We Depend On Depend® To Keep Our Mother Comfortable

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mama at 88

My Mama

Our Mother is 88 years old. She has always been a very independent, strong, hardworking woman. She raised five children, and worked a full-time job for most of the years that we were growing up. So, when she started showing signs earlier this year that she was not able to do things she has always done, it was distressing to me and my siblings.  She also started doing some things that if it weren’t for the fact that they indicated her mind was slipping, it would have been funny. For instance, I took her to a doctor’s appointment in April, and she had to give a urine sample. I was in the bathroom with her, helping her with her clothing. To my surprise, she was wearing five pairs of panties, with a Poise® Liner in each pair! When I asked her why she had on so many pairs of underware, she told me that she couldn’t walk fast enough to get to the bathroom and she did not want to wet her pants. 

Mama was diagnosed with dementia not long after that, and we (my three siblings and I) had to make some very hard decisions. She was falling down at home because she forgot to use her walker. After the second fall, she was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Her doctor told us she could no longer live alone. So, we decided as a family to admit her to a rehab facility to see if they could improve her strength, while we looked for an assisted living facility to move her to. Last month, we got her moved in to a nice one bedroom apartment in an assisted living home just a couple of miles from my sister’s house. 

Now that Mama is in the assisted living facility, she is wearing Depend® Fit Flex Underwear for Women. These disposable undergarments are easy to get on and off, so that if Mama remembers to go to the bathroom, she can just pull them down like regular panties. And if she forgets to go, she won’t be embarrassed in front of the other residents of the facility. If she needs help changing, they are easy enough to get on and off that I am able to help her, even with my disability. Depend Fit-Flex women’s undergarments have all-around leg elastics and a smooth, close-to-body fit. When Mama has them on, no one knows she is wearing them.  They are soft, quiet, and breathable so that they are comfortable to wear. 

depend fit flex womens undergarments

Depend in the Sam’s Club Pharmacy.

Depend® and Poise® products are both available at Sam’s Club, which makes it really easy for me to pick them up while I am shopping for other things. Sam’s Club is your one-stop shop for all things caregiving, including prescription refills, free health screenings, and health-related products. How do you care for your patients or loved ones and how can Sam’s Club help? Take a look at the Sam’s Club Caregiver page to see all the products and services available in the club.  You can also shop online, which is a great time saver. 

There is a sticker inside the Depend package that you can use to redeem at the Sam’s Club pharmacy for an awesome caregiver sample kit. I am going to get mine next time I go! And, if you download the Digimark app, you can scan anywhere on the Depend packaging, and it will take you to the Sam’s Club Caregiver website. How handy is that?

Mama has a hard time remembering family members. She usually thinks my sister is her mother, and she doesn’t remember my brother’s name. I decided to make her a Family Memory Book to tuck into a gift basket I am making for her. 

Family photos printed out.

Family photos printed out.

To make the memory book, I looked through family photos on Facebook, and downloaded a photo of each family member. 

My supplies

My supplies

**Next, I chose some pretty paper, and cut out frames for each photo using my cutting machine. I varied the shape of the frames to make the book interesting. 

Cut the photos to fit the frames I cut out with my cutting machine.

I cut the photos to fit the frames I cut out with my cutting machine.

**Then, I pasted each photo onto a 6″ X 6″ sheet of colorful paper, and pasted a frame on each one. 

To help Mama remember, I used a marker to write everyone's name.

To help Mama remember, I used a marker to write everyone’s name.

**The next step was to use a marker and write each person’s name on the paper, so Mama would know who they are. 

I used a hole puncher to punch holes in the paper.

I used a hole puncher to punch holes in the paper.

**Last, I punched holes in each sheet of paper, threaded a coordinating ribbon through the holes, and tied the ends of the ribbon in a bow. Now Mama has a small photo Family Memory Book to help her remember the names of her children and grandchildren. 

The finished Memory Book for my Mama.

The finished Memory Book for my Mama.

