Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lights! Camera! Action!

I didn't realize that it has been 2 months since I posted.  So, here it goes.

Grandma has been being really good about giving her teeth to daddy every night before she goes to bed.  It is almost like we have trained her.   Dad walks in the door.  Talks to her a few minutes and hands him her teeth. She is convinced that Daddy keeps them under lock and key.  We have had a few times that she has lost them.

The other night, I went to her house to install some cameras.  Daddy told me that she had misplaced her teeth.  So, I started looking in all the bedrooms.  I found crackers hid in the bathroom.  I found a bowl of pecans (some open and ready to eat) in her bedroom closet.  I found some of her favorite dishes hidden under her bed.  Still hiding all of thing she is afraid someone is going to take.

I finally found her teeth in the kitchen cabinet with the regular dishes.  Her teeth were in a small cup of water.  Daddy would have never found them.  The teeth blended in with the color of the glass and they were behind a half eaten bag of snickers.  hmmm.....Wonder why?

That same night, Grandma kept telling me how daddy comes over and sleeps in the backroom.  She went on to tell me that my grandpa hasn't slept with her in months.  Really?  It has been almost a year since the funeral.  So, Grandma asked me if I would stay and sleep with her.  OMG...NO!!!!  I was laughing so hard inside.  I calmly told her I couldn't and that daddy was coming in a little bit to stay in the back bedroom.  That is when she got confused again on who "daddy" was.  She thought "daddy" was my grandpa.  I had to remind her that grandpa was dead once again.

So, the main reason I went over there was for my mom.  Mom found a way to keep an eye on Grandma.  She found a video camera that can run over the wifi in the Grandma's house.   We are able to watch her from our iPhones, iPads, or laptops. With the cameras, she can keep an eye on Grandma 24 hours a day.  No, we don't have one in her bedroom.

It is interesting to watch Grandma during the day.  She works nonstop all day long.  I watch her on occasion because I get curious about what she is doing during the day.  We have motion detection on one camera.  Today alone, Grandma went in and out her carport door over 56 times!!!!  Why?  Who knows?

Funny things have happened since we got the cameras.  Last week, I was home and decided to see what Grandma did all day.  I was going through the videos when I see the police show up at her door.  A few minutes later, they left.  So, I immediately called mom.  Mom said "The police came to the house after they couldn't reach my dad on the phone.  They asked Grandma if she called.  She said no."  Heart stopping stuff !!!  LOL

It is like the movie "The Truman Show."  Mom sits at home all day and watches Grandma.  She knows the cameras are in the house, but she can't remember they are there. She moves constantly all day long.  She is either moving all her dishes to different parts of the house, or she is rummaging through all the drawers in her kitchen.  When you see the police or firemen show up at her house, you sit on the edge of your seat wondering what happened.

Until next time...Lights! Camera! just never know what you are going to see at Grandma's house.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Family Reunion 2011

Grandma telling Shelby to become a nurse.

Visiting with Aunt Audrey and talking about Grandpa.  Love Her!

Grandma and Shelby

Grandma and Kiley

Grandma getting her picture made with Grandpa's brother and sister.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

WWGD?  What Would Grandma Do?

I went to Grandma's house a little late.  I took my sister to distract Grandma while I looked for her teeth.  The entire time I was trying to think where she would hide them.

Carla did a great job visiting with her.  I heard them talking about her boys and her husband.  Grandma always wants to know if you have kids, what your husband does, and where you live.

I went everywhere looking for her teeth.  I looked under beds, in drawers, in the bathroom, and in every closet that she normally hides them.  I asked "What would Grandma do?" Then it hit me.  She hid them before Daddy got there.  She had to have hid them in his room.  I went to the closet, moved a suitcase, pulled out a pillow and a bedspread....and there they were, still in the cup of water she hid them in the night before.

Grandma is maybe the Best 'Hiding Teeth' Champion, but I'm the Best 'Finding Grandma's Teeth' Champion.  I also found her gold bowl and gold pitcher she has been looking for in her house.  Supposedly, a man ran into her house, grabbed the pitcher, and then ran out.  A little bit later, he ran back in and grabbed the bowl.  She called the cops on the imaginary man last week.  The cops called Daddy, and he told them it wasn't true. So, when I found them in her house, the story changed.  The man apparently returned them and hid them because she called the cops.  If this imaginary man has your other pair of teeth, Grandma, tell him to give them back.

There is a new thing that Grandma is starting to do.  I may have mentioned this in another post.  Dementia causes frustration when Grandma can't remember who people are in pictures around her house.  So the pictures, in her house that frustrate her the most, have ended up in drawers or in the closet.  My sister has said she doesn't want to end up in the closet.  I don't either.  So, grandma better get comfortable with seeing me once a week. And if I find my picture in the closet then I am coming picture that is. Lol

Finally, here we are a month later....1 new pair of teeth in mouth, 1 pair missing, 1 backup pair in my car, and then 1 pair of Grandpa's teeth going to the Art program.  

Visiting Grandpa

After leaving the reunion, we had a change of plans.  Grandma rode with Daddy to take my husband and brother-in-law to the  local airport.  My sister and I took four of the seven kids in my van to Mom's house.

Not to far out of town, we realized we were going to pass the cemetery where Grandpa was buried. We decided to stop and see his grave.  Kiley, my eldest daughter, had the camera and was going to get some pictures.  It was the first time we had been since he died in December.

While we were standing out there, Daddy and Grandma pulled up to see the grave.  They were surprised to see us there.  You could tell it meant a lot to Daddy.  Grandma was just as surprised.

