The Lemon Bar Queen ūüćč The Book

Blog followers,

The Lemon Bar Queen, my memoir about my mom’s memory loss, is finally here. It dawned on me last week that I hadn’t let my blog followers know that it had been published. I’m very excited to share it with you.

This has been a two year labor of love. I’m so proud of how it turned out! We had the book launch the beginning of October and I’ve had two fun book signings at my hometown Dairy Queen and Caribou Coffee near my home in Plymouth.

I’ve had a wonderful response and I’m on my second printing. I’ve also met the nicest people in this process. I love hearing your own stories about my mom and about your own loved one. Yesterday, at my Caribou event, I met the sweetest woman. Her mother has been taking care of her dad in Texas. Her mom is struggling with his memory loss and the daughter is so far away. I completely understood her feelings. It’s hard not to get teary.

All your kind messages are saved in my “Thank You” folder. I’m so glad you’ve connected with the book.

If you’d like to order it, it’s currently on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Itasca Books of Minneapolis. I’m open to events and book clubs. I have seven book clubs on my calendar and I’m so excited to meet fellow readers.

Thank you for following along the last six years. Many of you have kept me afloat as I hope I’ve done the same for your journey.

If you have any questions or comments about the book, please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you! ‚ô•ÔłŹ

Jodi

The Second Year

It’s hard to believe that on Saturday, my mom has been gone two years. I have been consciously trying to not talk about her as much. The next two weeks will be difficult for me. In the span of the upcoming two weeks, it was her birthday (April 26th), anniversary of her death (May 6th), and Mothers’ Day (May 14th).

I was at Target today picking up things and there is a whole section of Mothers Day cards, spanning the whole row. I don’t necessarily think of cards or gifts for me, I think naturally of them for my mom. And the books I would buy her. I honestly hope the weeks go by fast.

In memory of her birthday this year, we again celebrated the day by giving away 100 free Blizzards and cones in our home town of Starbuck. She loved her Dairy Queen and in her confusion, she still remembered that it was a special place to her. The DQ is smaller, family owned and was voted WCCO viewers Best of Minnesota. They did discontinue the Snicker’s Blizzard, her favorite, but you can’t beat this special place. Thank you to all of you who came and to Carrie and staff who helped run everything. All tips went to respite care for families that could use a break in caregiving. Both of my parents would have loved this idea and its our second year putting it on.

On my off days and weekends, I have started to formulate my writings and timeline of the events that led up, starting with my dad’s death, the assisted living and finally her move to memory care. In this blog, I write a little about the past but mainly of  the days she spent in memory care. It has been very difficult to put it all down and to include all the factors that led up to it. I have boxes and boxes of papers, files, doctor orders, bank statements, cards and receipts that my husband would love for me to get rid of. It just sits there waiting for me to go through it all again, like I don’t remember how hard it was before. Its like ripping the scab off a wound and reliving the pain again. It brings up such sadness, anger, occasional hope, frustration, joy, grief and pain. I get frustrated with my writing and feel it is hardly good enough to be put out there. I am not a writer. My boss gave me a CD to listen to on writing and I know I make a lot of errors just listening to the CD. But I still keep going. I have about 65 pages completed, pre-memory care with much of it surrounding her beautiful home town and the help she received. Hence, the free Dairy Queens.

Grief.

I have come to believe that some sort of grief lives in everyone’s heart. Sometimes the space it occupies is just a tiny speck that you can hardly see or feel. It’s there but you don’t notice it. Other times, I feel the weight of grief taking up all the residence in my heart. Just sitting there. Heavy. I know it’s there and there are days I can’t shake it. It can occur at a stoplight, at a game, when I see a Client who may look like my parents, at the grocery store or especially writing. It’s hard to have both of your parents forever gone. I can’t bounce anything off of them or call them for advice. There are days that I need my dad and days that I need my mom. I feel like I need my mom more, just to answer my parenting questions or show me one last thing.

