Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Grieving Disease

I have another name for Alzheimer's disease.  I call it the grieving disease.  It seems to me that when I start dealing with one aspect of Scott's illness something comes along that makes me take ten steps back.  This usually involves tears and adjustments and eventually acceptance.  Acceptance until something else about Scott is lost to me.  I honestly don't know who people who don't have a belief in Heavenly Father are able to deal with all that is required in helping a loved one make this journey of forgetting.

Arizona Update

The good news is we made it to Arizona in one piece and your dad handled the drive extremely well.  We stopped several times and I had him walk around a little.  I also switched between music channels and he seemed to enjoy the music.  In fact several times he sang along and was clapping.

The not as good news was the visit to the doctor.  It was probably the most frustrating experience I have had in a long time.  I know there is not a positive outcome with Alzheimer's but I knew less coming out than I had already known going in.  The one thing that I did learn was that 10% of Alzheimer patients have seizures. That means that he will have to take seizure medicine from now on.  Dad has lost a lot of weight and so the doctor wants to switch him to another medication that will make him more sleepy but will improve his appetite. I am uncomfortable with that possibility.  The nurse took him in and did a series of test but the doctor didn't tell me anything about what the results were.  His only telling question was "do we have long term care insurance?"  I guess it is good that I read everything I see about Alzheimer's so I know what is happening and what is coming next but without that information I would have left without any help at all.  The seizure has taken a toll on him.  The week before the seizure I was noticing he was really getting more mellow and our four drives each day had gone down to two (mostly instigated by me because he didn't seem to care.)  He is now very lethargic and doesn't seem to be aware of things around him.  I suspect that is the affects of the seizure medicine.  The dose he is on is the lowest they give.  Now the doctor wants to add switch from one medication that is supposed to make him even more tired so I am not sure about that.  On Wednesday of next week I have a doctors appointment here so I plan to talk to him about maybe keeping the old medication if the new one creates more problems.

We came home this morning and the trip was also very uneventful.  It was so nice spending a little time with Christian and Amy and the kids.  Bill, Bev, and David came up from Sierra Vista and we all went to dinner together so that was also a special treat.  I told the doctor that we won't be coming back (not because I was mad at him--but I was!) but I know that there really is nothing more he will be able to do and putting dad through the trip just doesn't seem worth it.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Seizure!

I always think I am getting the hang of Scott's Alzheimer disease and then I get thrown a curve!  This morning at 6:50 I am dozing in and out of sleep when all of the sudden Scott makes the most horrible sound. It was so bad that I literally jumped out of bed.  I then experienced the most painful sight that I could have ever imagined.  The seizure lasted for about four minutes and ended with
his eyes rolled into the back of his head and blood oozing out of his mouth.  Not something I want to ever experience again.  After a number (7 in fact) of hours in the ER he was released with a prescription for anti-seizure meds and an appointment to see his regular doctor tomorrow.  The doctor in the ER thinks that his seizure was caused because of dehydration.  I suspect that is true because getting him to eat very much or drink enough water has become a real challenge.  Bless his heart he doesn't remember a thing about any of this but unfortunately, I don't think I will ever forget the terror I felt!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dear Elaine,

Senior Class Picture 1967-1968
My journal prompt that I decided to do was, write a letter to teenage you.  I have spent the week thinking about this and it is actually pretty hard, but here goes!

Dear Elaine,

You are a teenager now but I have such good news for you.  When you get to be 67 years old you won't remember much about the drama, the embarrassing moments, the old boy friend, or how much you think you hate school.  Honestly I don't think you even have to wait that long to realize that those few years were just a brief moment.  All the friends that were so important then will be a vague memory and by now you realize that your best friends turned out to be your brothers and sisters.  Now when I think of being a teenager I remember how wonderful it felt the first time my dad gave me the car keys.  I also remember how awful I felt when I got pulled over by a policeman for making an improper lane change.  I had to tell my dad about it because my little sister was in the car and I knew she would if I didn't.  Guess what--that was when I saw a side of my dad I hadn't noticed before.  He wasn't mad and in fact--he smiled and said, "I bet you won't do that again."  Even at 67 I never make an improper lane change!  I remember my first job and how rich I felt when I got my paycheck.  I remember gaining a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which meant that everything had a purpose and a wonderful outcome in the end.  Another thing that happened to me as a teenager was that I had the ability to help other people and do nice things for them. Sad to realize it took so long.  I guess the most important thing I want you to know is that life just kept moving on in spite of the times when I was overwhelmed with insecurity.  I wasn't a popular girl but I do remember having some really nice friends and loved spending time with them.  I am embarrassed to remember that I had a boyfriend who would bring me home after a date and then go over to another girl's house and hang out with her because her parents didn't have a curfew like mine.  Even though I heard about it from other people I chose to ignore it because I just wanted to have a boyfriend.  I know pretty sad--but in the end I got stronger and gained a sense of self and still remember how empowered I felt when I finally told him not to come around any more because I was way to good for him!  You see life just kept going on and it got better and better--not necessarily easier and easier.  The experiences you have as a teenager helps you learn how to cope with the uncomfortable, treasure the positives, and enjoy the journey that will be ahead for you.
Don't give up!  Don't give in! And don't worry because when you are 67 you will find that you have chosen the better part.

