Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Borrowed Grandchildren.

Paul and I went over to visit my Dad last weekend, just to see how we was doing and to bring the framed wedding pictures I had put together. When we got there, Dad was just finishing lunch, so we sat down at the table to keep him company. Unfortunately, I could see that he wasn't in as good a mood as I'd seen him in lately. I suspected he wouldn't be as chatty as in past visits, although one should never underestimate Paul; no one can resist his charm!

Leaving Paul talking to Dad and the caregiver, I took the frames into Dad's room. As I walked down the hallway, the little girl who lives there popped out of the basement door. Her face lit up as she saw me and she ran into Dad's room with me. "Where Dullas?", she kept saying, looking around her. I finally figured out she was saying my Dad's name and asking where he was. I told her he was eating and she raced out of the room, presumably to find him at the table.

I've never known what Dad's position was on grandchildren of his own; I never had time to really ask him. I do know that after the onset of his illness, he really seemed to like spending time with little ones. It's not likely that I'll give him any grandchildren of his own, and he wouldn't know them anyway, but as I sat at the table listening to the constant flow of chat from the little girl and watching the miraculous transformation of sullen Dad to smiling Dad, I was really glad that we had the opportunity to borrow a grandchild. She really seems to bring Dad out of himself, and her parents don't seem to mind loaning her out. Lucky us!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tax Tips.

This link was sent to me via my Facebook page and it has some GREAT information for those of you who are caring for your parents in your home.

(Sorry, its not letting me make it a direct link, you'll have to type it in to your search box.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Money Can't Buy You Love.

I have a hospice patient I've been visiting for about a month and I really enjoy seeing this person. My patient is close to death, at one point even choosing not to eat, and is sometimes quite sharp and lucid, at others, caught up in a hallucination. However, when I'm there holding this person's hand or feeding them a popsicle, I feel I'm in the right place doing the right thing.

I see a lot of different facilities in the course of my work. I see small, six-person Adult Family Homes, medium-size Dementia centers, and quite large Assisted Living/Memory Facilities. I've commented before that most of the day to day caregivers belong to other ethnic groups, which I find very interesting. I've noticed something else lately, too.

The facility where I visit my patient is absolutely the most wealthy and gorgeous I've ever seen. There are huge chandeliers in the lobby and hallways, a sweeping staircase, a coffee bar, a pool, a library, an entire Wellness Center, and various other amenities. Inside each elevator is a mirror with a vase of flowers welded on to it, for heaven's sake, and there are plush draperies and soft furnishings everywhere. The apartments are large and roomy, with full kitchens, fireplaces, and large bathrooms. It's obvious that a lot of money is required both to live in the facility and to maintain it.

The thing I've noticed, however, is that there are no more staff members in this plush facility than in any other, smaller one. While its obvious that the staff members both know and care for each resident, they don't have much time to spend with each one. I will sit with my patient for 45 minutes to an hour and see no one; I'm sure there's a schedule that says when to change dressings and move the patient, but there seems to be no time allotted for visits. That's why I'm there. Just like in any facility, if you have no family to visit you, you're dependent on what the staff can spare you.

So if you can't afford a fancy place for your family member, don't necessarily think you're a failure. What I've seen just goes to show me that it doesn't matter whether its a plush, gorgeous, expensive facility or a small, patched-up Family Home-the care seems to be very similar. There may be flowers in the elevator, but I have a feeling my patient, like most residents, would rather have more time with caregivers.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be My Valentine.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Admittedly, its not my most favorite holiday; like many people, I went through my rebellious phase where I wore black on V-Day and refused to participate. I'm no longer quite that bad, but I still find the diamond commercials on tv quite irritating! As I was walking through the store today, though, I went down the holiday aisle and was accidentally sent into nostalgia space.

Like most kids, I actually enjoyed Valentine's Day when I was little. It's only six days from my birthday so I often got heart-shaped cakes and decorations and such. I always liked the printed valentine's cards we brought to school and the little mailboxes we made to hold them. The thing I liked the most, though, was what my Father did every year.

Since I can remember, every Valentine's Day evening, we would wait anxiously for our Dad to get home, usually around 6:30. He would come in the door, clutching a large bag, and in that bag was a gorgeous, little heart-shaped box of chocolates for me, and one for my sister, and a substantially larger one for my Mom. Sometimes our little boxes were red, sometimes yellow, sometimes pink-my Mom's was almost always red and usually had a silk rose on it or something like that. Although the outsides changed from year to year, the candies inside remained the same; slightly nasty orange or raspberry creams, a few caramels, and one or two with nuts. I'm a chocolate snob now, and would never eat any of these-at the time, though, we didn't care. To us, they were delicious, and we looked forward to these moments of feeling special all year long.

So today, as I looked at heart-shaped boxes that were remarkably similar to those I loved thirty years ago, I thought of my Dad and I felt both sad and happy to have such a good memory about a man with whom I sometimes had a difficult relationship. Happy Valentine's Day, Dad; if I had a heart-shaped box of bad chocolates, I'd give it to you!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


This was big in the new today! Go to for the full article.

Alzheimer’s disease seems to spread like an infection from brain cell to brain cell, two new studies in mice have found. But instead of viruses or bacteria, what is being spread is a distorted protein known as tau.

The surprising finding answers a longstanding question and has immediate implications for developing treatments, researchers said. And they suspect that other degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s may spread in a similar way.

Alzheimer’s researchers have long known that dying, tau-filled cells first emerge in a small area of the brain where memories are made and stored. The disease then slowly moves outward to larger areas that involve remembering and reasoning.

But for more than a quarter-century, researchers have been unable to decide between two explanations. One is that the spread may mean that the disease is transmitted from neuron to neuron, perhaps along the paths that nerve cells use to communicate with one another. Or it could simply mean that some brain areas are more resilient than others and resist the disease longer.

The new studies provide an answer. And they indicate it may be possible to bring Alzheimer’s disease to an abrupt halt early on by preventing cell-to-cell transmission, perhaps with an antibody that blocks tau.