Monday, November 30, 2009

That's Not Mine!

Some days Lily gets into the loop of taking off whatever sweater she has on and replacing it with Ryan's gray jacket.  She takes the sweater off because she does not remember it and she puts on Ryan's jacket because she thinks it is her jacket.  I believe the jacket must look similar to a jacket she had in the past.  I have learned just to let this behavior go. 

However, on Thanksgiving I wanted her to look nice so I helped her dress in a new maroon sweater we had bought her last winter.  Well every time I turned around she had it off and had Ryan's jacket on.  I kept helping her change until I became so busy preparing the "feast" I gave up.  Soon after I noticed that Ryan had taken my place and was saying,
"Nana you have my jacket on again!"  He must have helped her change back into her sweater at least 5 times before he finally said,  "That's it.  I am hiding this jacket!"  Lilybird didn't let that stop her and soon she had taken off her sweater and put on her black coat.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Pictures

Getting Lily ready

The table

The Centerpiece

The candy turkeys made by Caleb and Hannah with Emily's help

The Company

The old folks being silly taking out dentures and putting on wigs!

Friday, November 27, 2009


While giving mom her pills this morning I realized in all the bustle of Thanksgiving yesterday I had forgotten to give mom her evening pills.

"Oops, I forgot to give you your pills last night."

"That's ok,  Look...... I'm alive.............. still the same."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This picture is from a trip to Charleston SC with Lily in 2002.  Looking at Lily it is almost hard to believe that was only 7 years ago.  Seems forever ago.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Making the Best of It

Emily my daughter is a senior in college and also a dancer. Every day (M-F) she has classes and each evening  she dances for DCDC2 in Dayton.  When mom sees her in her coat with her purse  she says,

"Are you leaving?"

Emily making a sad face, replies, "Yeah."

"I know.  Make the best of it."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Intelligent Pugs

This morning Dan went downstairs and found Lily already up with the dogs released from their pen.  So as he went to let them out to do their business, Lilybird said,

"I asked them if they wanted to go out and go potty and they said................."

and she rapidly swung her head back and forth NO.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gassy Cat

Recently Emily was in mom's bedroom visiting her and her cat Callie and Emily commented on the size of mom's cat.

"That is all air," said Lily.

"Well then Nana you have one gassy cat!"

(We all laughed at this one because in the past she always has said the cat is full of water.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Watching her Video

Yesterday I was playing mom some of the videos I have posted on her blog. After watching herself give the "up yours" sign with her hand in Lilybird's Favorite German Saying she said,

"I taught her that.  She learned that from me."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Paddy Lily

Lily's son, my brother, Tim calls every day usually several times to talk to mom.  Oftentimes the answering machine picks up before we are able to find the cordless phone.  This is the message my brother leaves each and every time he calls.  Tim is 53 years old and has Asperger's Autism.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Guest in my Home

To this day Lily thinks she is a guest in our home and has only been with us a few weeks.  Many days she says to me,  "Now Kerry, I really need to get home tomorrow.  I have been here long enough."  The advantage to her thinking she is a guest is that she never attempts to cook for herself because she is the "guest".  Therefore that is one worry I do not have.  The disadvantage of course is her not ever truly feeling like she is at home with us.  For that I am sad but it really cannot be helped.  Many times in the past I have tried to tell her that she can no longer live alone but that reality never fits into her way of thinking.  To Lily having memory problems is just a normal part of aging and a minor nuisance.  Lily's comment to my remarks would be something like,

"As long as I know a tree is a tree and chair is a chair, I can take care of myself."

Hard to argue with that logic!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going Downhill Quick

Somehow while at Panera Bread having lunch,  Lily, Emily, and I started talking about mom's age. 

Lily said, "You mean in 3 years I'll be 80?"

"Oh God."

"At that point I'll be with the walking cane going


Sunday, November 15, 2009

There goes Bob!

"Well,  I guess we won't be seein' him anymore."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Close Call

Last night at Chris & Jenny's house (our son and daughter-in-law) the carbon monoxide alarm went off.  Thinking it might be the batteries Jenny changed them and it stopped.  Shortly afterwards the speaking carbon monoxide detector in our grandson Caleb's room went off saying, "CARBON MONOXIDE, GET OUT NOW!"  At that point Jenny knew they had a problem and out they all went into the front yard.  Vectren told them to call the Fire Department.  When the firemen entered the home their little gadgets that detect carbon monoxide starting blinking red and alarming.  Immediately the firemen went back out and put on Oxygen  masks to go back in and check the house.  High levels were detected in all areas of the house which later were attributed to a faulty gas furnace.  I shudder to think what might have happened if Jenny had not had the foresight to install the detectors.  The family would have gone to sleep without a clue what was happening.