Love, Elaine

Monday, September 11, 2017

Update on Dad

It has been a while since I have updated all of you on your dad and since you are all so good to call each week I do try to keep you posted on what is happening.  Maybe I do this more for me then any one else because it is good to actually commit my observations to paper (kinda paper!).  It has been really eye opening to me to realize how long dad has had Alzheimer's.  I guess it was my way of avoiding the obvious. Being married to the absent minded professor made it easy to camouflage the reality that things weren't quite right.

With all of that in mind and the reading I have done on the stages of Alzheimer's I found the following.  Stage 1-No impaired behavior.  2-Very mild impairment 3-Mild decline. 4-Moderate impairment. 5-Moderately severe impairment.  6-Severe impairment and 7-Very severe decline.  In taking care of dad I believe that he is in stage 6.  According to the information I have that is characterized by confusion or being unaware of patient's surroundings or environment, extreme personality changes and behavioral problems, the inability to recognize faces except for very close friends and relatives, loss of bladder and bowel control, and wandering.

Although a few of these things aren't apparent or extreme I am definitely seeing a decline which requires more attention being paid when he has to use the restroom to make sure he is clean and put back together when he finishes.  I often have to clean the toilet and flush when he finishes.  He is often disoriented and even in the house he isn't sure where he is.  I still don't see that wandering will ever be an issue with him because he has a hard time being out of my sight.  If I get up and walk to the kitchen he follows me.  That includes bathroom breaks as well.  One evening I told him I was going to take a shower and left him watching the television.  When I finished the shower and came out he was standing in the dark by the bathroom door and just about gave me a heart attack!  His personality changes are subtle which involves crying and continually asking me if he is okay.  He does seem to know something is wrong with him but doesn't know what it is. He recognizes only Andy and Angela and the kids now.  At church he knew several people but now he doesn't respond to them when he sees them.  He is always very nice to everyone though and listens closely when I talk to anyone (I think to find out who they are so he can acknowledge them.).  He chokes at least once a day, mostly when he is drinking water and sometimes at meal times.  His appetite has definitely declined and if I didn't make his meals I believe he would have completely stopped eating.  Even now I have to coax him to finish a half a sandwich or the bowl of cereal he eats.

In spite of all of what I have written don't lose hope.  He is still his kind self, laughs like crazy when he watches the Big Bang Theory (much to my chagrin!), loves being around Caleb and Ava and talks about Paw Patrol all the time.  Many of the television shows scare him and I change channels often.  Even Perry Mason is sometimes hard on him.  I am very able to take care of his needs so far.  The biggest challenge I deal with right now is knowing what he is trying to tell me.  He often tells me things that make no sense so I try to show that I am listening even if I don't know what he wants.  Again, it is doable and I am grateful that he is doing as well as he is.  Last week Caleb casually explained to me that pretty soon Grandpa would forget everything and I thanked him for telling me that.  I sometimes feel so sad that our grandkids will only have that to remember and forget all of the times he spent with them playing, reading, and talking.  This is bittersweet!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Check It Off!

Before
Pinterest is the greatest and sometimes it can be a curse!  They give me so many ideas and of course when I see what someone else has accomplished I get a hankering to try my hand at it as well.  I wanted to paint my kitchen cabinets white and of course I opened Pinterest hoping they would talk me out of it.  Didn't happen! The wonderful people who share their expertise make me believe that I can do anything--and that the project will be a piece of cake.  I read everything I could, wrote down the steps needed, found a new product that didn't require the cabinets be sanded and then I went to Lowe's and talked to a clerk in the paint department, who happens to be actually knowledgeable, and then I decided to tackle the project.  That was almost a month ago and yesterday I spent the whole day putting everything back together.  I am pleased with how it turned out--but don't plan on ever doing that again!  Was it a piece of cake?  No--but the icing is really sweet!


Three Coats--Lots of dry time

Almost finished!


After!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Caregiver Tips

I often get information about Alzheimer's and some of it is helpful and then there are the ones that I wonder if whoever wrote it ever knew anyone who really had the disease.  Recently I received one that I thought was the most accurate description of what works well with dad.  The author is Ryan Bridges.  I thought I would share his ideas.