How did she always get merengue to turn out so well?

How did she turn out to be such a good parent when I constantly feel I miss the mark?

How did she know what was best for me and what would she do differently?

Did she worry all the time like I do? Did she care what other people thought about her or worried that a group of moms that maybe didn’t like her?

How did she keep so many balls in the air and how did she keep them from falling?

What was the key to her being so organized?

How did she know how I was feeling before I even knew it?

How did she deal with mean or unkind people?

Daughter questions I can’t ask her now. I wish I knew the answer to some of these.

I think that we will always be linked by love. A strong link.

It was love that started us off by both of them choosing to adopt me. Saving me.

It was love that kept us going through my elementary and high school years. We both survived and came out of it somewhat unscathed.

It was love watching me become a nurse, marry Steve, have her favorite girls and watch her grow old.

It was love watching me from her chair or bed but not quite knowing who I was most days. The Girl.

It was love saying goodbye to me and her family on that Wednesday morning at 4 am.

I miss her but it’s not like the The First Year.

“When you are sorrowful, look in your heart and you shall see that in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

Kahlil Gibran

 

Jodi ‚̧ԳŹ

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very First Year

I have stopped and started this entry many, many times. It’s hard to sum up the first year without your mom and over the past few days I have thought about what to share with the people who read it. May 6th marked the first year without my mom.

I have missed her.

Sometimes I think to myself, why should I be so sad that she is gone? It’s not like she wasn’t ready to have her life end. She wasn’t my young daughter who has her whole life in front of her or someone’s brother who lost his life early¬†to cancer. She was 89 years old with a horrific disease that plagued her ability to eat, walk, show emotions, make her own meals or even to recognize me. I’m sure she is happy to be free.

I still miss her.

The first few months after her death, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love from people. People are incredibly kind and loving. People ask how you are and they have certainly lifted my spirit. I grieved but I would call it a healthy grieve.

The holiday was hard, she loved the holidays and it was very different not to have her around or in the last few years,  we would go to her memory care to visit her and celebrate there. People talk about losing a loved one and the finality of it all. Holidays are very tough.

I miss her voice.

Books and specialists talk about what stress and grief does to you. My grief came out in my hair. My hair literally changed after my mom died. It started to change texture and shape and it became kinky, straggly and I looked awful. I can barely stand the pictures of me. It was almost like whatever was inside of me, was coming out via my hair. I had my thyroid checked and my friend Martina, who cuts my hair, kept stating that she sees this with people who grieve. I spent a lot on hair products with no results. Awful, dull, lifeless hair. And that is how I felt.

I miss her love.

January was a very tough month for me. I felt like something had come over me and that I was a very angry person. I was anxious, yelled at my husband and girls, I yelled at people at work and I could not overcome what was wrong with me. I wasn’t even reading. I could barely stand to look at myself. Grief.

I miss every stage with her.

There are stages of grief that anyone goes through and I’m sure I’ve hit them all. You miss the days of being a little girl and having your mom show you how to ride a bike. She introduces you to the world of reading and teaches you how to you be kind to¬†the kid on the bus you want to smack. She teaches you to stand up¬†straight, friends are important and that neat¬†handwriting counts.

You miss the high school and college years where she teaches you to be independent, self-sufficient and watches you become a nurse. She is so excited for you and she watches you meet a boy named Steve and you get married. You have two cute girls that are named after her.

You miss the days where your roles are now reversed and you must take care of her. You gladly pay her bills on Wednesdays and visit her midweek, after work and on weekends. You introduce the world of Alzheimer’s disease to your daughters and they love her all the same. You watch a beautiful woman ask her own daughter if she is indeed Jodi. You watch the kindest woman, slowly slip away.

You miss all the stages that you have been through with your mother.

