Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Preparing Your Elder for an Emergency

Hurricane Sandy brought me up short. I realized how much I didn't know that I knew I should know. Where is the closest evacuation shelter? Where are Boudreaux's vet records? Fortunately, we didn't need to evacuate. We are far enough inland that lots of wind, rain and cold weather was really all we experienced. Oh, and a partially downed tree and spotty internet service. I'm prepared now...for the next emergency.

Flashlights and spare batteries. One flashlight should be safely stowed beside your elder's favorite spots---their chair, bed, the back door. Candles are fine if your elder is steady and not easily confused. Flashlights are my choice with Boo and for any elder moving from room to room.

Fully charged cell phone with programed numbers. Any cell phone with good reception that your elder knows how to use will work.

Food and water. At least one gallon of potable water per person per day is the minimum. Protein bars, peanut butter or cheese crackers, fruit, Ensure or Glucerna and cereal bars are the types of foods I keep on hand for Boo at times like this. I absolutely do not want him to attempt to heat anything. If your elder is different, stock up on those foods that are easily prepared and a simple way to prepare them. Additional water should be reserved for personal cleaning.

Medication, medical equipment, medical history and medical power of attorney. Having these items together and ready to go is an absolute necessity. Medical equipment includes glucometer and test strips, blood pressure monitor, walker or cane. They should be kept beside your packed bag. Another important item I include is the names, addresses and phone numbers of several friends and the places they've planned to be during an emergency---work, specific evacuation shelter, etc.

Packed evacuation bag. This bag should include a complete change of comfortable clothes for three or four days. Important things to remember: denture supplies, incontinence supplies, small items to help you feel more comfortable. For Boo, small items include a 4x6 brag book of photos that help orient him, a knotted cord rosary and a small hand held cross one of his daughters gave him.

Be sure to have photo identification on you. Your driver's license or state identification, Medicare and insurance cards and a card listing phone numbers of family and friends. If you're in an accident or become confused, identification and contact people are extremely important.

Full tank of gas, flashlight, bottles of water and nonperishable snacks, tarp and a blanket in car. Just in case you're redirected to another area or cannot reach your shelter immediately, you'll be prepared. A silver space blanket is good to have. It is very lightweight, waterproof and helps to conserve body heat.

Know the location of the closest shelter and several routes to it. This one should be self explanatory. If you don't know shelter locations in your area, the police department, social services or local hospital are good places to ask. Checking in advance to familiarize yourself with the shelter is a very good idea. Are there steps that might be problematic? There shouldn't be, but sometimes are.

Have an evacuation plans for any pets. Have a pet carrier and/or a sturdy leash and collar, food, prepared litter box (if needed) and vet record including rabies vaccine information. Some shelters accept pets. You need to know this in advance! If it does not, which veterinarians or animal shelters accept animals during a temporary emergency. Just as with any shelter, know the location and several routes.

Have a firm plan for contacting family once you have reached safety. Generally, it's a good idea to choose someone not in your immediate area as your contact person. This helps to ensure that your contact person is not searching for shelter themselves. Many shelters will assist elders in contacting one person. Instead of cell phone calls, text messages are suggested as creating less of a load on the system. When phone lines and cell towers are down, ham radio operators can be contacted by shelter personnel to get in touch with one contact person. This isn't a fast service, but it does work.

Top Ten Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Titus 2sday

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

We are inland from the path of Sandy.  Thank goodness! All we've really experienced is strong winds and cold.  Boo is looking for snow and it almost feels cold enough...especially after the heat this summer.

This past afternoon we did have part of a tree in the front yard break off and fall on the roof over our bedroom.  Boo was absolutely terrified.  Boudreaux had to patrol the living room window for several hours.  As far as we can tell, the roof is OK.  I admittedly haven't climbed up to check nor do I plan to do so. 

We have power and so we're warm and comfortable.  Boo and Boudreaux have been restless all night.  So, we've watched old movies on TV.  No news or weather channel for us.  It's way too upsetting for Boo. 

We continue to pray for those who're in Sandy's direct path. 

Our internet service is sketchy at best right now.  So the posts that I planned for yesterday and today aren't up.  They won't load for some reason.  Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Does God Care About Cats?

This past Friday we had quite a scare with Boudreaux, Boo's “four legged son” and fearless tiger cat. Boudreaux developed a virus and quickly became a very sick cat. Boo was inconsolable. This was his cat, his favorite companion.

On the advice of some friends who raise horses, I called the vet school...which, as it turns out, is only a few miles away. (It also has very reasonable rates. Thank goodness!) After describing Boudreaux's symptoms, we made a trip to have the poor cat checked. Originally, they wanted to keep Boudreaux for a few days. Boo's tears and great distress at being separated from his “son” for even a few days, got Boudreaux a reprieve. Instead, he got fluids and a blood transfusion---the cat, not Boo. A few tests were run. Some medication was dispensed for me to administer. And we were sent home.

