Sunday, October 30, 2011


My mom was so young when this picture was taken. Life was perhaps for her joyful and yearning for adventure.

Today when I called my mom, I was told by her caregiver that my mom had expressed pain in her hand and that it was both swollen and red. Normally when I ask my mom about something that I was told; like she complained of a stiff neck, my mom would answer that her neck was fine, for she would not remember that she had just recently said something about it.  Not today. Today was different.  My mom when I questioned her about the pain in her hand she answered that it did hurt and that she could not remember what had happened to it.  Life at times can be painful, and getting old for some, is not fun.  Today definately feels like one of those days.

My post on my blog is from a year ago after I had visited my mom.  It was titled "Broken Heart". Can the title  have been any more appropriate for how I now feel.  I doubt it.

BROKEN HEART (Aug. 2010)

I have been noticing this whole week when I call my mom that she is not sounding happy, not her usual self.  She sounds down, sad and lonely.  The total opposite of being euphoric.  I had tried a little to get mom to sing and laugh, although she just seems not to want to.   I’m hoping that this is just a “phase” like we all have our down moments.  My mom took our departure back to New York very hard, sharing all her feelings that were rather upsetting to Logan and I before we left.   I have avoided telling her on the telephone, how nice it was to see her or how much I miss, her since I am trying to avoid bringing anything up to her that might upset her.   I’m not sure if what I am doing is better or worse.   I know when I left her home to go to the airport my brother said just say goodbye and do not make a big deal about it.    

Yesterday I actually asked her if she was okay, and she answered yes.  Mom then asked me why I was asking her, and I replied that she did not sound like herself.   When I mentioned who would be coming each day to visit, Elaine her caregiver, or Trudy, Elaine’s daughter she seems to really want their company.   She seems to hunger to have them with her.  She tells me that she keeps opening the door to see if anyone is there.  It is seven days since I was there and mom keeps asking me when I am coming back.  I answer “mom I just left, although I will be back in three months".  Mom said “good, just call me to remind me”.   She almost seems like she wants to get me off the telephone.  Does she feel like I abandoned her?  Or do I feel like I did ?

 My heart hurts for her loneliness and once again I am trying so hard to get my brother to get her more time with her caregiver, so mom does not need to be so alone for so many hours.  I have faith that Gil will come through.  It is our mom and I hope that he too wants her to have what she deserves.  So as of now I just need to be patient and wait.

When I called my mom the next day I heard the same lonely sad voice.  I tried to get my mom to sing and mention to her that she is not making me laugh as she usually does.  She makes a comment about” what do you want me to do just laugh” and does an imitation of a laugh and stops.  I tried to come up with some humorous things to say that I hoped would have her respond in a positive alive tone.  She actually rushed me off the phone again, as I said I loved her and wished her a nice day.  Mom did not say I love you back or did she throw me any kisses.

I hung up and went to my Pilates class with a feelings of a broken heart.  There has been no smile on her face for almost nine days now.

Today Aug 18th 2010, Wednesday when I telephoned my mom I think I got Mama Mia, Princess Ruthie back.  She laughed and when I asked her to sing a song for me she asked, “Why I can sing”?   And I said” you sing like a canary and I feel happy that you are laughing again”.  My mom started to sing I’m So Happy, I’m So Happy, and continued putting in her own words, and phrases that sounded like poetry to my ears.   We told each other how much we loved one another and and blew each other our daily kisses to each other.  I hung up the telephone with a great big smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

 I realized how down I was feeling and how I became elated to hear my mom sounding happy again.  I felt relieved and lightened up, for the moment I had my mom back.  

As I reread my entry from a year ago I see how my mom’s condition has worsened, and in some ways how her Alzheimer’s has remained in the same stage.  She does not seem to be getting that much worse ,yet I do see that she is regressing.  She sings a lot less and although she still can spell, it is not as good as it was.  Until Ruthie forgets who I am, or does not recognize me, I will hold my head up high and delight in all that we still can share together.  Ruthie, my mom, my sweet mom.

