June care conference

Five Alz center staffers and I met today to talk about Mom in a quarterly care conference. Mom has lost 11.4 more pounds in the last three months. She now weighs 168. Her weight is not considered too low, but a dietitian did recommend that Mom start drinking a nutrition shake to get some more calories. Today was the first day for that, so we don’t know yet how Mom will do with it. She likes sweets, and the drink is sweet, so everyone assumes she will be happy to drink it. She doesn’t walk quite as much as she had been in recent months, which appears to be slowing the weight loss.

The dietary director said Mom’s eating habits range from refusal to eat to finishing 100 percent of the food on her tray. So I guess you might say she remains unpredictable in this area. In the morning, someone on the staff will work pretty diligently to get her to sit down for breakfast. But that doesn’t mean she’ll stay. They try to seat her with Mr. R, which tends to work out. If she spots him across the room while she’s seated at a table, she’ll get up and go to him.

The activities director said Mom has good days and bad with regard to being able to focus and comprehend instructions. She will participate in the ball toss sometimes, and she always enjoys music and dancing. During an indoor golf game recently, though, Mom could not understand how to swing the club. “We all kind of ended up ducking,” she said. I assume that means Mom might have been swinging it like a baseball bat. I told them all about how Mom couldn’t seem to reach out to me to take the chocolate bar out of my hand on her birthday. I wondered aloud if she might not see well. But the staff members said she can see Mr. R, and she will recognize that someone is waving at her from a fair distance. So that’s not it. The doctor at support group last week said there can be some perceptions problems with Alz patients, especially when they walk and encounter a transition from carpet to wood flooring. They perceive an actual barrier and lift their feet very deliberately. Mom seems to do that, too. I wonder if that also contributes to her lack of interest in sitting sometimes – maybe she can’t really perceive the shape of the chair in front of her.

Her medications have not changed at all beyond the new calorie drinks. She had taken a nap on a lobby couch just this morning. I love that about her. The social worker described her mood as always neutral or positive – never really negative. And that’s how I like it. She is known for that, really.

I mentioned that I had noticed the large bruise on her head. “I don’t mean this to be a complaint,” I said at the beginning. And then I said that I thought it was probably substantial enough to warrant a call to me, even if no one knew how she got the bump, which was highly likely. “I guess I might be complaining a little bit,” I eventually said.

She still spends time with Mr. R, but also drifts away from him sometimes. She will hold hands with others, men and women, because she enjoys companionship. I told them how she held hands with me last week and would stop and put her hands on my shoulders and compliment me. “She might do that with other people, too, but as far as I’m concerned, that is special behavior, just for me.” They all laughed and nodded. She sometimes says my name when I’m not around, the activities director said. So something about me is in there somewhere.

When we were done, I visited Mom for a bit. She was walking in the program area and disappeared into a distant corner. By the time I caught up with her, she had come out and was continuing her walk. I stood and said hi to her, and she paused and looked at me. I said, “Hi, Mom,” with lots of enthusiasm. “I’m not sure,” she said. She didn’t seem startled or upset. I walked up to her and hugged her lightly. She took my hand and we walked a little bit, and as we passed a hallway, Mr. R appeared with a group of residents who had gone outside for a little fresh air. He took Mom’s other hand and we walked to the lobby and sat together on a couch. “I like this,” Mom said. Extra companionship, I was guessing. We just chatted a little bit. I touched her bruise; there’s still a small bump and the bruise is fading. I rubbed her head a little bit, and she kind of got a sleepy look in her eyes. Mr. R sat quietly, possibly being grumpy about my presence. I had to get back to work. I kissed Mom goodbye and said to Mr. R, “I’m leaving, so you can be happy now.” The receptionist laughed at that as she let me out the front door.

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6 comments so far

  1. Jeff on

    Mom’s eating habits sound like hundreds of people I know – complete refusal to 100% clearing her plate. 🙂
    I’m glad you were able to bring up the bruise in the care conference meeting. Considering the last odd communication from the care center when Mom hit someone, it’s good for them to hear that you want to be kept informed about significant goings-on.

    I like the photos Patrick posted on Facebook.

  2. momsbrain on

    Jeff – I’m sure Mom’s not the only one at the center with those eating habits, either. As for the bruise – just thought I should mention it. They called me once when she had bruised her butt really badly and I couldn’t even see that one. I wasn’t mad or anything about this, and I don’t think they disagreed with me. None of them would have been the one to make the call – usually it’s a person on duty when the incident occurs.

    Patrick is having fun going through our numerous photo albums.

  3. Jennifer on

    I think it’s so wonderful how you articulate the feelings associated with watching loved ones go through this disease. My grandma has Alzheimers, and will sometimes just stop and look at me to tell me how lovely I am. And I agree, it’s nice to think these special comments are just for me! In regards to Mom’s eating, a wonderful geriatric doctor told me recently that as the body ages, and needs less food and calories, the digestive system slows down. So eating can actually become quite uncomfortable as the body is not prepared to digest it. It made me feel better, and not worry so much when my Nana doesn’t eat sometimes.

    I’m a long time reader, and first time commenter (don’t you just cringe when people say that), and when I saw this, I instantly thought of you! You may have seen it, but it’s a photo journal kept by a man living with his father who suffered for severe short term memory loss. I think it’s beautiful.
    Phillip Toledano – Days With My Father http://www.dayswithmyfather.com/

  4. momsbrain on

    Jennifer, Thank you for reading AND for commenting! Some other older people I have known talked about needing less food, so I am comforted by that, too. And Mom did have some weight to spare so she is still in good health. At one point, though, the rapid weight loss caused her to look very drawn, and that was a little alarming. The good thing is she still wants to eat – she just doesn’t always know how to.

    I will check out this photo journal. Thank you for thinking of me and sharing it!

  5. JudyDearing on

    I know in general we don’t want to complain, but – I think knowing about the bruise is enough to complain about. I wanted to give you a cyber hug when I read that comment. Chrissy has days when she will eat all her lunch,dinner,and grazes on snacks. Then there are other days she’ll eat just a few teaspoons for the entire day. Those days still bother me. She also has days when she can do her usual simple tasks without hesitation. Then there are those days she can’t get her fingers moving right or can’t figure out something so familiar. I just never know what to expect. Another cyber hug to you. Judy. http://www.chrissysmoments.wordpress.com

  6. momsbrain on

    Hi, Judy – I send a cyber hug back to you! The unpredictability is frustrating. Many things about Mom can seem the same from visit to visit – her tendency to talk a lot without making much sense, some laughter, generally a good disposition. So that is great. But knowing her eating habits are so up and down makes me curious more than anything – what do the circumstances need to be to make her interested in eating? We will probably never know… There is a lot we can’t know, and I hate that! Too much guessing… Thanks for commenting!
    Emily


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