Besides the medications, I had to give Boudreaux a mixture of chicken baby food, boiled water and Knox gelatin every two hours with a child's medicine dropper because the cat did NOT want anything. By Sunday, the little cat began to look more like himself and continues to improve. He has begun to rise from Boo's side to slowly explore his surroundings again for short periods of time. Now, if Boo stays away from Boudreaux longer than the cat would like, he meows pitifully and Boo will all but break his neck to get back to his cat. And I thought the two were inseparable before!

As a result of his virus, Boudreaux has a terrible case of dermatitis. His handsome red fur coat is rather bedraggled. There are several spots that are bald. If he doesn't stop licking, he may develop a few more. Tomorrow when Boudreaux has his follow up appointment, they'll address that issue. From tests that have already been run, we know that his skin problems aren't caused by ringworm. The guess the other night was dehydration. I'll be so glad when Boo's little tiger cat is healthy again!

(For those who might wish to know, Boudreaux does not have anything that is contagious to humans. He is up to date on all his shots and has never been sick in the past.)

Boudreaux's illness created a crisis of faith for Boo. This cat has been Boo's companion since his third stroke. And in many cases, a saving grace. When Boo wouldn't talk or answer questions about himself, he would talk about his cat. When he wouldn't work on strengthening his left hand, he could be enticed to brush Boudreaux with his left hand. Today, Boo sat outside on the deck and took a short walk only because Boudreaux needed fresh air. Boudreaux has been a safety net for Boo. I catch Boo telling Boudreaux his thoughts, especially when he's confused. Boo would be lost without his cat's company.

Boo wanted a prayer for his cat. Not just any prayer, but a special prayer for cats. There are no prayers specifically for cats in the prayer books we have. I did find several prayers for animals in a rural life prayer book in EWTN's archives. I thought spontaneous prayers would be great and Boo did too. Later, he was able to explain that he didn't want to forget anything. He didn't want to take any chances with his precious cat. That's why he wanted a written prayer. He forgets too often what he means to say. That makes sense.

Next Boo wanted me to immediately call our parish church and have Boudreaux put on the list of sick. I resisted. Finally, I called to let Boo talk to one of the priests. Boo was assured that God does indeed care for all His creatures and that the health and well being of all companion animals would be prayed for on Sunday. He also prayed with Boo on the phone.

Yesterday one of the priests at our parish called to check on Boo and Boudreaux and to let Boo know that prayers were offered. He even offered to come to the house, but Boo declined his offer. Boo thought visitors might upset Boudreaux. Nevertheless, that unexpected follow up call meant more to Boo than that priest will ever know.

Boo's faith has been restored. Someone cares about him and his cat. Someone took his concern seriously...and they even remembered Boudreaux's name! I appreciate a priest in our very busy parish taking the time ensure that Boo knew that his concerns were important. What a blessing!

Deep Roots at Home, God Bumps and God Incidences, Living Well Wednesday,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn Poems

Boo seems to love poetry. He remembers my Mother reading poetry to him after his strokes. She read poems that she'd read to her elementary school students when she taught and some poems by Robert Frost. I often read poetry to Boo at lunch as an incentive to eat. He enjoys the rhythm and language of poetry...and will quote portions of poems that he likes at the oddest times. Here are some of his favorite autumn poems. Listen and enjoy.

The Raggedy Man, James Whitcomb Riley  found here.

Little Orphant Annie, James Whitcomb Riley found here.
This is recited by a 91 year old lady, Anna Fry.

When the Frost is on the Punkin', James Whitcomb Riley found here.

The Village Blacksmith, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow found here.

Woodman, Spare That Tree, George Pope Morris found here.

God's Grandeur, Gerald Manley Hopkins found here.

The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost found here.
This is read by Robert Frost himself.  This is one of my favorites.  I remember my father reading it to us in the fall.
The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe found here.
This is read by Vincent Price.  I always found Vincent Price scary.  Boo just laughs at me.

Autumn, John Clare found here.
Richard Burton read this.
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night..., Dylan Thomas found here.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Computer and/or Internet Woes

Until we get someone to check out the computer and DSL connection, I won't be posting as often.  I think, I'm pretty sure actually, that the problem is with the DSL connection...and that involves a cable service person to diagnose and cure.  I can pick up public connections when I go into town proper.  So, I'll try to keep up a bit at a time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good and Perfect Gifts

Every day brings so many blessings, so many things for which to be thankful.  One of our bedtime rituals is to recount our blessings.  Boo is particularly fond of "doing our blessings."  Focusing on blessings at the close of our day is a wonderful way to fix our focus.  Some evenings, we forget...and on those evenings we usually find that Boo's night confusion is far worse.  Could it be that fixing his focus on gratitude to God for all the blessings He has given us, gives Boo's mind a more stable foundation?  We think so.

