Anna Mae's Page

This page is dedicated to my mom, Anna Mae. My mom has a great sense of humor. Her humor is a blessing as she battles Dementia. Her quick wit has us all clamoring for the perfect response at the onset of the Inquisition. Since her questions follow the same path, the movies "50 First Dates" or "Ground Hog Day" come to mind. Jokes are repeated, become familiar, and eventually, a part of her memory. Instead of being confused, she remembers the punchlines of the jokes. Laughter is heard daily and has become a positive outlet for us all.

What follows are various notes, observations, and journals of caring for someone with dementia. Hopefully, this may help someone who faces the same ordeal. Maybe something can be learned from our families successes and mistakes.

Who are You?

Published on 4/9/2019 3:00:00 PM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Who are you? Many times my mom would ask me that. Depending on the moment, I could be her father, brother, my father, or the janitor of this facility.

Most of the time, when we are eating dinner, she tends to think she is in a restaurant. She is always offering to pay me for the meal. Other times she worries about how she will pay for the meal. She tends to think I work here and that we are not related. When I tell her that I am her son, and we are home, she becomes relieved hearing this, and she is at ease for the moment.

Then, a few minutes later, we repeat the whole thing all over again.

Signs of an Anxiety Attack

Published on 4/9/2019 5:40:00 PM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

My mom has these little signs or hints that she is about to have an anxiety attack. The first and most obvious sign is she tends to hold onto her pocketbook, not wanting to let it go. She has to have it around her shoulder at all times. She has to have it going to the bathroom, sitting in a chair, or just lying in bed.

The second sign is something that starts as a little comment of "I guess I better be getting back home." The short phrase can come out of nowhere, and after repeating once or twice, it usually turns into a request. If she feels like she is not getting any acknowledgment for her request, it then becomes a demand. Followed by her trying to find a way out and walking home.

Another sign that is much harder to pick up on is continually asking the same questions. Someone with Dementia usually repeats themselves. The giveaway is the frequency in which they do. When my mom is experiencing anxiety, she will tend to ask the same question again the moment I finish with my answer.

I do not believe these signs are unique to my mother. My sister and I visited several Assisted Living facilities that have Memory Care units. Touring the residences, we have seen others that show the same traits as our mom.

Early Signs

Published on 4/18/2019 7:42:00 PM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Some of the early signs that my mom had include: Momentary lapses of not knowing where she was, constantly losing things, and spending hours obsessively looking for them, forgetting to eat, neglecting her hygiene, and asking the same question repeatedly.

As her dementia progressed, she started to forget her grandchildren's names. She would also start talking about her friends and family that have past away years prior as if they were still alive.

Taking the Keys Away

Published on 4/10/2019 8:09:00 PM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

One of the most depressing things I had to do was to take the car keys away from my mom. At the time, she still was a good driver. Her issue was forgetting how to drive back home.

She was aware of this. She devised a plan of writing directions on how to get home from the various stores she visited. She had a notecard for each store and placed them in the glove compartment. In her mind, she thought if she ever would forget her way, she could pull out the appropriate card and navigate back home.

The notecards worked for a time until one eventful shopping trip to the local Walmart. After coming out of the store and finding her car, she became disoriented and forgot where she was. She could not remember which card to use. She sat in her car for a while, trying to figure it out. Giving up, she decided to walk back into the store to see if she could remember where she was. Luckily, we have a relative working in the store that noticed her. She told her how to get home and then called me.

From that moment, I did all her errands, including taking her for her doctor visits. Eventually, I removed the car key from her key ring. Months later, we sold the car to her granddaughter.

Years later, she still tells me that she drives and that she still owns the car. When I tell her, "Don't you remember we sold the car to your granddaughter," and her answer is, "Yes, but I bought another car after that." It's as if her mind will not allow her to relinquish the car. I am not sure if this is the Dementia or just her subconscious trying to protect itself from becoming irrelevant as it tries to ward off the boredom from her diminished way of life.