Grandma talked about how Grandpa loved all the kids, which made my girls smile. She talked about what a wonderful husband Grandpa was.  We had a brief moment with our real grandma.

As quickly as the real grandma was there, within seconds she was gone.  As we were leaving she started in on how those teeth didn't fit her, they weren't hers and how someone had hers.  I told her they were a backup pair and not her normal pair.  I had to reassure her that I was coming to her house to find her real ones and I would take the backup pair back home with me. You never know when someone might need a pair of teeth. :)

Do You Have A Spare Pair of Teeth in Your Car?

Today is the day that my family has always come together on. My grandfather's family has forever met on the Saturday before Labor Day to celebrate our heritage.   Not just my immediate family, but cousins, aunts, and uncles on my grandfather's side. It is a tradition that we have continued since I can remember.  In fact, my mom has group pictures from when I was three years old at the reunion.

All week, Grandma has been keeping up with her teeth for the reunion.  She has been giving them to Daddy to keep each night.  Last night, Daddy was late getting to Grandma's.  She was already in bed and had already hid her teeth.  This morning, Daddy spent some time looking for them.  He finally just had to give up on finding them.  Mom even came over and looked in places Daddy couldn't see.  

I knew last night, when I told Daddy that I wasn't going to be able to come, that something was going to happen.  When I called mom to find out, I wasn't at all surprised that Grandma didn't have her teeth.  So, it was a good thing that I realized the teeth I had were different and were actually Grandma's teeth.  I had the spare teeth to save the day!

When I arrived, grandma was visiting with my cousin Bonnie.  You could tell she was embarrassed and nervous.  When I sat down beside her, I didn't even have to say anything about the teeth, she saw them in my hands and started thanking me for bringing them.  Just realize that three weeks ago, these were not her teeth according to her.  

She slipped them in her mouth and they were loose.  We got some Polident and she was happy.  Her entire mood changed.  

She visited, ate, and asked one question after another.  Carla, my sister, tried to answer her questions and she struggled to remember names.  I started  explaining to grandma who different ones were.  Once I told her who their parents or grandparents were, she started realizing who they were.  The funny thing about telling Grandma who was who is that I struggle to remember everyone's name too.  I know Grandpa's siblings and their kids.  It is the grandkids and great grandkids that I don't know. I was as bad as grandma on naming a few.  

I fixed her a plate full of food.  She ate every last bit of it except the chicken leg.  She started wrapping the chicken leg up in a napkin.  I told her that she didn't need to do that.  She said she wanted to save it for later.  I told her we could get more chicken later.  She finally gave in and handed over the chicken leg.   She made three trips to the desserts.  She sampled each one.  I laughed every time I saw her heading over there and tried to help her.  She really loved the vanilla cake with white icing.  She had two pieces of it.  I guess this is an upside to Grandma's dementia.  She is extremely healthy for a woman her age.  She only takes one pill for blood pressure.  She doesn't struggle with her sugar or any other ailments.  So, we let Grandma eat whatever she wants.  We do have to restrict the amount of cokes she drinks.  Sometimes, we find 2 liter cokes hidden all over the house.  Last week, she had four 2 liter bottles hid.  When I asked her why, she said, "well, lord, are you playing jokes on me?" I told her that she hid them.  She just laughed at me.  Thanks grandma!  I'm not the hide n' seek champion.  Grandma wins that prize!

My cousin Kay wanted to know, who carries a spare pair of teeth around?  My grandma has enough teeth to fill a nursing home, and I can't convince her that they are hers until she's desperate. I ride around with two pairs of teeth in a dora explorer bowl and in the console of my car.  So when grandma loses them again, I can say I have a spare pair!  

Pictures coming later.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who Do You Belong To?

I have never thought about anyone needing more than one pair of teeth.  Simply for the fact that I don't wear false teeth.  Evidently, you need more than one pair.  Grandpa had two pair and possibly, grandma had two pair.  Not until grandma started losing them, did I realize that two pair are a good idea.

Grandma and I have gone round and round for the last month over her teeth.  I have finally convinced her to give them to me or Daddy to keep each night.  So far, she has cooperated and we have kept up with her teeth all week.  If we make it through tonight, then she will have them for the family reunion.

In the mean time, I still have the extra pair of teeth, and I got the extra pair from Daddy.  Both pairs are in the Dora Explorer Bowl.  I talked to the art teacher and she thinks they would be interesting to draw in class for her AP Art kids.  So, the teeth have a new home, but before I was going to take them to her, I realized that the pairs of teeth that I have are not the same.  One pair is definitely bigger than the other one.

So, now I have to figure out if the smaller pair is actually grandma's? 

Grandpa's on the left.  Grandma's on the right?
 I'm going to go ahead and give the larger pair to the art program.  This is probably something Grandpa would have liked.  He use to work in the school system back in the day. He was mechanic.  He always loved showing us his picture working on a bus in the yearbook.

So, keeping one pair and getting rid of one.  Just wondering if they don't belong to grandma, then who do they belong too?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Moments of Sanity

As I drove to Grandma's tonight, I thought to myself 'Grandma will never be the same'. She will always have this sense of paranoia. BUT after thinking I was coming to see Dementia Grandma, I was pleasantly surprised to find Normal Grandma.

Daddy had already warned me that she had lost her teeth. I knew coming in that I was going to have to go on another scavenger hunt. When, I got here, Grandma was no where to be found. The doors were unlocked. Her chair was on the front porch and her laundry room door was open. I went into the house looking and calling her name. I was a little worried when I couldn't find her. Then I went back outside and found her putting up her chair. Once again, Ninja Grandma sneaked up on me. I asked her where she had been. She said she had sat out there for awhile and saw the neighbor had left their light on in their car. She marched herself right over there and was going to tell them to turn it off before they ran their battery down. Lord, Grandma you can't be doing that in this day or time.