Word Art Wednesday, God Bumps and God-Incidences, Playdates With God, Word Candy Wednesday, A Wise Woman Builds Her House, Catholic Bloggers Network

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Boo's Rainy Day Occupations

About the time Boo was ready to get up and move around yesterday, it started raining. He was some kind of upset. After shaking his fist at the rain and muttering under his breath for a few minutes, he sat on the coffee table and announced that he was going to have fun. And he did. He kept me guessing all day!

Add sprinkles to your oatmeal. First thing, he picked at the oatmeal he'd asked to eat for breakfast. Finally he asked for some spices. I brought several that I thought would entice him to eat. No go. He wanted colorful ones. I found some sprinkles leftover from heaven only knows when. Just the thing. He took his time decorating his oatmeal and then devoured it.

Watch the weather and “help” the weather man. The weather man announced that it was cloudy with a chance of rain. And it probably was when that segment was taped. At our house, it was pouring. Boo opened the front door and looked at the clouds and the deluge of rain, looked back at the TV and gave his rather forceful opinion.

Have Communion with your cat on your lap. By the time the wonderful ladies from Immaculate Conception brought Boo Communion this morning, he was shaky. Normally he calms down when they come. Today...well, he was scared. He wanted Boudreaux and his cat came running when he called. Boudreaux curled up in Boo's lap and purred while Boo received Communion. That thrilled Boo and definitely relaxed him. I'm so grateful that Lucy and Marguerita just go with the flow and encourage Boo to do whatever he needs to do to feel comfortable.

Empty all the trash cans into the bathtub. That is, all the trash cans he could find. He's never done this before...and I'd just as soon he never do it again. Boo, however, seemed to take great pleasure in it. While I cleaned up the mess in the bathtub, I redirected him. If he wanted to be helpful (and I do like helpful), I decided he could use the Libman spray mop to mop the floors. He enthusiastically “mopped” the floors. Boo refused to spray, but he did like mopping.

Learn to crochet. This was all his idea. I guess since I sat down to crochet for a little while, he thought he should learn. So I got a skein of yarn and a hook and proceeded to explain and show him how to begin. He watched and listened. Then, he pulled out a length of yarn, cut it and began tying knots in it. Lots of knots. After it looked right to him, he called Boudreaux and played snake with him. The cat loved it. And Boo was pleased with himself.

Hide under the electric blanket. While I prepared Boo's peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, I heard him in the dining room. Since he seldom actually sits at that table, I decided he was just in the mood for new things today. However, when I went in the dining room, he was nowhere to be found. I did notice that Boudreaux's tail was showing underneath the electric blanket that I'd spread over two chairs to dry after washing it earlier. I lifted a corner and found Boo grinning like a mad man. We ate lunch under the blanket.

Shred the junk mail. Before I made it to the bedroom, I heard the shredder. I ran! Heaven only knows what Boo was shredding. He'd plugged the shredder into the electrical outlet---something he hasn't done in years, and was busy shredding my stack of junk mail. I know I should shred anything with our address before I throw it away. And I mean to, but I seldom do. Instead, I collect a pile of things to shred. My pile is gone now. Thanks Boo!

Teach the cat to jump over a yard stick. Well, Boo tried. Oh how he tried! Boudreaux was interested in the attention, but either couldn't figure out what Boo wanted or just wasn't interested in learning tricks. Boo would call Boudreaux who would come running. Boo would show the cat the yard stick and tell him to jump. The cat smelled the stick, licked the stick and walked all around the stick. He would even sit down and listen to Boo explain what he wanted. Would he step over the stick? Not on your life. I just don't see the circus in this cat's future.

Listen to a book from Audible. Boo listened to Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. He listened to all eight and a half hours of it from the comfort of his bed. I know that's over doing it for him and that his retention of a whole book at once will be limited at best. Boo wanted to listen to all of it and objected every time I asked if he was ready to turn it off. He's always been interested in the Kennedy administration and his assassination. This book seemed more factual than many I've read to him.

Listen to the fish. At three am, Boo woke me and announced that he was going to the living room if I needed him. Boudreaux and I went with him to guard and protect. After all, Boo tends to be more confused in the dark and the front door is right there. An early morning stroll in the dark was not on my agenda! Boo watched the fish and listened for ten or fifteen minutes (to the pump?) and then went back to bed and promptly fell asleep.

Yesterday was a very unusual day for Boo. Although I had to be far more vigilant than usual, Boo was more animated. He definitely had fun and was more self directed than he has been in quite a while. I'd like for him to have more “fun days.” Although I guess I need to do some planning and have several instant activities to suggest. Still, Boo's animation was great. Now, I'm tired. While Boo sleeps, I think I will too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kari's October Daybook

For today...