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Take Me Home From The Movies

Published on 4/23/2019 12:30:00 AM   Category: Anxiety Attack

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

At 12:30 AM, I woke up from the sound of shuffling feet, and my mom's voice was yelling out, "Hello." I jumped out of bed to realize she was outside of my room without her walker looking for someone to take her home. I was caught off guard as her bed alarm usually goes off whenever she attempts to get out of the bed. This night it did not work. I asked her what she was doing, and she told me the movie just ended, and she wanted to go home. I told her she was in her home. That is when the argument started. She did not want to hear that, nor did she want to accept anything I had to say. She just wanted me to call her mother.

I tell her that it was not possible to call her and saying that her parents were deceased only made matters worse. I was able to convince her that she sometimes confuses her caregiver for her mother and that I should give her a call instead. Luckily for me, our caregiver is more than just a caregiver. She is part of the family. I can call her 24x7.

The caregiver spoke with my mom. She was trying to convince her that she was home with her son. She also said that her parents already knew this. My mom replied to tell her that a mean man is standing in front of her. This man will not let her leave, and all she wanted to do was go home.

After 10 minutes on the phone, my mom started to tire out. I helped her back into bed with her scolding me every step of the way. She shortly fell asleep. It is now 1:00 AM.

Two hours later, I heard noises coming from her room. I walked in, expecting to get more of the same, but to my surprise, she was pleasant and relaxed. She asked me to take her to the bathroom. She forgot everything that happened earlier. I was able to get her back into bed and to sleep within a few minutes.

I, on the other hand, was up for the next couple hours as every little sound in the house made me think it was her getting up out of bed.

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Bathroom Anxiety

Published on 4/28/2019 6:55:33 PM   Category: Anxiety

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Dementia Anxiety can also cause problems in the bathroom. When dementia reaches a level where they are dependent on your verbal instructions on what to do next, it can lead to some bizarre moments in the bathroom. There was one occasion my mom listen to each of my instructions. Walk to the toilet while holding onto the vanity countertop. Reach for the handicap rails while backing up to the toilet. Pull down your pants, then sit down. When she sat down, I walk out so I can give her some privacy. I will usually wait outside the door until I hear her try to get up. This particular time she took longer than usual. When she got up, I walked in, and she asked me how come I did not come back to tell her it was ok to go.

It appears my instructions on this occasion left out the part of "it is ok to go now." She sat on the toilet for about five minutes, waiting for me to give the command. I had to repeat everything except this time I added, "It is ok to go" to the instruction list.

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A Bad Night

Published on 4/29/2019 7:59:50 AM   Category: Anxiety

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Most nights, my mom starts to get confused right about sundown. This confusion is often referred to as sundowning or sundown syndrome. Last night she was a little more confused than most nights. She was still restless when I helped her to bed at 8:30 PM. She awoke at 12:30, asking to use the bathroom. Walking her back from the bathroom to her bed, she became defiant, not wanting to go back to bed. Instead, she wanted to go home to her parents. It is not the first time she asked to go back home to them.

Most occasions, after lengthy conversations about how that is impossible as they are both deceased, she will usually submit and go to bed. Tonight was different. After failing to convince her, I pulled out the death certificates of her parents as she read them and still was defiant. She said this was a mistake and was not her parents. I proceeded to tell her I could not discuss this with her anymore as it was late, and I needed to get some sleep as I work in the morning.

I was able to get her back into bed only to awaken an hour later. Again she needed to use the bathroom. This time on our walk to the bathroom, she had tears in her eyes. She asked if I heard "the news." I asked her what news. She told me," I was informed of my parents dying yesterday." I told her that it did not happen yesterday, but 43 years ago. She told me I was mistaken. I agreed with her so I could get her back to bed.

It is now 2:00 am. At 3:00, my mom attempts to get out of bed again. This time she forgot all about her parents but stated she just came over to pick up the newspaper, and she could not find her way back. I told her that she must have had a dream as she was home in her bed. She refused to believe this and refused to stay in bed. I talked her into sitting in her recliner in the living room. I would sit next to her on the couch. It is now 4:00 AM.

