Saturday, April 28, 2012

"I Have No Options"

Before Dementia, before cell phones, Mama understood the concept of answering machines... almost. She would call & go on as though she was actually talking to me... sighing, cursing, asking questions, pausing. Fast forward to now when she has the nurses station call me on my cell phone. They call my cell & my prerecorded message comes on if I am not able to answer.

The consistent message that she leaves is: "Hello, hello, HELLLLOOOOOOO. Nurse, nurse, something is wrong with this phone. No one is answering, can you dial him again?" A few minutes later another message: "Hello, hello, HELLLLOOOOOOO. Oh damn it, no one is there, this phone is not working. They have the wrong number! No one knows what they are doing here. Hello, nurse - I don't know what's wrong. No one is answering, can you hang this phone up for me please? Helllllooooo Nurse, can you hang this phone up? Thank you. Ohhh, mother of God!"

When I visit her later that day, I go over the basic mechanics of the cell phone (again) & compare it to an answering machine. I let her hear my prerecorded voice & tell her when you hear this, you leave your message & not scream... "Hello, hello, HELLLLOOO." My prerecorded message ends with "please select your options." She says "I HAVE NO OPTIONS."

We look at each other & start laughing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"They Make Me Forget"

Anna: I LOVE the puppies! They make me forget.

Vin: Maybe you shouldn't love the puppies so much, IF they make you forget.

Anna: (She gives me a playful look & pauses) What did you say? (then she laughs)

Does she "get it" or not? Do I "get it" or not? Who knows? It's just another day with Mama ~ ya never know...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's Dementia, Mama?

I asked Mama what she knew about Alzheimer's Or Dementia; she didn't really want to talk about it. Her response was "I like what I am & that's it". Then she broke out into singing an original version of "Some of These Days" with her own special lyrics! 
I usually don't put her on the spot about this subject, but I just wanted her take on it at this particular moment.
Some days that's how we deal with it... 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Your Mother is Fine, But She Has Dementia

I don't know when I became fully aware of it, but at some point, I became my mothers caregiver. It is not a role I would have chosen, by any means. I do not have pets, children or anything else that could make my life more chaotic... that has always been my choice. But something changed when I felt I no longer had that choice or freedom - it's called Dementia. When I first found out my mother had dementia with the onset of Alzheimer's, I just dealt with it. It was what it was & back then not too much was known about this awful disease.
Ten years ago, I was in the social workers office checking in my mothers clothes & tagging them to admit her into her first nursing home. I was very emotional & fighting back the tears, my mother was NEVER going to go to a nursing home. I was separating her blouses from her sweaters & slacks, when the social worker told me that my mother made a remarkable recovery from her pulmonary embolectomy (a major surgery) & may appear to be fine, but she is in the beginning stages of Dementia!!! 
I didn't even fully understand what that meant. I am not a doctor, but I am learning about this disease by living through it & dealing with it the only way I know how... by being there, being supportive, asking a lot of questions, interjecting humor at the most inopportune moments & being the squeaky wheel at the facility. And of course by singing & playing cards with my mother, that's what we do.

My mother & I have always had a close relationship, other than during my rebellious teenage years. We usually "got" each other. We knew where we were both coming from, she was always very supportive & allowed me to be different, but was a bit overprotective & neurotic. We have always spoken our minds & have a very honest & VERY direct way of speaking to each other. The tables have now turned & I have become "the parent" & Mama is now "my child"

I decided to share my experiences as a caregiver with you in this blog & hopefully help some of you as I use it as part of MY therapy. I know many of you can relate to similar experiences & I want you to know that you are NOT alone!

She loves to sing, so there will be a lot of videos from "Anna with a Z" & she is still one helluva singer! Music is powerful & thankfully it can & does change her mood... & mine.  

Thanks for joining me on my roller coaster & please spread the word & follow us on our ride...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alzheimer's Can't Wait

Alzheimer's can't wait. We need a federal commitment in order to change the course of Alzheimer's disease. Tell President Obama millions of families are counting on him to fulfill the potential of the National Alzheimer's Project Act.

Please sign the petition at
& have our voices heard...