Outside my's chilly. I love crisp, cool autumn mornings.

I am thinking...about taking a walk a little later today when someone can sit with Boo. Walking in the cool autumn air, hearing the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet, watching squirrels hastily gathering nuts for the rapidly approaching winter: oh, I can't wait!

I am thankful...for the discussions Boo and I have on occasion these days. Although Boo's memory is definitely more impaired than it was, there are still moments when it's still there. For those moments, I am truly grateful. I have the man I fell in love with back for just a little while.

In the yogurt incubating. Later today, we'll have strawberry yogurt. I may bake some homemade graham crackers to go with it.

I am wearing...gray knit pants, a striped turtleneck, socks and clogs. I love turtlenecks and sweaters of all kinds!

I am creating...a crocheted basket. This simple pattern I found on pinterest. One can never have enough baskets and I'm using up bits and pieces of yarn that I've had for years.

I am going...around the corner to buy more cat food from Family Dollar. Boudreaux is running low on dry food. Woe, to me if I allow his dish to get empty. I tried telling him about the starving kitties who don't have food all day, every day. He was definitely uninterested. A full dish equals a happy cat.

I am wondering...what I can do to interest Boo in spending some time outside. He's been afraid of leaving the house lately...even to sit on the deck outside our bedroom window, even when Boudreaux accompanies him. Boo needs time outside, needs to enjoy the fresh air and needs to observe the changes in the weather. Life spent constantly inside rapidly becomes too mundane, too dull. Pushing past his fear to do things he really does enjoy is problematic, but doable.

I am reading...a book on Lectio Devina, rereading The Chosen, by Chaim Potok and anything that Boo asks to have read. Last night, it was an article from the local city newspaper about the NC zoo.

I am hoping...Boo will be awake and alert when Lucy comes to bring Communion a little later this morning. He so looks forward to receiving Communion. Sometimes he looks forward to it so much that by the time Lucy arrives, he's exhausted and can't really participate.

I am let go of those things which I simply can't change. Learning slowly, but learning nonetheless. Boo's mental status is changing and nothing we do seems to help. I'll keep trying some things, but I'm learning not to worry and struggle so much. This part of life, of being a mature adult, I do not like. I want things to be as they were. I want to believe that if I try hard enough I can make everything as it was. The reality is that I can't.

Around the's very quiet. Too quiet. It may be time to shake things up a little.

A favorite quote for today...”At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.” Barbara Bush

One of my favorite things...spending time with Boo and Boudreaux. Just being. Not necessarily doing anything. Just being. Oh, and autumn. I really enjoy autumn.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Let Go and Join the Dance

The fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the wind, and join in the general Dance.”

Thomas Merton

Do your most carefully laid plans fall flat? Do you find more and more that your anticipated plans aren't workable no matter how much you try?

Recently, this has been reality for Boo and me. Since Boo's third stroke, we had worked out a system of reading and narration that we both enjoyed and that also exercised Boo's long and short term memory. Lately, this hasn't gone as smoothly as we'd like. Boo has tremendous difficulty remembering the readings from day to day. There is a definite decline in his cognitive ability.

Boo enjoys planning the books and articles he wants me to read for a month or two at a time. He anticipates our reading and discussions. We both enjoy the give and take, the strange twists and turns our discussions take. Lately, this hasn't worked. Boo has difficulty remembering what we've read by the end of the reading. By the next day, he's completely lost the train of the book. Even when I retell the previous reading, he nods blankly. He just can't remember.

His pleasure in anticipating our reading and discussions is diminished. For a while, Boo didn't want to read or discuss. He tried to hide his loss of memory with disinterest. Finally he realized that I'd retell what we'd read and he could resume the story line without losing everything. Now, he'll agree to readings...but not with the pleasure he had just a few weeks ago.

I tried different things. Nothing has made a real difference.

Last week, I let go. All my struggles to help simply weren't helping. All my wonderful ideas fell flat. Boo just isn't able to comprehend and remember as he did.

Guess what?

Letting go was the answer. No, Boo doesn't remember much more. He still doesn't anticipate our times reading and discussing as he once did.

The pressure to remember is gone. The pressure to discuss is gone. If he feels like listening, I read. If he feels like discussing, we do. We go with the flow these days.

There's an ease to our days that had been absent the past few weeks. We're both learning to join in the Dance. And learning to let go of those things that no longer work as they once did. We're learning to enjoy what is...right now, today.

Boo's memory may never be what it once was. We're both learning to accept that. We are searching for new things for Boo to anticipate. More immediate. Simpler.