When she returned and saw that I was there, naturally she ordered me to go over there and tell them. "Go on, Carole Anne. I will watch you and make sure you don't get taken." Of course, my heart melted. My old Grandma standing there watching me cross the street once again like when I was a little girl.

I went and knocked on the door and no one answered. I turned and she was still standing there watching. I yelled "No one is home, Grandma." Her reply was, "Well, come on back and watch for cars. I don't want to explain to your daddy that I let you get ran over.". Once again, my heart literally melted right there in the driveway. These were things she said to me when I was running around her house and in her yard growing up. So, the little girl in me picked up her heart and marched back to Grandma's house.

Then the hunt begin. Grandma begin to tell me how sorry she was for losing her teeth. I said it was ok. (I really am beginning to believe that she loses them so I will come over.) I checked all the old hiding spaces. I started pulling cans out of the pantry. It didn't take me long to find something that she normally puts her teeth in every night. I found the new set of teeth that she lost several weeks ago. I have no clue where she hid the old set of teeth. Oh well, we will just keep going back and forth. The way Grandma moves things around her house, she will eventually find them and hide them somewhere so I can find them. I would really like to have both sets at once sometime in the future.

Before she started getting ready for bed, I asked her to let me see where she was going to hide them so that just the two of us would know where they are. She agreed. I got the courage up to ask her if she would let me hide them. She turned and handed them to me and said "Now that is a good plan, because that man looks in my room for them." So, guess who is sleeping with Grandma's teeth. She has already been in here three times making sure I still have them right beside me.

She had a moment in the kitchen earlier tonight. She picked up the phone to call my Grandpa and realized for the first time on her own that he was gone and not coming back. I'm not saying she is getting better, but today was a good day. We had a moment of sanity! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Possible Art Projects for Extra Teeth.

This is just funny!

I don't think I could wear Grandpa's teeth as a necklace.

Bizarre but yet creative.

A magnet?  Possible


Definitely not!

Wouldn't you love to have pearly whites around your neck?  LOL

Personally my favorite

Little scary

The Prizes of the Easter Egg hunt!!!

First, prize of the night....Found Grandma's teeth below the sink in the bathroom.  Thank the Lord, she can eat breakfast tomorrow!!!  Definitely going to wash them first!  She went to great lengths to hide them this time. Unbelievable!!!

Second prize of the night, I managed to get my great Uncle Holland's letter to my Aunt Ruby, grandma's sister.

The letter states:

May 13, 1944

Hello Darling,

Hope this finds you well and doing fine.  This leaves me still doing ok and well.  Had two sweet letters from you today and darling you didn't know how glad I was to hear from you and to know you was well.  When  hear from you darling, I don't worry.  But you know we get Blue and think of home and what we usto do.

Sometimes I wonder if I will every see you and the other people again, darling.  I hope and pray you will still be waiting when I come back, darling.  I now it's a long time to wait.  But darling, you know that I can't help it.  I want you to go and enjoy yourself but don't forget that you are still my darling wife and I love you with all my heart and wouldn't do you wrong at all and I pray that you will do the same by me.

I sure hope your mother will soon get better and able to do her work.  Yes, darling I was well when I received your letters and my hand is about well now, so guess I am doing the best I can.

 We have worked most every Sunday since we landed over here and tomorrow tomorrow is Sunday.  Don't know yet if we will work or not.  I I had my Plymouth car over here I would ride around and see some of this part of the world.  Well darling will go now and write mail next time.  Be real sweet and please don't worry about me.  All my love to you darling now and forever.

Letter from Uncle Holland...So Sweet!

Good nite good luck and may god bless you is my prayer.

Sweet dreams darling
your true love

Thank you!!!

I really want to thank all my readers for keeping up with my blog.  I am humbled by the support I have received from all my readers.  Anyone that is dealing with a loved one with dementia understands what I am going through with Grandma.  It makes a world of difference to know that I have so many friends out there reading my thoughts about dealing with this disease. 

My dad's mood has also improved with me spending more time with Grandma.  He has had more time to relax and is starting to return to the stress free dad that I love!  He loves the blog and loves the response that I have received from so many!

My cousin is doing great with Grandma on the weekend.  She is picking up on how Grandma operates very quickly.  Grandma knew her grandmother many years ago and still remembers her.  So, that has made a connection for Grandma.

I know my blogs have slowed down, but a girl has to work.  So, I'm probably going to a once a week post for awhile.  Next week, Grandma is going to the family reunion!  This should be fun!!!  Hope we find her teeth before we leave on Saturday!  LOL

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Another Night..Another Pair of Teeth!!!!

So, I'm at Grandma's house helping her find her teeth.  I wish I could get a GPS chip in those teeth!!!!

Dad tried to find her teeth last night.  He found another pair of Grandpa's teeth.  OMG!!!  How many pairs of teeth do people keep when they have false teeth?  Now, Dad has a pair of Grandpa's teeth in his truck, and I have a pair in my car in a Dora the Explorer bowl.

I have turned this house upside down!!!!  NO TEETH!  We are now missing two pairs of teeth and Grandma has informed me that she will pick the dentist if she decides to get another pair.  She wants to wait awhile before we get another pair to see if the other ones appear.  I totally agree Grandma, because $500 is a lot to pay for you to lose another pair.

One cool thing happened tonight while we were looking for her teeth.  Grandma found a letter from Holland to my Aunt Ruby while he was in the war.  She read the entire letter.  I tried to get it to read and share, but she heard me open the drawer where it is.  I will try in the morning and see if I can find it. 

