Short story, Uncategorized, wordpress 101

YARN

via Daily Prompt: Yarn

My dad could tell a good yarn. He would sit at the back of church and tell stories to make people laugh as they arrived for mass. He would also tell stories to the little people to keep them entertained.

To spin a good yarn means that the story is not all that truthful.  A story that entertains but is not necessarily based on fact.  It leaves the listener asking “really?” Like I said my Dad could spin such a good yarn that people did believe what he said. With the added factor of a bit of gossip mixed in. People were not sure what was the truth and what was not.

 

Standard
age, carers, Dementia, Life, Uncategorized

Major upheaval

When people with memory problems go through major upheaval apparently, it can have a major effect on how that person copes. My mum has understood that she needed a new central heating system but I don’t think she quite got it that this would mean huge disturbance.

We tried to keep this to a minimum. I packed all her treasured belongings away in boxes. I even labelled the boxes so we would know where they went back. We kept my mum’s bedroom much the same as possible. It was me on the mattress in the spare room. I had to collapse my own bed in advance of the work.

My mum spent the day of the big works at her sisters and the workmen did do as asked and we were back in the house on the same day with heating and water. This was amazing and I thanked them profusely.

The trouble started as we started to put carpets back and replacing items on the walls and shelves.

Yes, I knew almost where things went back but could I remember the actual positions of each item. The answer was no and my mum did not know either. All she knew was that she had all this stuff and she could not remember where they went. This distressed her greatly.  Even when I decided to only empty one box a day she was very anxious.  It was just more evidence her how bad her memory had got.

When my brother and I disappeared to put the carpets back she would ask. “What are you doing?” a thousand times. Even when we explained, because it was a new thing, she could not remember from one minute to the next. 

Four days on the house is gradually coming back together. I am tired with the physical effort but exhausted with the mental strain. I feel I could sleep for a week.  Thank God for a Bank Holiday. But then again, my mum will be up and ready to go to the bank on Monday because that is what she always done. It will take her a day to realised she cannot go.  Oh, and there is another one at the end of May! 

 

Standard
age, carers, Dementia

Learning how to care for my mum

c

I moved to Manchester to care for my mum. I moved into the house I was born in, in order to keep things as much the same as possible.

One of the most challenging things is that my mother keeps asking me where things are. Where to put things. It often feels like she is accusing me of moving everything since I moved in. But I realise that she really does not remember where she has put things in the past, or worse still in the last few minutes.

We begin the morning by my mum getting up and me then getting up to rush downstairs to prepare her breakfast while she washes and dresses. It is important to me that she does this in private for as long as possible. But I am beginning to get concerned when she puts a jumper on again that has clearly got stains on it from yesterday’s meals.  I don’t think her eyesight is too good.  But to tell her about this causes major upset as she feels this is just evidence that she is not coping. It is actually her family’s way of maintaining her standards of dress. She would never in the past wear something with a stain on it.

Downstairs I get breakfast. My mum is often breathless by the time she reaches the table. I think it is important she takes a rest. So, I have made the tea and warmed the milk for her cereal. She can do this but why shouldn’t I care for my mum at 84.  I struggle with the issues of letting her do as much as she can for herself, but as the same time being kind and caring for my mum.

She has a choice of cereal usually one of two. Too many and she looks at me at a loss. Too much choice is really, too much.  When we were out shopping the shelf upon shelf of cereals available in the store was overwhelming.

I think the same is true of clothes which is why she sticks to a very small wardrobe choice.  Her wardrobes and drawers are jam packed with stuff but she refuses to cut down. If I choose then I always choose the wrong thing. If she makes a choice it takes ages and then it is what she has worn before.

She gets very anxious, if she has to change her jumper or skirt due to stains. She then criticises me for my alternate choice. She is then breathless about the whole episode and if we preparing to go out it just gets worse and worse.  We finally made it to the car to go shopping on Saturday afternoon but she declared she was now too tired to go. I agreed with her.   She stayed home and fell asleep and I went off and did the shopping.   I returned to her upset again “for putting on me” despite me saying everything was OK.  Sometimes I don’t know what to do for the best.

 

Making meals for my mum is also a challenge. She is not eating as much as she used to and dislikes meals that she is unsure of. Everything has to be really plain cooking. Meat or fish and Veg.  This is fine. It is an actual bonus for me as I am losing weight if I eat with her.  But she is having some difficulty eating and swallowing now, thus the stains on her clothes. She often misses her mouth and is choosing to eat with her fork in one hand and nothing else. She tries and cuts things with the fork and spoons everything in.

I have read about this in older people with dementia, I have seen it when I was nursing.  There are special plastic adult bibs to obtain to assist.  But this is my mum!  Again, if I draw attention and offer a napkin, she looks at me annoyed.  She knows I am watching her which must be a terrible pressure. I am trying not to. But my old mum would not do this. I try and make conversation. I try and make things as normal and routine as possible but I am not sure my mum enjoys meals now.