At 4:30, she asked me to call a tow truck. I said why I would need to do that. She proceeded to tell me that the two of us were broke down in my truck. After more conversation, she believed her recliner was a car, and the couch I was sitting on was a truck. As it was now getting to be 5:00 AM, I took her to the bathroom one more time and told her she must sit in the recliner and stay there as I need to get ready for work. I told her that I was tired, and she kept me up all night. After saying this, she got upset with me and said she would not talk to me again. As I placed her back into the recliner, I asked her questions with no replies from her. She was visibly upset with me. As I went into the bathroom to get ready for work, she finally fell asleep.

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The Day After

Published on 4/30/2019 9:41:34 PM   Category: Anxiety

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

The day after from the previous night's anxiety attack usually results in a total crash. My mom will sleep for the majority of the day. The longer the anxiety attack lasts, the longer she will sleep.

Her anxiety attacks can last up to 20 hours. When the crash comes, she can sleep for more than a day straight — followed by sleeping on and off during the next couple of days.

When my mom finally came around from the 04/29/19 anxiety attack, she told me she was working on a payroll problem and that she spent the better part of the day running the numbers. Note: My mom was a bookkeeper and did payroll. She asked me if I can check her results. I told her that I would. An hour later, she asked me again if I had checked her work. I told her that I did, and the numbers were correct. She never mentioned this to me again.

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Remember USMC

Published on 4/30/2019 9:54:56 PM   Category: Memory

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Even though my mom has a difficult time remembering current events, or mixes up distant memories with present memories, there are some memories she does not forget like my father's Marine Corps serial number.

When my father joined the Marines, my mom would write to him often just by addressing the envelope with his serial number. After a couple of years worth of letter writing, she has the serial number memorized. When I see her struggling with her memories, I sometimes ask, do you remember dad's serial number. In an instant, she calls out the numbers with no effort. I ask my dad if he can remember his serial number, and he cannot.

Another USMC theme memory my mom has is the ability to play the Marine Corp Hymn on the organ. My mom was very good at playing the organ. She would spend hours playing all kinds of melodies, including the Marine Corp Hymn. As she got older and life became busier, she mostly gave it all up. Recently I purchased her a keyboard in hopes it would keep her mind active and try to remember things through the music. She had a challenging time playing it. She would forget the key locations and had difficulties reading the notes. There were two songs that she remembered and was able to play. One was her high school "Fight" song, and the other was the Marine Corp Hymn.

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Wrong Feet

Published on 5/14/2019 7:24:49 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

The bed alarm went off at 5:30 this morning. As I went into my mom's room, she had already managed to get up out of bed and started walking towards the door. I asked her if she needed to go to the bathroom, and she said yes. As we were walking down the hallway, I noticed her shoes were on the wrong feet. I told her this, and she paused, stared at her feet, and said: "Someone switched my feet." I laughed and told her who could have switched her feet. She thought about that for a second and started to laugh hysterically.

Dementia might have taken over part of her mind away, but not all of it. Her sense of humor is still there, and we use this to try and deal with it.

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Dementia Took a Day Off

Published on 6/10/2019 4:49:12 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

My mom had a very bad week. She had more high anxiety days than calm days. Her doctor prescribed a stronger medication for when she becomes this way. I gave her the medication at bedtime as directed and the following morning when she woke up she was a different person. It as though my real mom came home.

All throughout the day, my mom was relaxed and remembering current events as if she had no dementia. It was a pleasure to see her this way. This lasted for the rest of the day and into the following day before her anxiety returned. I am not sure if the medication caused this or if it was just a fluke occurrence. It is too soon to make this determination.

I am reluctant to give her this medication. The side-effects are severe. I am not going to blindly giver her a pill whenever it appears she is going to having a bad day. I am just going to try and play it by ear and pray for the best.

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So Much for the New Medication

Published on 6/20/2019 5:00:11 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

My Sister and I put my mother in bed at 8:00 PM. She was joking around with us behaving as she did years ago. It was nice to see.

At 9:00 PM, the bed alarm goes off as she tries to get out of bed. I asked her where she was going, and she told me that she was going to school. After a little discussion, I was able to get her back into bed.

At midnight, the bed alarm goes off a second time as she now needs to go to the bathroom. I escorted her to the bathroom, answering various questions along the way. A few minutes later, she is back in bed, sleeping.