Monday, October 24, 2011



I decided to change what I was going to write today in my blog to dedicate this post to all the people on this planet that have Alzheimer's, and to all their familes and caregiver's ,whether they are family members or not, who take on the challenge of caring for someone each and everyday.

Alzheimer's is a disease that as of now has no prevention or cure.  It is a cruel disease in the way that it eventually removes all of ones memory, as if their life never existed.

Alzheimer's is a worldwide problem. It knows no country, no nationality and it has no boundaries. All of us no matter where we live in the world can and are effected.

We all need to be advocates, so we can keep raising money to continue the research so the scientists can keep searching for the answers that are so badly needed.

Alzheimer's costs the nation 183 Billion dollars annually.
35+ million people in the world have dementia.
It is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Currently 5.4 Million Americans are living with Alzheimer's.
Every 69 seconds someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
10 Million baby boomers will get Alheimer's if we do not stop it.

Yesterday, my son Logan and my husband Bert walked with me,in New York City,along with other New Yorkers. We all so proudly walked with each other ,all of us committed to spreading awareness about AD.  This was the 23rd Walk that New Yorkers had participated in.  Although my mom has Alzheimer's for over six years now,and her younger brother had passed away from AD over 3years ago,this was our very first walk.  We all held our heads high and we were joined with 5,000 other New Yorkers to have our voices united and heard.

I know that around the world that people from every country have been Walking to End Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's is a worldwide epidemic . Can we all,only imagine that one day there will be a world without Alzheimer's. How wonderful that will be. So please let's all stand together and have our voices heard no matter where we live in the world. We all need to be committed to keep spreading awareness about Alzheimer's all over the planet.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011



It’s 7AM in the morning and today I leave to go back home with Logan after visiting mom for three days.  Today will be a rather long day for my brother will not arrive to around 4PM when we will depart for the airport.  We have no car and even if we did my mom does not want to go out, and when she does she only wants to go back home.  We’ve tried  to convince her to take walks and although I must agree that it’s rather hot outside she does not want to do this either.

Will she take advantage of the adult center that we just took her to?  We tried this before and she refused to go.  Would this help to motivate and stimulate her?  Mom says that the people are too old and she does not like the games they play.   Now how is that for calling the kettle black?  Ruthie is certainly no spring chickadee. 

Logan and I were able to get mom out.  We all walked to her swimming pool, and the reason I was able to convince her to come out, was that I told her we had to be the lifeguard for Logan as he swam.  I asked mom if she would jump in to save him if he needed it. Mom answered “that she would not because she would be the first to drown.”  We all had a good laugh as we continued to drag Ruthie to the swimming pool.

My understanding about Alzheimer’s is that every individual who has gets it acts differently.  My mom may refuse to do anything and stay locked up in her home, yet I am so grateful that she still has enough good moments, a sense of humor, wisdom and a quick thinking mind.   She’s great with spelling and counting, although she has no memory left at all.  I must correct myself, because my mom still knows who I am, which I hold onto and treasure every second of.  She also can still manage, or should I say survive, in her own home, although she is not capable of doing much.  She is sweet, not angry or bitter and greets most everyone with a smile on her face and enthusiasm in her voice. 

So all in all given that my mom has Alzheimer’s (which I cannot make disappear) her health issues are minute.  Are we blessed given the situation?  Some people may say no, and I have to say yes.  My mom is happy and in no pain and while she can still laugh, speak, eat and be more aware than not, my cup will remain half full, and I will continue to cherish all that we still have, and not what we do not have.

Bye, bye Florida and hello to New York, until my next trip, which will be in the beginning of December.

BACK HOME –Oct 2011

Saturday morning when I called my mom not sure what she might sound like, would she be upset, sound down or lonely?  Not Ruthie.  Mom sounded like she was walking on water.  She was upbeat, alive and quite energetic.  I told my mom how much I loved her and that I’ll be back to see her in eight weeks with my husband.  Mom said “how wonderful, but why so long?” “Mom I just saw you two days ago with my son Logan”.  Mom answered, “You did? I do not remember any of it”.  That’s okay mom, you still remember me, and for the moment that’s all that matters.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



Mom awoke around 8:30 AM the next morning and again was in a very good space.  My brother and I took her to an adult center day program that had other Alzheimer’s patients, to be interviewed.  Mom did not want to stay although she answered all the questions that the social worker asked of her, and mom was accepted.  She was cute, and as we exited she was sure to perform her repertoire of dancing and singing for the social worker.

