Monday, July 29, 2002

Betty and Trish: Here are my observations comparing mom at Christmas to mom this summer...

At Christmas she was awake more and sleeping less. This summer she was sleeping all day til supper time except for the weekends when we were home to get her up to go some place. Last Christmas, she took the initiative to wash up,pick out her clothes and get dressed. This summer, I had to prod her to wash up and get dressed and even brush her teeth. She was more weepy and emotional in this last visit than at Christmas. She took more of an interest in the old phonograph at Christmas than during this last visit.

This summer she often said she did not want to live and had no reason to live. Her short term memory was about the same both times. Sometimes she remembers better than others. If we talked about something long enough over a period of time, she seemed to remember it so she could bring it up in conversation. She was more mobile and better able to traverse stairs at Christmas than she was this summer. Glad she had the cane.

Later this week I will put down more information about memories, etc. that mom and I talked about during her latest visit.


Sunday, July 28, 2002

Betty's Observation of Our Mother over the last 6 months:
As I begin this letter my heart is heavy for the daily loss of our Mom. It's hard to verbalize at times and hopefully my words will express it.

Last night about 9 pm Mom called me and said, "Betty, where have I been since August 8th?" I said Mom, "It's not August 8th yet". She said, "I know, from August 8th last year. I don't remember anything." (what must that be like) I said, "Mom, you have been at the Moorhead Manor all that time". She said, "It's been like a blur, I can only remember bits and pieces."

She couldn't remember just coming back from Sharon's in Chicago a week ago and having spent 4 weeks there. "Yes, I said Sharon said you did not do as well this time."

"What do you mean this time, was I there before?"

"Yes, Mom for 2 weeks at Christmas."

I have labeled Mom having two moods - her passive mood and her rampage mood. I will explain...

When she is in her passive mood here is her routine: she sleeps all day, will get up around 4 pm. Has supper and goes back to bed around 10 pm. She is not interactive and very weepy. Says things over and over like: "I wish I would just die, I have no reason to live. Why didn't God take us both." (It has been almost one year since our father passed away) Does nothing except sleeps, eats one meal a day, eats excessive amounts of candy, does not tend to hygiene, cares about nothing, can't carry on a conversation except briefly and repeats over and over. In less than 5 minutes time, she can't remember. When I got her from the airport coming back from Chicago, we picked up her luggage and went out to the car and put in trunk. Before we could exit the parking lot, she asked me why we had not gotten her luggage yet. These moods generally last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.

Then all of sudden - there's the window - the rampage mood. We call it a window like we have read about Alzheimer patients. She can't sleep - sometimes for 1 to 2 days. During this time she asks A LOT of questions of what has happened, where are her things. I call it the rampage mood because she can then be calling you up to 7-10 times a day asking about things - and not knowing that she makes these calls. We never belittle her and have always been taught to respect our parents; therefore, we respond with love. She can sometimes get very crabby during these times. It's during these times that she says things; "I can still drive better than most people" - which she has not driven in over a year and has no license to drive at the present time. These moods generally don't last longer than a week.

She does watch TV at night, plays solitaire and is a very good reader and enjoys her books. She was an avid seamstress and needlework person but now only talks about them but never gets back into it. My one sister here in Moorhead sees her every Wednesday night and goes over bills and pays them for her; and visits. Plus she takes her every Saturday for a hair appointment. I take her to church on Sunday - when I can get her up by 10 (50% chance) and have her out for the afternoon.

All three of us stay in very close contact with each other - daily - and the Moorhead Manor to make sure Mom is well taken care of and that she knows we love and want to care for her. I know these are difficult things to analyze and help us; but can anything be done?

We have a large clock in her room to show her the time and it also has on the day, month and year. But time does not mean anything to her. She has no motivation or desire to live. She is not suicidal and would not take her life. But she has given up on life. My 2 sisters and myself love our Mother desperately and want only the best for her. She is an amazing woman and has lived a lifetime of love, hardship and sorrows. We just want to know if we are doing everything possible for her and have not overlooked anything. So, we ask ourselves - what can we do??!? Do we let nature take it's course? Is she under-medicated? Should her medicine be changed? She is only using 50 mg of Zoloft - and is this the best for her or another medication? Would any medication help these symptoms? Who do we turn to? We are asking both of you - Doctor Martindale and Doctor Haake - PLEASE consult after reading these letters from all three of us sisters and combine your sources and be open and honest with us - if there is anything we can do??

Susan, Administrator at the Moorhead Manor has recently had Mom reviewed by the Clay County Health and they feel she should have a mental eval. Now, we totally agree but you know something - it will ALL depend on which mood they find her in when it is done. If this is done, I would like to recommend and request that it be done when she is in BOTH moods to get a fair assessment. Also, Susan mentioned that maybe some counseling of some sort would benefit our Mother - we are open to that as well.

We are begging you to please take the time to carefully read all three evals from us and consult each other and THEN contact us. We are not taking this lightly and ask that neither of you do as well. This is a life of a wonderful devoted mother, wife and human being that deserves whatever we can do to help.

We thank you and admire you both for the love and care you gave our father (Gordon Short) and continued care for our mother.

