The Challenge of Caregiving

August 3, 2008

The challenge of caregiving is keeping your own sanity. I swear, if my mom opens the fridge and says, “What am I going to do with all the cheese?,” one more time, I’m going scream, pull out my hair and run for the piny woods. She can’t remember that she just opened the fridge and uttered those exact words just ten minutes before.


My little 88 year old mom is suffering from serious dementia and is needing consistent and constant care from my sisters and me. I’m the oldest of 6 daughters, and the responsibility for mom rests on four of us who live close by. We take turns as caregivers for her needs as we watch the devastating results of memory loss.

My mom has always had eating issues… “I don’t what to get fat.” (She’s under 100 pounds.) So, getting her to eat has has been an extra challenge the last several months since her dramatic down turn.

We keep cheese on hand to add to her morning scramble eggs for added calories. For some reason,seeing the block of cheese in her fridge sends into a frenzy… as does the rolls we just bought and the Stoffers dinners we just put in her freezer. “Take these home… I don’t need them.”

One who is in excellent physical health and, up until very recently, had pretty good mental health…this is certainly a blow and a traumatic experience for her. She’s frustrated when she can’t remember present time events and becomes confused easily. “I just can’t get my brain to work right.”

As patient as I try to be… it just gets to me after the fifth or sixth time. “Shut the damn fridge and don’t look at the cheese.” Then I go away feeling guilty. Being he caregiver, isn’t easy either.

After a three day stretch of caregivng, I see my sisters tired, and frustrated too. Right now… we all face the unknown. Will she stay the same for awhile? How much worse will she get? Should we get outside help?

I recently told my kids, I was going to get a document which states: “When I’m nutty-er than a fruit cake, shoot me or put in a home….let someone else be the caregiver.” Save the relationship! ” Oh mom… we would never do that!” Wanna make a bet…I insist! I hope I have the last word.

Hold on Nana… things could be worse!

Till later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. We’re hiding the block of cheese…for all of our sakes!

Aging With Grace

July 7, 2008

Aging With Grace” could be the motto for my mother and her friend, Mavis. Their anti aging formula of “Keep On Trucking,” has certainly worked for this pair of elderly women. Evelyn, my mom, is 88 years old and Mavis is 89 and, they’re still going strong.

Mom’s kept her youth by adhering to healthy eating practices, vitamins, (no drugs) and exercise. She walks at our local mall several times a week. You might say she believes in “healthy aging.”

(However…. even though she passed her drivers test a couple of months ago… her driving is a bit scary. “Who is that darn little white haired lady straining to see over the steering wheel… going 15 miles an hour?) Mom?

Mavis has some health problems…but that doesn’t keep this 89 year old woman from putting in time furthering her “career.” She still stands on her crippled and swollen feet… cuts, perms, colors, and sets hair for her friends…. for those… of course… who are not in rest homes or dead. (When they die… she provides her final service and magic touch at the mortuary… and it’s on the house!)

Mavis has been doing my mom’s hair for over sixty years. Mom started during the “dark ages” when a wash and set was $.50. Today was no exception. I drove Mom to her hair appointment for a cut, color and perm… and she paid a “dark age” price of $15.00 for her new dooo. Unheard of!

The fact we had to get Mavis out of bed because she had forgotten and… it took her one hour to dress and… she couldn’t find her hearing aid and… it took her 6 hours to cut and perm Mom’s hair… is perhaps…an indication she’s aging a bit.

If the truth be know… I believe Mom might be her only customer… as several gals just entered homes for the aging to live out their “twilight years.

Oh my gosh… the salon! I don’t believe the salon even begins to meet county or city standards for a home business… not by any stretch of imagination. Her mirror is covered with hundreds of photos of friends and family that must date back to the depression. And, I believe every small memento and gift she’s ever received, since she put out her shingle over 65 years ago, still adorns her workstation. Clutter… oh my gosh!

And… who am I to criticize? These two women can teach me a few things about “Aging With Grace.” They love, support and serve each other… Mavis still does a great job with Mom’s hair… and Mom is still willing to sit for 6 hours and listen to Mavis talk.

