, determined to speak to her.  Mom and I found her and she looked like she needed the toilet.  Of course she didn't know what I was asking her no matter how loud or slow I spoke in English.

"Ah, let me see if the translator will work."  I said to my mom who had no idea what I was trying to accomplish, she was happy to be with me.

I typed on my iPad, "Do you need the toilet?" and pressed the button.  It worked.  It spoke the phrase in Greek to Anna.

She looked up and busted out laughing as she put her face in her hands.  She laughed hard, finding the humor in the first phrase I got my device to speak.  Anna said, "Yes."  She laughed more.

I ran to get the aide to help her.  It worked.  Unfortunately, she already went to the toilet by the time the aide got to her room.

Why doesn't the home use today's technology to communicate with their residents?  It's not difficult, it's not expensive.  Imagine how much happier folks will be if they can communicate and answer the important questions like, "Do you need the toilet?"

17 August 2011

Hey, What Time Is The Train Coming?

Every day visiting the home is a new adventure into the unknown; bravely I open the door to the locked dementia unit.

Tuesday, mom was sleepy so I tucked her in bed for a nap.  No sense having her sleep in a wheelchair; it didn't look very comfortable for her.

I sat with Bob, the man who worked with my dad 33+ years ago when dad drove airport limousines for a living.  Bob was the dispatcher; he liked my dad a lot, they were friends.  I remember Bob when I was a kid and I'd pick dad up at the bus station after work.  I would wait for Dad to arrive sometimes and Bob would talk to me.

How wild is it that he is in the same facility as my mom?

During my visit with Bob, he spoke about a winning ticket and that he won $42 dollars playing a number.  He was excited and talking about his hallucinations; oblivious to everything going on around him.

Sitting across from Bob was a woman resident who was the first person I have seen pleasure herself in a public place.  It was shocking the first time I saw her going at it, looking at me as she said, "It feels so good honey."

Yikes!  I made a mental note to never smile at her or make eye contact.  It was working out well for me until yesterday, I smiled at her while she sat across the table from us.  Immediately she began to rub private part as she flicked her pointed tongue at me as though she was ready to give oral sex.  It was like the start of a senior porn horror movie, what was next?

"It's comingggggggggggggg honeyyyyy!"  She screamed in delight as her pleasure mission finished successfully.

I glanced at Bob.  He had no idea that this woman was masturbating in front of him, he was busy telling me about his trip to New York the night before and how he won $42 bucks on a number.  He was fixated on his winning hallucination.

Ignoring the woman across from us, doing my best not to make eye contact, she reached her hand toward Bob and said, "I LOVE HIM!  I WANT HIM!  Come on honeyyyyyyyy.  It feels so good."  Rocking and bouncing in her chair, she continued to rub herself, anxious for another successful launch.

Bob was oblivious to the amorous advances; his only concern was, "Hey, what time is the train coming?"

16 August 2011

We Had A Good Time

Bob.  There are a couple of Bob's on the unit where my mom is currently living.  They both answer when I walk in the home and say, "HI Bob!"

"Why, hello there!"  I am greeted by Bob that seems to have been a resident for quite some time now.  I don't know much about Bob except that he is a pleasant old man who gets few visitors.

Sunday, he had a phone call.  I saw him sitting outside the nurses station as he held the phone away from his ear.

"Bob.  Are you done talking?"  I asked as my mom and I walked toward him.

He handed me the phone.  I said, "Hello?"

A elderly woman's voice was on the other end, "Hello.  I was telling Bob a story."

"Well, he's not listening to your story, he's holding the phone far away from his ear.  Let's try again."  I offered.

"Bob.  Phone's for you."  I said as I handed him the phone and put it to his ear.

"Hello?  Why, Hello!" He answered the phone like it was a new call.  Bob made me smile with this exchange.

There were no activities this past weekend for the residents up in my mom's dementia unit.  It made for a pretty boring couple of days for all of them.  Ruthie sat in the activities area on Saturday afternoon... I asked, "Ruthie what are you doing?"

"I'm waiting."  She answered.

"For what?  Activities?"  I replied.

"Yes, activities."  She said as she nodded her head yes.

"No activities today Ruthie.  Let's go make our own and have a walking parade."  I said to her with enthusiasm in my voice.

"Walking Parade!"  She returned.

Saturday, we had a walking parade.  I hold my mom's hand in one hand, the hand of another resident in the other and we walk.  Other residents who can propel themselves, follow behind, all of them moving forward in a long train.  The scene is akin to the childhood story, "The Pied Piper"; it makes me smile.

Sunday, another boring day for the residents.  No activities.  Instead, the folks were all lined up in the hall; sitting facing forward against the wall as though they were passengers on a train.  No wonder Bob and my mom believe that they are on a train or waiting for the train.

I baked cookies and blueberry muffins on Sunday morning to share with my little friends.

I arrived and mom was doing pretty well.  She was struggling with her wheelchair, trying to move forward but having a little difficulty; she was stuck.

"Hi Ma!"  I exclaimed when I saw her.  "Want to go for a cup of coffee?"