In the meantime, we have two pairs of teeth.  Dad wanted to know if Goodwill would take them.  I decided to do a little research on what people do with their old teeth.  Old teeth can actually be useful for many things.  There is a dental place in Japan that takes false teeth. I can donate them to a local dental school.  I can give them to an art teacher.  The art teacher, that works with me, just might find a way to use them in class.  Someone suggested online to put them in a fish bowl and let a nice fish have a house.  Hmmm, we do have a beta fish that would love to have a place to hide.  I wonder what a hamster would do with a pair of teeth.  Another person suggested that you create a night light with them or a cover for a bottle opener.  Not sure if I would want someones old teeth as a bottle opener.  And how often do I need a bottle opener?  Never.

Well, so many ideas to sleep on tonight and decide what to do.  Oh, and my cousin is working on the weekends and Grandma seems to be OK with her staying.  Grandma does constantly tell me that she wish the menfolk would hurry up and come back.  It bothers her that a girl is here and not a man.  I showed her my weapons and the bat I have to protect us.  She seemed to handle that response! 

She has come in twice looking for the other people that are going to spend the night.  Not sure who she is waiting on to come over but I told her that I am it for the night.  Sleep tight everyone!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Quiet Night

So, my oldest daughter had to come to town to practice.  I decided to stay with Grandma and give Dad a break.  So, far Grandma has checked on my twice.  The first time to see who was in here.  You could tell she was tired and I told her to go back to bed.  She couldn't understand why Ellis (My grandpa wasn't coming home)  I corrected her and told her she was talking about Gary.  She was half asleep in a state of confusion.

Later, she came in and said that we were the only ones here.  I told her that I was going to finish my work and then go to bed.  She seemed to understand and then said..oh, your a teacher.  I said yes grandma.  The more time I spend with her the more she remembers about me.  I get excited each time she remembers something about me.  I know in my mind that she will never be my grandma that I grew up with but it makes my heart  hopeful.  And then I have to realize it is God's way of blessing me with these precious seconds of her remembering one little thing about me.  May seem small but it is a big step in my eyes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Inheritance

I'm often curious about how many times the elderly lose their teeth in nursing homes.  Grandma loses hers everyday, because she has to hide them every night from this man that wants her teeth.  This puzzles me because naturally there is no man and I am constantly thinking Grandma is delusional.  This week revealed the truth and Grandma isn't crazy or delusional.

I got the call Friday night that Grandma had lost her teeth once again.  I told mom that I couldn't come until the next day.  The entire night, I was thinking of places Grandma would have hid them.  Under dressers, under the bed, in the closet, in the kitchen.....I got a plan in my head to find them.

I arrived at Grandma's house around 3:30.  She was already in a wild state of mind because she wanted her teeth.  Of course, the same old story..that old man has them and she wants hers back.  So, we start looking.  It wasn't too long that we found a set of teeth.  We found her original pair of teeth.  HERS!  Now, try to keep up....we lost a set of teeth that I thought was hers and she claimed they belonged to the man.  Then I went and bought her a new pair because we lost the pair that she said were not hers.  Then I found the pair (the pair that she claims are not hers.) Now, we have lost the new pair and found another pair of teeth that are really her original teeth that she said the man took right out of her mouth.  So, whose teeth are those that I found?  Well, come to find out Grandma was telling the truth.  They are Grandpa's second pair of teeth.  OH MY LORD!!!!

So, now we have Grandpa's second pair of teeth (His first pair are buried with him.)  We have a Grandma's teeth, and now we have lost the new pair that I spent an entire day to get for her last week!  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!  And this man that she keeps talking about that took her teeth turns out is my Grandpa.  Dementia is an ugly beast when it robs you of memories.  My poor Grandma still thinks Grandpa is alive until you remind her that he isn't.  I hugged her when we found them and decided to calm her down a little bit.   So, we went to the living room.  I played gospel hymns that I knew she would love to hear.  She rocked in her new rocking chair.

As she rocked in the rocking chair, she remembered seeing the rocking chair at Crackerbarrel and how bad she wanted one.  I said yes, Grandma.  Then she told me that Gary brought it to her.  And once again, I reminded her that I wanted her to be happy. So, I told Gary to go and get it.  She smiled from ear to ear.  Gary came in an sung a song for her.  She was amazed at how well I played the piano.  In her mind, I'm not old enough to play or drive or have kids.

I stayed a while longer and kept looking for the new pair of teeth.  I couldn't let Grandma know what I was looking for because she had her old teeth.  I finally left a few hours later.  My cousin was on her way to spend the night, and I tried to prepare Grandma for her arrival as best as I could. 

I left and went to Wal-Mart with my youngest.  My dad got worried that Grandma was going to find Grandpa's teeth.  He can't handle touching teeth. That is why I am constantly coming to the rescue.  And as many times as Grandma has lost them in the last week, I'm starting to believe she loses them on purpose to see me.  LOL

Grandma and my daughter when I
went back to get Grandpa's teeth.
So, I go back by Grandma's house to get the teeth.  I didn't have a bowl, a bag, or anything to put them in to protect them.  So, I stuck them in my pocket!!!!  I was literally freaking out with teeth in the pocket.  My cousin was there and was visiting with Grandma.  She realized what I had done.  I had to get out of there fast. 