1.  Speak simply.  Many people who care for patients ask open ended questions such as, "what would you like to eat for lunch today?"  Someone whose brain hasn't lost its ability to connect information  into clear ideas and responses would find this easy to respond to.  Someone with Alzheimer's would find that question overwhelming.  It is better to ask them a question that can be responded to with just a "yes" or "no."
2. Patience is essential.  A loved one with Alzheimer's is in constant struggle to regain speaking and thinking skills they've lost, which keeps them agitated.  Rushing the person you provide care to won't help.
3.  Make their environment as peaceful as possible.  Clutter overwhelms everyone.  It's a form of sensory overload.
4.  The power of touch.  Stroking your loved one's face or brushing their hair are simple gestures that can send a strong loving message.  Holding their hand can help get their full attention and can also provide them with reassurance that everything is okay.  Hand-holding unites you with them in their struggle.
5.  Laughter helps.  Laughter is therapeutic.  It has also, however, been shown to be beneficial to those with memory loss.
6.  Physical exercise.  Exercising regularly can stimulate blood circulation to the brain.  Giving the person you care for a daily workout can result in giving them clarity and bringing their surroundings into greater focus.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Journal Prompts

I decided to change how I recorded some of my memories.  While on our mission I faithfully kept a journal and for some time after we got home.  One night I realized that I was pretty much repeating myself.  Because of Scott's Alzheimers our days are very similar and my contact with other people outside of our family is very limited which actually means--we are pretty boring.  On Pinterest I saw a lot of ideas for bullet journaling and then I saw another with ideas for prompts to use to write about your life.  I liked the idea so every once in a while I will use a prompt to help me think of things that I would like to share in the coming years.  So to begin with...

Some Things I am Thankful For
The list could truly be endless and every once in a while I will take some time to add to my list.  Right now I am thankful that Scott can still walk.  It fills my heart with joy when I take him down to the walking path where he gets out of the car and walks a short distance,  touches a brick fence, turns around and hurries back to the car.  There will come a time that he will need a wheelchair so now I can relish his ability and strength.  As much as he now forgets he never forgets that he has to take his walk each morning.

I am thankful that Meggie is now a BYU student.  She will do such a good job and I believe much will be accomplished by her.  The dancing department will be enriched by her abilities.  I am thankful that she had the courage to follow her dream--may there be a big pot of gold at the end of her rainbow!

I am thankful for courageous grandchildren who aren't afraid to go out of their comfort zone and try new things.  Rachel who married her sweetheart Austin and continued to finish school to achieve some of her goals for the coming years.  Owen who left home to attend a university far from home (but close to us!) and also decided to join a band playing at Quinceaneras and other activities celebrating his Mexican heritage, and then at the end of his very busy Freshman year left for Germany to play his trombone with the college band in various cathedrals around the country.  Perry who committed two years to serve the Lord in Kentucky as he became a missionary.  Lincoln who left home for two weeks with a group of scouts that he had never met before to participate in a church history tour and the Boy Scouts Jamboree.  Ellis who decided that he wanted to play on the high school football team although he had never played before and is now on the varsity team at his high school.  Ruth who goes out of her way to befriend anyone she sees who seems to be left out and will now be the president of her Beehive class at Church.  Katie who got a job and is giving her best to do well and on top of that serves in her ward as the Laurel class president.  The list can go on and on with these wonderful grandchildren of mine and I only mentioned the older ones.  Many more things will be happening in the coming years and I can't wait to see what else each of them will accomplish!

New Alarm Clock

We have a new alarm clock and didn't pay a dime for it (actually for them!) For some reason the geese have decided to fly over our house each morning at about 6:45--honking as they go!  They then land on the golf course outside of our bedroom window and continue to let us know they are there (we don't get to hit the snooze bar and go back to sleep).  It is actually quite nice to hear them and to watch them when I actually give up and get up. There is no water nearby but for some reason this is one of their favorite spots.



Before the weather got hot each  evening we were serenaded by croaking frogs!  Andy thinks they are living in the sand trap but apparently when the hot weather came they burrowed deeper.  I actually look forward to them coming out at night again!  It was very comforting to hear them make music as I fell asleep!

Friday Night Lights

For many years Scott and I attended Victor Valley High School football and some basketball games because Amy was a cheerleader.  I couldn't tell you anything about the games because all I watched was Amy being thrown up into the air, or balancing at the top of a group of girls!  Now we are back at a different football field but this time I am watching football player #50 who is a linebacker for the varsity football team at Riverside Prep.  Ellis is so brave.  He decides he is going to do something and he does!  Grandpa and I make it to half time and then we have to go but in spite of that we love cheering his team on.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lincoln's New Car--almost!

