Hi Everyone,

Tonights post is much more personal then I would normally write but I’m very excited to share Corey’s accomplishment.

As you know, we have been working with Corey on personal independence. She can’t wait to “get rid of our helpers”. We need our nurses not only for their clinical expertise but for Corey’s ADL’s (activities of daily living). This includes assistance to walk, escorting her to the bathroom, assisting with dressing/undressing, assisting with rolling over, sitting up and standing up from her bed. We have graduated to ‘standing by’ when she’s walking with her walker, but still assist with some reaching and/or stabilizing bowls, plates etc if she’s cooking or eating.

It has been increasingly more difficult to manage Corey’s frustration of relying on another person to assist with such basic needs. Not only is it an issue of dignity but her memory loss, as to why she needs assistance at all, also contributes to her anger.

At the end of every day we take the chair lift to the top of the stairs. She spins the seat, unbuckles the belt, stands with assistance and takes a step up to the landing at the threshold of her room. Her bed is situated on the far wall facing us. There is a bedside commode to the left. Next to the commode, an armoire that is utilized as a storage closet for her bedding and bathroom accessories. In the right section; a trash can, box of gloves, pads, moist toilettes, hand sanitizer, deodorant, lysol wipes and air freshener. In the section to the left; pajama tops, bottoms, bath mats for under the commode, protective bed pads and sheets.

We walk from the threshold of the landing straight back to the commode. Corey sits, we assist her to undress, we give her bedtime medicine, help her to put on her pajama’s then assist her with her personal hygiene. We help her stand, take a few steps to transfer to the bed, sit her on the bed side, help her lie down, swing her legs up, then roll her to her side to get tucked in for the night.

Normally I do not leave her side when she is in her room. I have a “BabyCam” monitor set up in her room. If I have to run down the hall to my room I take the hand help receiver to ‘watch’ her (God forbid rule). Tonight, I had to step out to rinse out a pad.

As I was tending to the hand washing, I kept my eye on Corey through the monitor. I watched her reach into the left side of the armoire, reach for a pajama top, examine the shirt to find the front/back, lay it across her lap with her right hand, separate the front/back, lift it over her head, push her right arm through the shirt sleeve, find the left shirt sleeve, open it with her right hand…reach through the opening to grab her left hand and then shimmy the left sleeve onto her forearm. She stopped at the elbow unsure how to proceed. I watched patiently. She used her right arm to pull the front and back of the shirt down her torso. Her left shoulder and elbow was stuck. She hollered for help.

I entered her room and sat on the edge of the bed.
M – what’s up
C – I’m stuck, I don’t think I can do this
M – yes you can, you’re 3/4 there…push the left sleeve fabric past your elbow.
C – (it took a few minutes to manipulate but she pushed through)
M – now reach up with your right hand to fix the fabric stuck on your left shoulder and pull it down and push it back to position it.
C – (she fussed with the shoulder fabric, pushing back, pulling down until she was satisfied)
M – that was the first time you put your shirt on yourself!
C – (annoyed) not really by myself mom; you had to tell me what to do…
M – you’re killin’ me Cor!

Miss Independence…it doesn’t count if I don’t do it by myself…

I can’t imagine Corey’s level of frustration. As her caregiver, I have been feeling like her left shirt sleeve…stuck…I know I can help her, change the way I present it, try a new direction, rephrase, retry, find something that will help make a connection, but how? Every day the same routine is filled with trials; some successes but more failed attempts until that one time she nails it and breaks through.

Tonight was a break through! She nailed it…she achieved another BIG milestone towards personal independence. Tomorrow we do it again, xoxo