I got to Mom's and told her what I had done.  She was laughing at me.  She found a bowl for me to keep Grandpa's teeth.  A Dora the Explorer bowl was what she had for me to put them in.  Mom and I had the conversation of what am I going to do with them.  I don't know.  She said to throw them away, but they were my Grandpa's teeth.  If they were some stranger's teeth, then they wouldn't have even been in my pocket.  Daddy didn't want them.  Pretty sure, there isn't a recycling program for false teeth or is there?  LOL

So, now I'm driving around with Grandpa's teeth in the Dora the Explorer bowl in my console of my car.  I'm trying to figure out what to do with them.  Someone suggested that I have them bronzed.  Not sure I want that on my mantle, but what a conversation piece that would be. 

"Whose teeth?"
"Why do you have them?"
"It's my inheritance!"  LOL

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rise and Shine!!!

Teeth under the cabinet.
So, I spent the night with grandma after being told to go to bed.  I felt so bad for telling stories and causing trouble.  At 4:30 a.m., Grandma turns on the lights in my room.  I ask her what does she want and what time is it.  She didn't know what time it was, but she wanted me to get up and find her teeth.  I was not about to get up and start looking for teeth at 4:30.  I told her quickly to go back to bed and as soon as the sun came up then I would get up and find them.

I laid in bed for awhile thinking about the night before.  After I got in trouble, I started exploring the house and finding odd objects around that Grandma had hidden.  I found a nasty cologne bottle and a lot of shoes.  I found her panties in with the towels.  I found toothpaste in one of the shoes.  Then......I found the original teeth!  OMG  So, instead of dealing with the fight of those are someones teeth.  I hid them in the back bathroom in a bowl.  Why in the world is she hiding all this stuff?  Why can't she just glue those teeth in and keep them in!  It would save me so much trouble.

I finally fell back to sleep.  As soon as the sun was up, I could feel grandma's presence in the room.  I opened my eyes and she was right in my face.  "The sun is up," she stated.  I was like WHOA Grandma...You are going to give me a heart attack.  Grandma the ninja sneaked in my room and scared me to death.  She was ready to find teeth.  So, up I got.  We looked around the entire house.  I left her in the kitchen dragging out every last bowl and cup.

Daddy showed up about 7:00 a.m.  I heard him come through the garage door.  I went in there and told him what was going on.  So, I started in looking again.  Grandma reached for this mixing bowl on the top shelf.  It was full of water.  In the middle of this water, was another bowl with water and her teeth. She goes to great lengths to hide those teeth every night.

Picture with stickers.
Later that morning, we spent time eating breakfast and going back over who my kids were and then I realized I might be able to help her.  We had pictures of everyone in the family.  I found some labels and labeled each person.  I found a picture of Ashley, Leslie and Ryan and labeled them.  I found one of her three sons.  She realized what I was doing and started bring more pictures for me to label.  On the picture of most of her grandchildren, she wanted to know where they live.  So, I added another label.

We had a great morning and she absolutely was so sweet to be with that morning.  We reminisced about old times with her sisters.  I went back over things she had forgotten.

I told her I had to get home because I had to go to school the next day.  She asked what grade I was in and what was I going to do when I graduate?  Well, Grandma, I graduate in a few years, and I want to be an astronaut when I grow up!  Now, it is time to go repent once again!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Since I was a little girl, if Grandma went to bed and you were spending the night with her, then everyone went to bed.  Every once in awhile, I see that Grandma come to the surface.  Last Monday night was one of those rare occasions.

I told Daddy how much Grandma loved the rocking chairs at Crackerbarrel, so he and Mom went and got her one on Saturday.  They put it in her living room, and Grandma got upset with him for spending all that money on her and demanded he take it back.  So, when I arrived, I mentioned the rocking chair.  She went into how daddy spent that money and she needed him to take it back.  So, I lied to grandma.  I know... I felt bad as I did it.  I told her that I asked Daddy to get it for her.  She was so upset  that she thought when I said Daddy that I meant my Grandpa.  She called Grandpa "daddy" for as long as I can remember.  So, then I had to start talking about my dad by his first name.

Grandma and her new rocking chair.
So, Gary (my dad) went and got the rocking chair because I asked him to go get it.  This was true.  She said she remembers them being expensive.  Wow, Grandma, you can remember the chair being expensive, but you can't remember that I was there that day? Now, here is where the lie came into the conversation.  I told her that the chair was mine, and I didn't have a place for it.  I needed her to take care of it for me.  I also reminded her that she wanted one so badly and I couldn't get it in my car (That was true).  I told her that I wanted her to be happy and was willing to buy or do anything to make her happy (True).   She told me she didn't realize it was mine (Lie).

A normal family member would say 'thank you' and 'oh, that is so sweet'.  Not Grandma!  She told me how the rocking chair is going to be in her way when she starts building fires next month.  NEXT MONTH!  It is 108 degrees outside.  I don't see her building a fire next month.

I told her I would take it home when she started using the fireplace and until the winter was over.  She seemed to be ok with my story.  I could still feel that she didn't trust me completely.

I started talking to her about my cousin who came for a visit earlier that day. My cousin is going to start staying with her on weekends.   I explained to Grandma this was a good thing.  She started mumbling about how Gary needed to straighten up and do what he is supposed to do.  LOL.  She started talking about my dad like he was her little boy.  I guess in her mind and world, he still is her little boy.  I cannot even imagine what kind of mother she was like.  I just know the grandma side.  I bet she was one of those mommas that kept her boys in line, and if they didn't do their part, then someone was going to pay.

I once heard a story about my dad when he was a teenager.  According to what I remember, Grandma and Grandpa were gone and Daddy was out picking on this boy in the neighborhood.  Grandma and Grandpa pulled up and witnessed the incident.  Daddy says he never forgot the punishment he received for that that day.  LOL.

