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.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Part 1: Elvis and New Teeth

Grandma waiting to see the dentist.
The key to surviving Dementia is patience.... patience... and more patience.  The caregiver has to have enough patience to answer the same question at least 50 times in one day.  Today, Grandma knew that I was her granddaughter, but couldn't remember my name.  What was weird is that she could remember my sister's name until we saw her at her house.  It is like dealing with a child that is at that stage of asking one question after another.  Only in grandma's case, she wants to know who they are, how many kids, are they married, and when is the last time they came to visit.  If you answer the last one with an answer that you were at her house recently, then she gets frustrated because she wants to remember so desperately but can't.

So, today I spent 10 hours with Grandma.  Let me say that again... I spent 10 HOURS IN A SMALL CAR WITH GRANDMA!!!  Answering every question about me over and over and over and over and over and over!!!
*Please reread the last three sentences in order to get the full effect of what I went through today.

Exhausted at the end of the day.
Don't get me wrong!  We had a great day!  Not one problem other than all the questions.  I handled each one patiently.  Then I started to have fun with her, I told her I didn't have kids and  I wasn't married but lived with this guy that I wanted to marry.  Now, here is a woman with dementia that is asking the same questions over and over and over again.  And the minute I lied to her, she looked at me and said "Oh, now you are playing."  YES, I am playing with you and you know it.  So, why do you keep asking me?  LOL  I really wanted to scream it, but I didn't.

Because so many things happened today, this will probably be a three part summary.  Secondly, I am exhausted from the day.

Waiting on the dentist.
The main goal today was to go to the dentist and get new teeth.  Somewhere in grandma's house is a good pair of teeth, but this guy named Dementia has stolen them along with many other things.  Daddy told her that we were going today to get her new teeth.  At 6:30 AM, I was ready and was expecting to find her still in bed in her nightgown.  I found her in her bed fully dressed waiting on me. I let her know that I am ready if she is ready.  She was excited about getting new teeth.  I couldn't believe she remembered what we were doing.

She started telling me how sweet I was for taking her to the dentist.  I'm thinking "Grandma save your sweetness for when you are extremely tired at the end of the day."  LOL

We get to the dentist office in Bryant.  Let me say right here... If you have a dementia loved one that needs new teeth, Arkansas Dental Center in Bryant Arkansas is the best place to go!  Everyone there is extremely helpful and really know how to take care of the elderly.  Grandma was so relaxed and loved all the Elvis pictures in the place.  She kept talking about Elvis while we waited on the dentist and how good looking he was.  Elvis was everywhere, and I teased her about loving him and thinking he was cute.

 We waited about 10 minutes.  Grandma is in the chair when they have her pick the shade of her teeth.  She wanted the pretty white ones.  And then they came in with the bill.  She said "oh my lord!"  I told her not to worry about it, I was paying for it.  She calmed down and said ok.  I didn't mention I was paying with her check.

She told them to put her name on them so "that man" wouldn't get them again.  According to the dentist, people switching teeth happens often in the nursing home.  Well, grandma is not in the nursing home and neither is "that man"!  The dentist was really sweet with grandma and she cooperated so well.  I was amazed.
New teeth with her name

We left around 9:15 a.m. and had to come back around 3:30 p.m.  Around 3:00, the dentist receptionist called us and said they were ready.  Grandma was so excited.  We returned and within minutes Grandma had new teeth.  She tried to smile but it was a little scary.  LOL


We successfully achieved our goal and had a great day together!  I will try to write part 2 tomorrow.  There are so many other things that happened with Grandma: Sara's cats attacking her, Grandma running out of Crackerbarrel, Grandma inviting random people to her house, driving to visit Uncle Brent, seeing all of Ashley's kids, and last but not least grandma telling me how to get home.  Don't miss it!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Big NO NO

Grandma and I in front of her house.
When I was a little girl and I came to visit my grandparents, we were allowed to play in the back bedrooms of Grandma's house, but we weren't allowed to dig through her drawers in the dresser or touch any of her powder -- Grandma had a fascination with Avon Powder. She did have dolls for us to play with and yearbooks for us to read.

Grandkids dressed in our Christmas
 outfits for grandma's formal
I remember we would pile up in the hall closet and shut the door with flashlights and make fun of our dad in the yearbook. We weren't allowed in the back room until Uncle Brent got married and moved out. There were lots of drawers and stuff to go through in that room. We found lots of cool stuff! We found my dad's old report cards. We found cough drops in every drawer, keys to everything, lotion, sewing supplies, and lots of school pictures. Just as we would get to the good stuff, we would get caught and have to go outside. Going through Grandma's stuff was a big NO NO!!!

