Sights and Sounds


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Join the November 12th Movement of Black men in action!

This day of action is inspired by the Occupy Movement and the worldwide phenomenon of everyday people using Social Media to effect major change. This Movement originated on the South Side of Chicago. It's today, please share!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Personal Emergency Response Systems: Frequently Asked Questions

Maurice P asked; What do you think about a PERS. At first I didn't even know what it was. Now I know that if you can't be with your senior 24/7 a PERS could be the lifeline you need.
Here's some basic info. I hope it helps!!

Thanks Maurice!!

'via Blog this'

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm as Dumb as a Bag of Rocks

When taking care of a Senior, sooner or later you start to see little dents in their otherwise very sharp minds.  Immediately you start to think, Is it twilight?, Is it senior dementia?, Am I seeing the beginning stages of Alzheimer's?  In your mind you don't want to believe that maybe they are starting to lose touch with reality.  Even worse there are days when they seem to get stuck like an old vinyl record with a scratch, asking the same question, or giving the same information over, and over, and over again.  Desperately,  you go over the conversation you've already had on the topic, starting each sentence with, "Don't you remember when we talked about this", or Don't you remember we talked about that just a little while ago?".

One day my mother was having one of what my sister and I call Mushy Mind days.  Every time I appeared in my mother's room she announced to me that the temperature was going into the '90's.  She has been very interested in the weather ever since she waited for a bus for an hour the morning after the Blizzard of 1967.  No matter how much I explain that the amount of snow, and the lack of traffic that morning, should have been a tip off long before she reached the bus stop, it always falls on deaf ears.  Also her idea of a weather forecast is the high temperature for that day, and what it looks like outside her bedroom window at 6:30 in the morning. When I showed her what the colors (Doppler radar) on the weather map actually meant, she was truly amazed.  But apparently that part is just useless information.  It also doesn't matter that she won't be going out that day.  Just acquiring the knowledge, and passing it on to me is enough.

Well this particular day I had a lot of work to do, and was really busy.  Every time I appeared in her room she wanted me to stop what I was doing so she could tell me about the weather report.  Determined to get her to remember so I could stop having the conversation, I kept asking, "  Don't you remember we just talked about that?".   After about six or seven conversations about the weather, I was starting to get really irritated.  I carefully recounted everything she said, and everything I said.  I even pointed out that we had watched one of the reports on TV together.  Again and again I asked, "Don't you remember we talked about  that?".  Finally, my mother swiveled her neck, the way black women do to REALLY emphasize their point, looked me right in the eye and said, " NO I DO NOT!!!".  

Right then I realized, of course she didn't remember; if she had she wouldn't keep telling me.  How irritated my poor mother must be to have her supposedly sane oldest daughter ask her the same stupid question over, and over, and over again.  She must have thought I had lost MY mind.  Immediately I thought to myself, " I'm as dumb as a bag of rocks".  It made me smile without knowing it, and my mother asked me "What's so funny?".  I just asked, "What's the weather going to be today?".  The smile that appeared on her face was immediate and genuine, animatedly she gave me her version of the weather forecast.  The repeating weather forecast only lasted about another two hours, and every time I stopped and listened as if it were the most important news I was going to get that day.  From then on, whenever she tells me something I already know, or she's already told me, I stop and listen as if it's the first time time I've ever heard it.  After all, for her IT IS the first time, and it's important for her to be able to contribute to our lives as much as we contribute to hers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

That Was Then, This Is Now

My mother defied the doctors with a vengeance!  Once again she decided that the doctors were wrong.  She was going to get out of the hospital, and go back to her own home.  Words can not explain the joy of my sister and I when we realized that our mother at 83 had beat the odds again.  Not only was she going back to her own home, but she would be home for Christmas!

I started planning for her return.  She was now going to be on oxygen, and a walker.  She was no longer going to be able to cook, clean, or do laundry.  I went into her home in a way I guess new parents do.  What needs to be moved or removed to keep her safe in her home.  But I was not bringing home a little baby.  I was bringing a senior into the home she had run.  A home she no longer had the full capability to run alone.  I started preparing for the Christmas dinner she had planned.