On¬† Mother’s Day, my second year technically without her, I spent the day with my girls with their numerous adventures. I stayed off FB with the exception of posting a picture of my girls, enjoying ice cream at a favorite stop. I had butter pecan, my mom’s favorite. (With the exception of Snicker’s blizzard!) I hope you had a wonderful day with your own mother.

I miss her pats.

In honor of her birthday, on April 26th, we donated free Snicker Blizzards and cones at her hometown Dairy Queen. Thank you Carrie for helping me. I love the idea that we celebrated with her favorite treat. I hope she was proud of the way we celebrated it. I know we loved doing it.

I miss her when I see other client’s that remind me of her.

The hardest part of my job is to see Client’s that remind me of mom. Families ask questions and on a rare occasion, I will tell them about mom and her journey with the disease. Families also¬†ask about the dying process and¬†I share what¬†may be to¬†come. A few weekends ago, a daughter told me “thank you” for explaining the death process to her and she made the decision to come and see her Dad. It was the same way with mom.

I think about her when I see a cardinal, smell our lilacs in the back yard, make her rhubarb torte and see Emme snuggle with Blue Dog.

I miss just being her daughter.

In conclusion, I’m not sure I will write again. I may if something moves me.¬†The very first year is over with and I’m feeling better. My hair is back to normal, my heart isn’t so angry and I feel back to what is semi¬†normal.¬†I’m not sure what else I can tell you about us…just that I gave my best, loved her hard and I’m so proud that she picked me and that she was my mother.

Happy Belated Mothers Day to all of you…

Jodi

 

 

 

The Green Chair

In my seven year old’s room , there is a green chair that sits in the corner. We have had this chair for almost thirteen years. It has seen its better days, to say the least. It has been used to rock my babies to sleep and we have spent too many hours to count, reading books. It has many stains on it that will not come out. I know that when we bought it before Sophia was born, and that we probably paid way¬†too much for it. I say “we”¬†but honestly, ¬†I was the one who fell in love with the chair. Both girls have used it and it stays there, not used quite as much any more.

Last night, around 10:30, Emme gently knocked on her wall. She had been sleeping for a few hours, tired from the exciting Christmas Day. I opened up her door and she was sitting up in bed. She wanted me to turn the light on and I could tell she was scared. “Mom, there was someone sitting in my chair!” I looked in the chair and the only thing that was in the chair was one doll and a few clothes.

I told¬†her that there was nothing there and to try and¬†go back to sleep. She wasn’t¬†accepting my answer. “Mom, I know there was someone sitting in my chair, I could see it.” I didn’t want to get her more scared so I told her that I would keep the door open a little and I would listen if she needed me again. I could hear her moving around a little but she finally went to sleep.

The first thing she said to me when she got up this morning¬†was, “Did you believe me when I said that someone was in my room, sitting in my chair?” I told her that she might have mistaken the clothes for something and she slowly shook her head no.

Part of me would like to think it was my Mom…or even my Dad, watching over her while she slept. My mom spent some time in that green chair, reading and rocking my girls. For many years, I have kept her embroidered quilt that she made for Sophia, just draped right over the top of the chair. On the quilt are the words…

Guardian Angel, pure and bright  Guard me while I sleep tonight.

I happened to notice it this morning when I really looked at the well worn chair. 20151226_123304.jpg

I hope it was my Mom, just coming to check on her this Christmas night. I miss her very much. Even on the very, very confused days, I still could visit and let her know how much we loved her. Christmas is different and her presence was missed this year. Another ugly milestone in the face of this long year. She has been gone for over seven months.

So whomever Emme saw in the green chair, I hope that they are looking over my girls and watching them grow. It would be nice if they came back every Christmas, just to see them and send them love.

Now, I’ll have to keep that chair…stains and all.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, wishing you a wonderful 2016!

Jodi

 

The Father

MELSNESS_S_0213MELSNESS_S_0064

Tomorrow marks the day that my father has been gone for seven years. It’s a day I normally bring up with Mom so that she still remembers his name and his image. I can hardly believe he has been gone for that long.

