Links R Us: Microwave ovens, cold weather, and exploding food

This microwave keeps things simple, which makes it safer. But I still get nervous.
For obvious reasons Dad doesn’t operate heavy equipment much any more, but he still uses the microwave. A lot. Somebody has to because I seldom use it. But he’ll put his breakfast muffin in the microwave and nuke it, and he does it without too much chaos, blood, or screaming.

Ours is fairly automatic. Just need to hit two buttons – Sensor Defrost and the start button – and hey presto, there’s his breakfast.

Honestly, I get nervous thinking about it. So far he hasn’t put something like his fork in there. But so far, no problem. But as long as he can work that microwave safely, I’m not gonna take that away from him.

From Senior Care Corner, there’s an article on microwave safety. Some of it’s pretty obvious – use microwave-safe dishes, don’t heat your water too hot, inspect the oven every so often, and stand back in case your food explodes.

Exploding food?

Here are some more links from the world of caregiving:

From, a training site, there are some tips for dealing with cold weather. If the caregiver’s freezing, you can bet the care recipient is. While I don’t have to worry about all of this in sunny California, this general list gives me some things to consider. Stock up on consumibles (done). Keep your senior warm (blankets and heaters, anyone?). Make sure transportation needs are met (duh). And plan on what to do if the power bonks out (oops). Senior Care Corner has a more specific list on what to do, including advance planning.

The Alzheimers Site has a quiz for you to find out how much you really know about Alzheimers. I didn’t take the quiz myself because I despise online slideshows and it’s too closely linked to Facebook, but you might find it fun or useful.

That’s all I could think of. Y’all have a good week, and stay frosty. If frosty is the word I want.

Links R Us: Further reading

I picked this up from Ian Kremer (@LEAD_Coalition) on Twitter.

We need all the resources we can get, and the Internet is full of helpful (and not so helpful) articles. Here are a few I grabbed from my weekly reading.

[8 Common Struggles of Late-Stage Alzheimer’s, And How To Help)( I don’t like talking about this, and it’s probably denial talking. For me, it’s a tremor Dad has somehow picked up. Don’t think it’s Parkinson’s, but it bears watching. Some of these, though, aren’t necessarily signs of late stage Alzheimers. Number One, trouble staying mobile, is one. To my knowledge, mobility can be an issue at any time. Still worth a read. (From The Alzheimers Site)

Strengthening Senior Bones to Protect Against Life-Altering Fractures: Always a concern. First things I check when Dad falls are a) did he hit his head, and b) any broken bones. According to this article, calcium and Vitamin D will help a lot. (From Senior Care Corner)

In With the New …: I know. As I write this, many New Years resolutions are already forgotten. This article suggests finding one thing the caregiver can get rid of, and one thing he can acquire. It may be a habit. This article has a lot of New Age feelgood ooo-eee-ooo in it, but I like the general concept. (From

How to Discuss Personal Hygiene with Seniors: Oh boy. I’m not looking forward to this one. From A Place For Mom)

Talk to me: If you find any articles yourself, please share in the comments. Be warned, though. Spam articles and clickbait will be weeded out with extreme prejudice, and the sender just might find himself blocked.

8 Ways a Caregiver can Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity

Note: This is from The Caregivers Voice. Taking care of someone is enough of a strain, so ya gotta do something to keep things loose. Here are a few ideas:

8 Ways a Caregiver can Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity

You’re welcome.

Talk to me: got any other ways you use to amuse yourself? Please share.

Sense of time? What sense of time?

I guess when dementia takes over, a guy’s sense of time goes all over the map. We have clocks spotted all over the house, and he believes none of them. So his schedule is even more messed up than usual. 

Like last night. We were fixing to go to a caregiver’s party, entertainment provided by a bunch of musicians including myself. And getting everything out the door took some real doing.

But Dad running behind. He had his usual leisurely lunch, took a while to get his shoes on (with help), and took 10 minutes to locate a handkerchief. We got out the door and over to Goeske, giving me maybe 15 minutes to load in and sound check. 
From the journal:

That may be the new normal. His sense of time is all shot. Right now there are two time frames in the house: Daylight and dark. He’s sleeping in his chair more, and he’ll often be up rattling around at 3 or 4 in the morning. He was never the type to be on time for things anyway, but lately it seems someone sure busted his watch.