You know when you are busy in the thick of things there's no time to think.  You just get things done.  It wasn't until they started delivering the oxygen machine, the walker, and the other things she would need.  It wasn't until then that I realized, "My mother is now my responsibility".  That one small piece of reality smacked me in the face.  Talk about walking in reality, I had NEVER had to take care of someone else, and now the well being of my mother was solely in the hands of my sister and I.  We brought her home on December 23, 2009, and our journey began........

There are hundreds of thousands of us whose life and lifestyle are changed in ways similar to ours.  The change is life altering for the caretakers, but even more so for the seniors.  As my mother says, "I used to be the parent, but now I'm the child".  She means it in a good way, proud of how we are taking care of her.  We are happy to be able to give back to her the love and nurturing she gave us.

With that said, this life is not easy, but it doesn't have to be problematic.  Taking care of a senior is a heavy responsibility, but you don't have to do it with a heavy heart.  Yes, there are times when I want to scream,or yell, or have a day off.  I now know how it feels to be interrupted, and my name seemingly being called over and over and over again, to do things that are to me less important, but not to her.  You can get depressed, you can feel isolated, you can feel like it's all a burden, but it's NOT.  It's an OPPORTUNITY!!!

Our opportunity is to play the game of "Senior Survivor".  The rules are:
1. Keep your senior HAPPY!!!, it goes a long way towards your own happiness.
2.  Keep your senior as HEALTHY as possible, both physically and mentally.
3. Keep your senior in their own HOME if at all possible.
4. Keep making MONEY, so you won't go broke.
5. Keep a LIFE of your own.
6. Keep 2 steps ahead of the game (your senior) at all times ( or as much as possible).

The object of the game is of course to WIN.  What's my definition of winning???  I haven't figured that out yet.  I'll let you know.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Remember the Day the World Changed

I remember the day the world changed.  I can remember it like it was yesterday, but it seems like it's a lifetime ago.  I remember the exact moment when life went from "then" to "now". 

It was December 2009, the 15th, between noon and 1pm.   For the first time since childhood I decided to to make my mother a Christmas present.  I had been honing my skills as a jewelry designer, and I wanted to give her something that she would know I had put a lot of time, thought, and effort into.  I wanted it to be something just for her that no one else had.  After all, she was 83 and I had begun to see that my mother wasn't as young as she used to be, you know how it just hits you one day.  I was halfway through a "Dutch Spiral" bracelet, trying to decide how I wanted to make her earrings when Momma rang my cell phone.

"Hey", I said, I was always used to her calling me during the commercials of "All My Children", because she surely wasn't going to make a call while it was on.  She just said "I feel a little pain in my chest".  My first thought was that it was a report on a case of indigestion, since she ate a lot of what she wanted, and only some of what she really should have, but she still cooked every day, and she was the undisputed Queen of her kitchen.  Everyone knew that, and she could really cook.  But something was a little different, not urgent, nothing to put my finger on, just enough to ask "Do you want to go to the doctor?".  When she answered "yes", I knew it was something big, it must be painful, and she must be scared.  When she'd developed a brain aneurysm 20 years earlier she only agreed to go to the hospital because I wouldn't go out and buy more aspirin.  She'd taken a whole bottle in one night, and she was really mad at me for making her choose between a hospital or pain.  This time she didn't even hesitate, and I didn't live close.  I dropped everything and headed to her house. 

In the meantime, and for good measure she had also called my sister who is a math teacher, and a really good one I might add.  My sister called for an ambulance and headed out of the school building.  (Remind me to tell you about the hospital mixup some other time, I don't want to digress too far). 

It turned out she was having a heart attack.  My mother, a heart attack, it's still hard to believe.  She had made her breakfast that morning, had already started planning her Christmas dinner, and now the doctor was telling me not to expect her to come out of the hospital.  Hooked up to tubes, monitors beeping, in a medically induced deep sleep, I told her, "It's all up to you now".