After the interview we all went to lunch and ate outside by the ocean, which was quite lovely.  On the way back I was sitting with my mom in the back of the car.  In between her questioning us if we were almost at her house mom heard me say” in my next life I would be an…,” and Ruthie my mom, the little Buddha interrupted me and said, “Lisa don’t worry about your next life just stay healthy and happy in this life”.  I turned and looked at her and smiled, with the thoughts of how sharp at moments she still can be.

That evening my son Logan had left the room for a few minutes.  My mom turned to me and said, “where did that nice young man go?” “Mom, that nice young man is your grandson”. Mom said “he is?” with surprise in her voice.  I also heard my mom ask Logan during the evening if he had any brother’s or sisters.  My brother said that mom absolutely knows Logan, she was just confused.

I had also questioned my brother if mom knew that she has Alzheimer’s.  I’ve been asked this question several times and never knew the correct answer.  I knew that mom and I never spoke about it.   “Did mommy know that her brother had Alzheimer’s?” I asked.  Gil answered that he didn’t think so, that they never had spoken about it.  Ruthie’s younger brother had died from it over three years ago.  At this point does it really matter if my mom knows or not?

To be continued……

Monday, October 17, 2011


Trip to see mom- Oct 2011(w Logan)

 RUTHIE’S SWEET SMILES (October 2011-visit to mom’s)

My much awaited and anxious trip to see my mom was a wonderful surprise as my son Logan and I arrived at mom’s house.

My brother Gil picked us up at the Ft. Lauderdale airport and when we arrived at Ruthie’s home we found mom asleep and fully clothed in her bed.  The time was 2PM in the afternoon.  Mom’s caregiver had left my mom around noon and although I had called Ruthie from the airport before our flight had left, and my brother had called and told her we we’re coming she could not remember.  Or did she?  Gil proceeded to enter mom’s room because she was use to seeing him once a week and I did not want to perhaps jolt or frighten her.  I also thought that after my mom would wake up that it could take a little while to adjust.

Not my mom.  She came out of her room happier than anyone could imagine.  She was singing and started to dance with a big smile plastered across her face.  Wow, did my heart lighten up and I was left feeling so much calmer from my much anticipated trip.

If my mom could pick a good day on a scale from 1-10 this was real close to a ten.  My mom, although not the mom who raised me, but for a woman who is 87 years old and lives alone, and has Alzheimer’s for at least 6 years(maybe longer)she was amazing.  Her laughter filled the room with much humor, and she was sharp, quick and spontaneous with whatever she said.  I asked Gil if mommy is usually like this when he visits once a week, and he answered, “no, she’s just so happy to see you and Logan”.  Of course when we took her out to eat she only wanted to go back home and even when we were trying to get her out of her house she did not want to go.   Mom only wanted us to bring the food back so she could remain in her safe haven. 

We finally got mom out of the house and she did say the whole time that we were out, that she wanted to go back home.  Ruthie ate very little and she said that she was not hungry.  Early evening as mom stayed awake, she started snacking on chocolate covered donuts so I made her a snack that she finished and she was still as happy as could be.

Logan and I were exhausted from our early arrival at the airport and I was able to convince my mom to get undressed and get into bed around 8:30PM.  I think my mom could have stayed awake longer than me.  I reassured her that when she awoke in the morning that Logan and I would still be there.  Mom asked where we would be sleeping and I showed her the second bedroom, and then she asked me where she was going to sleep.  It’s interesting because every night or day my mom takes herself into her bedroom, which she has done for the last twenty- two years and puts herself to sleep.