Ok, back to the main story.... My cousin is going to stay on weekends with Grandma.  I explained in detail. Gary has to work; he can't be there at night on the weekends.  I told her I couldn't stay with her on Saturday nights because I have to play the organ at my church on Sunday mornings.  She lit up when I told her I played the organ.  Grandma has always wanted to play the piano and has always loved hearing us play. Then, she started back in on Daddy and how he wasn't treating her right by leaving her with other people.  She didn't need a babysitter according to her.  I tried to explain that my cousin was not a babysitter.  She tried to understand and really took in everything I was saying, and then she forgot it.

If you have a loved one with dementia, this is not a one person job.  This disease takes its toll on your mental health.  With other diseases, you can find out what is going to happen next or what to expect.  With dementia, you don't know what to expect from day to day.  There is not a cure, no medicine that can change the disease, and no way to really get better in the "long run" of the disease.  You want to give up and give in and say forget it some days.  You look for answers all over the Internet on how things have worked for others.  To be honest, what works for one doesn't work for others.  The only thing that I have found on the Internet to help in most cases is to keep your loved one's mind stimulated with activities.  In our case, we keep Grandma stimulated by people coming to visit.  She loves company!!!

So, after answering all the questions about my girls again, we finally went to bed.  She checked on me several times.  I let her know I had all my defensive tools. (Read "Switching Teeth and Moving Out" to get a glimpse of my tools.)  She had her teeth each time she came in to my room until the third time.  I realized she had put them somewhere.  So, I decided to try something new and find them before we went to bed.  I went into the kitchen and couldn't find them anywhere.  I saw her light go out at this point.  I thought I could catch her before she went to sleep and get the teeth.  I tried to be very brave!!!!

I opened the door, and she had just laid down.  "Grandma, where did you put your teeth?  I want to be able to find them in the morning."  Well, she gets up and starts trying to find them.  She had already forgotten where she put them.  That crazy short term memory was messing us up once again!!!   Oh, she got fired up at me.  I realized quickly that this was not a good thing.  We looked and looked and looked.  NO TEETH!  So, I started calming her down and convincing her to go back to bed.  We will find them in the morning.

At that very moment, the Grandma I grew up with came out of her!  She yelled, not shouted, "Now, Carole Anne, we don't have time for your games at this time of night.  You need to get yourself in that bed in there, and I don't want to hear another word from you."  OH BOY!  I got in trouble.

I quickly ran down the hall and giggled all the way back to my room just like a little kid would do.  She hasn't gotten that fired up at me since I was at least 12 or 13 years old.  TOO FUNNY!!!

Oh, Grandma, I love you so!  If I thought you would remember, I would tell you that these are precious memories to me, and how you are letting me relive some of my past. LOL

Back in my room, I had to repent and pray for telling stories to grandma and for disobeying her by not going to bed and staying there like I was suppose to do.

Now, I lay me down to sleep
I pray the lord my soul to keep
If I should die, before I wake
I pray that grandma
Forgets all my lies and mistakes.

And she will.  LOL

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And I Cried

I really feel in my heart that Dementia or Alzheimer's disease are the worse diseases a loved one can have.  At least with cancer, you know somewhat how to treat it.  With Dementia, you play a guessing game every day and there is no way to cure it or make it better.  The way you deal with it usually determines the outcome.  I chose to write this blog about Grandma.  Although some think I am making fun of her, I am not. I am making fun of the disease!  I have to laugh to keep from crying.  And I laugh a lot with Grandma because I never know what to expect.

Saturday, I woke up with this awful feeling in my stomach that Grandma had lost her teeth again.  I was at my mother's house and everyone was still asleep.  I got up and went to her house and found her looking around.  On my way, I had picked up gravy and biscuits -- her favorite.   I told her I had extra, but she was visibly upset about loosing her teeth.  So, I checked all the places that I would think a dementia patient would hide their teeth.  It is really hard to think like a dementia patient!  Think about that last sentence and it will come to you slowly.

Anyway, I found her teeth on top of the fridge in a coffee cup.  Now, you have to realize, I have not told Grandma who I am at this point.  She came running from the kitchen and said the most beautiful words I could have ever heard, "Oh, Carole Anne, you found them."  She remembered my name, and I cried.

Hopefully, more tomorrow.... The story of how I got in trouble with Grandma and had to repent.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wild Stories and Fairy Tales

Dementia causes Grandma to believe that someone is coming in to her home on a daily basis and stealing her stuff.  She has some wild tales about people in the neighborhood that are far from the truth, but in her mind they are very real.

For instance, when we got home on Thursday, I knew she was extremely tired.  She told me about this woman in the neighborhood that came in her home and stole her gold bowl with the pitcher.  I asked her how she got it back.  She said she went to every house on the street and asked them if they had her stuff.  She said they wanted the gold stuff in her house. The lady brought it back one night and then ran out the door. I have read many stories on the Internet of loved ones sharing the same type of story.  Paranoia and delusions are pretty common with Dementia patients.

Friday, the day after we got the new teeth, Daddy calls me on the phone laughing as hard as he can.  I answer, "You better not be calling me at 7:30 a.m. to tell me that Grandma has lost her teeth."  And he laughed harder.  So, in my britches (pajamas), I got up and went to help Grandma find her teeth.  After we had spent so much money the day before and I had spent so much time to take care of her, I was determined to find those teeth.

She was pretty livid when I arrived at her house.  She told me that she couldn't find them anywhere.  According to her, the guy that took her first set of teeth returned and tried to take her teeth right out of her mouth.  She had to hide them in order to prevent him from getting them.  So, I searched and searched everywhere.  I looked in every window, drawer, cabinet, and shelf.  I laid in her bedroom floor and literally gave up on finding them.  I rolled my head around to see under her bed and there they were in a glass hidden behind the leg of the bed.  I picked up the mattress to see if the old ones were tucked under the mattress and her glasses that we had been looking for fell out the side.

