The “fall out” on this leaning day is that Mary Ann fell out her chair at the table.  She was sitting in the chair and had been leaning to one side.  I kept straightening her up.  Then, all of a sudden she was in a heap on the floor beside her chair.  She did not move slowly toward the side on the way down, she was up in the chair and the next moment she was on the floor.

She was not hurt.  It took quite a while to get her up since there is not much room between the table and the wall.  I needed to get her situated on her back so that I could pull her up using my own weight as a counter balance with our feet together as the fulcrum.

There were two Volunteers in the morning, one during the Spiritual Formation Group that meets at our house.  The other was there while I headed out for an appointment.  I don’t know to what degree the leaning was a problem during those times, but from the time I returned shortly after noon until she went to bed, the leaning was prominent.

It was at lunch that she fell.  Mary (who schedules Mary Ann’s Volunteers) came over for a visit this afternoon.  Mary Ann leaned over the side of her chair the entire time.  I helped her sit up straight again numerous times, but she only remained erect for a few minutes at the most each time.  Others in the online group of Spouse Caregivers of those with Lewy Body Dementia often mention the leaning issue.  It is neither unusual or alarming.  It does not happen every day.  This just happened to be a leaning day.

For supper, I switched chairs at the table so that Mary Ann was sitting in a heavy oak chair with arms.  It did not stop her from leaning, but at least she did not fall out the chair on to the floor.

Mary Ann seemed sometimes to be napping when she was leaning, but she was often awake while leaning.  She was tired, and has gone to bed a little early.  She fell asleep pretty quickly.  That does not mean she will stay asleep, but for the moment she seems to be sleeping soundly.

When I got her changed and into bed, I noticed that her feet are a little swollen.  I will watch that carefully.  That is, of course, a sign of fluid retention which could put her at risk of another bout with Congestive Heart Failure [CHF].  The two times she has had to go to the hospital with CHF, she did not have swollen feet.  I asked her if her chest hurt, and she said it did not.  We will certainly not go to the hospital unless the signs are absolutely clear that we need to.  We lose too much ground during hospital stays.

I talked with the Neurologist’s Assistant today about Mary Ann’s Seroquel, the medication that’s purpose it to diminish the hallucinations . It is time to renew the prescription.  We revisited the decision to increase the dosage since the hallucinations have been on the increase.  With the permission of the Neurologist I tried increasing the med early last fall but ended up moving back to the original dosage.  Given present circumstances, it seems wise to try again.  The Neurologist concurs.  As soon as the new prescription comes in, I will titrate her from the 100mg tab to the 100mg plus a 25mg for three days, then move to 150mg, one and one half of the 100mg tabs daily.  That is still not a large dosage compared to others.

Today was a sort of ingathering of food, for which we are always grateful.  Maureen came in the morning laden with food, some for the freezer (soup and bread), some for supper (roast beef, potatoes and gravy, green beans), some blueberry muffins for a morning treat, and cookies to be enjoyed for the next few days.  Margaret came later in the morning with some Jello cups, a couple of cinnamon rolls and a couple of containers of chili along with crackers.  Mary brought with her some cookies from the Copper Oven, some chocolate treats and a large container of Mary Ann’s favorite version of Seafoam Salad.  Why does Mary Ann refuse to gain weight???  I, of course, can barely button my trousers.  I could do that commercial in which buttons fly, breaking household items.

Yesterday, I had a treat.  A member of the congregation from which I retired is celebrating her 101st birthday today.  I got to hand deliver a birthday card from Mary Ann and me to her yesterday.  Bernice (pronounced Burr’ niss – emphasis on the first syllable) is one of the most pleasant, sweetest people I know.  What a joy just to interact for a few moments.  Mary Ann was in the van, so I could not stay and talk.  The last time I visited with her a little more than a year and a half ago, we talked about the early years when she was growing up, all the hard work and happy times.  While I did not make as many of those calls on the homebound as I should have, it was not because I didn’t enjoy them.  In fact, twenty-five years ago, when I was responsible for the Youth and Education programs of a congregation, it was a couple of visits with a homebound member of that congregation who was in her 90’s that convinced me that I needed to move to a setting in which I could include that dimension of ministry regularly.  It is hard to find words to describe the extraordinary faith and gracious demeanor of those two ladies.  In each case when I left the visit, my spirit had been nurtured.

A trip to help Mary Ann use the commode revealed that she is seeing people again tonight.  I hope the hallunations don’ t keep her up.  I am very tired, and hope to get a decent night’s sleep tonight.

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“Will you push me up?”  Mary Ann asks often, especially when we are out in the car.  When she asks, sometimes her head is almost completely horizontal over the console between the seats.  I usually push her up before it goes that far, even if she hasn’t asked.  I have to be careful since sometimes she is napping in that position and doesn’t want to be moved.

It happens sometimes when sitting in her chair in the living room. Especially when she has not had enough sleep, or when she shifts into the non-responsive mode, she will lean forward or in whatever direction there is something on which she can rest her arm and head.  When she starts napping in her chair, I offer to take her into the bedroom so that she can lie down.  It is not unusual for her to prefer staying in the living room if she wants to avoid taking a long nap.

When she is awake and leaning, it is always to the left.  There seems to be a natural affinity for moving to the left.  When Mary Ann is sitting at the table eating, almost without fail after a while she will be sitting with her knees and feet off the left side of the chair, eating over her lap and the floor, rather than the table where her plate is located.

It is hard for me to see that and not move her back to facing the table.  My response is not just some compulsive need for her to be sitting a certain way.  My need to move her back to facing the table comes because when she is facing to the left, the food that falls out of her hand ends up on her lap and the floor.  I then have the task of cleaning it up, hopefully before anything gets stepped on.

Mary Ann’s turning to the left at the table has been a bone of contention between us.  Sometimes she gets angry with me when I move her back to eating over her plate.  I complain about her eating over the floor making it more difficult for me because of the clean up.  I am not the noble self-less uncomplaining caregiver.

What has helped me in accepting the leaning to the left and at least trying to be less grumpy about it is the discovery that very many of the others who are Caregiving Spouses of those who have some sort of Dementia with Lewy Bodies describe the same behavior.  When someone in the online group mentioned that her Loved One couldn’t hold his head up, many responded with the same problem and still others described the leaning phenomenon.  Many of those who have been dealing with Lewy Body Dementia struggle with the same issue of trying to deal with the effect of the Disease on their Loved One’s ability to maintain a sitting up position or keep his/her head erect.

One online member suggested using a chair with arms at the table.  That suggestion is a good one.  The disadvantage is that our space is so confined that getting her in and out of an arm chair at the table is difficult.  It may, however be the lesser problem.

As I have mentioned many times before in these posts, it seems to help when a frustrating behavior can be explained by the disease we are battling.  It moves the behavior from what seems willful to something that is completely involuntary.  It moves the problem to simply another area needing a creative solution.  By the way, when I make observations on behaviors of Mary Ann that are frustrating to me, I become very grateful that Mary Ann is not writing blog posts on the things that I do that irritate her.  You think my posts are sometimes long!!  She could write volumes.

Tomorrow will be an early day since we are going to try to attend the Annual Parkinson’s Symposium sponsored by the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.  We will see how the night goes and whether or not we can manage a very early starting time.  We have to allow for an hour and a half travel time.  My hope is that we can at least make it for part of it, and that the information will be helpful.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.