 Lincoln has been saving to buy a car for quite some time and he recently had a chance to buy a Datsun Roadster.  On Saturday he made the purchase for this fixer-upper and he's excited to get started on it.  A man in their ward has offered to help him get it done and so if all goes well he will have a car to drive for a while before he leaves on his mission--and then Ruth can take care of it for him!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Am I Okay?

This is a question Scott asks me all day long.  I use to reply, "yes!" each time he asked me that but I started responding differently lately and now I say, "I don't know, are you okay?"  He always responds the same way, "I'm okay"!  For the last three days he has been in agony because his back has been a real problem and sadly, I added to the problem yesterday morning when I was getting him dressed and thought it would help him if I put an icy hot patch on his back.  I peeled the plastic off and then put it on his back and he absolutely screamed in pain and then fell into my arms and I put him down on the chair in the closet and then he passed out!  Once he came to he started talking gibberish and then began to heave and I was sure he was going to throw up.  Fortunately, that didn't happen.  Once he started to calm down and could sit up by himself I went and got a cool rag and washed the sweat off of his face and neck and then as his strength returned I finished getting him dressed.   Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart and I am sometimes overwhelmed by how careful I have to be when I take care of him.  We didn't go to church this morning because he is in so much pain but while we were watching Music and the Spoken Word this morning the choir sang one of my favorite songs, If the Savior Stood Beside Me.  At one point Scott looked at me and he wanted to know if I thought the Savior ever stands beside him.  I replied, Yes, he does!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kind Heart

For two years Ava has been growing her hair and earlier this week she went in and had it cut off so that she could donate to someone who has lost their hair.  I love that she wanted to help someone else but I also love how cute she looks with her
new haircut!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Music and Books

If I could describe anything about our grandkids it would be easy. Books and music is something they all seem to love.  Becky sent this cute picture of Owen practicing his trombone (believe me it has paid off because he is incredibly good) and Jeremy in the background just reading away.  I always wait until there is a quiet time before I start to read but not our grandkids.  Love that they were taught so well by their grandpa and their parents the value of a good book!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Grandkids Day at Sun City!

Andy came and spent the morning with Scott while I took Ava and Caleb to a yearly event in our community.  Grandparents Day meant water slide, crafts, tattoos (easily removed and in Caleb's case unable to adhere!),  Bingo, BBQ hotdogs, balloon creations, and a cute magic show.  It was such a nice morning and I loved spending some special time with Caleb and Ava who seemed to really enjoy themselves.
Let the Fun Begin!


Craft

Bingo

A Tattoo for Ava but Caleb's wouldn't stick!


Slip and Slide!

Rhinocerous

Mine Craft Sword!
 I wish all of our grandkids could have spent the morning with us--at least the young ones who would have loved it!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scott's Prayer

Today I experienced a special blessing.  Sometimes the smallest blessings are truly the greatest.  I shared with Perry what had happened when I wrote him and I will share a part of what I wrote.

...tell you about a wonderful experience that happened to your grandpa and to me this morning.  Last Sunday the executive secretary asked me if I thought grandpa could give a prayer in sacrament meeting the following week.  I joked that he would probably love it but he may bless the food.  He then turned to Grandpa and asked if he would be willing to give a prayer in next weeks meeting.  He was so excited and said sure.  I have been worried all week about it because he hasn't been able to pray for some time.  I prayed this morning that Heavenly Father would help him to do this and that it would be okay.  I then texted your parents, Uncle Bill and Aunt Cathy, and Uncle Christian and Aunt Amy telling them to please pray for dad so that he would be able to do this.  When we got to church I reminded him that he was going to say the prayer in Sacrament meeting and he started having a panic attack saying he couldn't do it and what should he do.  I kept saying that I thought he should try and that Heavenly Father would help him.  We sat right in the front of the chapel and I went through the whole process with him.  I showed him where he would go to pray, and then talked about remembering to fold his arms and bow his head and close his eyes.  I then said he should say what was in his heart.  During the opening song he was so upset and I finally said that it was all right and I would just give the prayer instead.  He said, no, he would do his best.  When the song ended he got up and walked up on the stand but stopped at the music stand.  The Bishop motioned him to come up to the podium and he then walked over to it.  He folded his arms, bowed his head, and then gave a beautiful heart felt prayer that I have not heard from him in so long.  Needless to say I cried and said a silent prayer to thanks to Heavenly Father for taking care of a gentle man who has lost most of his abilities but for a short moment was restored to express his thoughts clearly.  When he sat down by me he smiled and said "I did it!"  

