Archive for the ‘Aging’ category

Mary

March 27, 2017

Time for an update. Not a lot of change here. Mary continues to eat two meals a day and sleep in bed most of the day. Right now the only thing we seem to get her up and out is her weekly visit to the hair salon.

She usually skips watching the evening news on TV. She says that it is too depressing. Okay, I guess.

We had a local election here in LA a couple of weeks ago. It was a primary for mayor and other local jobs. Mary didn’t vote. In fact she hasn’t voted in any of the elections for the past 2 or 3 years. I think the process is too much for her to understand. I am not even sure she knows who the current president is. We don’t talk politics.

The other day she asks us if we could arrange for her to get some exercise. We tell her we would be glad to take you for a walk, but you have to ask us. You have to want to do it. You have to get your butt out of the bed and do it. It doesn’t happen. This is a recurring theme.

Yesterday, she was reading her Time Magazine. She has a subscription that delivers the magazine every week. For some strange reason, she asked for a pen to underline a couple of sentences about the election for the president of France. She didn’t ask us any questions about the article. She just underlines a couple of sentences. So Paula and I are seriously scratching our heads over this. So later after she went to bed we looked at the magazine. She doesn’t like to watch the news anymore but for some very strange reason she was interested in the French presidential election. Go figure.

So last week, Mary asked about seeing the grand kids. Mike and his family used to come over every Tuesday for dinner. Now with Jonathan in school, that keeps him up too late. So now we do dinner once or twice a month usually on a Friday or Saturday.

We tell her that the best time to see Sarah and Jonathan would be at church on Sunday. Would you like to go to church with us and join us for lunch after? Maybe she says. So Sunday rolls along. I get her up by 8:00 AM and feed her breakfast. After breakfast, she gets dressed and goes to lie down. I remind her about church. I will ask you again when it’s time to go. So at 10 AM, I go into her room and ask her if she wants to go. Nope. Not this time. Sigh.

We have been working on lining up caregivers for her so that Paula and I can go out on a date to see a movie and do dinner at a restaurant. Found a couple of folks, one from lodge and one from church. It was so nice to get out to a movie and quiet dinner without Mary. One of the brothers from lodge came to stay with her. He didn’t charge us. All we had to do is feed him some fried chicken from KFC.

On a final note, we have made our travel plans to visit Boston in May. Snow should be gone by then. One whole week without Mary. Woo Hoo! We are so looking forward to seeing our east coast friends again.

TTFN

Joe

Thanksgiving

November 24, 2016

2016-11-23-12-12-26It is time to reflect on all that we are thankful for this year. First and foremost, I am thankful for my lovely wife, Paula. She has been my partner now for 38 years. She has been by my side through thick and thin, good and bad. I don’t know what I would do without her.

Second, we are thankful that our son and his lovely wife live near by along with their (oh so cute) children. When we made the decision to move to California five years ago,  if they had not been living here, we probably would have stayed in Massachusetts.

In that case we would have moved Mary, kicking and screaming back to MA to live with us.

So what about Neil? Our other son, Neil, lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. SLC is a lot closer to LA than it is to MA. We get to see Neil from time to time. No grandchildren from Neil yet. Sigh. Maybe some day?

We are also thankful that Paula’s mother Mary is alive and healthy. She has reached the ripe old age of 92, bless her heart. Lord grant me the patience to deal with her. She can be a pain in the butt sometimes. We  have managed to keep her safe. No broken bones. Our goal has been to keep her out of a nursing home. And in that goal, we have been successful. We make sure that she gets fed and takes her meds.

We have a good home. We live in a condo that is well suited for elder care. We have no stairs (ie. all on one level). No trip hazards. We have an elevator that takes us to our parking garage. It’s big enough for all three of us to live comfortably.

So what about Thanksgiving? Needless to say, this is a decision that is way above my pay grade. The site of our feast wasn’t settled until a few days ago. In the past few years, we have gone to Theresa’s cousin Eric in Rancho Palos Verdes. Eric has a house that can easily host a large crowd, ranging in age from infant to 90ish. Eric’s wife Nikki said that she didn’t want to do it this year. We can’t do it, not enough space. Best we can do is have total of eight for dinner.

So it was decided to do it at Uncle Min’s house (also in RPV). Not quite as big as Eric’s place, but it will do. Uncle Min is part of Theresa’s extended family. Thanksgiving dinner is always an interesting blend of American and Chinese cuisine. Also, Uncle Min has a piano (and that is a good thing), so I will be bringing my iPad to play. We always enjoy seeing the extend family that we generally only see once a year.

And finally, thank you to all of the folks who read my rantings on my Blog. I originally started writing this blog to reach my friends who didn’t do Facebook. It has grown to so much more than that. This blog along with Facebook allows me to keep in touch with so many people that we have met over the years. I have been told that back in the day, people wrote letters on paper with a pen.

Anyhow, I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

Tuesday Night

September 21, 2016

In the past, Tuesday nights were family nights. We would have our son and his family over for dinner. But now that the school year has started, doing dinner on Tuesday night became a problem. They needed to get our grandson Jonathan to bed by a decent hour so that he would get a full night’s sleep. School starts at 8:30 AM. and that meant we couldn’t do Tuesday dinner and get done early enough so that Jonathan could be in bed by 7:00 PM.