I took them to her, and then she went into her stories about that man that wants her teeth so badly.  I just nodded and asked her if she had eaten yet.  She continued with her stories, and I made some eggs and fixed her a coke.
My Grandma and Grandpa

Now, I have realized that she has good memories in the morning until she remembers Grandpa.  She sometimes knows who I am talking about.  She remembers her sisters vividly, but if they were standing in front of her, she would have no idea who they were.  On this day, she wanted to see Grandpa's obituary.  I got it for her, and then she wanted me to tell her the story of how he died and where she was when all this happened.  I usually struggle with this conversation, but I get stronger each time I tell her what happened.  It is getting to the point that I just say he died.  I realize that eventually he won't even be a memory to her.

The last picture I took of my Grandpa
I have read in a book that this same thing happened with a son and his father and eventually the son told his father that his wife was on a vacation.  I can really understand why this son did this to his father.  So, I'm trying to find a good story to tell Grandma.  Hmmm:  Grandpa took off in the van and went to visit his brother... Nope.. she would want to go visit.  Grandpa is gone to visit loved ones and will be gone for a while... Hmmm..  That is almost the whole truth.  Grandma will want to know who, when he left, why, and so on.  I may just stick with he is dead.  Within 5 minutes of telling her the truth, she forgets and then wants to know how I got to her house. "Well, Grandma... I drove my car."  And then she returns to Dementia Grandma and tells me I'm not old enough to drive!  Well, thank you, Grandma! You are looking mighty young yourself!  LOL

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Part 3: Wild Things

As you get older, you realize how fast time flies when you are having so much fun.  If you get dementia, you forget details of current events, your life history, your loved ones, and so many memories to the point that life feels like it is moving at a snail pace.  When I am with grandma, I find myself constantly wondering "What is she thinking?"
Grandma and my girls

She starts in with her questions of who, what, when, and where?  I realize the memories are absent or jumbled to her.  She often tells me she is crazy, but I always tell her that she is not.  I remind her that she is 86 years old and our minds play tricks on us as we get older.  I don't know if she really understands, but she does seem to trust me. As we continued our trip to Sheridan, I felt that trust from her.

She knew we were going somewhere special, and she took in all the sights.  We had to drive by several schools.  Vines had taken over on the road between Bauxite and Sheridan.  She laughed and mentioned that someone wasn't doing their job.  She took in all the pretty houses and trees.  I told her to rest, but she was too busy taking in the sights.

She started talking about bears and how scared she was of bears.  She said that if you keep food in your pocket and a bear is close by, then he will get the food and you too!!!  LOL.. I wanted to ask.. Is that why you threw the cornbread out the window and risked the $1000 fine??

Aunt Ruby at
Grandma's house
It was a 30 minute ride to Sheridan.  She told me about her 9 brothers and sisters.  She was able to list every one of them.  Lester, Earlsel, Ruby, Henry, Audrey, Grandma, Melvin, Robbie Lee, Rosie Lee, and Bessie Dee.  She reminisced about how Henry was the good looking brother.  Lester was the tall one and always seemed jealous of how good looking Henry was.  Then she talked about Aunt Ruby.

Holland, Aunt Ruby's
first husband
Aunt Ruby's first husband was a good looking man named Holland.  Aunt Ruby loved him. Grandma went on and on about how highly she thought of Holland.  Holland and Aunt Ruby got married and according to grandma it wasn't too long after that World War II started and he was shipped off to the war.  From the picture, it appears he was in the army.  Grandma said he died in the war.  She said Ruby was devastated.  I had never heard this story.

We made it to Sheridan to see my cousin Ashley and Uncle Brent and their families.  Ashley is one of my favorite cousins.  She is one of those Leave it to Beaver mothers.  You know, the kind that can take anything and turn it into something.  She is the coupon queen in my eyes.  She calls her kids "The Wild Things."  This makes me laugh every time I read it.

Thing 6 and me!
A friend of mine recently went to Universal Studios and bought a shirt that said "Mother of All Things."  She also bought all her kids tshirts that said "Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3, etc."  This should be Ashley.  She is the mother of all THINGS!  She is just awesome at being a mother.  She has 6 kids!  YES, 6 KIDS!  We laugh every time she tells Grandma how many kids she has because grandma scrunches up her nose and says "oh my word, honey."
Sweet Emma with Grandma

Out of the 6 kids, she has one girl.  Poor thing doesn't have a chance.  Emma appears to be the sweetest little girl.  She could pass as another one of my kids, and I would gladly take her home with me in a heartbeat.  With five brothers, I know there has to be a mean streak in her somewhere.  LOL

Anyway, Grandma loved sitting on Uncle Brent's porch in the rocking chair in the 110 degree heat.  Emma sat beside her in another rocking chair and just smiled and catered to Grandma.  Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Brent both came out and we shared the events of the day.  Of course, grandma wanted to know who everyone was and constantly asked Ashley how many kids she had.  Ashley's other kids...Things 1, 2, and 4 ran around showing their skills at running and playing ball, and they also helped control the dogs.

Uncle Brent helping
Grandma to the
After a short visit, I told Grandma it was time to go.  She really did enjoy it.  She told Uncle Brent to come see her.  He comes every Sunday to take care of her.  He told her he would bring chicken now that she has teeth.  It touched my heart to watch him help her to the car.