I am so glad that I didn't tell Brother Stewart no when he asked last week even though this morning I was mad that I had when dad was so upset and scared.  I have been continually reminded through this Alzheimer experience that Heavenly Father knows his children and he loves each of us.  Today was one of those times!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

My Night Out

Caleb waiting patiently for our return!
Yesterday Angela asked me if I would like to go to a movie with her.  She said Andy and the kids would come and stay with dad.  Dad had had a particularly anxiety filled day and I had given him an anxiety medication earlier in the day to help him calm down a little and so I thought he would be okay.  Going to the movies is something we use to enjoy together but now the noise and darkness is to hard on him and the last movie we went to we had to leave after only a few minutes.  Andy and Angela and the kids all came over to the house and before I left I showed Andy dad's routine and what meds he takes before bed.  When I got into the car to leave I teared up and thought, this must be how a new mother feels the first time she leaves her baby for the first time.  The movie was great fun (Spiderman) and when we got back to the house dad was sound asleep.  I did wake him up to let him know I was home!  Even better was that he slept all night and didn't wake up until 8 a.m. this morning--a new record.  I don't know what I would do without Andy and Angela nearby.  Angela seems to know when I am feeling overwhelmed and when she does she steps in and she and Andy help in many ways.  Just to show how much I did need a little break--on one of our trips during the day we stopped at the grocery store so I could buy some orange juice, eggs, and ice cream. When we got back I got busy and unfortunately totally forgot the groceries.  Needless to say there was no ice cream!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Special Guest

Last Sunday I had a wonderful afternoon when Carlene Ames Bridenthal, one of my wonderful Laurels when I served as Young Women's president, stopped by to visit us.  Over the years we have had opportunities to see each other and each time I was so touched to see the woman she has become.  She and Randy are now living in Montana (thanks friend for reminding me!) where they are enjoying their four children and new granddaughter.  I have learned so much from Carlene about generosity, respect, kindness, and forgiveness. She is the best and I love that she is my friend!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Difference

Betty Jane
 I remember when I was dealing with mom's memory loss someone asked me, "Is it Alzheimer's or Dementia?"  I said it was memory loss and I didn't know which one.  At the time I was a little annoyed and thought the question was insensitive.  Now that I am dealing with Scott's memory loss I would be able to explain the difference.  Mom's memory loss began in her mid to late 60's.  Scott's memory loss began in his early 60's although I think there were numerous times before that that he struggled with memory issues. When I talked to a doctor when mom went into the original assisted care facility she said to me,  "Your mother is in excellent health, do you understand what that means?"  I said I did and she repeated again, "Do you know what that means?"  A little annoyed I responded, "YES, it means she will live a long long time in a stupor of thought!"  Dementia wasn't the cause of her death she actually had a stroke and died as a result of that.  The dementia definitely played a part in her death but she could have lived much longer if that hadn't happened.  

With Alzheimer's the prognosis is 7 to 10 years from the start of the disease.  Although Scott wasn't diagnosed until last year I definitely saw the signs of early onset Alzheimer long before we went on our mission.  I think we were all surprised by how quickly he went from early onset to moderate stage Alzheimer's.  That was because I was hoping his issues were something other than what is actually turned out to be.  With mom's dementia she slowly shut down (much like depression) and then she slowly let her mind go back in time to when she was younger.  Everything was from when she was much younger.  Scott cannot go back in time.  We can drive by our old house, a school he worked at, city hall and they would mean nothing to him.  My mom lived in her past and for Scott there has become no past.  He thrives on order where my mom was very comfortable going with the flow.  She had a healthy appetite much of the time but one day said she didn't want to eat and didn't from February until she passed away in June.  Scott doesn't refuse to eat but he is continually eating less and less.  My mom loved food (especially Mexican food!) but Scott eats to survive.  If I didn't make sure he ate I don't think he would eat much at all.   Anything hot or spicy gets him really upset and once the food is sat in front of him he eats like a squirrel stuffing his cheeks.  He finished many times before I even sit down to eat with him.  

Mom slowly went to a safe place where she felt contentment.  Scott has no contentment.  He has no connection to anyone or anything.  I think I would describe what happens to him is like looking in the old kaleidoscope.  Remember how you would twist the end and the beautiful design would change.  For him as you twist, the picture slowly disappears as the circle gets smaller and smaller until there is just a dot. Alzheimer's disease will eventually take him away from me and the painful reality is that it is moving very quickly to that end.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Love This Perk

Ready!
We have four pools in our community and in the summer we are allowed to bring our grandkids in to swim between 10 and 3 each day.  It is such a treat to be able to watch Caleb and Ava happily swimming while we enjoy the shade by the pool.