"Where are you?!"  She answered back, not seeing me standing in front of her because she was looking down at the floor; legs and arms flailing to help her move.

Mom and I went out for coffee, bringing a few extra cups back with us to share with a couple of her friends.

Ruthie, Anna, mom and me sat around a little bed tray, drank coffee, ate muffins and cookies.  We had a nice visit.  We laughed and smiled while we drank coffee and enjoyed one of my homemade treats.

Like Ruthie always says to me when she sees me, "We had a good time."

15 August 2011

A Gift From The Heart

Ruthie.  She's the resident who lives on the same unit as my mom.  She never has visitors, ever.  Her daughter sends her a card every day; shaky handwriting indicating that her daughter is unable to make the trips to the home to see her mom.

Ruthie was the first resident that I got to know.  She would wheel herself over to me and my mom every time I visited; she is now one of my friends.  I visit Ruthie every day, we have our alone time and she loves it.

Ruthie talks.  I never knew that she spoke until one day, with a big smile on her face, pointing at me, she said, "Ice cream!"  I do my best to keep in the freezer, fudge ice cream bars made from coconut milk and agave nectar for my mom and her friends

One day last week, after I had tucked my mom in bed, I visited with Ruthie in the dining room.

"We had a good time."  She said to me as she smiled and laughed, reaching out to hold my hand.  Earlier in the day, I danced with Ruthie.  We had fun.  It is awesome to see her laugh and enjoy herself even if she is confined to her wheelchair.

Friday, when the State Surveyor's were in the home doing a review of the nursing facility, I was sitting next to Ruthie and my mom.  Ruthie pointed to the State worker and said to me, "Now they are all paying attention." She began to laugh, finding it very funny that the staff was tripping over themselves to help the residents.  Help that we never witness during a regular day when no one is watching except resident's family members who visit frequently.

I love Ruthie.  I love visiting with her, she always says something to make me laugh.

Another night last week when I visited with Ruthie after tucking my mom into bed, she said to me; "People say I'm crazy."  She laughed and twirled her index finger in circles around the temple of her right eye.

"Who says they are not the crazy ones?  Aren't we all crazy to someone... who's right?"  I replied.

Ruthie busted out laughing.  She is not crazy.  She just has difficulty speaking and has learned how to make the words she says count.

I visited with Ruthie on Thursday night and before I left she said to me, "I used to be sad all the time... then I met you."

A true gift from the heart, words that filled my being with love.  I hugged my little friend.  I thanked her for touching my heart and making me laugh.  I promised to bring her more cookies and ice cream.

Time to get those cookies in the oven... I need to give Ruthie a gift from the heart.

14 August 2011

I Pray For My Family

Everyday, I see an 87 year old Greek man sitting outside his wife's bedroom at the facility; she appears to be at the end of her days.  She lays in bed, lifeless.

Little prayer book in his hands, the Greek Madonna portrait on the cover; he sits and prays.

He is a sweet old man.  Every day he arrives around the same time by "The Ride"; a service provided to seniors by the Massachusetts Transportation Authority.  Every day, he sits outside of his wife's bedroom and he prays.

He greets my mom and me as we walk by during our exercise time.  In broken English, he tells my mom that she has a nice family.  Mom smiles proudly with a shy spoken "Thank you."

I've observed this old man for the last 2 months.  He seems to forage for crumbs in the kitchen area.  Crackers are always available; he puts them on a bed tray, covered with a napkin as he uses the bed tray as a  walker.  I never see him eating real food.

Yesterday, I saw him and I asked him if I could share some of my food with him.  He said, "YES!" as his eyes filled with tears.  "God bless you."  He said to me as he kissed my hand.

Today, I brought him a bowl of my Gluten Free American Chop Suey; loaded with ground turkey and fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden.  Mom and I walked down the hall to where he was sitting; his eyes filled with tears and once more he blessed me and kissed my hands.  "Thank you.  God will bless you.  Thank you."

"How many children?"  He asked me as he pointed to my mom.

"Five."  I replied.

"You the only one who come?"  He asked in broken English as tears began to stream down his cheek.

I couldn't answer.  I didn't want to upset my mom because if I spoke the answer, I would cry.  I said my so long for now to my little friend and I took my mom out to the supermarket.

Mom and I got back from our outing and the little Greek man was walking down the hall toward my mom's room.  He was pushing the bed tray with the cleaned food container on top.

"Did you taste it?  Did you like my food?"  I asked.

"Tank you... tank you.  Did I taste it?  I ate all!"  He said to me in broken English.  "I give you someting."  He handed me my cleaned container with 3 Greek cookies that he had made.  I think the cookies were his lunch for the day.

I tried one immediately.  "Mmmmmmmmm... delicious.  I love Greek cookies; thank you!"  I gave my new friend a big hug and a kiss on his cheek.

"God bless you.  I pray for you and your mother.  I pray for all people here, but I pray for my family last."  He continued with a tear soaked face.  He took my hand and kissed it while he repeated, "God will bless you."