So, Paula and I suddenly had a free night. So I could go to my Shrine Club meeting with the guys. And Paula could go have dinner with the ladies. My meeting was with the Beach Cities Shrine Club at the Whale and Ale in San Pedro. The ladies were meeting at Trani’s, also in San Pedro.

So, if Mary was going to eat, she had to go with Paula. I heard from Paula that the service was none to good at Trani’s. We were getting text messages from some of the ladies that they hadn’t been served by 8:00 PM. By that time we were pretty much done.

So I had Fish and Chips at the Whale and Ale. This is one of their signature dishes. Very tasty. I had a “Dirty Martini” to wash it down. I need to do a blog post on various martini variations. So to make it short, a “Dirty Martini” is two parts gin, one part dry vermouth and an ounce of olive juice. I think I prefer a Martini straight up.

So I was home well before Paula hit the road. I used my “Find My iPhone” app to show me when Paula was coming home. So I asked her how things went. Terrible she says. She asked her mother if she had a good time. Mary says, “No, it was terrible”.

Apparently, Mary didn’t recognize anyone at the table except Paula. Even though she should have recognized at least half of the ladies at the table. This event made it clear to us that Mary’s dementia is getting much worse. We will most likely not take her to events like this in the future. No fun for us and no fun for Mary. In addition, she is having more and more difficulty in carrying on a conversation.

Mary

September 19, 2016

Well, its been a busy couple of weeks. On Sunday, we asked Mary if she wanted to go to church. She of course wanted to go, but when it got to be game time (ie. Time to hit the road) she decides to pass. Too dizzy she says. Actually, that made our life a little bit easier. Paula went to church and I went to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things. Then, to the bakery to pick up the cake for Sarah’s birthday.

Oh right, I forgot to say, yesterday was Sarah’s 2nd birthday. The family arrived at 12 noon on the dot. Little Jonathan, rushes in and announces, “Sarah is two!!”. Then Sara and Jonathan see the presents wrapped on the table, and Jonathan asks, “Is this for me?” He sees the Transformer wrapping paper which is definitely telling. Well maybe, we say. We’re not opening presents just yet.


It’s time to eat brunch. And then we have a birthday cake for Sarah. It was a banana creme cake from Amalfitano’s bakery in San Pedro with figure of Minnie Mouse on top (Sarah’s fave). Of course, Jonathan’s birthday is coming up in October (and he knows it). And he will tell you that is will be five. (And holds up 5 fingers)

Jonathan’s gift was a black Jeep truck. He was ecstatic. The anti-theft packaging was a pain. I needed to get out a screw driver to release the truck from the packaging. ARGHHl He knows that Grandpa drives a black Jeep (which he calls the “Jeep Truck”). Whenever we go somewhere he looks for it.

So let’s get back to the subject of Mary. We have her doing physical therapy twice a week. We still have her using the walker. She grumbles about that every now and then but uses it. We tell her if you don’t use it, you will fall and get hurt. (And perhaps kill you.) We don’t actually say that but I think that she knows. She continues to sleep a lot during the day.

Yesterday was a particularly busy day for her in that after the birthday party we took her to Shriner BBQ at LA Harbor Lodge. Her husband Harold, was very active in the Shriners. I got her a glass of White Zin to lubricate herself. Then Paula got her a steak and some salad. After dinner, there raffles of door prizes. I won a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. Made my day.

We don’t understand why she keeps blowing off going to church. One thought is that she is dizzier in the morning but she doesn’t complain about going to PT at 9:30 AM. Another thought that we have is that she doesn’t to have other people seeing her as old and weak. Who knows? We just go with the flow. If you want to go, then fine, If not, fine.

Mary

September 5, 2016

Time for an update. Saints be praised! Mary went to church with us on Sunday. For the past 6-8 weeks, Mary has begged off on going to Church on Sunday and Bible study on Wednesday morning. Every time we suggested that she get dressed and go to church, she told that she was too dizzy and too tired.

So what’s different today? Well, for one thing we stopped one of her meds that was prescribed by her neuro doctor. She had an appointment with him a week or so ago, and we brought up our suspicion that it was making the dizziness worse. So the neuro doc agrees and takes her off of the med. I forget the name, but it doesn’t matter.

So she got hugs all around from the folks who hadn’t seen her in a while including Pastor Jacques. I think she enjoyed the attention. After the service we went out for lunch at the Gaffey Street Diner (one of our usual restaurants). Mary had some clam chowder. She pretty much finished the bowl.

We have Mary using the walker full time now. She grumped about it at first but she has gotten used to it. I think that she has come to understand that if she doesn’t use it she would likely fall again. Stowing the walker is a PITA when getting her into the car, but we deal with it.

A couple of weeks ago, Paula and I got away for a weekend up in the Bay area (Oakland) for an OES reception. We had our usual care-givers from CarenetLA to look after Mary. It was nice to get away for the weekend.

We’ll see if we can get her to Bible study this week.