Enjoying the pool!

Time to finish up!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Update

I haven't written much about dad's condition but lately I have seen a significant decline and wanted to give you an update on what has been happening.  The good news is that he can still tie a tie. That is good because when he can't any more I will have to buy a clip on!  Last week when Christian and Amy were here for a visit Christian spoke to him in German and he responded and knew what he said.  Those are the highs that I can focus on.  Sadly, I have experienced a significant decline in other areas.  Twice last week he didn't know who I was until I realized why he was struggling.  Once I asked him he admitted that he didn't know my name.  I told him I was Elaine his wife and he was so relieved.  I know he doesn't know other people but to forget me was a little disheartening!  At church he knows four people whenever he sees them.  Eddie Freeman who he home taught for many years, Dennis Christoffersen, Kent Christiansen, and Joe Andreasen. He still is good at covering when he doesn't know others and when I tell him who they are he always says, "I know that!"  He is sleeping better at night and I found that if I hide his dirty clothes that he wore the previous day he doesn't get dressed when he gets up in the middle of the night.  Lately I hear him in the bathroom getting ready to take a shower.  He turns on the shower, undresses, then turns off the shower and get redressed back into his pajamas.  It is good that he doesn't get in because I am afraid that he may either freeze himself or burn himself depending on how far he turns the knob.  He can shower with my help although he hates the water getting on his head but fortunately Andy put in a removable faucet head so I can pretty much get him clean even when he is trying to get away.  He does still shave but only once a week.  I know he would shave more if I reminded him each morning but I have decided that he looks pretty cool with a little 5 o'clock shadow!  I also found that if I brush my teeth when he is brushing his that he does a good job.  If I don't he is done in about 2 seconds.  He needs my help to get dressed in the morning and undressed in the evening.  His appetite was significantly decreased and his list of things that he doesn't like is growing.  Pickles!  Onions! Potatoes (in any form)!  Those are the biggies right now. He often takes one bite of something and says that he is done.  Most of the time he eats about half of whatever I give him.  I would cut the serving down but when I did that he still ate half so I quit doing that because I would like him to eat at much as is possible.  I think if I took him to Jack in the Box each day and got his green burger he would be very happy.  He doesn't like change and he doesn't want me out of his site.  If I go to the bathroom he stands by the door until I come out.  If I go into the kitchen he comes and stands beside me.  Several times when I have been at the computer behind where he sits he will think I am gone and walk down the hall looking for me as he mumbles, 'where is she."  Again he is relieved when he sees me.  There are other things but you probably get the gist of what is happening.  His anxiety his very high now and he tells me all the time that things are scaring him.  I came back from my walk this morning and the door from the garage was locked.  I knocked and he came and opened the door.  I joked, "are you trying to lock me out?"  He responded no but he had to keep the people out who keep coming in while I am gone.  Bless his heart he is struggling and sadly for me I just spend a good part of the day reassuring him that he is okay.  Routine means everything and although my friend couldn't walk last Thursday and Friday I left the house for about a half an hour so that he wouldn't be upset that things weren't right.  That is all for now.  Keep the prayers coming!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth!

So excited that cousins got together for Independence Day in Utah.  Ellis spent the week at BYU in Provo participating in the SOAR program and so Andy and Angela and Caleb and Ava drove up to pick him up. They stayed with Bill and Cathy and I know Ava and Caleb and Will and Abby had a wonderful time playing together.  We didn't make sure our kids got to know their cousins and it is so wonderful for me to know that our children are correcting our error with their children.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Gingerboard Man!

While here for a visit Duncan brought a piece of cardboard that had hit the front of their car and stuck.  He told me he had always wanted to make a big person and would I help him.  I asked if he would be willing to make a big gingerbread boy and he was happy with that so we began.  I did the drawing, he did the adjusting he wanted, I cut it out and we both had to tape a part of the head back on.  Once he liked the look he got out markers and decorated it.  I got busy with something else and he went off with his new creation.  A few minutes later I noticed that the gingerbread man was in the fireplace.  I asked him why and he replied, "I'm cooking him in the oven!"  How could I argue with that.

I know every grandparent thinks this but the truth is--I have the smartest grandkids, the most clever grandkids, the sweetest grandkids, and the kindest grandkids, in the WORLD!!!



Fondant

 Ava and I ventured into making Grahams' birthday cake this year because they were coming to California to visit.  The cake was a hit and Ava and I had a great time making our own fondant out of marshmallows and powdered sugar.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Selective Service Draft Records

I have been indexing the Selective Service information from World War II that was done in California.  It is some of the best information I have seen on any individual in all the indexing information I have put into the Family Search records.  In the Draft Registration information they list the name of the man enrolling, where he is living at the time he gave the information, where he was born, his age and his birth date.  He had to put the name of the person who would always know where to reach him and their relationship to him.  He also had to list the name of the company or business he was working at.  Included on the form was his height, weight, complexion, eye color, hair color, and then any scars or marks on his body (such as a tattoo).  If you have a relative who signed up for the draft in the 1940s you will soon be able see all the information that I have talked about.