I’m not too far behind these aging women… I can only hope I do as well. And clutter… you should just check out my basement.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. Would you believe it if I told you… Mavis has not a gray hair in her head. No dye… no rinse… and no lie? Now… if that’s not aging gracefully… I don’t know what is.

P.P.S. Now if we can just keep my mother from repeating the same story over and over again. “By the way… have I ever told you about….”

Grandparents – Birth Of A New Baby

June 28, 2008

To grandparents, news of the birth of a new baby in the family never seems to loose it’s luster and excitement… as was the case of the news of a new granddaughter to Gene and Janet Latta.

I was attending a cooking demonstration being given by Chef Gene Latta when the long awaited call came to announce the arrive of their new grandchild. A little girl… 8lbs. 3oz. – 20.25 inches long… and her name is Navy Marie.

I grabbed my camera and click off a few shots. I think the expression on Janet’s face tells the whole
story… don’t you?

I have two new grandkids coming soon…August and September…. a little granddaugher and a grandson. I never tire of the excitement of getting the news… “We’re in labor.” Off to the hospital I go, to witness the miracle of a new baby. Both my daughter, Katie and my daughter-in-law, Martha are gracious enough include me in the birth.

Of course, I’m the one behind the camera… getting those “private” shots. (I’m going to be more discrete this time…. maybe… I get a little excited.)

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. I think this is about it for me… my kids say “We’re Done!” I’m okay with that…15 grandkids is great!
P.P.S. Congats to Gene and Janet. And.. of course to the new parents too!

Do You Remember How To Play Croquet?

June 23, 2008

Do you remember how to play Croquet? Seeing this old Croquet set at my sister Sheila’s home recently, reminded me of all the fun times I had with my neighbor and best friend, Pam Barlow. We set up the backyard croquet game on a regular basis.

Sunday afternoons were just the best. Pam’s mom would fix us lemonade and serve it in tall colored aluminum glasses. The metal would get so cold that the outside of the glass would sweat with moisture. What fun! (I ran across a few of those old glasses at an antique store recently and gave them to my daughter, Emily, as a gift.)

Can you just see yourself smacking the ball hard with the mallet…and just barely missing your opponents ball? “Oh rats!”

Come to think about it… I believe there’s a new Croquet set of 4 in my basement…on a shelf… behind the old photos… in a storage room that needs major attention. Think I’ll drag it out right away and teach my grandkids how to play Croquet. That’s if I can leap over two boxes of books, one plastic container of genealogy, and an old slide projector to get to the set.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insighful Nana

P.S. Do they still make Croquet sets? I better pick up another set or two… or I’ll have a war on my hands!

Headed To Feed The Horses With My Grandkids

June 5, 2008

Today was a fun day. Having two of my grandkids over was such a treat. We learned all about Healthy Eating Habits… For Horses of Course!

These little ones… Norah and Abram stayed with me for a few hours while their mom, Martha took Lu Lu to an appointment. We decided we would take a little stroll around the block to visit and feed the horses.

I’m fortunate to live near a horse pasture and barn…for that country life feeling… and still be close enough to Costco (two blocks away…) for the convenience of the city. Plus…I live on a quiet cul-de-sac. What a location!

While I packed my camera along.. Norah pack the horse treats… apples and carrots. (We did snitch a few of the apple treats for ourselves along the way.) She wasted no time in getting to know three new horse friends. She named her favorite horse “Princess.” Abram was a little reluctant at first…but it wasn’t long before he got the hang of things.

“Come on…eat your carrots… you’ll see better.”

“See… it does taste good..doesn’t it?

“I don’t know if I trust you. I think I’d rather play with the tackle.”

“Good bye Princess…. I love you.”

“Hey Nana… Princess said, “Thank You!”

No kidding… as soon as we left… that darn horse stuck her head out the window and whinnied loudly!

Norah was so thrilled.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Aren’t kids wonderful… I just love being a Nana!

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