Tonight, I felt like that little granddaughter again going through Grandma's dressers. I went through her dressers, closets, and and every last drawer looking for teeth, glasses, and rings. And......I got caught!!! Lol

Grandma walked in the bedroom looking for "the girl" (that would be me). She walked in the bedroom and said, "Is the girl in here?" Fortunately for me, I was in the bathroom and she couldn't see me in the cabinet! I quickly answered.... feeling so guilty!!!! She just wanted to know if my husband was coming... what's his name! Lol. I said no that he was staying with our girls. I couldn't believed she remembered that I was married. So, we went through all the questions that usually follow every conversation I have with her. You have kids? How many? What is their name? Do I know them? How old? And that I should bring them over for a visit. I usually just answer the questions and agree to bring them real soon. Sometimes, the questions will start back over and I will answer them all three or four times.

Dementia plays so many crazy games with my grandmother's mind. One minute she is normal, and the next second she forgets everything. I feel like I am in that movie 50 First Dates with 10 second Tom, only I have 30 minute Lucille!

So, I'm here for the night and she has already come to look in on me three times. Probably making sure I'm not going through her stuff. I did find an old can of Dr. Scholl's foot powder and all my gear for protection. Doors are all locked. Chairs are all in place!

Tomorrow is going to be a big day for her. New Teeth! Definitely will blog about the dentist and how she handles it. Then we will have five hours before we go back and get her teeth. What do you do for five hours with your grandma with dementia? Check tomorrow night's blog and find out our entire adventure!!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Switching Teeth and Moving Out

Grandma and I back in January 2011 not too
long after Grandpa passed away.
I know some of you have already heard this story because part of it was posted on Facebook, but I wanted to get it on here to keep with my other post.

Three weeks ago, I was on my way to Pine Bluff for church camp when it hit me: I need to help dad out with Grandma.  Hmm OK... I will fit that in my busy schedule.  So, when I got to my mom and dad's house, I told my dad I would help.  I remember him looking at me and saying "OK... just whenever you want to come over."  He was a little taken back, but he was excited at the same time.

Later that night, Mom and I went to camp, and she told me just before I walked in the door that they were talking about someone coming to help out with Grandma.  WOW... talk about good timing -- Thank you Lord for that one.  I had no idea that discussion had taken place until later.

So, the next week, I held true to my word and went to stay with Grandma.  The minute I got there, she told me that I couldn't stay because she was moving to Dermott.  I said OK.  I walked in the house.  She had everything pulled out of the cabinets, closets and bedroom drawers.  She had most of it packed in Walmart sacks.  I just looked at her and smiled and told her that she better put all that back up before Gary(my dad) sees it.  She said "that man" is coming back to kick her out.  The same one that switched his teeth with hers.  What a tale this was turning out to be.  I found her teeth in a cup on the sink.  I washed them and put them in the bathroom in a different cup.  She didn't fall for it.

Dad had left a watermelon for her to eat.  So, I proceeded to cut it open and slice up some pieces for her to nibble on during the day.  She couldn't eat it without her teeth.  This bothered her.  I went and got her teeth.  She told me again that those teeth belonged to this man that used to live there.  I'm thinking grandpa?  I don't have a clue what she was thinking.  Anyway, they were hers, but she still wouldn't put them in her mouth.  She went on and on about how would I feel putting someone else's teeth in my mouth.  Every time she said this, I would laugh and think of that commercial a few years back about the people that got their teeth mixed up with each other.

My Great-grandparents
I forgot to mention a special moment on Facebook.  We found some pictures that she had hidden somewhere.  One was of her mother and father, my great-grandparents. This was a special treasure to me.  She shared with me who they were.  She wasn't quite sure why they were sitting on this car.  The man in the window was her uncle, her mom's brother.  She said he was a rascal.  She said she had found that picture and had been looking at it and thinking about her parents.  That meant a lot to me.  My great-grandmother reminds me of  my youngest daughter Molly because she looks like a very small framed woman, and the shape of her face looks like Molly's at a glimpse.

As the night went on, I kept reminding her that she needed to get that stuff put back up in the cabinets.  Within the hour, she had everything back in place.  I'm not quite sure where she put it all.  I put her teeth back in another cup in the bathroom.  I told here that I was going to bed, and I would be in the back room if she needed me.  She came in there a few times to see if I was there.  The last time she came in she told me that she would wake me up in time for school tomorrow, but I would have to walk because that man over there -- again talking about my dad -- took her car away and was selling her house.  She said she had to move to Dermott and he kept coming over and packing here stuff up for her to leave.  She finally turned and said she was going to bed.

A few minutes later, I heard her in the kitchen.  I went to check on her.  I asked if she was ok.  She said she was really upset about that man coming in and packing up her stuff and getting her teeth.  She had strategically placed a chair in front of each door in case anyone came in during the night and then asked me if I wanted a hammer and flashlight.  I said "no" and turned and went to bed.  I watched as she closed the door to her room.  Very sad to know that the thing that scares her the most is being by herself at night.  She is fine during the day.  She just gets lonely at night and wants someone there to protect her.  I remember thinking how many times she had gone to that room to sleep at night and about how Grandpa would follow her not to long after her.  Then she would get back up and check to see if we had gotten the hint and had gone to bed.  Haha!

