July 22, 2012

Learn the Clues Again, Liz!

This afternoon I went to visit Erik and found him, again, sacked out on his bed.  Sleeping comfortably, which made me happy.  
He soon woke up. Blinked several times when he saw me sitting there and we ended up having a sweet time together.   I was able to cut his toenails, threw in a little foot massage, tried to floss his lower teeth and persuaded him to brush his teeth a bit.  (Dentist visit coming soon, dreading.  We haven't brushed his teeth enough, I just know it.)

But I digress. Mostly today I learned that I need to pay attention to the same clues I used to readily attend to when my kids were babies, which seems about a hundred years ago.

Since Erik is becoming more childlike in his physical needs he has to receive help.  The staff at his facility are wonderful.  They don't cut his nails or give foot massages though -- that's special.  Family's privilege.  And I have to admit, I feel like it's an honor to do that for him.  I wouldn't have thought I'd ever say that in my earlier days.

But Erik's caregivers will help him when he, how do I say, needs changing.   Today I didn't notice those clues right away.  I should have.  They were pretty much the same ones my little babies displayed when they needed help in this area, but without the crying.   Now I know why Erik looked a bit frustrated from time to time during my visit.  It's a blessing he's sweet and patient with me.   No staff happened to stopped by to check on him but we got everything taken care of and Erik was smiling and I felt glad he was happy.  Just like when my little baby was changed, and I couldn't help but smother their little feet with kisses-- full of love to tend to whatever was needed.   I didn't kiss Erik's feet but I did kiss his cheek.  

I used to hear people talk about caring for elderly family members and remark what a privilege it was.  I never fully understood, because then, that kind of care for someone seemed so intimate and just, hard.   I don't care for Erik perfectly at all but I'm learning.  Aren't we all?  I expect others out there tending to older family or handicapped family are too.  
And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

July 21, 2012

That's my name.

Elmcroft, the senior assisted living home where Erik lives has been updating everything.  When Erik moved in last January he was fortunate to get a room that already had new carpet, paint and bathroom flooring.   Since then, new carpet and paint has been added all over with more good stuff to come.  It's going to be so pretty.  One thing that the management did recently was to give everyone new room number signs outside their doors, with names on them.  That's the part Erik likes.  After a new name plate went up outside his door he led me out there two times and did this:

July 20, 2012

Clothes don't make the man.

Back in the '70's when Erik was young I remember him like this:

Smiling, happy, proud to wear his uniform.  Ah, just the sweetest!!!
I also remember him like this:
Laughing, looking like he's about to say something funny.

Lately, this is what we get:
He's put on some weight, so I bought him size large shorts but they started getting tight so I got some extra large (pictured above).  Well, they're big, which makes them hard to tie, they almost fall down on their own.   So Erik pulls them wa-a-ay up; they come up to his armpits.  Almost.  Often, nothing that he's wearing matches.  Does Erik care?? No way.  Do I care?  No. He's still the same adorable guy, no matter what's on the outside.  
Today he was wearing a  Chuck Norris T shirt stating all the things that should scare you about Chuck Norris.  I should have taken a picture of it and shared it with you...it was so funny.

July 19, 2012

Would you like some (insert any food)? Oh yeah.

Erik's love of food is legendary. If you ask him if he's hungry, no matter what time of day, he'll answer "oh, yeah".  I've rarely heard him turn anything down.  When Erik first moved into Elmcroft he was wearing medium pants.  Now, large or extra large.  uh oh.  When Erik is eating food, let's just say, it's not a pretty sight.  My sweet brother does not care that he's got food all over his face or hands or tablecloth or clothes or floor.  He's just HAPPY to be eating.

want a pastry, Erik?  yes.

Hamburger and Fries, before it got messy. 
If you're new to Erik's story, this post will take you to another post I wrote a while back about Erik and his hamburger obsession.
Happy eating from Erik.

July 18, 2012

A great way to start the day.

I went to see Erik this morning at bit after 10 because I knew he was going to be visited by a friends from our church who had asked to meet him. I found him in his room like this:

Do you see what he's holding in his hand? I guess finishing that last bit of coke zero just wore him out. funny. 

I left him sleeping and went to wait for my friends.  When they arrived I told them that Erik was out like a light but we could go and see if he'd wake up.  We opened his door and found him was sitting up and smiling.   So we hung out and had a great visit.  I didn't know how Erik would respond to young children.  In the past he hasn't been that interested.  But he really enjoyed these 2 guys and their mom.  He kept wanting to shake their hand, played with his Dallas Cowboy balloon with them, showed them things around his room.  He patted the spot next to him on the bed and then put his arm around his new buddy -- giving me a chance to snatch this picture.   What a blessing.  They brought fun and joy this morning to Erik and to me.

July 16, 2012

"I doin' fine!"

(quickly written several weeks ago and never got around to posting)
Before Erik was affected by dementia, he carried on conversations, made plans, took care of himself, and lived a full life.  Through many situations he was unshakeable, unafraid, and enjoyed people everywhere he went.  Observing him today caused me to think about all he used to do because twice today he spoke, with expressions we used to hear from him all the time.

notes from today:  mid morning, June 26, '12
When I entered his room he was dressed in shorts, shirt, cowboy cap and old tennies.  I told him we were going to pick up his new shoes.  "You kidding," he replied.  He seemed more responsive and happy, smiling.  One of the care-givers came in to clean him up before we left.  In car Erik was happy but promptly fell asleep and slept all the way to shoe store.  While there, Erik shook the hands of the other customers and petted the large stuffed animal dog on the way out.  I don't think he could tell it wasn't a real dog.   

I decided to we'd go drop in on Dad since we were so close to his home.  Erik responded to dad's "How ya been doing?" with "I doin' fine!" (music to my ears)  Lexie, their dog, covered Erik's face and skin with kisses.  It's so sweet to see Erik "love on" a dog.  I was happy he got some time with her since the dog he normally loves on at Elmcroft has had to leave.  Dogs just love Erik.  


We could only stay a short while and, again, Erik slept all the way back home.  We went into his room, sat and sang together and he proceeded to tease me.  He really seemed more happy and content today.

My main concern was his sleepiness.  I suspect he's not getting good rest at night.  So I ended up getting him a wedge pillow so his head is elevated.  I think it's helping.   And those new shoes?  SO much better than what he had.  Yay Erik!!