Flu can make life interesting. Or not.

Nut graf: A flu bug can create all kinds of havoc for the caregiver. Be prepared for when it happens, because it probably will.

Ugh. Get thee away.
Dad had a real rough week. Couldn’t walk, couldn’t straighten himself up in a chair, couldn’t do much of anything.

His cognition, not real strong at this point in life, also took a hike.

A heavy cold or flu will do that every time.

For a day or so, he retired to his bed. Had me worried, of course. He keeps his own hours, but this time they were all over the map. Up at 4 a.m., sleeping until early afternoon, all that fun stuff that did a number on my own schedule.

Then he retired to his room. Didn’t emerge all day. I went in to check on him, and he was reclining on the head. Not a bad idea ’cause he needed to go there sometimes, but it’s still not the most comfortable seat in the house. Later I saw him sleeping on the bathroom floor.

Finally got him up and into his bedroom chair, which is sort of a way station when he’s feeling lousy. A few minutes after I got him there, he asked me if it was dark outside. He wanted to take a walk around the block.

“You might want to get your pants on first,” I said.


Moved a TV tray in his room for him to eat off of, and a portable latrine so he wouldn’t get that far. I didn’t want to use that, because Mom used it and it has some memories attached to it.

Dug up my own tools, too:

  • My gait belt for hauling him around. I had to find that, which is easier when it’s not an emergency. Anyway, it’s now close by.

  • My back brace. I told him it’s not for him. It’s for me.

I usually sleep in my “cabin,” a converted patio by the house. All the comforts of home, including my recliner, laptop, and library. But when he’s like this, I have to constantly monitor him. Like all the time. So last night I closed the cabin down and slept in the spare bedroom next door to his. More weird feelings. That was Mom’s room, in fact she died there two years ago. About 40 years earlier, it was my room. Last night was the first I’d slept there in all that time, and that was weird.

This morning he’s feeling better. Sitting up in his chair, eating breakfast from his TV tray. His cognition is still shot.

“I just closed out the year,” he told me. I think that was a leftover from when he owned a liquor store, and it was a paperwork thing. It took him a few minutes to get that sentence out.

“You did?” I asked.

“I just closed out the year.”

“Good,” I told him. “I hate leftover stuff hanging around.”

Fake it, man. Fake it.

Scary stuff, but it’s the flu. Just routine seasonal stuff, right?

Except at that age you’re kind of fragile and it’ll really nail you. If your cognition is hanging by a thread, a good working dose of the flu will snip that thread.

He’ll be okay in a day or two. A little stronger. Made it to the bed by himself (he said). I know he was able to straighten himself in his chair by himself.

Good sign.

But here’s the thing: All that from the flu.

My joke is that the flu is like the Mummy’s Curse. The only way to get rid of it is to give it to somebody else.

Gee, Dad. Thanks a pantload.

Talk to me: How does your loved one handle a flu bug? Since it’ll probably affect you, how do you handle it?

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 MMlearn.org, 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)(http://blog.thealzheimerssite.com/late-stage/): 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 Caregiving.com)

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.