With acceptance comes peace and joy. We have so much for which to be grateful. And we're beginning to feel like joining in the dance once again. Letting go of Boo's memory, which we can't control anyway, and leaving it to God is a blessing. God has blessed us with the peace that He's in control and with joy in the small things.

Join us in letting go of those things that we can't control and see what God will do. Enjoy the dance.

And remind me to let go when I start to pick up my worries again.

Friday, October 12, 2012

7 Quick Takes


Baby, it's chilly outside!!!!! We've gone from the 80's to the 50's in just a few days. Boo stays cold now, even when he really isn't. This morning I left him in the bedroom long enough to fix breakfast. When I came back, he had on his pajamas, sweatpants, a huge sweatshirt and a red jacket...and he was in bed under the comforter. The bedroom was 78 degrees and he was sweating. Boo was cold because he could hear the wind. I turned on some music to distract him and helped him remove unnecessary clothing.


We've been listening to some old radio shows. Boo likes the old westerns and the Cavalcade of America. I like the old commercials. Boo is disenchanted with television right now. There are too many political commercials and too much political commentary for his tastes. The commercials that irritate him the most are those that malign the character of candidates. Commercials that deal with issues, whether he agrees with them or not, he tolerates. You know, I'm the same way. Stick to the issues and leave off the character assassination.


I discovered today that Boo has never read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings or any of J. R. R. Tolkien's books...or at least he has no memory of them. How on earth could anyone, especially someone who read as much as Boo used to, miss Tolkien? I suppose I'll download the audio books from Audible and we'll listen together. OK, we'll listen slowly because there are some dark passages that might be too much for him on certain days.


Today seems to be one of Boo's hibernation days. I guess with the cooler weather he just wants to sleep. And just like a bear who's awakened from hibernation (not that I have first hand experience of this, you understand), Boo is cranky when awakened. Very cranky. And disoriented. And hungry. I woke him for some medication. He fussed which upset the cat. Boudreaux now looks at me and flattens his ears in support of his master's foul mood. Boo has eaten two peanut butter and sugar free jelly on whole wheat sandwiches, 12 ounces of strawberry yogurt and two cups of decaf. He's picking at my salad. He said he didn't want one, but maybe salad tastes better off someone else's plate. I'll just type until he's nibbled all the salad he wants. Never interfere with a hungry husband who's in a “bear” of a mood.


An update on Elizabeth, the young woman diagnosed with leukemia last month. She's responding well to treatment. In fact, she's home right now. Although she'll return to the hospital later this month for further tests and treatment. Liz's spirit continues to be an inspiration. Not only is she positive and optimistic, she continues to tell people to volunteer, to help someone who's really in need when anyone asks what they can do for her. I need to cultivate that spirit within myself.


Today is National Yarn Day. Who knew there was such a thing? Time to pull out more yarn and start crocheting! By the way, the wonderful green sweater I crocheted for our cat, Boudreaux, was not one of his favorite put it mildly. I tried it on him and our generally quiet, gentle cat became possessed. He twisted and turned, jumped and shook. He hissed and spit. He also managed to slither out of his sweater amid our laughter. I left the sweater on the coffee table. Later that day, we found it deposited and partly covered in Boudreaux's litter box. Either the cat didn't like the sweater or he doesn't like green. Boo firmly believes that we need to keep the sweater just in case it snows. I'm not so sure. Who's going to put it on Boudreaux? (I did thoroughly wash Boudreaux's sweater, just in case you were wondering!)


Have you ever known a child or adult with Down's Syndrome? Years ago I had the pleasure to befriend Danny (not really his name) and soon learned more about compassion and forgiveness than I'd ever known. Danny was placed in an institution at birth. Then he lived in a series of foster homes and group homes. Danny was very gentle and loving. As soon as he understood what was expected of him, he was eager to please. He was in his early twenties when I met him. Some friends and I took him out to eat and to a movie on his birthday. Danny had never been to a movie and was fascinated by everything. His meal of choice that night was a kid's meal from McDonald's. A few weeks later one of his brothers, whom he'd never met, began to visit him. Christmas and Easter were spent with his brother. Several years later, when his brother was able to do so, Danny went to live with him.

There are so many Dannys in our world. Understanding and care of children with Down's Syndrome has improved in this country. In some other countries, these precious children are routinely institutionalized and marginalized. Any chance at a normal life is virtually impossible in their native country. Adoption is their best chance.
Reece's Rainbow Adoption Ministry is a charity with a heart for these children. Through the advocacy of Reece's Rainbow hundreds of children with Down's Syndrome have been adopted. Adoption from a foreign country is an expensive endeavor and many parents who would like to adopt can't because of the cost. One of the things Reece's Rainbow does is to solicit funds to provide adoption grants for these children. I encourage you to read about Reece's Rainbow here and about the ways you can get involved here
Please help these children. 
Pray for them and for their forever families.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10 Simple {Cheap} Elder care Helps

Use inexpensive dish cloths for napkins, spills, gentle tactile stimulation.