At 2:00 AM, the bed alarm goes off, another trip to the bathroom, and more questions to answer along the way.

At 3:00 AM, she is attempting to get out of bed from the wall side. She was stuck between the bed and the wall. I straighten her out and got her back into bed. Once in bed, she tells me she needs to go to the bathroom. I told her she went an hour ago and that she could not possibly need to go again. She persisted, and I took her to the bathroom.

3:15 AM: I am not even in bed from the previous episode, and the alarm goes off. I rush back into her bedroom to find her trying to get out of bed on the wrong side again. This time she is telling me she is looking for her children. She is asking me did you see my children. They were just here.

At this point, I am tired, aggravated, and need to get ready for work in 2 hours. I have no patience, and it shows in my response to her questions. I told her that all her children are grown and live in their own homes. The youngest is turning 50. After telling her where all her children live, she proceeded to change the story to a lady who gave her two children. She demanded to go outside and look for them. After refusing to take her outside, she yelled at me to get out of her room. For the first time since she has moved in with me, she finally acknowledged that we were in her room. I left her room, and 10 minutes later, the alarm goes off. We continued the discussion, but I was able to convince her that there were no children and that she was in bed. She finally fell asleep.

I am now eating breakfast at 5:00 AM. I am contemplating why I am writing this all down. What is the point of this? Why do I want to remember any of this? Then the bed alarm goes off again. This time my mom appears to behave normally, just asking to go to the bathroom. She asks what time it is and when can she get out of bed. I tell her just lay in bed for another hour, and I will make her breakfast as soon as I get out of the shower. Of course, while I am in the shower, the alarm goes off. I hurry and get dressed and take her into the kitchen to make her breakfast. While eating, she starts to tell me some bizarre stories about going on a trip to Florida. When she came back, she saw that the US Government set up an office in town. She walked by the building, and the agents rushed her inside to ask her questions. She had no idea what she did wrong. She had to call her friends to vouch for her, and the agents let her go. She continued all through breakfast, talking about the government agents and who could they be.

The caregiver arrives at 7:00 AM, and I am off to work.

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So Much for the New Medication II

Published on 6/21/2019 5:31:06 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Before I left for work I informed the caregiver of the night's events. I also left her with medication to give my mom if she does not calm down and go to sleep.

I go home for lunch to check on everything and I find that my mom is still up. She is still confused and telling weird stories. The caregiver tells me my mom was getting frustrated and wanted to go home. She gave her the medication which calmed her down. Usually, she will fall asleep once she calms down. But not this time. My mom's anxiety attack continues throughout the day.

It is now 5:00 PM and I am home from work. I find my mom sitting in the recliner wide awake and still in a confused stated. The caregiver is sitting on the couch visibly exhausted. She tells me that my mom got extremely upset and tried leaving the house multiple times throughout the afternoon. She has been on her feet for the past couple hours refusing to use her walker.

They also played the "Let's Call my Mother game". Many times when my mom is excited and angry she wants to call her parents. My grandparent's old phone number is one digit off from my mom's phone number. My mom remembers her phone number as theirs. So if we call that phone number it will ring in the house. What happens next leads to some weird and would be funny moments if my mom was not so angry. When she answers the phone the conversation can go in any direction. This time she catches on fast that she is not talking to her mom. She just gets angrier. After a few minutes, she forgets she made the call and wants to do it again.

The caregiver leaves for the day wishing me good luck. I sit with my mom for an hour and talked her into eating dinner. We finish dinner at 7:00 PM and I give her a choice. Sit in the living room with me and watch TV or she can go to bed. She chooses the living room. I place her in her recliner, throw a blanket on top of her and she falls asleep within a minute.

Now I have a decision to make. Do I wake her up in an hour and try to get her into bed or do I spend the night on the couch? I would be able to sleep much better if I knew she was in bed with the alarm activated. I do not have an alarm on the recliner. I also do not want to wake her and refuel her anxiety attack. So it is the couch for the night.

