December 2017 was a challenging time in many ways.  What with the normal challenges of Christmas and family dynamic’s and other things happening at the time I felt like shutting down and opting out!

At the beginning of the month I had been trying to organise someone to fix a broken pipe on Mum’s reticulation system.  I wanted to get it ready for the hot months ahead.  First I made a general check on the reticulation systems of which Mum has 5, then waited for Mum’s gardener, provided through her stay-a-home care package. I was hoping he would be able to help.  After making a thorough check of the system in November, I was provided with a list of what was need to make the repair when he next visited early December. Unfortunately his attempt to fix the problem didn’t work as the fittings I bought were metric and the old pipes weren’t!   A professional retic guy was needed.  I contacted one I had used in the past but after two failed appointments, I went with a guy my friend, Jan suggested.  He took a look at the old pipe and recommended it be block it off as a sprinkler really wasn’t needed there anymore.  Thinking that was all that was needed to be he departed.  It was only then that I realised there was another gushing pipe in the back garden!  I thought the gardener had check them all!  Too late now!  Instead of getting the guy back I decided the easiest thing was to just turn that station on the reticulation cycle off.  This meant no water to the vegie garden or citrus trees.  Thank God Mum doesn’t use the vegie garden in the summertime as it’s too hot and dry.

I have also having a battle with Mum when the reticulation came on as she would turn it off saying she had already watered, which of course she hadn’t but just couldn’t remember.  Unfortunately WA has yearly water restrictions and sprinklers can only come on at certain times on certain days.  I was hoping to have the watering done when she was not at home so she couldn’t comment or turn it off but now it needed to go on when I’m there so I can distract her.

December was busy with appointments and assessments for Mum as she had both her ACAT and dementia assessments.  Both were a good time for me to have a chat with the assessor, the doctor and the social worker about Mum’s care and what is needed next.  Mum doesn’t like me going in with her to see the doctor but fortunately part of the requirement is for someone to assist mum so that a more accurate assessment can be made.  I was able to update the doctor on Mum’s latest behaviour and care.  I was also able to speak to the social worker who was very concerned with my stress levels.  I spoke to both the doctor and the social worker about my desire to have guardianship so that I could better care for my mother which they both agreed with saying the next stage of dementia may see Mum start to be disorientated and start to wander.  They also suggested I look into having Mum wait listed for residential care.

This caused me to be quite teary as I know Mum doesn’t want to leave home and what I had seen from some of the residential care facilities was not pleasant.  I sent out an email to all my sisters letting them know Mum’s latest position and our need to look into organizing things for Mum.  I also visited a few residential facilities sending a report to the sisters.  There was one that I liked the look of which had sea views but I didn’t find the staff who showed me around very friendly and wondered how the clients were treated.  This was not a secure facility so probably not the best place for Mum with dementia. The other facility I visited was very pleasant with private rooms opening onto a communal court yard with beautiful gardens which Mum would enjoy.  They also spoke about the extra activities and outings and were even thinking about getting a residential dog for the clients.  Mum would love this as one of the reasons she doesn’t want to move is she is unable to take her dog.  Suzie, is not a dog for older people as she is very active and is constantly jumping up on Mum scratching her tissue thin skin.  Mum is frequently needing to take antibiotics to fight off infection from these cuts.  All of us would like to see the dog gone but know this is not possible as she is Mum’s constant companion and they love each other dearly.

Emails from sisters have been buzzing back and forward with all the things that need to be done for Mum including comments on the guardianship which I finally lodged with the hearing coming up for early February which didn’t suit my eldest sister who called to change it.  I was given a call for my consent and a later date was made. This hearing is something I’m really not looking forward to.  I couldn’t even cope with all the emails.  I think I just went into shutdown mode!

December is also a time of Christmas and end of year parties.  My neighbour Bob invited me to a neighbour’s BBQ saying if I didn’t bring my Mum then don’t bother coming!  Bob is a character and a great neighbour.  He even watered my garden for 10 days while I was away.  It was a lovely evening catching up with others from the units plus friends of Bob’s.

I was also invited to Mum’s community centre lunch and met some of the people she knows through her Wednesday and Friday bus outings. Then there was the Christmas do with the aged care provider I had recently found work with.  I picked Jan up as she is also employed by them.  It was a lovely evening meeting others in the industry.  I had actually contacted them just before all of Mum’s assessments to say I would like to postpone working with them till my return from Sydney in April 2018 as there was too much happening between now and then.

It seems quite frequently lately Mum has been calling me as she is feeling down, lonely or bored. One morning when Mum was feeling a little down I called her friend, Helen, to ask if she would like to join us for a coffee.  After picking Mum up I dropped back to my place as I had forgotten something.  We then headed in the direction of Helen’s home.  I knew the general direction but had forgotten to write down the address.  Mum knew vaguely where it was too but because I wasn’t going the normal route from her place, we got lost!  Mum said she would recognise a school near Helen’s but we couldn’t find it. I tried calling Helen but she was waiting by the road so didn’t hear the phone.  I back tracked to the rout Mum usually takes and prayed for guidance.  Eventually having turned off the main drag in the right direction (could only have been the Lord’s leading as neither of us knew where we were), Mum thought she recognised a park.  We weaved around it and then the TAFE came into view which was the school Mum had remembered.  From there she knew her way and there was Helen waiting out front.  We apologise for the delay and headed for McCafe for a well-earned senior’s coffee and snack.  I’m pleased to say I now have Helen’s address.

End of school term saw the end of my assisting with the primary school garden and the Tuesday coffees.  But I was called in to help as a barista for the school graduation where my nephew’s son was one celebrating the end of his primary school life.  Because there was limited space my older sister and her husband being the grandparents were invited.  I was blessed to be able to stand at the back of the hall after closing the coffee machine.  What a privilege!

