Admiral Nurses

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Earlier this week I was visited by Katie Dixon, an Admiral Nurse working with the South West Yorkshire NHS Trust. I really should have ‘Googled’ Katie before she arrived – it seems that she’s a bit of a star.

She certainly was for me.

The visit was made to discuss my needs with regard to the support I am trying to give my parents. She asked me to tell her about my mum and about my dad, mum’s main carer. What kind of woman was my mum before Alzheimer’s? What is she like now? That’s quite a cathartic exercise I can tell you.

How was my dad coping? Ok – ish. But he’s 90 next month and needs support whilst he looks after my mum – pretty much full time now.

We then discussed the various services that are available: Those which we HAD accessed and those which we had NOT YET accessed. She advised us to start the ball rolling with a Carer’s Assessment, something we’d looked at before but dismissed for the moment, as there is a 6 month waiting list. She also gently urged me to try and get my dad to consider paying for my mum to have a few hours of care per week as this would help to prepare mum for the extra free four hours care that could/should come once the assessment is made. The care provided by outside agencies should/could help us to halt the ever decreasing world-view that mum has just now.

We also discussed a number of other topics including finance and how funding might be judged at some time in the future. Diet. Mum is losing weight and body mass quite rapidly now and Katie suggested that a return to full fat products, butter etc. is often recommended for dementia patients. However, mum is diabetic and dad is fighting cholesterol with diet – so a visit to the doctors to request a visit from a diabetic nurse was suggested. There were other, more mum-centric personal matters discussed, which have now been passed on to my dad.

Photo Credit

CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson
http://thebluediamondgallery.com/tablet-dictionary/a/alzheimers.html

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Milton Keynes

Lost and Confused Signpost. No date.Last Friday, we visited friends in Milton Keynes. The drive down was fine, with intermittent, bright sunshine. I was therefore constantly changing from normal driving glasses to prescription sunglasses; an easy enough task, as I keep them on old-fogey-strings around my neck.

Having arrived at our friend’s house, I didn’t need the sunglasses again until setting off for a walk on Saturday.

I should say here, that I own two pairs of prescription sunglasses; I keep one pair in the car and another in my rucksack, and as I couldn’t find the car ones, I used the rucksack ones during our walk.

So – I ‘knew’ I had both glasses on the way down to MK but had ‘lost’ a pair somewhere after our arrival. They could not be found!  We searched high and low and eventually left our friends on Sunday without them.

Once we were home, I booked an appointment online with Specsavers (one was due) for Monday and as a consequence I bought another pair. Returning home from Specsavers I immediately found the ‘lost’ pair in a basket at the bottom of our staircase!!!! They had never been to MK.

So, how did I wear them en route and still find them in my rucksack? Remember; I had driven down with sunglasses on – but couldn’t find them when I needed them on the Saturday, so I used the rucksack ones – which, it turned out, hadn’t left Huddersfield!!!

The only explanation I have is that I’d put the ‘car glasses’ in the rucksack after we arrived in MK – and completely forgot doing so. Even now, I cannot make myself remember.

Photo Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildrose115/23173416364 – with thanks.

 

Mobility visit – mum

A_Forest_of_Walking_Sticks_(26107976093)Last week, mum had a visit from the Locala Adult Community Therapy Service. This was for them to carry out a ‘mobility assessment’, mum having had a few falls recently.  The Occupational Therapist that attended was lovely with my mum and I suspect, stayed well beyond her allotted time chatting and helping us with mum.

Dad had errands to run, so I was there when Carol, the therapist paid her visit.  She began by chatting with my mum and asking her a variety of questions about dizziness, wobbliness, eyesight etc. and the first thing I made a note of was that mum needed an eye test. [This was later found to be incorrect as she has a diabetic eye test AND a normal eye test each year, and despite mum’s contention that she only wears glasses for reading, she has pairs to be used on a daily basis – so much for trusting the word of an Alzheimer’s patient!]

The next thing we discussed was shoes.  Mum has shoes made by the orthotic department at HRI and following her most recent fall – one pair are back at HRI being repaired.  Carol suggested that future shoes should have no heel, but wedges would be fine. She also suggested that mum’s slippers should have Velcro fastenings, so they could be tightened more appropriately. The ones she has are ok just now, but bear in mind the Velcro for the future.

Mum said that she probably had 4 or 5 cups of tea per day and it was suggested that she have at least one, preferably two more drinks in the day. She also needs her toenails cutting – mum’d said she usually did them herself. [Something else I found to be erroneous! She periodically attends a ‘foot clinic’ where such things are taken care of.]

Her blood oxygen level was logged at 97% (good), and her sitting B.P. 135/64 (again, good). Standing B.P. 142/60 (good, as expected) and stood-standing B.P. 140/70 (again, ok, as expected). Pulse was ok too.