Boo uses an inordinate amount of paper towels daily...or he would if I provided them. For the sake of our environment and our budget, I don't. I have used handkerchiefs and old washcloths, but Boo seemed intent on losing those. It seems they just weren't attractive and he was more interested in losing them than using them. A few weeks ago, I bought a package of a dozen brown plaid dish cloths---very manly, you know--- at Family Dollar for less than five dollars. Bingo...Boo loves them. He uses them as napkins, to wipe up anything he spills and bonus of bonuses, the slight texture of the cloths is just right for rubbing between his fingers. The tactile stimulation seems to help him self calm.

Knit caps. Even I know this one is a bit unusual. The seasons are changing here which means it's getting colder. We're talking about the low 50's not freezing temperatures. As far as Boo's concerned, it might as well be 50 below. Once he gets cold, it's really hard for him to get warm. Last night, even with the bedroom at 80 degrees, Boo was shivering. I was roasting. Then, I remembered camping in the winter. We wore knit caps when we slept to conserve our body heat. I plunked a knit cap on Boo's head and thirty minutes later, he wasn't shivering. He was comfortable at last and I turned the heat down.

Wyler's sugar free individual drink mixes. These are so easy. Boo dislikes water from time to time. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this particular dislike. He must remain well hydrated, however. There are seven or eight different varieties at our local Family Dollar. They're also sold at grocery stores. I just add one packet to Boo's water bottle and he'll drink it with no complaint. They're also convenient to add to his outing backpack with snack foods. I know these little packets are chock full of chemicals and add nothing healthful to Boo's diet. I consider them a decent trade off for staying well hydrated. (Even slight dehydration can worsen Boo's confusion and cause spikes in his blood sugar. So, I'm diligent about ensuring that he's hydrated.)

Small rubber balls to squeeze. This is a tremendous gentle hand strengthener. We had tried the balls filled with sand. Let me mention here the HUGE mess a little bit of fine sand makes in a bed or on the floor. The small rubber balls are far better. I generally crochet a simple cotton thread cover for the balls. They tend to bounce less when dropped and they provide some tactile stimulation.

Spray hand cleaner. The alcohol based cleaners are far too harsh for Boo's skin. The hand cleaner in a squirt bottle is too messy and Boo doesn't like the gel feel of it. Instead, a home health agency provided a sample of a spray hand cleaner to try. This is evidently not an isolated problem. The 12 ounce version of Boo's sample was over twenty dollars. Rather too expensive I thought. Instead, we experimented and came up with our own solution. I mix three parts distilled water with one part baby shampoo or liquid Castile soap, pour it in spray bottles from the dollar store and instant spray hand cleaner. Even if Boo doesn't adequately rinse his hands, it isn't drying or greasy.

Simple homemade phone book. Boo has used this in the past when he was able to place phone calls. Sadly, he can no longer do that. I bought a small 4 x 6 photo book at the dollar store. On one page, I put a photograph of a person or place that Boo might want to call. On the opposite page, I put a white index card with the name and phone number. Until Boo's second stroke, this was a very useful tool.

Rice filled heating packs. This is an easy I'm-cold or my-____-hurts remedy. I have several small freezer zip lock baggies filled with one quarter to one third cup of uncooked rice. Heat in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, wrap in a washcloth and apply to cold or hurting area. These don't get hot enough to burn least not when heated less than 45 seconds. They also seem to provide just enough warmth to soothe Boo, but not enough to harm him. I have seen lovely pouches that enclose the rice bags, but I've never gotten around to making one.

Individual sets of clothes. This was once a life saver for me and enabled Boo to help himself. I put a full set of clothes including socks and underwear in a large Zip lock bag. I cheated and stored these in the bathroom. Boo could change clothes as needed without asking for help. Boo can seldom manage changing clothes without help now, but he still knows where to find his “spare clothes.”

Towels as under pads Those wonderful waterproof under pads are great time savers when your elder is slightly incontinent---stress incontinence or those oops moments. Boo is sensitive to the plastic waterproofing. So, I looked for alternatives. I bought a couple of cloth waterproof pads for fifteen dollars apiece. They're great, but are obvious...not so great for Boo's self-esteem. Instead, he favors towels. On his “upset” days, a quick towel thrown in the seat of a chair or on the bed makes clean up quick and easy and less embarrassing. Because they're cotton, they don't cause any skin problems. They're also not waterproof. So, they're only useful for minor accidents.