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The Let's Call My Mother Game

Published on 6/21/2019 11:12:45 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Many times when my mom is excited and angry, she wants to call her parents. My grandparent's old phone number is one digit off from my mom's phone number. My mom remembers her phone number as theirs. So if we call that phone number from a cell phone, it rings in the house. What happens next leads to some weird and would be funny moments if my mom was not so angry.

When she answers the phone, the conversation can go in any direction, depending on who is in the room with us making the call. If it is just her and I, she will talk to me through the phone while standing next to me, not even realizing it is me. She will ask me all kinds of questions before figuring out this ruse. If one of my sisters is in the room with us and they take the call, the game lasts a little longer as she sometimes thinks she is talking with her mother.

A deviation to this game is actually to call someone else, sometimes one of my sisters, or the caregiver.

My mom tends to listen to the caregiver as she is close to her in age. But this is all shortlived as she forgets within moments, and we must play the game again. Sooner or later, the game must end, and when it does, my mom is angrier for having played it.

Most of the time, when my mom asks to call home, I will tell her, no, knowing how it will end. By refusing, she becomes angry at me, diverting the urge to speak with her mother. Now I become the bad guy, and her attention focuses on me. Like a scolded child, she will sit down and have a little temper tantrum before exhausting herself and falls asleep. However, this does not always work. There is no rhyme or reason to the madness. We have to play the game now and then to see what works.

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Feeding the Fantasy

Published on 6/29/2019 11:23:05 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

All of my mom's anxiety attacks originated from the memories of needing to return home to her parents before dark. She tends to think she still lives with them and needs to follow the rules they put forth. Her obedience to follow the rules leads to "I still need to call them and let them know I will be late." We, as a family, always try and explain to her how this is not possible. Most of the time, it works, and we can move on. However, the urge to call her parents always comes back.

Some relatives and friends that we know shared some of their experiences when caring for someone with dementia. When encountered with an impossible request, make an excuse, lead them on, do anything to divert their attention to something else. Prolong that urge for another time.

My cousin used to tell me that my aunt would always ask for my uncle, who had passed away a couple of years before. Being that my uncle was a fireman, my cousin's response was he was at the firehouse. My aunt always accepted the answer, and my cousin was able to get her to move on.

I tried this logic once. In one of my mom's first anxiety episodes, she was demanding for someone to bring her home to her parents. My sisters and I tried reasoning with how it was not possible. Denying her request only made the situation worse. As it got later into the night and we all having to go to work the next day, we relented and told her we would bring her in the morning. To our surprise, she just laid in bed waiting for morning to come. She did not sleep that entire night.

When morning came, she did not forget what we had told her. She asked us to bring her home. Having no choice as we ran out of time, I was already late for work. I told her that the caregiver would take her home. When the caregiver arrived, I left for work, and she had to deal with my mom. She crashed a couple of hours later.

More than a year later, we are finally trying to apply this logic again. It seems to be working this time around. At least on a couple of occasions, we used it. When my mom asks about her parents, we talk as they are still living. We lead her on a little. We try to give her some sort of assurance that her parents are ok with her living with me.

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Medications

Published on 7/6/2019 10:56:44 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

The only medications my mom took were to control her high blood pressure. When we recognized she was having difficulty remembering things, we took her to a neurologist. The doctor prescribed her something that was supposed to delay the effects of dementia. Despite taking this medication, the results did become worse. She would be confused and having moments of not knowing where she was. She would forget many things, including eating.

She was living alone during this time. We would all go and check up on her, and I would visit at lunch and dinner times. I kept track of her meals and would argue with her that she is not eating. She always told me that she was. She started to lose a lot of weight.

The combination of the weight loss and the medication caused her to have dizzy spells. She stumbled a few times, but luckily she never fell. The cardiologist told us to have her stop taking her medications, one pill at a time until the dizziness subsided. We started with her dementia medication as a stated side effect is that it causes dizziness. After a week or so, without experiencing any dizziness, we thought we solved it. Then she had another spell. The cardiologist told us to cut her blood medication in half, which fixed the problem. We believe the combination of the weight loss, the blood pressure, and the dementia medication caused her dizziness.

