Friday, June 4, 2010

Sliding shelf makes storing and sorting canned foods easier

My husband just installed a handy device for my brother - a sliding shelf inside a kitchen cabinet.    My brother is not doing too well, is over weight and suffers from emphysema.   He has a very deep kitchen cupboard where he keeps all kinds of canned goods and miscellaneous stuff.  Visiting last week I noticed that it was chock full of canned goods so I went through it.   I found multiple cans of the same few items - canned spinach, beans, soups - with expiration dates as far back as 2007.  We sorted the food into really expired, recently expired, about to expire and okay.   The first two categories went to the dump and the "about to expire and okay" went back in the cupboard.   Then I tackled the CAUSE of the build up.... My brother is too fat and too weak to dig into the back of the cupboard. Rather than find what's there, he just buys more.

To make his search easier my husband installed a shallow drawer on slides. The drawer sits on the shelf and has a drawer pull so he can it out to see what's there.   This way he doesn't have to bend down low or reach into the back to find canned goods.  We were worried about the weight of the drawer and slider mechanism but they weighed far less than the 40 or so 15-20 ounce cans of food that we tossed away.   I also reorganized the cupboard so that little-used items are on the bottom shelf - trays, a blender, baking pans, electric fry pan, etc....   My brother will never use these things again so they went to the bottom and the food and few items he'll use went on the higher shelf and sliding drawers where it's easier to reach. 

Just when I thought Mom was adjusting...

On Memorial Day we visited more dead relatives than live ones... there were 14 graves and 10 people for lunch.  I returned Mom to the nursing home and she seemed okay.  However, when I returned the next day, she asked me "Do I have to stay here until I die?"  Each time she asks my heart sinks.  I never say "Yes, STOP ASKING!!"  I use my mantra:  "Your safety comes first, your house won't accommodate a wheelchair. The halls and doors are too small, the bathroom is too cramped.  You can't be alone since you're so weak...."  Then I change the subject, a distraction technique that parents use with little kids.   

This time she came back to her point. She got teary eyed and said that she helped everyone else stay home.  She kept my dad at home.  Other elderly people simply say, "Take me home." My Mom wonders where she'll die.   It's heart wrenching and I wish she could be home.  I wish I was able to take her home but I just can't do it.  I've GOT to work.   Deep inside I realize she knows this, we began talking about it 15 years ago and she told me then to save for my own future.  If her doctor told me tomorrow that she only had a few months left, I'd take her home and live with her there.  I'd do anything she needed but, she's in great shape for a 90 year old and could live for several more years.  

In this case, I just knelt next to her chair, put my arms around her and hugged her.  We both cried a little then she changed the subject.  I guess she's used the distraction tactic too.   It worked well enough for us to have an affectionate moment and say a loving good bye.  I know she'll ask again because her memory is starting to fail and home is always there where she was capable, had lots of familiar people around and where she felt best.  
Mom constantly asked asks to go home what do I tell mom when she asks to go home?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day at Mom's house was nice, she didn't mind returning to care center

Mom's been asking to see her little house and yard but we've been afraid to take her home.  We didn't want any sad crying scenes or to send her into a seizure if she became too upset.   We've tried to avoid excuses and honestly, it's been too cold or too wet for to take her home until this weekend.   My cousin came over, we picked flowers from her garden and made bouquets for family graves then went to get Mom. She sat in the car while we left flowers on graves.  She got to see each bouquet and know that roses grown in HER yard honored all those we loved. It meant a lot to her. We joked briefly that we placed more bouquets on graves than we had people coming for lunch - a sad statement...

After the cemetary we went to her house where my brothers and other family were waiting.  We had a nice lunch and all sat together at the table with Mom at the honored "head" spot.   She was very happy and ate a good healthy plate of food.  She was especially happy to have coffee and pie after supper - she doesn't get much pie at the nursing home.  

When talking with her before going to her house I used my mantra:  "it's not safe, the wheelchair is too big, the bathroom too small, the doorways to narrow, you can't be alone anymore..."  She can't argue with these..   Mid way through the day she had to use the bathroom so I helped her. I had a plan to do it and walked through it a couple of times the day before. My plan meant moving her from the wheelchair to a seat on a walker then onto the toilet.  We did the same routine backwards to get from the bathroom back into the wheelchair.  I was concerned since each transfer means a risk of falling.  It was SO much work and I was so worried she'd fall or that I'd drop her.  She tried to pull herself up to stand at the sink but could not. She ended up falling back onto the toilet and sitting there for a few minutes.   After getting her re-routed from toilet to walker to wheelchair she said, I guess you prooved your point, I can't use the bathroom.  She was calm, not too upset but just matter of fact. I didn't say I told you so, I just said, .."yup.  I wish it was different but your safety is our priority."

When it was time to go, I told her we'd have to deliver some supper to a nephew, look at his new house and then take her "back". I feared she'd become upset but she didn't. She was just fine and willing to go. It was a huge relief for us all.   This evening, a day later, she asked again, "How long do I have to be here?  Do I have to spend the rest of my life here?"  I applied the safety mantra again then changed the subject.  I have a feeling that I'll be using it weekly from here on. 
Mom says she wants to go home all the time, she makes me crzy nuts.   I am so sick of hearing Mom demand to go home.