Instant nonslip socks. Puffy fabric paint on the bottom of washed socks creates instant nonslip socks. I wish this worked on the bottom of shoes, but it hasn't for us. Boo's diabetic socks don't always come in nonslip varieties. Since he almost always uses slippers, that's not the end of the world. Yesterday, Boo hopped up to make a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night without his slippers...and came close to falling. All his socks are now nonslip. It's a simple remedy to help prevent falls.

Friday, October 5, 2012

7 Quick Takes

  1. Boo is currently worried about Boudreaux. Winter's coming, you know. Boo has plenty of sweaters. I have plenty of sweaters. He just realized that Boudreaux has NO sweaters. This is a cause for least in his mind. So, I am crocheting a sweater for the cat. A lovely green mock turtleneck sweater. I can't say that Boudreaux is impressed with the whole sweater idea. I foresee a photo op when I finish. After all, it's not every cat that owns a sweater!
  2. We've found a simple cure for Boo's persistent dandruff. Since his second stroke, he's had the worst case of dandruff I've ever seen. We've tried lots of different special shampoos. Our solution: a baking soda and water wash and a cider vinegar and water rinse. For the last two months we've used this and it really seems to work. Who knew something so simple could be the answer?
  3. I'm listening to King Lear from Audible. Generally I like Shakespeare. This particular play is just not my favorite. I keep thinking I'll like it better now than when I was in high school. After all, I am more mature. That's my theory anyway. Maybe I just older and not more mature. Maybe I'll just never really like this play.
  4. Did you listen to the political debate last night? We listened to part of it. Then, Boo got upset because they couldn't agree on anything. (Did he really expect them to agree?) So, the TV was turned off. My friends are on both sides of the political spectrum. I've heard that Romney was awesome and from others, that Obama shone. I just identify the issues most important to me and look at the candidates and at congress. Who do I think will be able to uphold those things that are important to me...either on purpose or by default? Be sure you're registered to vote...and vote your conscience!
  5. Last night I made a lentil vegetable stew. I liked it. Boo thought it would be really good with shrimp and okra added. Oh, and I could leave out the lentils. I guess that makes a shrimp gumbo. Perhaps that's what we'll have tonight. As long as Boo eats, he can criticize all he wants. And rework my recipes. I can handle it.
  6. I've been looking at rag quilts and thinking. I think a rag lap quilt might be just the thing for Boo and Boudreaux this winter. Besides, it looks really easy. I like easy. Boo likes to have his legs covered and the cat firmly believes that he should stay in Boo's lap as much as possible. Maybe a lap quilt would eliminate the cat fur in Boo's lap. I can wish anyway.
  7. This will be a busy week end. I plan to clean, declutter and clean the bedroom again. It's amazing how quickly things accumulate. It's also amazing the things Boudreaux “hides” under the dresser. Things he thinks I can't see. Today, that silly cat got stuck under the dresser. Boo had a fit until I lifted the edge of the dresser to release the poor baby. I found two bracelets, a rosary, an envelope and several socks. A cat and his treasures. It reminds me of my son and all his, Hot Wheels, Legos and worms that he used to leave in his pockets...and that I washed. Memories...
Seven Quick Takes

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No Looking Back

Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”

Blessed John Paul II

In no way are the decisions I've made the right decisions for everyone. God will guide each of us to make the decisions that are best for us and for our loved that moment. Please turn to Him for ultimate guidance. What I share is based on my experience. God loves you and your loved one. He alone knows what is best in your unique situation.

I remember the day Boo had his second stroke. That was the day our lives changed irrevocably. We'd been married less than two months and our commitment to each other and our marriage was tested.

I knew that my responsibility was taking the best care of Boo that I could. At the time, I really didn't know just what that would look like. I was sure that after Boo had a brief rehabilitation at home, I'd be able to return to work and our lives would return to normal.

That was my plan.

That was not what happened.

It became apparent to Boo's doctor, his therapists and to me that he simply wouldn't be able to handle eight to nine hours alone so that I could return to work full time. In fact, he couldn't handle three or four hours alone.

This time my resolve to stay home with Boo and care for him was stronger. I wasn't sure just how we were going to make our limited budget stretch to meet our basic needs. I did know that was a minor consideration and one that we'd manage somehow.

The larger consideration was my commitment and my willingness to learn ways to care for Boo that were supportive and that would not diminish his sense of self worth. This was and remains a learning experience for me.

All along the way, there have been choices. Do I want to continue to care for Boo at home? Absolutely and resoundingly, I do. Is being cared for at home best for Boo? This decision I make with input from Boo's doctors, therapists and from friends who see and interact with both of us frequently. Currently, the answer is yes...with some reservations from one of his current doctors because she feels that I am too young to “be trapped at home with an invalid.” (She also believes that dementia patients are always best cared for in an institutional setting.)

For Boo, for me, for now...being at home is the best option.

Our future is in God's Hands. Only He knows what lies ahead.