Having gone through all of this, we became reluctant to try any new medications. So when my mom moved in with me, and she started to have these anxiety attacks, we were at a loss on how to combat it. Finally, after many sleepless nights, we asked her doctor is there any medication that she could prescribe.

The doctor prescribed medication for cognitive functioning. The medication helped at first but did nothing for anxiety. The doctor warned us that any type of anxiety medication would cause drowsiness, relaxation, and weakness that can lead to falls. She would need supervision at all times. Between my family and two caregivers, we monitor my mom 24/7. We went forward and had the doctor prescribe something.

The very first time I gave her the new medication was in the middle of an anxiety attack. The result was that it immediately knocked her out. She slept the rest of the night and the following day. Her reaction to the medication scared me. I did not like seeing her like this. What I did not realize at the time was her excessive sleeping was not caused by the medication but by the exhaustion of the attack itself.

The prescription was to take two pills daily, but we cut the pills in half and only gave her half of a tablet on the onset of an anxiety attack. It worked for a long while, and the doctor agreed that we should continue with this course of action.

Eventually, she either became tolerant of the medication, or the anxiety attacks were getting stronger. The drug did not have the desired results. Even increasing the dosage to the original prescription did not affect it. Most of the problems came at night when the "Sun Down" syndrome came on. The doctor prescribed something stronger to be taken at night and to continue with the other meds in half pill dosage several hours apart.

We are beginning to realize that treating dementia purely with medication is not a winning solution. It is more of relying on our instincts than just depending on the drugs entirely. Recognizing the signs of an oncoming anxiety attack, when to feed the fantasy they are living in at the moment, diverting attention to move past the attack, and to use the medication at the right time so it can be more effective. This approach has been working for us for the past couple of weeks. The anxiety is still there. It is just we are now trying to navigate through it instead of trying to stop it.

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Does that mean I have to go to bed?

Published on 7/15/2019 11:15:08 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

One or both of my sisters will come over every night to get our mom ready for bed. When I mention this to my mom, as they are walking in through the doorway, she often questions why do I need help to put my pajamas on. No matter how I try to explain it, I always have to change the narrative by stating they just came over to tell you good night.

This past Sunday morning, my mom and I just finished breakfast when my sister Sharon came over to spend time with her. When I told my mom Sharon is here, she gave me this puzzled look. With a great sound of disappointment in her voice, she asked: "Does this mean I have to go to bed?"

My mom forgets many things, but she now associates going to bed whenever my sisters come over.

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I am F-n Old!

Published on 7/19/2019 9:08:02 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

On one of my mom's earliest anxiety attacks, my sister Sheri and I were trying everything possible to try and divert her attention, change the subject, and to wear her down so she could go to sleep. My mom insisted her parents were still alive and that she needed to get back home before she got into trouble. After many iterations of "They cannot possibly still alive, you are 83, and that would make them 125 years old," we could not find a way to break the cycle. Finally, in the act of desperation, my sister half-jokingly said: "Mom, you are F-n old!" My mom paused for a moment to take in what my sister said, and then she started to laugh hysterically. My sister went on to tell her if anyone asks how old you are, you tell them you are F-n old.

After many times of my sister quizzing her on, "What do you say when someone asks how old you are"? My mom would always answer "F-n old"!

Well, this worked in diverting my mom's attention from her anxieties. We all laughed until my mom wore herself out and fell asleep. We used this method many times afterward to varying degrees of success.

In another anxiety attack episode, Sheri tried playing the card game Quiddler with her. The game contains a bunch of cards with many letters printed on them. The object is to make words from the many cards you are dealt.

On this particular occasion, my mom did not want to participate in the game. Seeing as the anxiety was getting worse, Sheri changed the rules. The new game was to say the first curse word that came into your mind that begins with the letter found on the card. I never laughed so hard listening to Sheri and mom playing this game. The game lasted for almost an hour before the anxiety got the best of her. Luckily, exhaustion overtook her soon afterward, and she slept for the rest of the afternoon and into the night.

Several months later, a friend of my mom came to visit. This lady knew my mom through Church and is very religious. They had a pleasant conversation. During this conversation, the topic of age came up. My mom's friend asked, How old are you, Ann"? Her answer was "F-n old."