His new clock is called “looking out the window.” As I wrote this he made something like his thind or fourth trip in an hour to look outside. He even interrupted his lunch to do this.

“It’s dark,” he said after meditating on the blackened view for a few minutes.

Now myself, having a bizarre sense of humor, had to check.

“It sure is, isn’t it?”

It’s not supposed to be this dark.”

I move to the other side of the house and check the windows the other direction. “Dark over there too.”


“Yeah,” I say. “It’s dark everywhere.”

Hey, caregiving’s strenuous enough. I have to amuse myself somehow.

Don’t know if it’s a sundowning thing, but his schedule is all crazy now. Meaning my schedule is all crazy. Now if he starts getting up at like 7 in the morning, I’ll know everything’s gotten weird.

I remember in some of my caregiving classes we talked about sundowning but I never really experienced it until lately. Maybe this is it, and already I don’t like it.

Guess this means I have to adjust.

Talk to me: What are your experiences with sundowning? Please share.

Staying ahead of the food fixations

God help us if his tastes change overnight.

Grocery shopping gets to be a challenge if you’re a caregiver, even if it’s simple. You may find your care recipient gets strange tastes sometimes, and it’s difficult to keep up with them.

Like Dad. His diet is fairly simple, yet it’s an abominable one. Prepackaged frozen rations every night. No variation; he has three that he chooses from. All Italian, all heavy on the pasta, all relatively tasteless.

Doesn’t bother me any, but I’m not eating those. See, I’m a fairly decent cook. All kinds of great Southern meals: Ham hocks with butter beans and cornbread, and fried catfish with hush puppies. Some Mexican, homemade Texas chili with tortillas made by hand. Also my world-famous spaghetti. But these represent sea changes he’s not ready for, so I’ll have several things going in the kitchen. His microwaved meals, and whatever it is I’m eating.

But he gets on these food fixations, and they occasionally change. On top of that, he’s heavily into bulk buying. Keep that freezer full, a whole bunch of everything, rotate the new ones in behind the old ones. Just like he did when he owned a store.

So you can guess the rest, right?

Anybody want some rice bowls?
We still have two cases of teriyaki rice bowls in the big outdoor freezer. They were one of his staples until about a year ago, at least once or twice a week. Then he decided he was tired of them.

I can understand that.

So there they sit. I’ve eaten one or two of them and it takes a ton of pepper and other spices to make them edible. Fortunately, they freeze well and they’re so shot full of preservatives they’ll outlast the family’s seventh generation.

Bananas were another food kick for a while. I started picking up about a dozen per week, knowing he’ll eat most of them. That’s okay, I like them too. But then he stopped, I was getting full of bananas, and what was left started turning funny colors. Dad’s so resistant to the idea of wasting food that I kept them in the kitchen until they turned liquid inside the peel.

For a long time, cashews were the thing. He kept jars and jars of them, and he saved the empties. When I took over this caregiving thing, I noticed the stacks and stacks of empty cashew jars in the garage. He knew he had uses for every one of them. You wouldn’t believe the negotiation I had to do just to get rid of them. (Footnote: I use some of the jars now as canisters: Rice, cornmeal, masa flour, regular flour, and grits. Now I’m running out of them.)

There’s always Moose Tracks.
You guessed it. He stopped eating cashews, so now we have several full jars.

We still have several large cans of instant cappuccino, which I won’t drink. Feeling queasy just writing about the stuff. Yep, he stopped drinking that too.

Now he has a glass of milk with breakfast and a glass with lunch. That’s fairly recent, so I have to watch and anticipate any changes in his tastes. At some point he’ll get tired of the milk.

I guess that’s a dementia thing, and maybe part of aging in general. I understand the part about the taste buds losing their touch. About the last thing that remains is the taste for sweet stuff.

His taste for Denali Moose Tracks ice cream will probably never die. Unless it does, but I’ll make sure that doesn’t go to waste.