Saturday, June 19, 2010

Help -- My Life is Going to the Dogs!

It's not so much that I mind being home on a Saturday night... My Mom, the dogs, the cat and I are enjoying a quiet evening and beautiful sunset. The trouble is we're dealing with fleas. A super minor case, but a major pain in the neck when your Mom has Alzheimer's.
It seemed bad enough when I tried to escape into the kitchen to give them each a bath. My Mom would not stay in her chair, she kept asking where I went and trying to get up to come find me. I have an open floor plan so I could see her dangerously teetering out of the recliner chair with the footrest up, she couldn't see me because her chair faces the opposite direction. If only I would have known she'd be so needy today, I would have turned it around before I started Riley's bath. Instead, I had one hand trying to hold a small slippery dog all covered with suds, while I craned my head over the counter trying to prove I wasn't more than ten feet away. The flea soap had to stay on for a full five minutes to be effective, by minute three I had no choice but to abandon the bather and scoot into the living room to put My Mom back in place. Terrified Riley would leap down to the tile floor leading to an even greater veterinary emergency, I gave a stern "stay", "stay" as I cautiously left him and made my way around to the living room. Riley escaped to the counter top, but My Mom took the command quite well. She heard the order and backed right down into the chair!
Maybe that's the moment the transformation took place, honestly I can't be sure, but from there the whole ordeal took an insane twist. Trying to remain in her line of vision, I moved the post bath activities to the living room floor. From there I applied Frontline, brushed both dogs and even trimmed their toes. Guess who got jealous? This by far became the most ridiculous behavior ever displayed by My Poor failing Mom.
It started as I applied the Frontline prevention. Here's how the activity went from there:
(Late add: one part might seem a little tasteless, but it happened so I'm writing about it.)
"What would happen if I got one?" she asked referring to the medicine.
"I don't know," I said stunned that she'd even ask for something being applied to a dog. "You'd probably break out in a rash."
"I'd like to try it anyway."
"You're not a dog."
"I know."
"And, you don't have fleas," determined to make sure she understood that's a good thing I added "you should be thankful for that!"
"I could probably get some," she said brushing her head, as in hopefully she'd get them.
Then I began brushing the Sheltie.
"That's so nice." She paused as I continued to work. "I'd like to get brushed."
"You don't have any fur," I said shocked yet again, looking up in time to see her brushing her own arms with her hands to see how it would feel.
"No, but I have these," she retaliated by hoisting her barely there breasts through her shirt.
"I don't think you should brush your boobs either," I answered, trying not to laugh and wondering what could possibly come next. I could physically see her processing the situation, so I thought I'd toss a little more ammo in the conversation to convince any good remaining brain cells that she shouldn't compete with the dogs for attention.
"Besides, it's a steel brush, it would probably hurt."
"If you want to be that way." Pure dejection, until... about a half hour later she saw a yellow bag of treats on the table. She lit up.
"Now who put those there?"
"I did. They're dog treats."
"Well I didn't get one..."
What's going to happen when they start a game of tug of war with the pull toy????

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A "Quick" Errand

First of all, it goes without say, nothing goes quickly with an 88-year-old Mom whose average pace is a shuffle. It's not just about mobility. Behind the handles of a walker or a shopping cart she can power walk when she wants to, the problem is she needs to absorb every nuance during an outing right down to reading every sign and examining every piece of litter on the ground. Some environments exasperate the situation. The worst culprit for me -- the grocery store.
I used to sympathize with the moms who complain about the frustration of stores displaying enticing candy within arms reach of toddlers at the checkout -- I now say you have it easy. Your battle starts at the end of the shopping experience. Mine starts before we ever enter the store.

The other night after a long day out, I wanted to run in the grocery store and pick up two items for dinner. I should have left My Mom in the car. I didn't. Instead I coached her. "We've had a long day, we're just running in for two quick things for dinner. We're not actually shopping..." Did I honestly think she'd remember any of that? The "in and out" errand for two items nearly took two hours. It was a Sunday night and the Kroger staff had just finished peppering the entire store with bright yellow cards identifying every single item in the sale ad. My Mom is a shopaholic, she especially loves sales. We encountered the first "deal" on the sidewalk on the way in.
"Look at these, they're beautiful," she said beelining her cart to the hanging plants out front. A big bold $19.99 sign hung above the spindly, pathetic looking impatiens. Some of the flowers looked great. These particular baskets were no deal. "Let's take a couple," she said. Not wanting to start a fight, I told her we'd pick them up on the way out. Then in the foyer she found a gas grill for a mere $187 and a GIANT bag of charcoal on sale for, are you ready? Only $9.99. I couldn't convince her that she wouldn't need charcoal with a gas grill, but they were on sale so she wanted both. She already racked up over $200 in pretend purchases and we weren't through the second set of sliding doors yet. Nothing seemed out of her reach financially, but luckily for me the items were out of her reach physically. The plants hung high over head and the grill and bar-b-que supplies were up on a pallet. Inside the door it was another story. Within 3 feet we already had a half dozen 'must haves' including by one get one free coffee cakes, 10 for $10 pineapples (even though there's a one per customer limit), brownies and bread. I somehow pushed through produce, let her take one of the 10 for $10 cheese puffs and tired of hearing "wait, wait" at every single sign, I lured her a little faster into the store with the promise of finding the candy aisle.
You have to understand she doesn't just grab everything in site, she actually carefully weighs whether it's a good purchase, which is partly how these expeditions take so long, she just doesn't consider whether she really needs the merchandise. If it's a good deal, it's going in the basket. I couldn't wait for her to start analyzing the candy. There were 3 different types of sales and I was dying to see what made the most sense to her failing, yet often still cunningly alert, analytical mind. Giant Hershey bars were 10 for $10, bags of Willy Wonka chocolate squares were 3 for $6, and packs of Mars candy bars were 2 for $5. Would she notice quantity? Size or servings? Maybe even take the brand name into consideration? I stood back to let her do her thing. Within seconds she made her decision. One of each. "Well, you can't go wrong with chocolate, right?" Who could argue with that?!
It turned out to be a really good deal for both of us. She came home with probably 10 pounds of chocolate and I told her she couldn't have one until we hit the checkout which made her really motor through the rest of the shopping. A delight for us both.