Forgotten by his children, he is left alone to face the impending demise of his beloved wife.  Watching.  Waiting.  He sits and he prays.

How can we as a society allow this to happen?

13 August 2011

A Great Nurse

It's been difficult having my mom in a nursing home.  I am ready to have others take over the heavy lifting involved with caring for her.  I have been ready since May 27th when she was admitted to the facility.  However, her care has been less than stellar; Mom's been abused.

Abuse in nursing homes is real.  The atmosphere is prison-like; where seniors who have done no crime except get old are held.  It's sickening and frightening.

How can we as a society abandon senior citizens and dump them in nursing homes?  Where's the dignity?  Where's the respect?

Based on my observations, not all nurses are alike; the special ones have nursing in their heart and soul.

I'm grateful that Mom's got a great nurse, Stephen.  He was on a well deserved two week vacation.  Boy, was he missed.

The home is always brighter when Stephen is on duty.  The home is peaceful.  People are quiet.  No one screams out in distress; folks in the home are naturally calm.  Stephen is compassionate.

Yesterday, Stephen returned and I witnessed something that made my eyes well up with tears; happy tears.

Stephen walked around to EVERY resident and said hello.  He spoke with them and greeted all of them individually with a caring touch.  "How are you?!  How have you been?"  He was treating everyone with dignity and respect.  In my opinion, this is a sign of a GREAT NURSE.

Last night, because of Stephen, I took the night off.  I didn't feel the need to rush to the home to check on my mom and the other residents that I've befriended.  I was confident that they were all safe.

At last, a little peace... One of Mom's human angels was watching over her; first time in two weeks I have been able to relax at night and laugh with my husband.  Mom... she slept through the night!

Thank you Stephen... in my opinion you are a great nurse and I'm relieved when you are caring for my mom and her friends.  I wish all nurses were like you, Norma and Mini.

08 August 2011

Sweet Moments

Mom and her Great Niece during a visit last week
Even though my mom is in a facility, she still has good days.  It's not easy to do, but with a bit of effort on my part, she is happy most days.  Visits matter.  Walking with her every day matters more than I had realized initially.

Last Friday was my birthday.  Happy Birthday to me.

I made a batch of gluten free chocolate cupcakes with ingredients that I had in my cupboard; I shared them with the residents at the home.

My mom loved them; so did Harvey.  "I want a cupcake!"  He would holler from wherever he sat.

I didn't visit her Friday night; too many cocktails at my birthday lunch.

The nurse on duty gave folks cupcakes Friday after dinner.  Mom, she sat with the cupcake in front of her as she sang "Happy Birthday to you...."  She was singing to me and I missed it!

A sweet moment; a priceless gift from my mom that came from her heart.

03 August 2011

Creating Happier Days Through Time and Love

Mom walking unassisted in Whole Foods
My mom's doing better since I've been visiting her twice a day; getting her up and out of the wheelchair to walk seems to help a lot.  She is happy most days.

Mom's ankles had been swollen something horrible from sitting too long in a chair and not being allowed to exercise.  Moving.  Walking.  In my opinion, it's the best remedy for edema.  I've been vigilant to walk with her in order to help give her the best end of life possible.  I am exhausted.

I worry about my mom more while she's in the nursing home than when she was home with me.  I am losing  sleep again, becoming an insomniac as I lay awake at night wondering if mom is being treated with dignity and not being abused.  I worry about all of my little friends in the home.

I am nearly ready to bring my mom back home with me until the bed opens in a home where her Primary Care Physician would be her doctor.  I am not happy.  I should NOT feel that I need to be at the nursing home every day, twice a day.  My confidence has been shot because of incidents that I've witnessed.

What have I done?!  How could I have put my mom in danger?

People are dumped in nursing homes; no one really seems to care.   Left to be looked after by people who appear robotic with little time to do anything extra like walk with my mom.

Residents with few or no visitors, seem depressed as they cry out the names of those that had abandoned them when they were needed the most.  The screaming is ignored as nurses and aides have become desensitized to the crying residents.

It break my heart to witness the sadness.  Sadness that could be avoided if their families took even an hour out of their lives once a week to stop in and visit with a cup of coffee or a big hug.  How busy can people be that they can't give a little time every week to someone who loves them and misses seeing their face?  I need to understand so that I can answer questions when asked.  Today, I don't know what to say.

Monday, my mom was doing terrific; she slept through the previous night.  Sleep always puts her in a good place.

She walked in to Dr. Barton's office for acupuncture; a session she has every week to help her have better days.  Mom walked a lot yesterday.  She even pushed the cart at Whole Foods while we shopped for a few items.  It was like the sweet days before she was admitted to the nursing home over 2 months ago.

Eyes welling with tears of joy, I pulled out my camera and captured the memory.  Mom's not dead.  She's doing better than she had been.  Visits, hugs, smiles, laughter and time have made a difference to create happier days.  It's not hard to put a smile on a residents face, all you need to do is give the gift of time.

Mom shopping, pushing the cart and walking... Acupuncture works!