As the weather had warmed up Mum has wanted to go for her early morning swims at Mettam’s Pool.  I had been trying to find an age care provider who could help Mum get to the beach for a swim but not many would take the responsibility.  One of her friends has offered to pick her up but she call’s very early, 5am and Mum is often not up or awake at that time anymore.  Mum’s neighbour, Steve, often goes down around 7-8am and call’s across the fence to see if Mum is ready to go.  He mentioned that he saw her walking back from the beach one morning which shocked me as the beach is quite a walk over a very steep hill! He also mentioned that on one occasion after taking Mum to the beach, he saw her being assisted out of the water the next minute she is walking up the ramp and disappeared.  Getting hurriedly out of the water he drove home wondering if she had walked or gotten a lift from someone else.  I explained she probably didn’t remember he had taken her down.  He was shocked as she seems quite coherent.  I explained it was all an illusion and that dementia is taking over.  Mum is often telling me she has walked either to or from the beach or taken a lift back. I’m happy she has found a solution.  I know she will not go swimming unless there is someone there to help her in and out of the water.

Carols by Candle light is put on by our church at North Beach.  It was scheduled for a Sunday evening but had to be cancelled due to blustery weather.  It was rescheduled for a week night when the council was able to be involved, the venue was moved to the North Beach Primary School oval which is opposite the church.  It was a great night with a large attendance.  Church put on snacks, hot teas and coffee and an evening’s entertainment and carol singing.  There was face painting and other activities for the children from 4pm with the carols ending at 9pm.  It was a great night and lovely weather, Praise the Lord!

I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas day at my sisters.  I really wanted to spend time alone just relaxing and contemplating the true reason for Christmas.  Every second year it is at my eldest sister’s place.  It’s basically her family Mum and I.  She usually does the whole thing which is beautifully done as she is a wonderful caterer.  This year she sent an email to ask us to contribute which I’m much happier with.  I usually make traditional sweet snacks but didn’t feel up to it this year so offered to buy the prawns instead.  The day finally came.

Mum rang me early to say she wanted me to pick her up for church.  What a pleasant surprise!  Before going Mum and I opened a few presents together at her place.  We called to say Merry Christmas to Kat who was working out at sea and Jen in Eumundi, QLD.

At church she had a lovely time catching up with old acquaintances from Share In crafts, sitting at the back of the church with all my mature friends. She looked quite at home.  After church we returned to her place where together we made our traditional savoury entrée and backed them before leaving.  While baking them Mum fell asleep so I texted Nezka to say we would be a bit late.  When we finally go to Trisha’s, half an hour late, Nezka and Michael still hadn’t arrived.  I sent her a quick message saying “beat you LOL”.

Trisha rushed around doing her usual thing.  There was lots of food beforehand and our savoury entrée was a hit.  It was then present opening which is a tradition that is carried out a certain way before we eat.  All was going well till it was Mum’s turn to give out her presents.  Last year Kathy, my youngest sister organised tickets to the circus for all the grand and great grandchildren which Granny would attend with them.  I thought this was a wonderful idea.  As Kathy wasn’t able to do the same this year she asked if I could find out what Nezka thought Granny could do with them this year.  It was decided they would all go to the musical Aladdin.  To my surprise Trisha had already gone Christmas shopping with Mum and had given all the grandchildren $50!  Giving money is not a family tradition but I suppose being her grandchildren Trisha wanted something worthwhile!  I looked at Nezka and Rachel and said well there goes the other suggestion!  I asked Trisha why she hadn’t told me she had organised the gifts as Kathy usually does it.  What followed is not worth repeating. Needless to say I felt very uncomfortable and decided the elephant in the room should leave.  Which I did.  My prayers had been answered but not in a way I had expected.  I had a quiet lunch at home eating left over Singapore noodles.

The good thing was that Mum didn’t remember what had happened only that I had been upset and left. Sometimes dementia has its benefits.

Two days later I was heading south to be part of the Scripture Union Beach Mission at Denmark.  That very evening my sister Kathy arrived to stay and care for Mum.  More of these events in the next blog update.

I do pray that you all had a more joyous Christmas with less stress and hassles!


Photos:   1. Grevillia in bloom     2. Bob’s neighbourly BBQ    3. Mum’s Community Centre Christmas lunch      4. Coffee with Helen     5. School graduation ceremony     6. Carols by Candle Light    7. Mum enjoying the Carols     8. Mum chatting to Jen     9. Mum with backrow friends at church   10. Christmas Day gathering

Prayer & Praise Points:
I am in awe and wonder during this time of remembrance.  The Father of Creation has so generously sent His one and only Son to dwell amongst us and to share His love in such a practical sacrificial way.  Thank you Jesus for revealing the Father to us through Your LOVE.

Praise the Lord for watching over both Mum and I during this difficult time of the year.

I continue to praise Him for all the ongoing support and helpers He has put around me, friends, neighbours and professionals.  For His ever present help in times of need.

Thank you Lord for Your strength and patience.

Please continue to pray that Mum will graciously accept the carers provided to help her.

Pray I will have wisdom as I tackle that which is needed and the favour in acquiring Legal Guardianship and Power of Attorney.

Please continue to pray that I will learn how to sleep well.  Pray also that I will grow in love guarding my heart and zip my lip.

I appreciate your ongoing prayers for the business, Senior’s Benefits and Rewards.  We are still looking for someone to assist us with marketing ideas.

Thank you once again to all my supportive friends and prayer partners, knowing you stand with me in prayer is a real encouragement and strength.


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