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Medical Devices Walker

Published on 7/21/2019 1:23:12 PM   Category: Medical Devices

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

I found this walker on Amazon. For under 50.00, it is an excellent product. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000XPHY10/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

We also purchased a set of wheels that slide into the front of this walker. It makes it easier to push.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008SI9QGA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Also, we took two tennis balls and cut slits into them and popped them onto the back legs, so it was easier to slide across the floor.

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Medical Devices Shower Seat

Published on 7/21/2019 1:28:45 PM   Category: Medical Devices

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

We bought this shower chair from Amazon for 38.00.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M2XAHZL/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1

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Medical Devices Pill Dispenser

Published on 7/21/2019 1:41:03 PM   Category: Medical Devices

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

When my mom was living alone, she would often forget to take her daily medications. Sometimes she would double dose as she forgot what day it was. At the time, she was using one of those regular pill containers that had a compartment for each day of the week. It worked well until she forgot what day it was.

To find an alternative method for her to take her pills, I found an inexpensive pill dispenser on Amazon. When I first purchased this device, it was about 50.00. Since then, they are more like 80.00. I did find more commercial-grade dispensers that were six times the costs. I did not want to spend that much, not knowing how they would work. We settled on this Amazon dispenser, and to our surprise, it worked great.

The first one we bought lasted about a year and a half. I believe the reason it wore out was due to the volume of pills we tried jamming into each compartment. When I ordered the replacement dispenser, I purchased a second one and placed fewer pills into each compartment. I then programmed one dispenser to go off in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

The dispensers are programmable to go off at any time of the day, and it can be sent to go off multiple times a day. The dispenser can hold 28 days' worth of pills. An audible alarm sounds when it is time to take the pills. The alarm goes off the moment the dispenser is turned upsidedown to empty the contents.

These devices are not perfect. They will have a hiccup now and then. On a couple of occasions, the dispenser would dispense the pills, but the audio alarm would not shut off. The only way to turn it off is to remove a battery.
On one of those occasions when I visited my mom during lunchtime, I would see only one dispenser on the table. I asked her where is the pill-dispenser, and naturally, she could not remember. I searched each room in her condominium, even looked in the trash. It was if it disappeared. Then I heard a faint beeping noise coming from the freezer. I opened the freezer door, and there it was. I asked her why did she place it in the freezer, and her answer was it would not stop beeping. I did not want to wake the neighbors.

Despite the hiccups, these devices worked well for us.


The dispenser can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002B51358/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1

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Improvised Alarm

Published on 8/23/2019 8:28:46 PM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

It has been several weeks since my mom had an anxiety attack. Giving her medication in half doses earlier in the day, along with redirecting the conversation when it appears an anxiety attack is imminent, has been working.

However, we had a close call a couple of nights ago. My mom's anxiety got the best of her after eating dinner. I managed to get her to calm down by placing her in her recliner in the living room. She fell into a deep sleep, and when my sister came over to help get her into bed, we could not move her. She refused to get up and just wanted to remain in place. I did not want her to spend the night in the living room as we have no alarm on the chair.

Not wanting to spend the night on the couch, I improvised a chair alarm. I took a wind chime and tied it around her foot while she slept. They made a lot of noise while I was tieing it, but luckily she did not move the entire night.

The face my mom gave me in the morning when I showed what I had done was priceless.

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Making Up Stories

Published on 4/28/2020 6:21:57 PM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

I took a short video of my mom making up a story of something that never happened. Sometimes she does this. I am not sure if these stories are fragmented memories or something she heard on the TV.

Sometimes she fixates on the story and will retell it over and over again. On this particular occasion, I was able to get her to change the topic and I was surprised to see my mom's humor come out.

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Memory Anchors

Published on 8/18/2020 12:34:00 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

There are certain moments in my mom's life that I consider memory anchors. These are memories that either left great pain, embarrassment or was just a funny moment in her life. Whenever she becomes confused and begins to drift from reality, I use these anchors to reach her and bring her back. It works most of the time. However, her dementia will make her forget what I had said, and we will repeat the process.