Carol watched mum walk up and down the stairs and around the house.  She then suggested that rugs are removed, as they become trip hazards and that a second handrail be fitted on the stairs. We discussed this and agreed that it would be impossible as the l/h side is not a solid wall and inappropriate for such a device.  She then had my mum go through a variety of exercises aimed at testing mum’s foot, knee, leg and hip strengths – these all seemed to be ok although they wore mum out.

The nurse then discussed bathing and agreed to request another visit from elsewhere in Locala, to advise about bathing (tips, tools and techniques – now arranged).  This visit would also see mum being given some short, while-sitting exercises to do.

The single point of contact number for Locala is 0300 304 5555

D.I.Y.

From_commons.wikimedia.org_wiki_File-Inbus-sruby.jpgThis time it’s only a small thing, a very small thing, both literally and actually.

The door latch to our bathroom was sticking and eventually, it refused to allow the door to be locked or closed.  I repaired it.

I stripped it all down, WD40’d the bits that needed it and reassembled, only to find that the lock (some kind of swivel mechanism) was too tight to work.  I adjusted that and hey presto – it worked properly again.

Well, it worked for a couple of days before the lock fell apart.

A locking screw or something had fallen out of the barrel. I’d obviously not tightened it back up correctly. So I searched the floor and the vacuum cleaner bag – but no screw could be found. On Monday then, when the hardware shop was open again, I popped along to see if he had such a very tiny screw that would fit our lock.

Of course, I took the barrel with me and he inspected it for a few seconds before saying that it wasn’t a screw I needed but an Allen Key. I was puzzled and asked how he knew that. He said that there was an Allen bolt still in there and that it had obviously not been tightened enough. To prove this he removed the Allen bolt to show me.

And there is the issue: I had no memory whatsoever of using Allen keys to repair the door. None. But I must have used a set of keys to remove the lock mechanism. Even now, writing this, I cannot trick myself into remembering.  Hey ho.

The Maze

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Rather than take over my Saturday Walks blog with memory related posts, I have decided to continue logging my mum’s decline here; along with my own reflections of (perhaps) increasing memory loss.  Earlier ‘Mum’ posts can be seen on the Mum’s Memory page.

Since my last post (https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/alzheimers/), mum has started her treatment.

I continued to phone the clinic every day and left the same message with whoever answered.  We eventually conversed on first name terms and I told Kerry that I just needed to know whether mum could have the Donepezil or not.  The doctor didn’t actually have to speak with me, she could just say “yea or nay” to someone who could give me the message.

Eventually however, the consultant/doctor did ring me and explained that the cardiology appointment that has caused the delay (the consultant/doctor not having been aware of it before she met my mum), was nothing to worry about – the ECG that mum had had, had just shown up some lines (I think that was the word) that are probably historical; so it just needs checking out to be sure.

I’ve since learned of other people who are or were on Donepezil, including close relatives.  Some of these have heart problems – so why it caused a concern in mum’s case I don’t know.

We met Jade from Making Space on Thursday.  She helped us to fill in the Attendance Allowance (AA) form – which is a quite invasive document.  Things are now in the hands of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – who, given the reports on their performance over the last seven years, will probably say that mum should stop shirking and get back to work!

Nevertheless, without my dad there to help, mum couldn’t really look after herself anymore.  Dad shops, cooks and makes sure that mum remembers to eat and take her drugs.  For a man approaching ninety years of age, he’s doing a cracking job.

However, he too needs respite and the AA will hopefully allow him to get that.  We’ll see.

My next job – to explore and contact Kirklees Council’s Gateway to Care.  I’m told that I may lose the will to live!

* The appointment made for 31st July has now been cancelled and eventually (after phone calls which have been ignored) re-sheduled for early September – ANOTHER six weeks wait.

Photo Credit: reproduced with kind permission of
Simon Kneebone – Cartoonist and Illustrator
https://simonkneebone.com/

Avengers Assemble

75_years_of_marvel_comics_by_jgdeadpool91-d7zwhv2Going back to the RAM memory I mentioned in my first post: I think that we all experience those ‘what did I come in here for?’ ‘and now – what was I doing?’ moments.  I don’t think that they are very important, they are just the result of busy lives and hectic schedules.

However, where do we file away the films we’ve seen at the cinema, on DVD or on T.V? Do we save them in our simple flash memory (such as the RAM above), or are they stored deeply inside our ROM memory for eventual recovery when re-watching and/or discussing the film with others?  At what point do we stop completely remembering the films we’ve seen, their plots and their outcomes? (And is it important?).

Last night was my most worrying experience of film watching.

We’d recorded Avengers Assemble (2012) on our Humax (via the BBC) last week and found time to watch it last night.  The film is over two hours long and there were bits of it that I knew I ‘HAD’ seen, but wasn’t sure when or where.  As the film is populated by characters from other Marvel Comic films which I have seen, I wasn’t surprised to see Iron Man, The Hulk or Captain America as they gradually assembled, but I couldn’t place Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow (despite her having been in Captain America!) and could never remember ever having met the Hawkeye character before.