There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think of him for some reason. In Mom’s room, I keep a great picture of him right by her bed and I have hung¬†their wedding picture above her bed. They¬†were married on August 16th and if he was still alive it would have been their 67th anniversary.

I caught her playing with her ring the other day and she asked me about mine. Our rings are both platinum and she likes to twist mine on my finger, questioning who gave it to me. I asked her last week, “Who gave you your ring?” She looks at it and also twists hers around on her finger. “Oh, I guess Russell did”. I am grateful she remembers. They had many ups and down in their life but they managed to stay together and I miss him a lot.

I miss that he never got to meet Emme but I have been told that he had a hand in Steve and I finally getting a second child after¬†many heartbreaks. I miss that he hasn’t been able to see Sophia play his favorite game, baseball. If he were here, he would be yelling at the ballpark, giving pointers¬†and we would have to make him go to the ice rink. Like myself,¬†he didn’t really get or¬†understand hockey. I miss his wisdom and advice, whether I wanted to hear it or not. He was a complex man, but his wisdom was normally right on.

He loved my mother very much and the day before he died is etched in my mind. From the bed in his den, he detailed his concerns about Mom and her memory loss. He wanted me to make sure she was taken care of well and that I looked over the money that they had saved and worked so hard for. After seven years of watching her finances, her money comes to an end next month and I will apply for medical assistance. For the second time, since I was denied in December because she had too much money.

I feel my Dad around me sometimes¬†and I continue to ask him questions but I do not get a response. I feel like sometimes I am making a mistake and long for him to tell me I need to try a different way. I was thinking of him Friday when I didn’t make the best nursing judgment of being alone with a client in a hotel room, setting up the client’s¬†medications and feeling uncomfortable. We got on the subject of my Dad because they were both engineers and I truthfully felt like he was watching over me to make sure I was safe. If he were alive, I know that he would have called me a knucklehead, just like he used to and reminded me to use my head.

I wish I could just hear him call my name, I so miss hearing¬†that. I hope he is proud of the way I’ve taken care of Mom. Grief really never goes away, its always there, sometimes a small¬†black cloud hanging over your head,¬†deciding if it¬†should rain on you or not.¬†I’m sometimes glad that Mom may forget the pain of losing him.¬†A rare¬†good thing about her loss.

Jodi

The Roommate

Just for today, I’m not writing about Mom…I’m writing about her roommate.

I have just come back from a beautiful break with my family and I have not talked to my mom in over a week. I know that she is well cared for and I have not worried about her, though I have missed our banter back and forth.

So today after work, I had headed to Mom’s to bring her a treat. The good thing about memory loss is that I don’t think she even remembered I was gone. She gave me a big smile and I told her that we went to the lake and I showed her the video of Sophia getting up on water skis. She needed to get to bed and so we went.

I opened up her bedroom door and waved to her roommate and I did not get a response. I brought Mom to her chair and I went over to say hello to her. I could tell right away she had a stroke and I wiped the drool from her face. Half of her face gave me a smile and I know the nurse could not tell me much. There was a lone chair sitting by her bed and I know that someone had most likely used it today.

I don’t know much about Mom’s roommate but I know that she is beautiful, sweet, well dressed and always worried about Mom, especially when she came back from the hospital. Always worried about her and telling me about her cough.

I love to see her pictures on the wall of a much different looking woman, cheeks heavier, hair high and very blonde and with her handsome husband. I know that her sister has faithfully taken her out for lunch every Thursday. Her life, like Mom’s vastly different than it used to be.

My girls quickly formed a pact that they pretended to be her grandchildren. They would come in her room, shout a hello to her and Sophia would sit in her chair while she was in bed and they would discuss Mom. I loved that little relationship that they formed with her. I think children are always a highlight for the elderly. Remembering days that have long passed and how much noise they make, especially my girls.