When my mom demands I call her father to pick her up and I exhaust all other methods to bring her back to reality I bring up her father's passing. My grandfather died on April Fool's day. My grandmother called my mom to come to the house immediately. When my mother arrived, my grandmother pointed to my grandfather sitting in his chair. My grandfather was always playing jokes on my mom. My mom thought this was just another one of his jokes and tried to wake him up. When he did not wake up, she realized what had happened. I will tell this story to her while she wants her father and she remembers instantly.

On a lighter memory of my mom was the time she came out of a department store and walked to a car that was identical to hers. She saw a lady sitting in the passenger seat. My mom, opening the driver's side door asked the lady what she is doing in her car. The lady, feeling embarrassed, apologized, and told her she thought it was her daughter's car. She then got out of the car and walked into the store looking for her daughter. My mom tried placing her car key into the ignition. When she realized it did not fit and this was not her car, she became embarrassed and quickly got out and found her car parked a few spots away.

I was amazed when my mom first told me this story as to how she was able to talk someone out of their own car. I asked her what made her think that it was her car. She tells me she was confused because it looked just like her car. We joked about this incident for years.

Now, when she becomes confused and she wants to go home, I tell her this story and like the memory of her father, she remembers instantly. I tell her just like all those years ago when your mind told you that car was yours, it is now trying to talk you out of your own home. This story does not work for me all the time. It does, however, allow me to change the subject as she remembers that moment. We will laugh again about it. I would ask her who was the most confused person that afternoon. You or the lady you talked out of her own car.

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La luna 'mezzo mare

Published on 8/25/2020 9:14:19 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

It has been a long night. Mom tried getting out of her recliner several times during the night. Her last attempt, she almost fell onto the floor. Luckily I heard her struggling before anything terrible happened. I took her to the bathroom and returned her to her chair. She fell asleep within a few minutes.

I, on the other hand, could not get back to sleep. It is now 4:00 AM, and I could not get back to sleep. I went into the kitchen to have breakfast and pay some bills. While in the kitchen, I hear her waking up again.

I go to check on her, and she starts talking Italian to me. At first, I have no clue what she is saying. Then I realized it was the lyrics to the song on the God Father La luna 'mezzo mare. The only time my mom ever spoke Italian to me was when she was scolding me for something I did wrong. I ran for my phone to record her, and I messed it up. She sang for several minutes. I managed to get her to sing again as she did not remember any of it.

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Aug 27, 2020 Confusion

Published on 8/28/2020 9:45:41 PM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

We had a very long span where my mom was able to sleep through the night with no issues. Lately, she has been getting up several times a night, and at all different times. She exhibits her normal confusion and anxiety. This latest episode she was relatively calm, but since she did not sleep very long it made for a stressful day.

In the attached video she falls asleep at the end. An hour later she woke up asking to go to the bathroom. Afterward, she fell back asleep. The caregiver arrived at 7:00 AM and mom was up at 7:30. She went the entire day with no naps, and when I came home from work she was getting anxious. I made her dinner, while she chastised me for taking too long.

Finally, she crashes at 9:00 PM. Her and I both got a full night's sleep.

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Driving Away

Published on 8/29/2020 6:21:20 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Another sleepless night. This time she is telling me her car won't start. At first, I thought she was just dreaming. But then she started to move her hands like she is trying to place the key into the ignition and start the car.

We talk for a while then she just says she is going home and drives off. Too funny. Evidently she drove for an hour before she had to find a restroom. Likely for her, I was not able to sleep for that hour and I showed her the way.

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Self-cleaning Kitchen

Published on 12/16/2020 6:30:00 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

Another memory anchor my mom has is a painting I have hanging in my kitchen with the caption of "This is a self-cleaning kitchen. Clean up after yourself." My mom thinks it is very funny and she always seems to know we are in my kitchen when she sees the painting.

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Eight Years Old

Published on 12/18/2020 6:36:27 AM   Category:

Submited by: Frank T. Carrelli Jr.

My mom is a little confused this morning. She believes she is eight years old and is in the eighth grade.

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