We drove away, and I went back over the visit at Uncle Brent's house.  Grandma talked about the little girl on the porch.  She couldn't remember her name but she talked about how sweet she was.  I reminded her that Uncle Brent would be bringing her chicken on Sunday, and we had to go get her teeth so she could eat it.  This is when I realized how wore out she was getting.

Grandma and Grandpa with
the great grandkids.
She had forgotten the goal for the day.  We drove back to Bryant.  I stopped at Crackerbarrel and got her a vegetable plate to go. We went and got her teeth and were on our way home.

Now, it is one thing to deal with just Dementia Grandma.  It is another thing to deal with Dementia Very Tired Grandma.  She can read every sign and keeps up with every exit!

She kept telling me that I could let her out at White Hall and she would walk the rest of the way to her house.  For some reason, she had it in her mind that I was going to Lake Village.  I realized after I saw the sign that she had been keeping up with where we were going.  I tried to calm her down by informing her that we were going to her house.

When we got to her house, she was tired and ready to relax.  I fixed her dinner and told her Daddy would be over later.  I went to Mom's and literally took two days to recover from that trip!  I really don't know how my dad does it every day!!! Just 10 hours with Grandma was a workout for me!

Next Blog:  Grandma loses her NEW teeth!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Part 2: What Rules?

Communication is very important when taking care of Grandma.   I have to constantly tell her where we are going, what we are doing, and why we need to do it.  She struggles with remembering it, but somewhere in her mind, I really think she is putting it together.

So, after the dentist took impressions, we had 6 hours to kill before her teeth were ready.  My mind was racing.  I asked her if she wanted to go get her hair washed.  No.  Would you like to get a manicure?  No.  Would you like to go eat at McDonalds?  Not hungry.  Well, is there anything you would like to do, Grandma?  Her response, "Well, aren't you driving?  Do you know what you want to do?"  So,  I made the decision to take Grandma to Sara's house.  At least there, Grandma could rest and watch a little TV.

I called Sara and woke her up.  She wasn't excited.  Sara lives out in the country.  Grandma was so turned around.  She tried reading every sign to figure out where we were going.    We passed a sign that said "Road Unsafe if Under Water."  She started to insist that we needed to turn around.  I told her it was ok.  She was a little relieved, but I could tell the road still worried her.  I assured her I knew where we were going.

We finally made it to Sara's house.  Grandma decided to rest and take it easy in the living room.  Sara has two very mean cats.  They hiss from the time I walk in the door until the time I leave.  Sara insists that they can smell my dogs.  I say they are just mean!

So, here is the scene:  Grandma resting. Me watching TV.  Mean cats hissing.  So, what could happen?  Well, naturally, those cats had to check grandma out.  One jumped on the back of her recliner several times and hit her in the head not once but several times.  Lol.  I told her she needed a cat.  She laughed and said no.  We watched a couple of shows and took a small nap.  She was ready to go after only 2 hours.

We went to Crackerbarrel to eat lunch.  I let her out at the door and told her to sit in the rocking chair by the door, and I would park the car.  After parking the car, I found her checking all the rocking chairs.  We went in and were seated immediately.  I ordered two kids vegetable plates.  This provided six vegetables for us to split.  Grandma kept watching out the window.  I reminded her that we were going to get her teeth real soon.  I knew she was hungry, but when our food came, she ate like she hadn't eaten in days!

I figured out from eating lunch with her that you have to share food with her.  If she thinks she is sharing, then she will eat more.  I told her to eat all she wanted.  I got one vegetable out of the deal.

I was trying to drag the meal out and kill an hour, but she ate so fast.  She wanted me to get the waitress to put her coke in a cup to go.  I told her to wait a minute and I would.  She pointed out several waitresses for me to ask for help.  I said we were in no hurry.  She handed me her coke and stood up to go.  I followed her to the front of the tables and told her to wait.  I found the waitress and Grandma was anxious.  The waitress showed up and when I turned around to give it to Grandma... she was out the door.

So, I went running.  I told the cashier that I was going to get my grandmother and would be right back to pay.  I found her outside checking out the rocking chairs.  I told her to sit in one and stay there until I got through paying for the bill or we would be washing dishes.  She quickly corrected me. I would be washing dishes -- not her.

I went back in to pay the bill and had the cashier laughing from the event.  She told me I needed to buy grandma a rocking chair.  I said that I would buy one and take it home today, but I really don't think it would fit in my little Honda Accord.  LOL

I went back to Grandma and told her I was going to pull the car around.  A nice young couple were sitting with her.  When I returned, I went to get her and heard her tell them...."Anytime you are in my area, look me up and come for a visit."  OH MY WORD!!!!  Here she is scared to be alone because crazy people are stealing her teeth at night, and she is inviting strangers over to her house.

We headed to Sheridan to visit with my uncle and cousin.  She still had her coke and cornbread wrapped in a paper towel.  She finished both and then started pushing buttons.  I assumed she was cold and wanted some warm air.  I rolled the window down and out went the coke.  I was in shock and told her that she couldn't throw stuff out the window.  I started rolling the window up and out went the cornbread in the napkin.  AAAGGGHHHH!!! next time, I have to tell her that she can have a coke but she can't throw it out the window.  I now know that the rules are different for Grandma now that she has dementia.  :)

Even though you have all these moments of frustration and misunderstandings, somewhere in the mix, you do have a moment when grandma realizes who you are and where we are going. On the way to Sheridan, she looked over at me and told me she really did love me for taken care of her.  Those are the moments you cherish and realize why you are doing what you are doing.  No, they don't happen often, but they are the most valuable moments I share with her. They definitely help me continue taking care of my grandma.