I am especially concerned if we go out to eat as this often happens there too. I just eat my dinner and try to ignore. I hope no one notices because I am trying not to notice.  But at least napkins are more acceptable there.  She used to love going out for meals but can be over-faced by the size of the portions.

After dinner at home she likes to help and to wash up. I am sure my washing up is not to her standards. Actually my washing up has left a lot to be desired over the years.  As many friends can testify. However, mum is now washing up and huffing and puffing in the kitchen.  I ask her if I can help and she looks at me upset “where does this go” she asks?  “I just can’t remember, why can’t I remember”?

Standard
age, carers, Dementia

My mums perspective

 

I can’t get going in a morning. I just can’t seem to get my breath. I get up and it takes me ages to get dressed. But I would rather do it myself, for as long as I can.  I have lots of clothes but don’t seem to go anywhere now to wear them. I wear the same old things because they are comfortable.

I go downstairs and my daughter (my newly acquired carer) has put the kettle on. Set the table and is warming my milk for my cereal. I used to be able to do this all myself but she has taken it upon herself to do it for me.  It is nice but it makes me feel that she doesn’t trust me anymore.  I can get my breath back at the table while she fusses about me though.  I wonder where Tommy (the tortoise) is today?

After breakfast, I know I must take my tablets. I often go and have a rest in the living room and drift off to sleep again. Sometimes I don’t remember my tablets till much later. Now my daughter reminds me. Trying to make me do it as I get up from the breakfast table to make it routine. I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like being made aware that I might forget.  I take them under sufferance and then I must take that awful new puffer thing for my breathing. I still ask every time how to do it.  I don’t know why I am taking it. My daughter talks me through it.

Then, I am allowed. to go and sit in the lounge. I quickly drift off to sleep. I sleep a lot now. I don’t know why, but I don’t see why not. What is there for me to wake up for? 

I awake to my daughter carrying a load of washing. “You’re washing again”! I exclaim. She washes every day. I only used to wash twice a week on a Tuesday and Saturday.  I don’t know where all this washing is coming from.  I wonder where Tommy is?

I am really frightened of forgetting something. I used to have a routine but now it has gone. I just feel all over the place. What are we doing today? 

My daughter comes back from the shop. She gets the papers in the morning now. I used to go myself. I feel she doesn’t trust me to go now.  I can but it takes me longer to get there and back.  I used to go to lots of places on the bus. I don’t do that now.  I like to have the papers but only for the crosswords. I couldn’t tell you what is in the news. I am finding harder to concentrate on the stories. I don’t read magazines like I used to either. I would just rather sleep to be honest.

My son bought me a lovely hanging basket for Mothers day. It is beautiful with bright yellow flowers. I can’t reach it to water it though. I tried, holding on to the new handles on the front step. But I still can’t reach. I get upset. I worry at yet another thing I cannot do. My daughter will do it while she is here but what if she is not.  I hate being dependent on other people to do things that I used to do.

Where’s Tommy?  We can’t lose him.  I can’t lift him anymore he is too big and heavy. But he has been my friend for many years now. He may outlive me.

“I don’t know what to have for my lunch”.  I say out loud.  My daughter asks what do I want. I have no idea. I can’t remember what I had yesterday. I can’t remember what is in the fridge. I can’t be bothered right now to go and have a look. My legs are tired, my knees are aching and I wobble when I walk. My knees are worrying me a lot, I sometimes fall back into the chair and I have to get up again. Good job the chair is there.

My daughter has bought me a pot elephant. She insists on writing on it.  It’s meant to remind me of things but I hate it. I hate being reminded that I am forgetting stuff. I have moved it to try and hide it. I don’t want any visitors to see.  I clean it every day. My daughter gets frustrated. I can feel it.

My daughters got the hoover out again.  I only did it the other day. She thinks I do nothing. I always clean on a Tuesday and Thursday. I have done for years. She makes me feel that I don’t have a clean house. It is upsetting. I would get around to it eventually but I have all day now that I am retired. I don’t have to rush like I used to. I just need a minute to come around.  She thinks all I do is sleep. She might be right.

I can’t remember what we said we go to the shops for today. I know I made a list. But where did I put it?  I know I started it but I can’t think what I want. It is awful!!  My daughter finds the list and we review it together. It is good to have a list but I am frightened of forgetting something important. I get upset. I don’t know why I am doing this. I don’t want to go. 

I don’t like asking people to take me anywhere. I hate being dependent on other people all the time.

My daughter says she lives here now. But I don’t want to spoil her life. I don’t want her to give up her life to look after me. It’s not fair. Its company but it just keeps reminding me that I am not coping by myself. I don’t know why she would want to live up here. Where’s Tommy?

Standard