I think Mom could not have found a better roommate and I also have enjoyed my time with her. I always gave her a mini snicker of Mom’s and she would make a basket with the wrapper. Twice, I have watched her fall while I was in the room. She was a sneaky one, transferring herself into bed when she should have waited. One time, she would have broken her wrist but I saw her out of the corner of my eye and picked her up right away, knowing it is sometimes an instinct to help when I shouldn’t at Mom’s place. I scold her kindly and tell her she has to wait! No more falls.

Now, her face is pale, her beautiful face drooping and she is coughing and no one is around. It reminds me of my nursing home days and wanting to be every where as a nurse and not being able to. I went to get her nurse and they helped her get comfortable, my Mom not even realizing what is going on. For a brief moment, I get to hold her hand. It’s always hard for me when family is not there and you are the only person with them. Knowing that her time is limited, I hope that she gets comfortable quickly.

Life changes so quickly…eight days ago my girls saw their grandma before vacation and got to talk to their grandma’s roommate. A kind and gentle woman that I hope finds peace and finds her handsome husband soon.

Jodi

The Other Slapper

The last few weeks have been some long ones for Mom and I. This disease is one that changes daily and we have good days and not the greatest days.

I was at work last Friday assessing a woman with dementia. She had been leaving her stove on and getting up in the middle of the night looking for her dead husband. Sometimes, the people I assess mimic Mom and the things she used to go through. It is fair to say that I think about this disease every day. If I’m not at work, I am signing paperwork, picking up medications, fighting with Medicare, going through bills or taking her to an appointment, like today. She needed a follow up appointment today because the hospital doctor would not sign off on her PT so the girls and I picked up Mom to bring her to see Dr. D. She is a wonderful doctor who understands this terrible disease.

When I got done assessing this woman, I went back to my car and there were two missed calls from her memory care unit and the messages sounded urgent. My heart starts to beat a little faster and I know that I will most likely not receive the best news. I get a hold of the nurse right away and I can tell by her tone that it’s not going to be great news. Mom was slapped across the face by another resident. I can feel the air rush out of me and my heart sad. Apparently, the woman grabbed my Mom’s lunch tray and my Mom was not very happy about that and told her to give it back and the woman, with an open hand, slapped her on the cheek and was pushing her chair. The incident was witnessed and the removed the woman.

I won’t let you know my first thoughts, I think in all fairness I thought as a daughter and then as a logical nurse. It brings me back to the days when I worked in the memory care unit in the nursing home. We were hit almost every day and we prevented people from getting hit. It was a constant battle sometimes. When they can’t communicate, they hit out and I think this is what the woman did. The diabolical side of me only last for a few minutes and I thought about the bigger picture.

This woman, just like Mom, is a mother, sister, friend, cousin and human being. I can imagine that her family is also dreading a call, just like the one I received. I think it maybe even worse on their end, knowing that their loved one hurt someone else. It could also be my own mother hitting someone else. For proof of that read The Smacker.

You almost feel like that mother on the playground that watches another child hit your own in some battle. Your inner “Momma Bear” comes out and I think this situation is the same, only I am the daughter. Today, I saw the woman and I could tell she was having a hard day again. I waved to her and I have come to peace with her. She can’t help it just like my mom saying over and over that she wants to go to bed and that she wants to die. I will add this woman to my thoughts and prayers, and we will move on. I will keep an eye on her though. ūüôā

This is such a terrible disease.

Jodi

The Rhubarb Queen

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-05-22-11.56.23.png.png

When I started this blog a year ago, I contemplated the names I would call it. There were many names that came to mind and The Rhubarb Queen was at the top of the list. I think both The Lemon Bar Queen and The Rhubarb Queen are accurate in describing my Mom. She is the best baker I know.