The other interesting thing that I now understand is that my mom never wants to get undressed nor put on her nightshirt when I stay over.  She insists on going to sleep in the clothes that she wore all day.  This time my mom explained that if she stays in her clothes she’ll be all dressed in the morning.  I tried to reason with her, which I finally accomplished, as my mom under her breath said “staying dressed would be much easier for me”.  Now I understand and perhaps Ruthie’s reasoning isn’t so wrong.  To be continued.

Monday, October 10, 2011



Two days are left before Logan, my son, and I board the airplane to visit my mom and my brother.  As I sit down to write this blog I feel lots of excitement. During the last week I also felt at moments that my stomach was filled with butterflies, or should I say, a nervous feeling for how my mom will be when we finally arrive.

The last few days she has been absolutely amazing. She's been quite cute, rather sharp and cheerful.  I tell her everyday, for the last two weeks that Logan and I are coming to visit her. Mom does not remember from one day to the next, yet maybe somehow she is remembering even though she does not remember. I sound like I am speaking in circles yet perhaps someone can understand what I am trying to say. Or maybe it's just my excitement and imagination that is creating any of this.

I remind my mom about how tall Logan is (which is just shy of six feet ) and tell my mom that Logan plans to smother her with kisses. Mom and I laugh about the fact that she is only 4 feet 9 inches tall and that Logan will  either have to pick her up, or mom will have to stand on a table. Ruthie replies with "well Logan can bend down to kiss me ,or if I could wear those really high shoes." Then mom adds in with much humor," I'm just lucky that I stopped shrinking or maybe I'd disappear," which leaves us both laughing.

"Mom I  hope you realize that I will be visiting with your favorite grandson." Mom finds this really funny and says" he's my only grandson"."Mom even if you had 10 grandchildren wouldn't he always be your favorite?" Mom replies with "absolutely".

My brother Gil told me that my mom's Medic Alert bracelet just arrived in the mail. We want mom to wear it everyday in case she ever goes out and wanders away.This is highly recommended by the Alzheimer Association. So far, we've been so lucky that this has not happened. You see my mom still lives alone. I have no idea how she is still managing with only having six hours of a caregiver each day. I'm not too excited about this, yet this is an entirely different converstaion. Anyway, my brother told my mom that Logan sent her the bracelet and Gil shared with me that mom was very happy as he put it on her wrist. The next day when I phoned and spoke to Elaine her caregiver, she said that my mom was not wearing the bracelet. So of course I explained to my mom that Logan sent it to her and wants her to wear all the time . Mom say's "okay" and I know that means nothing. Maybe we'll have to figure how to permantely place it to her wrist.

The other day Elaine and my mom were making blueberry muffins together, and I asked my mom if she'll bake me a cake before we arrive. My mom laughed and said that I should just bring one and that she'll give me back the money. The big question of the day for me is ,was my mom always as sweet as she is now ?or is it all the blueberry muffins that she's been eating. Love you mom and I can hardly wait to see you, all though to be perfectly honest, I am somewhat nervous about my visit.

Fact-Every 69 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


                      This picture was taken approximately fifteen years ago,after my dad passed away.


Monday morning after our return trip (before we attended my father- in- laws funeral) I called my mom to say hello.  I was not going to mention that I missed her already, or how I loved seeing her.  I did not want to bring up anything that might set her off again with such unhappiness.  My mom answered ‘hi sweetie “and I said what is “sweeties “real name and my mom answered with” Lisa, the same name as mine”.   I smiled and said mom I love you, and only spoke for a few minutes before we hung up.  So to protect my mom from any pain I decided not to share any of my feelings with her.  Feelings of how much I wish I could see her, hug her and take care of her, and even more, of how I wish we lived nearby each other.

On Thursday my mom once again had words of advice and wisdom for me.  I mentioned to her that I was not going to sit Shiva with my husband and his family again today.  I had been doing it every day and tomorrow it was over.  My mom said “you need to do what is best for you and sitting Shiva or not will not bring him back”.  As we say after prayers, Amen.