It has been interesting to think about this collected information meant to so many families.  Did they actually get drafted, did they survive?  What horrendous things did they see during the various battles they may have been involved in. The ages of those I have indexed have been from 18 to 42.  Can you imagine being drafted when you were in your 40s with a family that you will leave behind?  Can you imagine the false bravado of these young 18 year olds sure that they would save the world but entered a frightening experience that they had not been prepared for.  I was touched by the number of young men who listed their grandmothers as the person who would always know where they were.  The sad ones were the those who didn't list anyone who would know where they were or who could be notified if something happened to them.. A number of men were born in other countries but were now American citizens and willing to fight for their new country.  I hope they all came home and continued living the lives they had envisioned before this terrible war changed everything.  Only their families will know the answer to that!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Elder Duncan

I have to share this.  Perry and his companion made a pinata for their zone conference.  His mission president and his wife are completing their three year assignment over the Kentucky Louisville Mission at the end of June so at their last zone conference Perry made this for him.  Love these missionaries!



Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cheesecakes

Although we have finished our regular cooking classes Ava and I have plans to get together on a regular basis and do some cooking.  I told her that she needed to decide what she wanted us to cook.  This time she wanted to make cheesecake so on Thursday we spent the day making four flavors of cheesecake.  It wasn't so much labor intensive as it was time intensive but the end results looked really good!
Blueberry Cheesecake

Toffee Cheesecake

Lemon Glazed with Fresh Berries

Samoa Cheesecake

















We invited her family over for dinner and after a salad dinner we all tried out our creations.  Although I am not a big lover of cheesecake the end results were pretty tasty!

Activity

 The anxiety that Scott often feels makes me search for things that he can do.  After a trying afternoon I had an idea of bringing out the blocks in the playroom and I set them on the table and encouraged him to see what he could build.  It worked for about a half an hour and he intently picked out the blocks he would use and put together a creation.  The best part was that Angela and the kids stopped by for a few minutes and I said to Caleb, "you are just in time to see what Grandpa built."  He walked into the living-room and when he saw it he excitedly proclaimed, COOL!  I looked at Scott's face and he had a smile on his face.  I haven't been able to have him try again but it was a brief respite from his anxiety.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I Love This Guy!

In spite of all the things that are happening with Scott's illness it seems that every day I am reminded how much I love him.  Because much of his memory is gone he often does interesting things.  He always says to me, "I need to do something!" and so I try to find little projects for him.  Like vacuuming which he was always the best at.  On Friday morning I was cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, and just doing some general cleaning when he came and asked what he could do to help.  I mentioned that he could vacuum.  I then got the vacuum out and plugged it in and told him where I would like him to vacuum.  I then walked down the hallway to the bathroom but didn't hear the vacuum so I went back.  He was in the living-room just vacuuming away but hadn't turned it on.  Today I had a few mini oreo cookies in my hand and he asked what I was eating.  I replied that they were cookies and would he like some.  He said yes but not very many.  I gave him two.  Later as I was preparing dinner I opened the refrigerator door and on top of a pat of butter sat a tiny little oreo cookie all by itself!  When he said not to many-he meant it!  Another cute thing he does is each day he takes a walk a short distance and then back to a car.  Although I told him not to go off the sidewalk he gets to the spot where he is suppose to turn around and come back he walks down the slope and reaches up and embraces the brick cornerstone before coming back to the car.  I know as you read this you probably feel sad and that is okay because it is.  But in spite of that I love all the things he does in spite of the incredible obstacle that has been put in his way.  I have said it many times and I hope I will be able to say it many more time--he is so kind, and I love serving him because he is serving me with little snippets of joy each day.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Take a Moment

On Tuesday Andy and Angela received a text from a member of the church in Carrolton, Kentucky who had Perry and his companion over for dinner.  She wrote, "Had your son over tonight! You raised a wonderful young man! He is happy and well! He says hi!!"   I loved that she took a few minutes to express her thoughts about Perry and love that we were able to read it as well.  In a world that is so critical right now these little gestures of kindness are a wonderful gift and we should make it a point to recognize people around us who bless our lives in so many ways.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day!

Memorial Day 2017--Thank you to the family that invited the missionaries to join them!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Graham!


