Pix on the Refrig

The Christmas cards have begun arriving.  The picture cards go on the refrigerator door.

Last night when I was telling the LO that we were going to lunch with friends, I realized he did not remember them. Ah, ha! We were standing in front of the refrigerator. I merely pointed to their Christmas card, and said, “Here they are.”

Save the cards and put them in an album along with other photos of friends, relatives, pets or places and then label them. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Put the book in a handy place.  The next time the conversation involves one of these people, pets or places, and you know your LO is struggling to remember who you are talking about, just open up the book and point to the subject.

Now THAT is an Ah-ha moment!

Happy Friday!

Cooking Therapy & Sister Support

I do like to cook. I like reading recipes, gathering the ingredients and starting the process. It’s my way of relaxing.  When my LO is content watching the news and I am in my kitchen creating something, I feel calm.

I bought a package of country-style ribs the other day and decided to prepare “City Chicken” with them. Is that a Pittsburgh thing? City Chicken. I don’t know, but I’ve never heard it mentioned anywhere but my hometown.  Whachadois: cut the pork into cubes and skewer them onto 7″ wooden sticks!  Then you dredge them in seasoned flour, then dip them into an egg wash and then dredge them in Italian seasoned bread crumbs.  They kind of look like little chicken legs after they’ve been coated. Maybe that’s why they are called City Chicken.  Back in my Granny’s day pork was less expensive than chicken.

Alright, back to the method. So you place the coated skewers on a rack over a cookie sheet and let them dry for 30 min.  It was during this drying period that I was in a quandary about how long to cook them. I had cut the recipe in half. Did that mean the cooking time was halved as well? Hmmm. Time to call my sister Marjorie.  As I was dialing I chuckled to myself over the fact that I have been calling my younger sister for 47 years when I have a cooking question.  If she didn’t answer I would continue calling sisters until one answered. I have 2 more in reserve. They are all good cooks.  Ahhh, Marjorie answered.

J: Hi. I bought some country ribs to make City Chicken, cut the recipe in half and now I don’t know if I should cut the cooking time in half.  It says cover with foil and bake 45 minutes, then uncover and bake another 30-40.

M: Well, rib meat needs to cook a while.

J: They are organic, grain fed, blah, blah, blah…..

M: I don’t care if they were raised on rice pudding, rib meat is tough.

J: Good point. By the way you have to brown them in a little oil before baking in broth, onions and parsley.

M: I think I would cook them a little less than for a full recipe, but not much less.  Try 40 minutes under foil and 35 without foil.  How’s Pat?

J: Good. He remembered City Chicken when I showed  them to him. He’s looking forward to dinner.

M: Great. Good luck. Call me tomorrow to let me know how they turned out.

J: I will Thanks, Love ya. Bye.

Here’s what happened: I got advice on cooking comfort food, while being comforted by my sister.  She is a major part of my support group.

Anyone who is dealing with dementia needs support. Cultivate your support group. You will feel so much better.

I have to run.  A friend is coming for lunch and since I am on this hometown kick, I have decided to serve the Original Pittsburgh Devonshire Sandwich. Google it. You’ll love it!

Love ya. Bye.

Numbers Don’t Lie

The Alzheimer’s website is the go place to learn about dementia and care giving. (alz.org).

They have all the statistics. Like: 10.9 million people in this country are unpaid care givers.  Imagine if every single person in New York City (plus some!) was a care giver!

The thing is, we know there are millions of care givers, but we don’t actually know them. I don’t know one person who is doing what I do. And yet, there have to be lots of care givers in my hometown of Charlottesville.

Yesterday I had to get a new phone.  As we waited for my information exchange from the old one to the new one, the tech expert and I got to chatting. When I mentioned having a husband with dementia, she immediately related the story of her Step-Mother’s dementia.  This happens to me all the time.

It seems that everyone knows some one with some sort of dementia, even if they are not the care giver.

And that brings me back to why I started this blog. I know you are out there, care givers.

I want this to be a place for you to share your stories, your experience and your feelings.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Mealtime Switcheroo

Many years ago my LO (loved one) and I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with author, Frank McCort. (Angela’s Ashes & ‘Tis).  The conversation went from one Irish topic to another when I confessed to Frank I was not even one teensie bit Irish, but Italian. Without losing a beat, McCort quipped, “Jane, darlin’, the Irish marry Italians so they can eat.”

My LO has always loved to eat. Like every four hours.

His appetite is not as huge as it once was, but he still needs to have regular intake.

His sleep pattern has changed recently. He is sleeping a lot more than usual. (our Doc says this is normal, I am doubtful.) That sleep change affects his eating schedule as well. So, for the past few days he has been looking for dinner around 4 o’clock. The first time it happened I rooted around the freezer for something quick. I always have soup in there for emergencies. He was happy with that and was in bed at 5:30.

Upon checking my calendar I realized I had two back-to back 5:30 pm meetings coming up. So, I purchased a few relatively healthy microwave dinners for him. I prepared the dinners for him just before I left for my meetings. The timing was good for him, and the portions were perfect for him.

If your dementia patient has a sleeping/eating pattern change, just go with it. Either things will get back to “normal,” or things won’t. Don’t force things, it will only cause agitation.

Be sure to take care of your nutritional needs as well. Just because your LO is eating at 5-5:30, and you don’t want to eat then, doesn’t mean you should skip a meal.

Happy wet, rainy, icy, Thursday!


The Book is coming and so are the Holidays!

I have written an A-Z guide for care givers of dementia patients.  I am now looking for a publisher who will take my design and  get the thing on the shelves, the internet, etc.  I am very unfamiliar with the world of publishing, but hope to see some results in the coming weeks.

Meantime, Thanksgiving is a mere ten days away. Stress should not be part of the celebration.  This is a good time to consider how to simplify not only Turkey Day, but all the upcoming holidays, because if you think you are stressed, imagine what your loved one with dementia feels.

Talk about the “New Normal!” The holidays are the perfect time to develop your new normal.

Do you have to host Thanksgiving dinner?  If you do host, will you allow your guests to participate?  You don’t have to be “Rambo of the Kitchen!”  Remember, Martha Stewart has people.

Consider being a guest who brings a course.  I like that idea these days. That way I can concentrate on a really good pie or side dish, enjoy the dinner, help with the dishes and when I see my LO get antsy to leave, we’re gone.

And, just for fun, Google the Pioneer woman’s Shortcut Thanksgiving. It is nothing short of inspirational!

Happy rainy Tuesday!

Hello Care Givers

I decided to develop a blog for primary caregivers of people with dementia because I am one of you.  I have been dealing with my husband’s dementia for five and a half. No one from our large, extended family lives closer than two and a half hours from our home. Although we are in this together, there are times when I’d like to chat with someone going through what I am going through.

So, welcome aboard. Let’s chat about how we make our Loved One’s life as fulfilling as possible, without losing our minds!