 Carbon monoxide (CO) is the number one cause of poisoning death in America. It is an odorless, invisible, and extremely dangerous gas, which can be given off by the most common gas appliances or furnace in your home or even a car in an attached garage.

So please everyone make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of the home including all the bedrooms.

For children Jenny said it is recommended to have talking detectors rather than just beeping detectors in their bedrooms to instruct them what to do.

Even if you have an all electric home  as I do place one in the room off the garage in case someone forgets to turn off the car after parking.  I know that sounds crazy but it has happened.  (not to us as of yet!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bradenton Florida April 09

Our friends the Spillsons sent me this picture today of our trip to Florida last spring.  This is a picture of Dan, myself, and Lily at a restaurant near Nick and Vicki's house.  Lily was acting silly as usual.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Help from Lily

My friend Sande who took Lily to her mother's birthday celebration a couple of days ago told me of a funny incident which happened a few months ago when she took mom out on another outing.

While driving Lily back to our house Sande who has been here many times before started to turn one street too soon  and my mother corrected her.

"It's pretty bad when I 'm being directed by a 77 year old woman with Alzheimer's disease."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Last Night's Celebration

I called Sande to thank her for taking mom last night to her mother's birthday celebration.  She said I know she won't remember (which for the most part she didn't) but she had a great time.

While at the Mall prior to heading to the Olive Garden, Sande and Lily ran into Sande's nieces,  Alexis and Stephanie who were also heading to the party.  Sande introduced mom and told them  we will see you in about 20 minutes.

Soon at the Olive Garden Sande had to  introduce mom again to them as of course she didn't remember them.  She said her nieces eyes grew a little big wondering what the heck was going on.

While at the party Lily asked Sarah (Sande's mom) when she was going back to Ireland about 15 times.  Sarah patiently answered the question over and over until Sande encouraged her to give different responses which helps to relieve some of the burden of repetitive questions by adding a little humor to the situation.

Sande's son Mark was asked repeatedly how tall he was by mom and he told her each time she asked he was going to add a foot to the answer.  So he started at 6'4', then 7'4", 8'4"........ until finally she started laughing because she thought he was being so silly.  Sande said Mark was so good with mom sitting by her, teasing her, and telling her what a pretty lady she was.  As good looking as Mark is I am sure she loved all the attention she was getting from him.  I could tell how proud Sande was of her son in his patient and warm approach with my mother.

According to Sande,  Lily ate several helpings of food last night because Sarah kept loading her plate and Lily forgot what she had already eaten.  When cake time arrived mom was too full to partake which makes it all the more funny to hear that she told her aide Alice this morning that she had not eaten in 3 days!

Monday, November 9, 2009


What would life be without friends?
I cannot imagine.  One of my dearest friends from high school called me yesterday to invite mom out to celebrate her mother's birthday this evening.
Sande and I met our senior year of high school and have been the best of friends since.  Both of our mothers were born in Ireland, mine in Dublin and Sarah in Belfast.  Because of our friendship our mothers would see each other on occasion over the years.
I know Sande inivited mom to give us a little break and some time for ourselves.  Several of my friends have been there in this way for me and their generosity of spirit warms my heart.  Mom loves Sande's silliness (as I do) and I am sure will have a wonderful time tonight with Sande's family.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Big Matt & Little Lily

Now that Elks football is officially over we enter basketball season at Centerville where Lily's grandson Ryan plays Varsity basketball.  Last season he played with Matt Kavanaugh who is now a UD Flyer.   Here is a picture of 6'10" Matt with Lilybird while he was here visiting with my son Ryan.  Looking up at Matt, Lily said,

", how tall are you?"

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Family Suspects Mother Died of H1N1

Reading the headline in the Dayton Daily News today,  Lily Bird said to Ryan,

"Another dies of Hiny."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fat Cat

Because of mom's memory loss she does not remember filling Callie's food bowl and due to her lack of judgment we often walk in to see her holding the food bowl up to Callie's face trying to get her to eat.  We try to tell her cats don't eat on demand but to no avail.  I can't help but wonder what the cat thinks when mom is down on her knees trying to talk her into eating!  And the funny thing is mom gets so mad because she thinks Callie is just being stubborn. When we try to reassure her that Callie is eating plenty based on her size which is quite large for a cat, she says,

"Oh that is not fat.  She is just full of water. She hardly eats anything."

Thursday, November 5, 2009


With mom came Callie her cat which she has had for quite a few years while in SC.  Admittedly I did not want to take her cat when the idea of her living with us came up.  We already had 2 dogs and experience with a cat who liked to go potty in the house.  So I was not keen on bringing her along.
However I was wrong.  Callie has brought a measure of security to mom representing the years she lived in her own home.  Also, I am sure I would have gone out of my mind by now if Callie were not with us with repeated questions of "Where's Callie?"