Rhubarb has been a part of our household for as long as I can remember. Growing up on our farm, we had ten huge rhubarb plants that my Mom used every spring. She taught me how to cut the stalks, reminding me not to take the small ones or to leave the giant, woody ones. She also used the leaves as compost in our garden. I remember my Dad putting coffee grounds on the base of the plant and the lush green plants grew enormous. It seems like yesterday that she would put on her old yellow shorts (that she sewed herself), her top with the sleeves cut off and a scarf pulling her hair back. Her legs always with a farmers tan.

Just the smell of rhubarb brings me back to the day in our kitchen, something always brewing in the black kettle. She loved to cut up rhubarb for jam, muffins, torte, bread, sauce and our favorite, pie. It was always a treat to have vanilla ice cream with warm rhubarb sauce steaming over the top. My love affair with this strange plant started young.

When my parents moved from the farm and bought a house in town, along came the rhubarb. They transplanted five plants on the side of the house and the canning and baking continued. I remember in college, getting an emergency call from my Mom that someone had dug up one of their beloved rhubarb plants. They woke up to work in our garden and someone dug up the very middle plant, leaving a huge whole. I think my parents were devastated and horrified. I remember my Dad stating that all the person needed to do was ask and he would have gladly given that person some rhubarb. When I drove up in their driveway, sure enough, there was the missing plant. The plant was never replaced and became somewhat of a joke. Who took the Lundell rhubarb plant?

Fast forward twenty five years and to my Mom…

I’ve shared that she isn’t eating that much since returning from the hospital. Just¬†eating enough to keep a bird alive. I have tried to get her to eat more. Snicker’s, cheeseburger with fried onions, cashews,¬†Snickers Blizzard¬†and cookies. She would only take bites and even refused her beloved coffee. I am frustrated and so is she. She doesn’t understand why it is so important that she eats. Her favorite phrase is¬†repeated over and over…”I want to die!”

I decided to buy some rhubarb at Cub last week and I skim her well worn cookbook, The Fron Cookbook. There is a page dog-eared and I turn it to page 198 and note Rhubarb Dessert by Mrs. Russell Lundell, AKA, my Mom. So I decide to make her dessert. The whole house fills with the lush smell of cooking rhubarb and I am so excited to bring her a piece. On a side note, my ten year old is limited to how much she eats because last year she ate so much that she vomited in the middle of the night. Even as a nurse, that was some awful stuff, trust me.

Last week, I brought over her dessert. She is sitting in their parlor area and she smiled and waves at me. I have brought her a very special gift hoping that this will work. I told her I would get her some coffee and we could share a piece. I see a small glimmer in her eye and she asks for a fork. This is a good sign. She grabs the fork and takes a small bite and a sip of coffee. She looks up at me and I can tell she likes it. Bite after bite she finishes the whole piece. She even drinks a cup of coffee. I am beyond thrilled and feeling slightly victorious. I even bribed her to get her hair done with another piece of dessert. For some reason, she has been annoyed with getting her hair done, a new behavior that I am unsure of. I even shared some¬†with the staff¬†, who loved Mom’s recipe.

So for the past week, I have been researching rhubarb recipes. My friend Dawn made the best scones called Naughty Rhubarb Scones so Sophia and I made them over this weekend. I brought them to Mom’s yesterday and she thought they were strange but ate the whole thing. Success, yet again.

Today, I was up early at five am, thanks to our dog Barley. Not being able to get back to sleep, I made Mom’s dessert today and brought some to school for the staff. I am reminded that I most likely did the same thing as Mom did, all those long years ago. She would get up early to bake. I am sure it was her time that we were sleeping, she was alone and enjoying what she loved to do the most, bake. And could she ever bake. My next project will be rhubarb crisp with some vanilla ice cream. I am¬†hoping she will respond as she has done with my last experiment.