The inside:

The inside of the memory book.

The inside of the memory book.

Do you have a friend or relative that needs a caregiver? Are you that person? What products or services help you the most? Do you have any tips or suggestions for helping someone with dementia remember those they love most?  What items would you include in a gift basket to help their transition into an assisted living facility go smoothly?

Update On Mama

Mama a few years ago

Mama a few years ago

Mama spent a week in the hospital. Her kidney function is back to 100% and her blood pressure is stabilized.  While she is well enough to not be in the hospital, she is not well enough to go home by herself.  We have moved her to a rehab/ assisted living facility to regain her strength, so that eventually she will be able to go home.

While she was in the hospital, we found out she was taking one of her med incorrectly, which meant she was talking too much. She is now on the correct dose. The doctors also reduced the amount of blood pressure medications she is to take, and in all, she is now only on four medications total, instead of about 11 or 12, four of which were blood pressure meds.

She will stay at the rehab facility until she meets the goals given to her by the physical therapy staff. How long that takes is going to be up to her. Her medicare and insurance pays 100%, but we are not sure for how long.  Until she goes home, I will be going to visit twice a week. I am hoping she has a really quick recovery.

My Mama

My Mama

My Mama

My Mama is the best cook that ever lived. When I was growing up I never wanted to eat at anyone else’s house because no one could cook like my Mama could. She is the one who taught me to cook, and over the years since I became an adult, I called her so many times to ask her “how do you make” whatever. So when she called me a week or so ago, and asked me how to cook fried eggplant, it was a shock. She has been cooking fried eggplant since before I was born.

A day or two later, my sister, Linda, called me to tell that they had taken Mama to the ER. When she arrived her blood pressure was 220/110, or thereabouts. She was dizzy and felt sick to her stomach, and had a headache. The doctors ran all kinds of tests, but did not find any sign of a stroke or bleeding on the brain, and no sign of a heart attack. They kept her in the hospital for four days, and sent her home when her blood pressure was stabilized.
That was Saturday.

On Sunday, Linda went to check on Mama. She was feeling ill again, and couldn’t get up out or her chair and could not walk. She hadn’t bathed in quite some time, so my sister and brother-in-law carried her to the  bathroom and helped her get cleaned up. Then they called 911  and took her back to the ER.

Upon arrival this time, her blood pressure was 88/45, too low this time. They took her off of all her blood pressure medications, and ran a zillion more tests. These test showed that she has acute renal failure, with only 17% kidney function. They also found signs of congestive heart failure and diagnosed her with Parkinson’s Disease. She is still in the hospital. Her renal function has increased to 33% since Sunday. She was seen by a physical therapist today, who recommended that she go to a rehab facility when she is discharged from the hospital.

Linda has been handling getting the rehab facility set up, and has found her a bed in a local place not far from the hospital. Mama doesn’t want to go, but we have no other choice at this time. Linda has to work. She just started a new job at the beginning of the summer, and they have been very good about letting her take time off. But since Mama needs someone with her 24 hours a day, Linda is not able to do that. I am not able to take care of Mama either, with the shape I am in physically. I will be going to sit with her two days a week, though, so she won’t be alone.  We are working together as a family to work out a schedule.

We have known this day would come, but even with that knowledge, it is still hard. Hard to accept that our mother, who has always been a strong, independent woman, can not longer live alone. It’s going to be so hard to do this. I know we are not the first family to do it, nor will we be the last, but this is MY MAMA. I still need her to tell me how to cook.

Mother Of The Bride

When Becky was here a while back, she gave us the news that she is going to be getting married. We are very excited and happy for her. We have not met her young man yet, but will when we go to Georgia this winter.  She is very nervous about her Dad meeting The Guy. Dad is just not good at meeting The Guy.  Lord knows, he tries, but somehow it usually doesn’t go well on that first meeting.
Becky and The Guy have set their wedding date for February 20, 2011 and they have reserved a very nice venue for the wedding. She is sending me links for florists and musicians.