Friday morning when I called my mom and spoke to her she seemed okay, maybe not as cheerful as other days yet fine.  Towards the end of our conversation which she had just spelt for me plantation, coconut and pineapple (in two seconds flat) I asked my mom what is (my son) her grandson’s name who she just saw a few days ago.  She did not know Logan’s name. Today she did know my name and hers.  My mom has only one grandchild that she absolutely adores and that his name has disappeared from her mind brings me much sadness.  I feel that my mom is truly slipping away.  She has recently in the past forgotten Logan’s name and did once or twice while we visited her this past week.  Now it hit me in a different way.  How much time does she or I have before she forgets my name and then who I am?  No one knows the answer to this.  I wonder if she feels frightened and confused about what is happening to her.  I know that whatever time we have left is getting closer and I know that I need to cherish all that we still do have.  Yet isn’t the brain amazing?  My mom just spelled coconut, pineapple and plantation in two seconds and yet she cannot remember her grandson’s name.

Logan has not seen his grandmother in a year.  We will be returning in exactly one week.  As usual, my trips seem to bring up both feelings of excitement and fear to see how my mom is now.  Although I have the privilege to speak to her each and everyday seeing her and being with her is definitely not the same.

Monday, October 3, 2011


 This picture was taken many years ago. I'm not sure how old Logan was then, maybe nine or ten.  Logan is going to be twenty-four in November and my mom turned eighty-seven this past August.


One year ago Logan and I were getting ready to leave for the airport in several hours, after visiting mom for a couple of days.  I told my mom we would be going back to New York.  Mom seemed totally in the moment when she said “why are you going back”?  I tried to explain to her why, and my mom immediately shared all of her feelings with us.  Something I don’t really remember her ever doing in this way.  

My mom for at least one hour kept repeating how upset she was that we were leaving.  She said she didn’t want to be all alone.  Mom comments were in a forceful way “what will she do all alone”?  She then asks us” why can’t I or we stay “?  She make a  strong statement that she feels lonesome already, and that she’ll just be left all alone, with her television with nothing to do.

Logan had just finished cooking for her his famous omelette that she use to love to eat.  Mom said” I’m too upset I do not want to eat”.  She then asks me where her husband is.  Except for this statement, since my dad had passed away fifteen years ago she seems quite lucid.  Mom then says that when we all leave she will be miserable.  She keeps repeating how lonesome and miserable she will be.   She says she’s real depressed and hates being alone.  In all my years my mom has never, ever said anything like this.  I do not recall her putting any guilt trips on me. This was never part of her personality.  It was breaking my heart as well as Logan’s.  Regardless of all the times I did not get along with my mom she rarely ever tried to make me feel guilty.  She was always thinking of me first with no selfish bone in her body (to me, or as I think of it to anyone else).  Mom eventually lightened up, although it took some time, and Logan and I did not mention our departure again.

We took out cards and started to play the game of war with her, and not until we left hours later, did the strangest thing happen.  I went to say goodbye to my mom in a light way, as if to say I’ll see you later, not like I was getting on a plane and I’ll see you in a few months.  My mom looked at me and said” what is your name”?  In shock I answered, my name is Lisa and my mom replied” that’s funny, my name is Lisa also, yet I call myself Ruth Elian” (which is her name).

As I have felt deep in my heart at other times, that somehow my mom, has her illness pop up to protect herself from the painful hurtful memories.  In this case it was that Logan and I were leaving. As far as my knowledge my mom has never, up to this point forgotten my name.  Is my mom protecting her heart from hurtful things?  Something I may never know.  I  certainly do find this to be pretty profound.

Logan I will be returning to see my mom in 1 ½ weeks. One thing has changed for certain. Whenever I leave from visiting my mom, whether I am alone or with my husband, I simply say (feeling some guilt),”bye mom, I’ll see you later”.  For I know that my mom will not remember what I said ,and I never want to go through the guilt I felt and the heavy heart that she bestowed upon us as we departed.  I do get choked up, because what I really want to do before I leave, is hold my mom and tell her how much I’ll miss her.  Now I just give her a few pecks on her cheek trying to make no big deal about saying goodbye.