“I won’t hold it against you until morning”

Mom was very restless and argumentative tonight before bed.

She started to leave her room without her walker, a common challenge that greatly increases the risk of falling. I asked her to get her walker.

She replied, “I thought I had two!” As if having two walkers solves the issue of using none at all.

On her way back from the bathroom, after complaining that the toilet seat was too high (it’s a handicap seat) and that her pee splashes on her all the time (she misses a lot), I offered to take off her sweater and put on her pajamas. It’s part of the nightly routine.

Mom struggled to take her sweater off, going slow so as not to stretch it out. While it was over her head, she said, “Where’s my pajamas?”

I was standing next to her with her pajamas.

Continue reading “I won’t hold it against you until morning”

Power of Attorney

Having power of attorney (PoA) for your parent or parents suffering from dementia makes caring for them so much easier.  It allows you to act on their behalf on financial and medical matters.

It is a powerful document and can be abused by some families or become a source of friction. Be informed before you go that route. Getting this document if the parent is not of sound mind may be difficult, so, you may want to plan ahead and obtain a PoA before the onset of mental decline. Thankfully, I got mine before their medical conditions took a turn for the worse.

I often spend hours each day on the phone talking to doctors, ordering prescriptions, straightening out medical bills, talking to Medicare, etc. If I did not have power of attorney, I would have to put my parent on the phone each time and they would have to tell details about themselves first and then give the person permission to talk to me. One day I was on the phone, trying to get a 1099 for my dad to get their taxes completed. The place I was talking to did not have my PoA on file. I put my dad on the phone. He could not remember his birth date, social security number or address that he lived at for over 50 years. I wrote the info down for him and we  were eventually able to complete the mission. Continue reading Power of Attorney


There is so much to say about medication, I’m sure this will be the first of many posts.

The #1 rule is to be fiercely organized.

My mom is on 16 different medications. My dad is on 10. They both have dementia and need everything handed out at the proper time.

I keep all medication hidden in a box in my bedroom closet.  When the packages of medication arrive in the mail, if I don’t immediately hide them, my dad will see his name on the packages and put them into his room. Act fast and stealthily. Include clear instructions with med lists in this box in case of emergency. As the primary care giver you are most likely the only one who knows the system for refilling the pill boxes every other week. In case of emergency, someone else should be able to follow instructions precisely to ensure that no medications are mixed up.

  • Keep a list of medications in a word document on your home computer.
  • Include the patient’s name and date of birth.
  • Alphabetize the list–this makes it easier for the physician to compare when meds are added or subtracted.
  • Include dosage and time of day to be administered.
  • Record the date the list was edited at the bottom of the page.

Continue reading Medication

I’m the nicest person you know!

“I’m the nicest person you know!” Mom protested.

I winced.

I tried to mask my frustration.  My stroke-impaired 80-something mother was likely oblivious, focused only on winning an argument – an important victory in a waning life marked by a shrinking circle of choices and freedom.

Mom had just wrapped up a heated discussion with me.  The topic was her increasingly toxic attitude.  Never a particularly warm woman, Mom had taken to hurtling insults.  The pace of the constant verbal undermining had noticeably picked up in the past few weeks.

I retreated out of earshot, which wasn’t hard due to Mom’s poor hearing.

“She’s loaded for bear,” I remarked to my husband.

“Why?” he asked.

“Ever since she got the all-clear on her pituitary gland tumor she’s been tough.  It’s like she’s gotten a new lease on life so she no longer feels she needs to be nice to us.” Continue reading I’m the nicest person you know!

Gadgets are your friends

Two fabulous items that will help you to be a better caregiver!

My mom needs 24/7 supervision. That makes the nighttime awakenings tricky.  At some points in her time with us she was regularly waking up seven times per night.

For a while I used a baby monitor, but my mom screams and talks in her sleep so that was not a good solution. I was not getting a restful sleep because I was always listening to every little sound and often running  to her room,  needlessly.

Next, I tried out a bed alarm like the ones they use in the hospitals but I soon realized that every time she rolled over the alarm went off.

I found the perfect solution in Radio Shack. It is a motion detection sensor with two simple parts from Chamberlain (see: http://www.chamberlain.com/clicker-and-accessories/wireless-accessories). One part, which is a small, battery-operated box, sits on the floor at the head of her bed. The alarm plugs in next to my bed. The moment my mom’s feet go over the side of her bed and break the light beam, the alarm goes off in my room and I can run out to her room before she even stands up.

Motion detector by Chamberlain
Motion detector by Chamberlain

Continue reading Gadgets are your friends

Another routine (crazy) morning conversation

This morning’s conversation:

Mother (in a conspiratorial hushed tone): “There was someone in my room last night.”

Caregiver: “Maybe it was **** (my husband) checking on you.”

Mother: “No, it was some entity.”

Caregiver:  “Perhaps it was an angel.”

Mother: “Or an evil spirit.”

It wasn’t any of the above, it was my dad, my mom’s octogenarian husband. Continue reading Another routine (crazy) morning conversation