I have started looking at mother of the bride dresses online. I know it is kind of early for that, but I remember when my youngest daughter, Emily, got married, we looked for weeks and weeks for a dress. It’s not that I am that picky, it’s just that I don’t think the people who make mother of the bride dresses are very realistic about what a 57 year old woman looks like in a dress.
(Here I am as mother of the groom in 1995. The red dress worked fine back then. It was a less formal wedding at a church in Smyna, Ga.)

At my daughter's wedding in 1997. Pink--not such a good choice.

Have you ever seen some of the stuff they have to offer these days?  Well, let me show you.

Nope, no happening

That dress was actually listed as a mother of the bride dress. I don’t know anyone who has a daughter old enough to get married who looks like that, or who could actually wear that dress. I can’t even imagine it in a size 24.

This one is a little better, at least I can picture it in a plus size, but does it really have to be that shiney? Do they really think a large woman wants to draw that much attention to herself? I don’t know how formal the wedding is going to be, but if the occasion calls for it, this dress may be ok. Just wish it didn’t glow.
And yes, this one was in the category of mother of the bride, too. It shows a bit more of the gozongas than I would like.

too much revealed for me

Who are these people who would wear something like that to their daughter’s wedding?

I think this one would make me frumpy. What do you think? Or am I really too picky?

I DID find a couple of dresses I like. This one, if it is a more formal event, I think would look real nice on a “big boned” lady like me. I like the mint green, but I wear a lot of pink, too.

And for less formal, I might just pick this:
formal wedding mother of the bride

I like this one

It would depend on how it looks in person when I tried it on. At least the people who own that website are using a plus size model so you can get a somewhat realistic idea of how that dress would look on a larger woman.

And though I don’t think this one would be right for a wedding,

nice dress

I do like the looks of it–except that I know something that clingy wouldn’t look good on me. And there is that cleavage thing again, too.

So, there you have it. All of these dresses were found in the “mother of the bride” category online. I think I need help.

Where Does The Time Go?

I’m sitting here tonight, wondering how in the world it got to be October 6th already, and thinking I only have 18 days before we leave the North Rim to go to Alabama. I am psyched for traveling again, and really glad that I’ll be in a place where I’ll see water every day. I am happy that I will see my daughters and my grandson again soon. But on the same token, I am saddened that I will be leaving a place I love so much. Saddened that there aren’t enough days to spend with friends before we go. Lonely for them already and we aren’t even gone yet. 

And as I think about that, I also wonder how I got to be fifty-seven years old so fast. Where did all THAT time go. I think about the people back home in Georgia, the related ones, of course, but more often the chosen ones. People who have been my friends for years, who still love me, no matter what flaws I may have.  Amazed at how many of them I have found on Facebook, and who want to get together with me for lunch or coffee, or whatever, when I get back to town this winter. And overjoyed that I found one in particular just recently, who I have known since the 8th grade. Knowing that she was my best friend for many years, and that I have known her for more than 40, and happy that I may see her again soon.

And that kind of thinking always leads me to think of my mother. My relationship with my mother has always been shakey–I have never felt like I have accomplished quite what she wanted me to, or that she has ever approved of anything I have done. Lord knows I have tried.  But at 57, I have tried to let all that go, and just love her, no matter what, in the hope that she would do the same. Sometimes that is hard to do. Sometimes I cringe when I see her phone number in the caller ID, and sometimes I don’t answer when I know it is her. Sometimes I do, hoping she will be the sweet mother I always hoped she would be. Too often, though, it’s not. And I know I can’t change that.  I really do try to be patient with her. She misses me–my sister tells me that she does. It’s just hard to believe that when every time she calls me she loses her temper with me–whether it is something I say, or, a lot of the time, whether it is something I DON’T say. 