Now, I guess that it’s not unusual to forget having seen films until we see them again and I guess that most of us forget the titles of films we have seen when considering what to watch.  I certainly couldn’t tell you the plots of those films I HAVE seen, mentioned above.  But I know that I HAVE seen them.

Whilst watching the film last night, I wondered if I’d seen some clips via Graham Norton as I could remember several scenes from somewhere; but there were too many such clips for that to be the case.  Failing that, they might have been scenes I’d thought were from those other Marvel films.  So, at the end of the film, I had to ask Sharon if we’d been at someone’s house when/if we’d seen the film before as I ‘HAD seen a few, very short, bits before.

She told me that she ‘knew’ she had seen it after the first few minutes and that she was convinced that we’d sat here in this house (we’ve been here three years) and watched it.

I have no recall of ever watching this film before.  But I must have.

Image Credit – via Google free to use search
75_years_of_marvel_comics_by_jgdeadpool91-d7zwhv2

Alphonso Mangoes

mangoesI began this discussion with myself earlier (link) about memory.  I likened human memory to the RAM and ROM found in computers and started to explore issues with ROM – Read Only Memory, the deep memory not needed for day to day living and breathing.

The other day, we were invited to a meal with friends.  In fact, we were invited to cook the meal so that our friends could then invite their friends, who we would meet for the first time.  No worries – we were in France and the meal took place outside. Menu

The new friends Susan and Jeremy were good company and over the meal a wide range of conversations took place.  At one point I was holding court on a story involving alphonso mangoes.  We were talking about places we had worked and people we had met at work and I was remembering a fellow lecturer, Shahid Akudi updating me each year (early June I think), about when the mangoes would arrive in Batley, close to our place of work.  The mangoes are very seasonal and Shahid always knew when they would be in-store because his relatives in Pakistan would let him know that they were falling from the trees and would therefore be en-route to West Yorkshire.

But the story was just fluff without the name of the mango – which just wouldn’t come to mind.  It embarrassed me greatly that I could not bring the fruit’s name to mind during the conversation, especially as it was such an important part of the story.  Something blocked it completely. I could see the small packs of cut/prepared alphonso mangoes they had just had in our local Aldi, I could see the huge tin of alphonso mango pulp in my pantry at home, I could even name the second-best mango variety – keta, but could not remember the correct one.  Failing to recall the name just made my story fade away without a point.

Another recall-memory issue occurred later during that evening’s meal regarding an author’s name, but people quickly lost interest in listening to me.  Very embarrassing.

As I cleaned my teeth for bed that night,  I remembered:  Alphonso mango and Robin Hobb!
Menu

For anyone interested – the menu was:

A selection of Bruschetta;

Boeuf Bourguignonne, with buttered and minted new potatoes, haricots vert.

Clafoutis Ceris.

Memory

cropped-header-pic.pngReaders of my other blogs [see this example] may remember that I reached the grand old age of 65 last December.  Yet, sixty five? it’s not that old really; is it?

My dad is nearing his 90th birthday, my mum her 88th.  Given that bloodline, I can probably expect another twenty to twenty-five years; can’t I?

But life isn’t that simple is it?  Besides having to keep my head above water financially, I have to stay healthy and keep fit too.  All of these are things I strive to do and will continue to do for as long as I can.

However, some things are unavoidable.  Memory loss for example.  At what point do I worry that I am losing my memory?  As I have said before, I do jigsaws and play scrabble to keep my mind active, I read copiously and exercise my mind as much as possible.  But what if bits of my brain are collapsing, synapses losing their routes etc., without my knowledge and without my permission?

I have decided to log major memory failures in this blog, as a means of tracking any decline and as a way of helping future research, either my own or that of others.

That begins today!

I’ve always had a tendency to forget things and surely we all have that tendency:

For example, I may be in a group of people and be discussing something or other but the point I want to make will just not come to mind, yet it’s there at the tip of my tongue at other times – so if the group are trapped and cannot change the subject or move away, I can usually perform a series of links for one of them to come up with the answer (the point, the person) that I have failed to remember.  All the time this is going on, I can see the answer (the person, the film star, the thing, the song etc.) as an image in my mind but I simply cannot name it.  I’m not overly worried by that type of memory loss – I’ve had it for a long time.

I liken our human memory functions to the RAM and ROM memories on a computer. Some of it has to be instantly available (RAM); things like the day, the date, the cost of something, an appointment, what’s for tea, my wife’s name, how to breath etc. but other things such as the planned dates for a holiday, a restaurant you once visited, what you had for tea last week, perhaps something you said in passing yesterday, etc. are more like the deep memory ROM. It’s the ROM memory that we have issues with initially I think.

How do we recall these ROM-like memories and which are most likely to be easily recalled and which are harder? How do we select and save them?

Anyway, more on this later – I’ll finish for now and continue sometime in the future.

David. [25/06/17]