                          Almost a year old and very cute!  So grateful for being able  to see pictures of our grandkids  especially  now that we are staying pretty close to home and can't visit.  

Walking with Grandpa

I like to walk with Grandpa, his steps are short like mine. He doesn’t say, “Now hurry up.” He always takes his time. I like to walk with Grandpa, his eyes see things like mine; a birdie bright, a funny cloud, a penny that really shines. Most people are in a hurry, they do not stop and see; I’m glad that God made Grandpa unrushed, and almost as young as me.
 Author: Rodney O. Hurd
Today Caleb wanted to go with him on his walk and it touched my heart as I watched them walk to the wall as they held hands and Caleb  danced around and he and grandpa pointed out things to each other.  The walk takes less than a couple of minutes but I loved to see the smiles on their faces as they came back to the car.





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Now I Get It

We are in the process of dealing with what is called "Sun-downers."  I did see signs of this earlier which meant that after dinner Scott was tired and had had enough.  At that time I made the decision that I would not plan anything that would take us away from home in the evenings.  In the information I have about this they describe the symptoms as: agitated, restless, irritable, confused, disoriented, demanding, and suspicious.  The first five I see daily but he isn't suspicious although I have heard that that can happen.  Some of the things that sun-downers do is yell (not yet--and I can't ever see him doing that), pace, hear or see things that aren't there (definitely is happening) and has mood swings.  The information I read said this is very common in moderate to advanced Alzheimer's.

A couple of hours in the evening was doable and it didn't really seem like a big deal.  The problem I am now having is that for the last week 2:00 in the afternoon has become the beginning of his sun-downers episodes and from that time until bed time he is almost beside himself.  It is painful to experience the agony he seems to experience and the worst part is that I have not found anything that helps.  His attention span is very short, watching television doesn't seem to make a difference now because he can't follow the story line.  I even asked him to color a picture for Ava and Caleb from some coloring books we have.  He did it but the minute he finished he was again pacing and complaining that he didn't know what was the matter with him and wanted to know why I wasn't helping him.  I don't have any answers and we will just keep doing what we are doing.  I sometimes feel that if I can just write it down I can set it aside and get back to dealing with whatever comes my way with a smile on my face.  I am watching it, but sweet Scott is living it and that is so much worse than my personal discomfort.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Order in Chaos

I have noticed that Scott has developed a habit of rearranging things after I give them to him.  I made his lunch on Sunday and then I walked away and came back to find that he had taken the apples off the plate and arranged them neatly on the napkin I had put by his lunch.  He does this each time he sits down to eat and it is interesting to see how he adjusts his area before he begins to eat.  I  guess that in his mind it is important to have everything make sense to him--but I have to admit it doesn't make any sense to me.  It is pretty cute though!

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Language of ALZ

My neighbor lost her husband over a year ago as the result of his Alzheimer's disease and she has been a wonderful support to me.  I was out washing windows this week and she was in her back yard working. We stopped a few minutes to visit and she told me a story about her husband.  She and her husband lived in Rancho Cucamonga and his stepdaughter had come from Idaho to visit her dad.  They were going to go somewhere and as they were driving her husband asked her, "Is the gun in there?" pointing to the glove box.  She replied that is was and he responded that he was glad.  Later his daughter scolded her and told her how irresponsible Diane was for having a gun around her dad.   Diane told her that she doesn't have a gun at all, her husband meant the flashlight that they keep in the glove box.  This made perfect sense to me because Scott has a few words that only I know what he is talking about.  An example is  "the green burger!"  That is a cheeseburger at Jack in the Box which he always wants when we go there.  He doesn't know what lettuce is any more so he just calls it the--green burger.  The bathroom is "that room around there" and when he want to put on his pajamas he grabs the front of his shirt and shakes it.  I have been trying to have him do a little exercising each day so I started taking him over to walk where I walk with my friend each morning. Now it is very important to him that I don't forget so about two each afternoon he starts asking me numerous! times if he gets to go to the "wall."  His feet are now "puppies!"  He is so sincere and concerned that I understand what he is trying to tell me so I am working hard to learn his new language.  Diane told me that eventually he will stop talking altogether so for now--I am savoring every word that comes out of his mouth.

Chef Ava

 For the last year Ava and I have been cooking together most Wednesdays.  She has proven herself to be a really competent cook and hopefully she will be able to say that she loves to cook when she is out on her own.  After all of her hard work I wanted to have a little promotion program and so yesterday I surprised her with a very mini promotion ceremony!  I hope that our cooking together continues and told her that it is now her turn to decide what we will be cooking in the coming years.  Oh how I wish all of our grandkids lived close enough so I could spent time with each of them in my kitchen!
Grandma's Chef Award

Some goodies to celebrate her achievement