RIP Dick Nicoll

August 16, 2016

Dick at Jake Wirth’s before Grand Lodge Quarterly in Boston.

Our good friend Dick Nicoll died on Monday. Dick was a past master of Thomas Talbot Lodge in Billerica, MA and a past district deputy grand master of Massachusetts Grand Lodge AF&AM [ A note to men who are reading this: When was the last time you had your PSA checked? PSA stands for prostate specific antigen and indicates the possible presence of cancer in the prostate.] Early detection is so important in saving lives. Sometimes early detection only delays what is inevitable. For Dick, it probably meant a few extra years to be with his family. Here’s the link to Dick’s obit.

The above picture is the way I like to remember Dick when he was healthy. I would rather not remember Dick as he looked after suffering the ravages of cancer. The picture was taken at Jake Wirth’s which is a pub that is [conveniently] around the corner from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Thomas Talbot masters and wardens would meet there for lunch every quarter for the Grand Lodge Quarterly. Good times indeed.

jake wirth

Whatever Dick did, he was all in. He was actively involved in Lodge, Boy Scouts and Church. Whatever Dick did, he did it with a smile on his face.

Dick and is wife Carol shared many happy years of marriage. Both were very interested in their Scottish heritage. He served as an officer in multiple capacities of the Clan MacNicol Society. Over the past few years Carol and Dick enjoyed several trips to Scotland.

After Dick’s diagnosis, Carol retired early to assist in his care. With his doctors’prescriptions and an exquisitely healthy diet, he was able to live six years longer than his doctors had originally expected.

Dick’s wake and Masonic funeral service will be on Thursday. It saddens me that I cannot be there for Carol. This is one of the problems I have with living on the west coast and friends who live on the east coast. Attending funeral services would be expensive. Air fare, rental car and hotel would cost upwards of $2,000 for the two of us. It’s just not in the budget. In addition to the travel costs, we would have to arrange care for Paula’s mother and that’s not cheap either.

So Dick was 69 when he died (born in January 1947). He was about a year older than I am. It bothers me no end when members of my generation pass away. It bothers me more when friends who were 10 years younger than, I pass away. Living a long life is such a blessing. Of course it is also a curse in that you see your friends die before you.

So mote it be.

Joe

Mary

August 5, 2016

No pictures today.

It’s been a tough week. On Sunday, Paula and I went to the Chili Cook-off at lodge. Mary decided that she didn’t want to go. Okay, no problem. When we got home at about 8 pm we got Mary up to offer to have some dinner and watch the TV news.

Paula and I both had sat down. Mary gets up from the dining room table and heads for her room. Then she had a whopping dizziness episode and falls on her back. We helped her sit up and we tried to take stock of her condition. She was conscious and didn’t seem to have broken anything. We decided to not call the EMT’s and wait for the morning to call her primary care doc.

So on Monday morning, Paula makes an appointment with her primary at 11:45. Her doctor ordered X-rays. X-ray showed fractured rib (non-displaced). He gave her some kind of strap to help stabilize her rib cage and wrote her an Rx for pain med.

At this point, Mary is noticeably weaker and noticeably disoriented. Paula has been sleeping on the extra bed in her bedroom. She has needed help sitting up and getting up out of bed. We are insisting that she use her walker rather than her cane when walking around our condo. She fought us for a little bit but has come around on the issue. We told her if you don’t use the walker you WILL fall again and next fall will kill you. So she’s on board with walker.

Last night she got up at about midnight when Paula was about to go to bed and she asked “Is it time to get up?”. Paula gives her a big sigh. No.  Paula gave her a bottle of Ensure and put her back to bed.

One good thing happened this week. Her lawyer dropped by yesterday with his notary in tow to sign her new estate docs. She managed to get it done, but she had trouble. Lawyer says to her “put the number 4 here (between August and 2016), initial here and sign here.” She had trouble with those simple directions. Eventually, we got through all of the paper work along with notary stamps. Lawyer will make copies for his file and call us to pick up the originals. We breathed a big sigh of relief to get this task done.

So the docs include updated will, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney and add Paula and my names to her family trust.

So to finish off the week, we took Mary to get her hair done. Paula got the car and meet us outside the elevator. I started to walk with Mary to the elevator. The distance from our front door to the elevator is about 25 yards. She almost couldn’t make it. Navigating with the walker is very tough for her. While she was getting her hair done, we did the grocery shopping.

So here’s where we stand. At the end of the week she is noticeably weaker, noticeably frailer and much less aware of whats going on in the world. We’re beginning to feel that the end is near. Her internal fuel gauge is pointing at a big red “E”. But then again she might bounce back. We need to make another appointment with her neuro doc to talk about one of her meds. We feel that might be making the dizziness worse not better.

As it stands now, we feel we can’t leave her alone. One of us has to be here. We may start scheduling our caregivers for an evening every other week so that we can go out and have dinner and see a movie. Our goal all along has been to avoid putting her in a nursing home. But after this week, we beginning to think that maybe the time has come to look at that.

We are so looking forward to our trip up north on August 19 to get away for the weekend. We have scheduled our caregivers for the weekend.