Callie rarely comes out of mom's room and oftentimes she will be found under the bed (as pictured).  She is a very timid cat because we believe she was abused before mom adopted her.  Many times I leave mom's door open and Callie never ventures from the upstairs. If I do try to bring her down to the main living area she becomes very distressed and will run straight upstairs to the haven of Lily's bedroom.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

For Me the Choice is Simple

Today mom and I had our hair cut at the salon.  While there the young stylist trimming my hair let me know her 89 year old grandmother also had Alzheimer's and presently was in the hospital after falling at home.  Her grandfather who is 90 years old cares for his wife  and was helping her out of a chair when she fell backward breaking 3 ribs.  While at the hospital it was determined that she had severe heart arrhythmia and needed a pacemaker.  Based on her description her grandmother appears to be close to the stage Lily is in. Once discharged from the hospital she will be going to a nursing home for rehab.  The family feels once she is in a nursing home she probably will not return home as caring for her is very difficult for her husband.

While listening to her talk about her grandma I could not help but think that if this were my mom I would not allow a pacemaker to be placed.  Why you might ask?..... Lily has a reasonably good life at this point.  True, from the neck down her health is great, but I see my mother slowly withdrawing from the things in life which have always made her life enjoyable.  Looking down the Alzheimer road I see what we have in our future.  Eventual loss of all her abilities to take care of herself and participate in a quality life.  She will no longer speak, walk, or nourish herself becoming so weak that sitting up will not be possible, eventually sleeping her days away, slowly starving till her body begins to shut down.  Alzheimer's disease is always 100 percent fatal.

If her heart were to give out before developing the symptoms of end stage Alzheimer's that would be a blessing and a much easier death.  I have no guilt saying this as I know my mother and if she were in her rational mind she would tell me not to do anything to prolong her life. She would hope to go quickly and be kept as comfortable as possible.

My other concern would be the cognitive function lost due to the anesthesia which is common in the elderly with dementia.  Once lost it is rarely regained and one may find they have traded quality of life for a longer life.

So for me the choice is simple.  I will continue to make what time she has left as comfortable and enjoyable as I can but when the time comes that her body begins to fail I will let nature take its course holding her hand, loving her, and letting go.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


One afternoon a few months ago my husband and I decided to go to our bedroom for some "alone time".  We shut and thought we locked the door.  A short time later Lily suddenly entered the room carrying a load of folded clothes.  She looked in the direction of the bed and seeing us (we were covered thank you very much) turned her head quickly forward, proceeded  to the chair, set the laundry down, and hastily moved towards the door.

"Mom we were just taking a nap."

Lily said,   

                "I know!"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lily's Favorite Cupboard

  As you can see by the picture on the right finding something in the Runyeon kitchen is not always easy.  The first place to look is the cupboard closest to the sink where Lily loves to do the dishes. This cupboard is meant to keep all our drinking glasses on the bottom shelves and coffee on the top shelf. As you can see on this particular day it also holds wine glasses, water bottles, plastic shakers, plastic containers, bowls, coffee mugs, and cat food bowls!  Of course what is placed in here changes day to day and you never know what you might find.

Personally having another woman in my kitchen has been one of the most trying aspects of Lily living with us.  And not just any woman but a woman with Alzheimer's disease.  Because Lily is always trying to be helpful the kitchen is her favorite place to be.  Even though at times it can be annoying I am proud that she continues to try to contribute as she is able.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dementia Care:Tender loving care all that is needed?

 Recently I saw an article on the internet which basically disagreed with the use of medications for Alzheimer patients in nursing homes.  The author felt that all the money spent on these medications which he felt did little good should be put to better use in training the staff to interact more with the patient.  Below is the link to that article and my response which I have also included below the link.

Alzheimer's Reading Room: Dementia Care: Are Less Drugs and More Tender Loving Care the Answer?

Posted using ShareThis

I can only speak to my personal experience with my mother, but in our case I have to disagree with the author.   My mother lives with us and we interact with her all the time, but still we have had episodes of extreme agitation which no amount of talking would have abated.  Putting my mother on Namenda (she was already on Galantamine) put an almost immediate end to her agitated behavior and the quiet lasted for over a year.  Last spring we again went through an episode of uncontrollable agitation and her doctor suggested Rispirdol which again worked beautifully without putting her in a "drugged out" state which I feared. Soon we are going to attempt to wean her off the Rispirdol since her behavior is stable.
Although his premise is good as I would never discourage personal interaction over the use of drugs I would have to say from my personal experience I would not have been able to keep my mother at home without the use of these medications.

Additional note:  Having worked in an Alzheimer unit I cannot imagine not having medication to help control some of the patients who because of this disease could not be calmed down.  I believe the there is a need for drugs and interaction.  I am in a one on one situation with my mother and still was unable to calm her at different times along this journey.  Not only did I benefit but she did as well because her mind was calmer which allowed for peace and happiness to enter.