My defense!
When I got back to my room, I looked around and found a bat, cane, two hammers,  and a couple of flashlights.  I felt safe.  Thirty minutes later, I got hungry for more watermelon.  I tried to sneak into the kitchen.  When I turned from the fridge to head back to bed, grandma was standing in the hallway with a cane ready to smack me down.  As I said on Facebook, she reminded me of one of those wrestlers on WWF!  -- "In this corner is the Watermelon Girl, and in this corner is Cane Carrying Grandma ready for a smack down!!!"  LOL

The last thing that I remember that night is her starting in on me for wearing britches in her house.  I tried to explain that they were pajamas.  I quickly realized that it was not a battle that I was going to win.  So, I promised her that I would not wear britches again to her house.  Growing up, she always insisted that we wear nice skirts to her house.  Blue jean skirts or britches were not acceptable clothing in her home.  I smiled and agreed with her, but I could still hear her mumbling.

I slept wonderfully at grandma's house.  I got up and found her dressed and eating a banana in the living room.  She had forgotten that I was there the night before.  She still did not have her teeth.  She couldn't understand why this man would break in and take her teeth and pack up all her shoes.  I told her that I thought I saw her teeth in the bathroom.  She quickly ran to the bathroom and checked them out.  She said they belonged to that man.  There went that trick.

This week, we are making a special trip to the dentist to get new teeth. I promise to have all details up by Thursday night.  LOL.... This will be the first time for her to go anywhere with me.  I'm looking forward to it.  I love challenges!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dementia vs. Alzheimer's

This is the first post in my journey.  First of all, I am not a writer. I am a teacher, and I hope that this blog helps others learn what life is like with a loved one that suffers from dementia.  This blog is not to make fun, but there will be funny stories to share about my grandmother.  My grandmother has what many suffer with as they age.  She is 85 years old and is a very healthy woman.  I do not wish this disease on anyone.  It is hard enough to lose a loved one. It is harder to have them be right in front of you and not know you or remember how you grew up in their home.  I hope from this blog that someone will be able to gather strength to deal with their own situation and realize that they are not alone.  I have discovered that many others deal with the same questions and paranoia that my grandmother has from day to day.  So many out there are looking for the right answers.  I warn you: if you are one of those people, this is not the blog for you.  I don't have the answers, but I will tell you what doesn't work with my grandmother.  LOL

I will also be sharing from time to time other stories about my family.  With all that said, welcome to my first blog.

I titled this blog Dementia vs. Alzheimer's because, believe it or not, there is a difference.  Many get them  confused and just call them the same thing.  I did that for years until I started researching about how to help my grandmother.

Dementia usually occurs after age 70.  Alzheimer's can occur in anyone as early as 45.  Both are the loss  of memory gradually over years.  Alzheimer's causes a loved one to lose memory in a more severe case.  For instance, my grandmother can sit and tell stories on end of her childhood.  She knows her sister's names, and sometimes remembers my dad is the man that comes every night to the house to take care of her.  She suffers from Dementia not Alzheimer's because she can remember different things from the past.  Over time, Alzheimer's patients cannot remember any of these facts.  There are other ways to differentiate between the two, but I am not a doctor either.

According to the Alzheimer's Caregiver Resource:

When looking at dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease, one type of dementia is often confused with Alzheimer's disease – Multi-Infarct Dementia or MID. MID is a common cause of dementia in the elderly and occurs when blood clots block small blood vessels in the brain and destroys brain tissue. Symptoms of MID, which are very similar to Alzheimer's disease, include confusion, problems with short term memory, wandering and getting lost in familiar places, loss of bladder and bowel control, and emotional problems such as laughing or crying during inappropriate times.
My grandmother has most of these symptoms.  She was diagnosed in her late 70's with dementia.  She can't always remember my name. However, she does know that my dad is going to show up at her house at 8:00 p.m.  If he doesn't show up, then she knows the number to call to get him there.  She calls him all day long to tell him about things she has misplaced or can't find.

One day, Grandma called Daddy and wanted to know when he was coming over.  Daddy was already there and in the back room in bed.  He told her that he was already there.  She said "Hang on." and a few seconds later, she opened up the door to the bedroom and said "hi."  After greeting him, she went back to the living room, picked up the phone and told Daddy that he didn't have to come over; someone was already there to stay with her.  

You have to laugh at this situation. You have to find a balance in your life to deal with the stress, and laughter works for me.  Grandma worries my dad to death all day with calls and tales. He handles each one with a laugh and shares the stress with all of us.  We are constantly on his case to get help, but he insists that he can handle her.  That is why I come in from time to time to give Dad a break.  I also get gather some really funny stories while staying with Grandma.  

I love my grandmother, and I have grown up with it drilled in my head that family takes care of family.  My dad is always talking about who is going to take care of him when he is older, and I always remind him that my younger sister will.  LOL.  When the time comes for me to take care of my parents, I hope that my three daughters will see the example that I have set, return the favor to me, and be the stress reliever once every two weeks or so.  I hope that it is a long time before I have to take care of them in that capacity because who would take care of Grandma?  My Uncle Brent and I?  Maybe, but that would be a blog within itself!  LOL