Sincere Respect,
Betty Thorsvig (second oldest daughter of Harriet Short)

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Mom over the past six months...
1. Physically slowing down - She makes an effort to remain mobile, but it's becoming more difficult for her. Some of it is age, but I feel just as much of it is lifestyle choice, i.e., poor diet/exercise. I also feel that her medications may be interfering with her metabolism. Just before Mom left on vacation is when she was evaluated for physical therapy. If I remember correctly, that was left rather open-ended since she was leaving soon. I _think_ it was settled that she could continue receiving PT and Medicare would cover it. We could check on that and see if that is the case. I feel it's important, if Mom wants to do it, to encourage her to keep mobile, keep circulation as healthy as possible.

2. Mentally about the same - She is forgetful about some short-term things, but other times remembers. She depends on me a great deal to keep track of her bills and remind her to write out the checks for them. Sometimes she'll mention to me the health insurance bill came and we must pay it, but most of the time she leaves it all to me.

3. Emotionally slowly improving - She still grieves Dad and probably always will. She still talks about why he had to die even though she knows why, because she misses him so much. She sometimes weeps yet. However, in my experience with her at least, she seems to be healing a bit because despite the pain of loss, she is not quite as emotionally fragile to me as she was six months ago.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

She’s been dead for almost a decade, but tears still stream down my face when I let myself remember that she’s gone. Her name was Salina. She was my grandmother.
From A Drawer full of Memories...

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

You might have guessed by now that Aunt Pat is our Mom's sister. Alberta is her actual name, but everyone has always called her by her nickname 'Pat', short for her maiden surname, Fitzpatrick.

She's an opinionated, strong-willed, vivacious lady that knows what she wants, what she thinks, and goes for it. I always have the image of Auntie Mame go through my head when I think about Aunt Pat. When I was little, I was always fascinated by her since she seemed to live such a different life than we did...than her sister, my mother, did. She was a 'working woman', working in an office upstairs behind one-way glass at J.C. Penney's in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her husband, Uncle John, was a small wiry man of French descent who was a 'body man', working on cars in his shop.

Always a house-o-fire, my Aunt, it's hard to imagine her being 90 years old*, and finally slowing down. I last saw Aunt Pat over 15 years ago, but talked to her as recently as a few months ago about Mom. She sounds as cheery as ever, but a bit more absent-minded. That's the hardest part of seeing Mom and Aunt Pat now...seeing them there, and yet slowly fading away. I understand in many ways why our cousin Jerry is torn about coming to visit them.

* Alberta Mae Fitzpatrick was born on July 13, 1912...

I was bemused, saddened, and then bemused again as I read this message from Betty last night...
I forgot to tell you Jerry Johnson called me Saturday and we talked for almost an hour. I ALWAYS recognize his voice. Knew it was him right away. It was SO good to talk to him.

He calls Aunt Pat and Delphine every Saturday.

Yes, Aunt Pat had had a stroke and she CHECKED HERSELF INTO a nursing home but it only lasted TWO DAYS and she left. According to Aunt Pat she tells Mom that Delphine put her in there - she did not.

She also says Delphine never comes over and Delphine takes her out to breakfast every morning. In fact there has been mornings that Aunt Pat has forgotten that and drives out for breakfast again. According to the Doctors, she is NOT suppose to be driving but no one is doing anything about it and she still is.

She is 95 now.

Jerry is torn to come and see them both; but really wants to remember them from before. I gave him Mom's new number and encourage him to call her.

Well, I am going to bed now.
Later - Bets

I LIED - NOT YET. I forget also to tell you that when Sharon called me today she mentioned about some little stories and incidents that happened while Mom was there. I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE HER TO PLEASE PLEASE WRITE THEM ON MOM'S WEB PAGE AND TO DO WITHIN THE NEXT 2 WEEKS. So they are fresh in her mind. After that her and Bill are going over to Hawaii for 3 weeks to celebrate his parents 60 anniversary and by then she wont remember. Now I am going to bed.
Jerry is our first cousin, the son of Mom's sister Clara. He's a sweet, gentle, funny man, who cares about family a lot...He always had a soft spot for Mom since he used to be watched by his Aunt Harriet as a kid, hanging out later with her and Dad as a teen sometimes. He's been far away in California, but close in Mom's heart, as she is in his, over these many years since those days long ago...

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, with mild to moderate memory loss, are writing Web logs to help them make sense of their daily lives. And the activity, they say, is slowing the onset of their symptoms.

"Keeping journals or engaging in other intellectual activity is good at any age...But it is particularly important to stay intellectually active as we get older, retire from demanding jobs and have fewer family obligations."

Sunday, July 14, 2002

After comments about Mom's mobility becoming obviously more limited from Sharon, while Mom's there on her trip visiting her...
I don't doubt it about Mom's mobility - Sharon would notice it more than we would, seeing her all the time, but I thought she was slowly down.

A lot of that, as we all know, comes from Mom's mental and emotional state of mind since Dad's passing affecting her physical condition, including lack of motivation to move, and a slow shutting down of herself as a result. She may or may not see what's happening, but either way, she doesn't care enough to change her lifestyle. There are moments when she speaks up for herself, but it's usually due to comfort-related issues like her teeth. It's one of those times again where we honor her choices while wishing they might be otherwise, I guess.