Rhubarb…who knew that this magical plant would help my Mom at this stage in her life. As a disclaimer, I will never be the cook that my mother was. It was her pride and joy and I can think of a hundred things I would rather do. But for her, I can attempt this one time a week and Sophia has enjoyed it also, just like I did as a child. For those of you that want her recipe:

Rhubarb Dessert

1 Cup of Flour

2 T Sugar

1/2 C Butter

1/4 Nuts (I don’t use them, but you can)

Mix and press in 8″x8″ pan. Bake 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees.

2 1/2 Cups of Rhubarb-Cut up

3 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Sugar

1/3 Cup Cream or evaporated Milk

2 T Flour

Pour over crust and bake 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Beat 3 egg whites-add 6 T Sugar. Pour over baked rhubarb mixture and bake until brown.

Mrs. Russell Lundell

Enjoy!  Jodi

 

 

 

 

The Mother

Adoption Picture 2

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. Wishing you a day of love, good food, maybe a quiet moment and many blessing bestowed on you. It is one of the hardest jobs, being a mom but it is something that I am the most proudest of. There is nothing like hearing your child call you mom for the first time.

I was going through Mom’s pictures today and I found this sweet one. It is taken two months after I was adopted. It was a happy moment for both my Mom and Dad, maybe not so much for my brother. I love the look on her face, an amazing amount of joy showing on her face.

I saw Mom yesterday and we are going through a new stage, she is irritable and crabby with the staff. I can’t tell if she doesn’t feel good yet or that she is just mad at everyone. I tell her that I will get her ready for bed and I want to spend a quiet moment with her. When she used to stay with me, it was one of my favorite things to do with the girls, getting Grandma ready for bed.

Her new phrase is “I just want to go to bed.” Over and over and over. Trying to distract her, I ask her what she wants for Mother’s Day. Without hesitation, she states, “I want my mother.” I am surprised by this and I ask her if she remembers what her mother’s name is. “Helena Margretha Gertrude Anderson.” Wow, she remembered all four names, though I’m not 100% sure they are in the right order. I tell her that she is not here and that she was gone long before I was born. She seemed sad. “Really?” I say yes but I have heard that she was a wonderful mother. That seemed to calm her. It was a great moment.

As you can imagine, Mom was a good mother. She taught me many things that hopefully have shaped me as a mother. She showed me how important it was to be kind to someone and to help if you were able. She showed me how to get quiet by picking up a good book. She was always helping someone by baking or making some homemade bread. I will never be the baker that she was, but I’m ok with that. She was a referee, healer, constant taxi driver, peacemaker, lawyer and chef of our family. She is deeply loved.

On this Mother’s Day, call your mom, make amends if you need to and remember the good memories you’ve had with her. Motherhood is highs and lows at times, but its a club we are all in, doing the very best we can.
Here is to a great day tomorrow.

Jodi

The Anger

First of all, thank you for all of you who asked about Mom. Two weeks ago, we had to send her into the ER with pneumonia and a bladder infection. Your kindness via calls, emails, letters and wine and cake delivery (for me!) were very appreciated. She was lucky, in a way, to have her birthday, Easter and her hospital stay be in the last two weeks and she received such lovely cards. We read them together and she is very lucky to have such sweet people in her life. Simply thank you seems not enough, but you know how I feel.

As you can imagine, the hospital stay was not ideal for her. It is a strange place, strange people, she doesn’t know why she is there and they are doing things to her that they should not be doing. I think twice she told me, “Why are you allowing them to kill me!”. This is the reason why I do not like to send a confused patient into the ER, if I can at all help it. Sometimes they are alone, family can’t be with them for whatever reason and it just doesn’t go well. I was glad that I could be there and try to help the staff. I hope we don’t have to do that again soon.

The Thursday that we were there, made me think of something that I have been meaning to write about for so long. Its been in the back of my head, waiting for a time to put it down and for me to articulate it in the best way. It is the way we treat our elderly. Simply, we need to do better. Not all of us, mind you. Just some of us who feel the need to take advantage, steal or mistreat them.