I choose to look forward not at the past. I cannot dwell on the I-wish and the we-planned themes. I choose to focus on what I believe God wants me to

Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don't.

Thankfully I serve a forgiving God...Who loves me as I am, where I am. And Who prods me to go forward.

How do you make decisions about what is best for your loved one?

Pray...first and foremost...and continually.

Talk to your loved one. Involve him or her in the decision making process as much as possible.

Ask for advice from your loved one's medical providers and from those who know you well.

Find and use the resources in your community.

Find or create a support group for yourself and for your loved one.

Make the necessary decisions...knowing that no decision is final. If what you try first doesn't work, modify your plan.

If your loved one is not yet at a point that these decisions are immediate, start talking. Start looking at options. Start making tentative plans. It is far easier to make these plans together now than to try to do so when you are emotionally distraught.

It is my prayer that the God Who loves us,

Who forgives us,

Who catches us when we fall,

Who carries us when we can walk no longer,

will guide each of us

as we struggle to find His best for us and for our loved one.

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Unveiled Wife

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Triggering Memories

Recording memories for Boo and some for my Mother has become a weekly activity. I found that if I push Boo too much to remember, he seems to close down and remember nothing. On the other hand, if we work on memories once a week and vary the “memory triggers,” then we have a lot more success. Here are ten simple ways I've found that seem to work well.

Old Photos

This is an easy one. Unless vision is an issue, looking at old family photos is a good prompt for reluctant memories. Mention things you notice in the photo that may not immediately trigger a reaction from your elder. The roses growing on the fence...what's the story behind those? Maybe Grandpa planted them for Grandma as a token of his affection or a neighbor gave Grandma cuttings from their rose bush that Grandma nurtured until they took off.


My grandmothers and Boo's mother seldom seemed to rely on recipes. I wish they had. Nothing seems to taste as good as what I remember eating at their tables. Boo can describe dishes his mother and aunts made. Sometimes, that's enough for me to attempt the recipe. Usually, I search cookbooks and online recipe sites for similar recipes and then try to replicate one of Boo's “food memories.”

Family Treasures

This one is easy also. Who crocheted that table runner or the edgings on the pillow cases? Who made the table? Even if specific memories of that particular item are not forthcoming, general memories of Dad making furniture or Grandma's quilting bees may be unearthed. Looking at a handmade bedstead in an antique shop triggered a memory of his mother and aunts gathering moss to make mattresses when he was growing up.

Vintage Advertisements

On one of Boo's better vision days, we looked at old advertisements online. While he didn't seem to remember any of the advertisements we saw, they did bring back lots of memories. He described old cars his father had owned, trips they had taken when he was growing up and memories of one of his uncles working on cars at family gatherings. Boo remembered the cost of doughnuts at a local school, candy bars and peanut butter from various times.

Here's a link to one site for vintage advertisements.

Historical Events

What can your elder remember about WWI or II or the Korean War? Even if they didn't actually serve in the military, they may have memories of victory gardens, of rationing, of the return of family members or neighbors from the war or of their mothers or aunts working in war time factories. 


Old Songs

This has been a good one for Boo. Sing a longs were much more prevalent in years past than they are now. Older songs seem to trigger a lot of memories for Boo. He remembers singing while picking cotton when growing up. (He HATED picking cotton and gladly found other ways to earn money as soon as he was able!) I've found to be You Tube a great source for these old songs.

Walk through the old neighborhood

I've done this with my mother. Well, walk is probably overstating what we actually did. We slowly ambled. We strolled and we stopped frequently for Mother to reminisce. I learned who used to live in the house on the corner and all about them. I learned why my family called short cafe curtains Carrie Bell curtains. On that walk, I probably learned more about that street than I'd ever known.

Reading vintage children's books

This one I discovered by complete accident. Looking through some old books online, Boo asked me to read one to him. I told him he wouldn't be interested, that it was a children's story. Because he really wanted to hear it, I read it and showed him the old illustrations. Boo hadn't heard that book, but he told of others he did remember. I'm still looking for a copy of the early reader he had in school that featured a monkey. I learned to read with Sally, Dick and Jane. He had a monkey!

Visiting “Old Time” Festival Days

We haven't tried this because crowds and noise are such an issue for Boo. Watching threshing machines or old tractors could easily trigger memories. Seeing old machines, crafts and so forth should be a good memory inducer. Perhaps museums would be another possibility.

Family Reunions or visits with siblings, cousins, etc.

Seeing and talking to siblings and other relatives is bound to trigger do-you-remember-when moments. Or family arguments if your family is the argumentative type. Usually after talking to his sisters on the phone, Boo relates family stories. Mother just seems to come alive at family reunions. She's a veritable fount of family memories there.

Now that you've triggered memories.  Record them!

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