Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gingerbread Cake

As my work has overflowed to Fridays, and along with some other factors, Chrissy now has assistance during the day for three hours, five days a week. We continue to have our Home Helpers' lady three days and have someone who is able to clean on the other two days. I wonder how long this will work, two different ladies. Each morning this week we have gone over and over who it is that's coming that afternoon. Yesterday Chrissy called to tell me she was sitting in her chair - just watching "what's her name" clean! Earlier they had gingerbread cake and coffee together. She loves to sit at the kitchen table and talk. I am so thankful there is money to cover her care, at least for now, and thankful that my father had planned well. Yesterday I ask her what she was having for lunch, wondering if she was eating what I set out. Nope, Chrissy was having gingerbread cake, and yes, this was before her helper arrived. That evening after I prepared dinner, she told me to put it in the refrigerator - she was having "ginger cake"! Cake as a meal, three times in one day. Oh my.

I have been thinking about the above phone conversation. I recall stories of how hard her life was as a child, growing up, I remember the large gardens she worked, and I can't even imagine raising seven children. So, she has help now, and Alzheimer's.

Mornings alone seem okay for Chrissy as it takes her hours to get dressed and moving around. Afternoons are different though as she will attempt to cook on her own - huge mess, burners on and all, or will wander outside or downstairs - not steady enough on her feet inside - fallen - steps and all - she isn't even steady inside, or gets lonely and starts calling me or my sweet man - repeatedly, or thinks she will take a Tylenol and gets a pain pill - really not good at all, or starts to look for something and pulls out whatever's in the drawers - I have to put it back when I come in because she's then too tired. All that's an overview, there is much more. She gets afraid when she's alone for more than three or four hours and her mind goes into that black hole. More so though, it's a safety issue.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


The other evening I was scanning facebook and a new friend posted she was making popcorn the old fashion way: on the stove with oil, butter, and salt. In conversation with Chrissy I mentioned this post, along with my question as to how much oil. My little mother just looked at me and then said she was sure she could pop corn, so off to the kitchen we went. I set out two skillets for her to choose from and turned on the burner - and Chrissy did everything else! I was watching, waiting for the kernels to pop and she told me that "a watched pot never pops!" I am so proud of her popcorn and she looks pleased also!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Photo credit - Psychiatric Interviewing: the Art of Understanding by Shawn Christopher Shea, M.D. 

My niece, Emily, came over to spend time with Chrissy, her grandmother, on Monday and spent the night as well.  I had talked with Chrissy earlier in the day and could hear happiness in her voice.   These two share a connection that I've not seen between Chrissy and any other family member or friend.  When they are together there is so much laughter, almost no topic or person is off limits, and thoughts and opinions are voiced freely - not with the tone of gossip.  Pretty much, they can look at each other and crack up laughing about something!  I stopped by that evening after work and found them at the kitchen table fully engaged as usual with the deck of cards between them!  Emily couldn't understand why she has to search for the cards each time she visits as she clearly remembers always putting them in the first drawer.  Chrissy just laughs and tells her that she takes them out of the drawer and puts them up so they will know where to find them!  Of course, that gets them both laughing hysterically.  Their next topic, which I truly can not even repeat much less post, took them even to a higher level of laughter - seriously.  It's seems there is a visceral connection, beyond words or family relationship or dynamics.  While I laughed with them, I watched both hold each others eyes, knowing these two beautiful women, grandmother and grand-daughter, are also communicating love without words -  each from their own place of unspoken pain.        

An enlightening article by Angil Tarach, RN GCM; posted on Alzheimer's Reading Room, February 2nd.  I was a bit surprised by my reaction and will ponder on this more.

Alzheimer's Reading Room: Beautiful Does Not Always Mean Better