What happened to mom is not as bad as what I have stated but it bears to be said. I was there most of the day Thursday and a lunch tray did not arrive for her. I asked the nurse and she stated that we needed to order it. My first thought was, how in the world could my mom order her tray being so ill. I ordered it for her and she only took one bite. I spent the rest of the day trying to get her to eat, with no luck and I left to go home for awhile. I had debated going back since I didn’t get home until 2 AM but Emme wanted to go back to the hospital and I thought Emme could get her to eat.

We arrived at 7:30 PM and mom was in a fetal position in her bed, a tray sitting on a table by her door. The dinner was not opened and it was ice cold. I went to go sit her up and her IV had infiltrated and her hand was 3x the size it should be. As you can imagine, I was less than happy with this issue. I got a nurse, who was the charge nurse and she first stated this was not her patient. I told her about what I found and someone needed to take care of her ASAP. Immediately, we have four nurses in her room and they want to cut off her wedding band, which is sixty eight years old. I don’t want them to do this and I tell them that I will massage her hand to see if some of the fluid will go down. I am less than pleased, especially about not being fed and knowing that no one had checked on her for some time.

I called the social worker in the morning and asked that she be moved back to her memory care unit and hoping she would do better in a place that she was more familiar with. I did tell her about Thursday and that I was unhappy with her care. She understood and would let someone know. For a week, the “complaint manager” and I played phone tag and finally I got to speak to her and tell her my concerns. Imagine that you came to the hospital to see your mother and finding her hand totally swollen and that no one fed her. I gave her some examples of how to change it for an elderly, confused patient knowing they can NOT order food on their own. Her response was to use my mom as a “case study”. Do you really need a case study of how to take better care of someone? Can you imagine if I would not have gone up there to see her? I did not tell her I was a nurse until the end of the conversation.

I write about this because I have a strong burning anger of how we treat our elderly. I think this was mild compared to what I have seen in the last six months as a nurse and it sets me on fire.

Taking advantage of the elderly must stop. I have been working on a case with a detective to catch a private caregiver that took financial advantage of a woman. I asked her how we can stop this and she stated that she sees forty case a week of elder abuse. 40 cases. That is forty cases a week she actively works on. How can this be? She and I agree that people find an “in” and they take advantage.

I have witnessed theft, getting a vulnerable adult to sign a check, phone call scams and verbal abuse. I am a mandated reporter and I make the reports and they come back that they will not proceed. You almost need to impair/injure someone for it to be looked at. A police officer I also spoke to months ago, stated it is not worth it to prosecute because it is not considered a felony. I don’t get it. How do you measure worth?

I have thought about this a lot. You know how we can stop this?

Be nosey and involved: Sure scams can happen to anyone but ask and listen when your elderly loved one speaks. I remember after my dad died, a long term care company stopped by my mom’s house. Her confusion was just starting and she told me some strange man stopped by to visit with her. She stated she signed something but she had his number. I called the company, which I won’t name and had a nice conversation with the manger about the fact that you can’t go door to door and sell that time of insurance. I remember being so angry with them. They cancelled the policy and I wrote a letter to the president.

Red flags: The big thing that is happening with seniors is scams. Guess what! You won a car but you will need to pay for the taxes on the car, which amounts to $5,000. Guess what! You have won $100,000 but we will need $2,000 as a down payment. I’m glad for some of my relationships with my clients. One client I’ve had for ten years, was scammed on selling her timeshare. If your loved one comes to you with these stories, know that they are not true. I hate hearing these stories because they truly believe that they have won the money. I have a close family friend who was my mentor in nursing school get milked out of an amount that would surprise you. He truly believed he would get his money back and the people that call are so sneaky. They say they will arrive with the car or money and never arrive and give you a story that seems plausible. It never is.

I could go on for a long time but I will stop, I think you have gotten my point. Imagine your mother, father, favorite uncle or aunt. Your older neighbor or your family friend. We must do better to look after them and simply care.

Jodi