We have very different opinions about a lot of things, from politics to religion, and back again. Most of the time she rants on rather loudly about whatever it is that has gotten her ire up, and I just listen until she calms down. More and more often, though, if I keep my mouth shut and bite my tongue in an attempt to NOT make her mad, that just makes her mad. And I have told her over and over again, that just because we have different opinions, it doesn’t mean I don’t love her.  That maybe we should agree to  not discuss religion or politics, and just talk about family, and my life and her life. And forget about the rest.

Our most recent telephone conversation ended with her calling me some ugly names, and hanging up on me. And I cried like I was eight years old again. I wish I could figure out why this happens. My sister says it is because she misses me. And that she wishes I would call her more often.  And I might agree, that that is the case. But who wants to call when they know what the result will be?

I know there will come a time when I will wish that every time the phone rang it would be my mother. She is almost 82 years old, and I know how lucky I am to have had her in my life for as long as I have. I just wish she would feel lucky to have me, even if I am 2,000 miles away. Mama, do you know I love you???? do you know that you did a great job raising me? do you know that even if I didn’t accomplish what you dreamed for me, that I have achieved my dreams for myself? do you know that I am lonely for you, too?

What Was Her Mother Thinking???

Jim and I were watching Good Morning America this morning, and they had some “boy band” on singing their latest hit. The name of the band doesn’t matter. And of course, there was a throng of screaming girls standing outside the studio, waving signs and looking as if they might swoon if one of those little boys walked up. The news personality or whatever it is they call them nowadays, was interviewing some of those little girls. She asked one of them how old she was, and the reply was “Eight.” Eight years old!!!

What is the mother of that girl thinking? I wondered how that little girl even knew about the band. I wondered why her mother (or her father) would take her to downtown New York to stand outside in the cold waiting to catch a glimpse of a boy band. I was shocked, thinking that when MY girls were eight years old, they wanted to be Brownies, they wanted to play on the girls’ softball team, they wanted to help me in the kitchen. IF they had a favorite singer, it was probably Kermit the Frog, singing that song about the Rainbow.

I know I am not that old, and that I am not that much of a fuddy duddy. When my daughters, who are 33 and 34 years old now, were growing up, I made sure they were dressed appropriately when they left the house. If they wanted to go to their friend Katie’s house down the street to play in the sprinkler, they were not allowed to walk down the street in their bathing suits. I didn’t let them walk to the store by themselves.

I never dropped them off at the mall. If they went to the mall, it was with me. I did not then nor do I now think that the mall is a place to socialize. It is a place to shop. With your mother. And if they went to the movies, I went with them, and sat in the same row as they did. They were not allowed to go on dates with boys until they were sixteen years old, and then they had a curfew of 10:00 p.m. And the boy had to come inside the house when they came to pick them up. And a couple of times in their dating careers, I said “absolutely not” to letting them go out with the young man when I met him. One was thrown physically out of my house for being disrespectful to my daughter in front of me.

Both of my daughters still love me and consider me to be their hero. And, they grew up to be successful, well-adjusted, happy members of society. One was an art teacher at a school for children with learning disabilities and is now assistant manager of a well-known high-end retail store; the other is a biology and special education teacher at a high school.

So, I really did find myself wondering if this little girl’s mother is using any common sense at all. If so, why is she encouraging such an obsession in a child so young? Is she living her own dreams through her child? Is she trying to give her darling daughter everything she thinks she wants?

Sometimes, I think kids ask for things they don’t really want, just to please their peers, and are hoping fervently inside that their parents will say NO. Maybe this child just wanted her mom to say no, so she could tell her friend she asked and her mom wouldn’t let her go. But sometimes, we as parents read the signals all wrong, and or we THINK this is what our child really wants, or we say YES to the most ridiculous requests because it was something we wanted when we were that age and were denied by our parents. I’m here to tell ya, folks, that just because your kid wants it, doesn’t mean they need it. And just because you CAN give them whatever it is that they want, doesn’t always mean you SHOULD. If you give them their little rock stars when they are eight, what are you going to be giving them when they are sixteen?