Friday, September 19, 2014

In Loving Memory ...

My Dear Dad
John Frederick Mumm
November 21, 1923
March 17, 2014

It's been six months since my father died and I still have a really hard time writing this little tribute. In June, I quit my job to take on the task of giving away all of his medical equipment, cleaning out the closet, and sorting through over 20 boxes of files, papers and books that we moved to our house when my Dad moved here in August of 2010.

Going through the boxes, I uncovered incredible family photographs, newspaper clippings, decades of canceled checks and receipts ... as well as his notebooks from years of work as a mechanical/nuclear engineer. It really gave me perspective on just what a fabulous man ... a man of faith, courage and integrity ... a loving husband and a wonderful father he was. He was so intelligent ... and yet humble and kind. He was always patient and thoughtful. It's interesting to look at all his accomplishments ... from being a decorated veteran of World War II ... to working on the first nuclear-powered submarine (the Nautilus) ... to designing power plants ... and all the while, he found the time to take my Mom and all five of us children on picnics to the Peaks of Otter in the fall, to Isaac Walton Lake in the summer ... to museum tours and walks around Monticello and Appomattox (he loved history and was especially fascinated by the Civil War period). He was never too busy for us.

At first, it was so completely devastating to throw all of this -- a lifetime of work -- away, but lack of space made it a necessity. Just this week, three months after I started this major clean-out project, I realized, my father's life is not defined by papers and tangible "stuff." None of that defines any of us. The richness of who we are is what we do with our lives and how we affect others. I am so blessed to have had my Mom and my Dad.

Eating his favorite: A banana split!

Christmas morning 2013

Receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross

I found this "creed," attributed to Edgar A. Guest, in one of my father's notebooks. It really sums up who he was.
My Dad on his 90th birthday with my husband, brother and sister.
My Mom and Dad on their wedding day: February 7, 1948. They're now together forever.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Help for Swallowing Difficulties

During my father's recovery, I happened upon quite a few things that can help strengthen the throat muscles and aid in regaining one's ability to swallow. I realized only recently that I haven't shared all these great things on this blog ... and that's what this blog is all about ... sharing information!

So here goes ... in the hospital and at assisted-living centers and nursing homes, you might see several items that you can't find on your grocery-store shelves ... pre-thickened beverages, for instance ... and a wonderfully high-protein, delicious-tasting ice-cream kind of thing called Magic Cup. After a bit of researching on the internet, I was able to find a source for both thickened liquids (as well as other thickened products) and the elusive Magic Cup.

If you'd like the products made by Hormel, the Thick and Easy products, you can purchase them online at the Hormel Home Care Nutrition website  or by telephone: 1-800-491-6876. You can find all the wonderful products that were available at the hospital ... like my Dad's personal favorite, Nectar-Thick Sweet Tea. 

For some reason, the pre-thickened beverages seem to taste much better than those to which thickener has been added.

Magic Cup is a protein-rich, ice-cream-like product that is also made by Hormel. You can order it online or by telephone. This is the website. Here is the telephone number: 877-493-2633

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Of Books and Book Stands ...

I've learned so much in the last several years while being a caregiver ... which is why I started this blog back in 2008. I have lots and lots of resources that I want to share, but find I have so little time to write about them all.
So, let me just start here: If you are taking care of someone who is seriously ill or who is disabled and needs a lot of care, one of the best books that you can get is The Complete Bedside Companion: No Nonsense Advice on Caring for the Seriously Ill When I found my copy on sale for 25 cents at our local library's book sale, I had no idea that I'd actually be using it one day. This book contains a wealth of information that you won't find assembled together anywhere else ... from general advice on how to be a caregiver (such as turning a person in bed, giving bed baths, preventing pressure ulcers, etc), to separate sections for different ailments ... such as caring for a person with neurological disorders and strokes; cardiovascular problems; muscular problems; there's even a section on Alzheimer's disease and dementia. This book has it all! Truly, it's invaluable!!
As for many of the other books out there that are marketed for helping caregivers, I found most were not helpful at all. I purchased a TON (yes, I mean a TON) of books and not one of them gave me any of the practical help that The Complete Bedside Companion gave me.
I know, I know. You can't judge a book by its cover. When it comes to books about caring for elderly parents, if you think you are going to buy one, see if you can flip through a library copy or look for it on a shelf at your local Barnes and Noble before you plunk down your hard-earned cash. I purchased stacks and stacks of books, looking for that one that would have the perfect answers for me. Unfortunately, I can't recommend any of them beyond the Bedside Companion. No, not even one.
However, there is a book stand that I would highly recommend! My father, who is quite physically challenged, wanted to read in bed. His bed is a hospital bed. I tried rigging up many different things to make reading in bed a possibility for him. I tried an over-the-hospital-bed table, but it was too high and the flat top didn't work. Of course we tried many different book holders, but none of them really held the pages open ... and propped up on the table, they were far too high. I also tried a lap desk. This didn't work, as it was too low and the book kept sliding off the top. Complications from my father's stroke left him with a clenched left hand. Although he can move the thumb and forefinger, this doesn't really do an adequate job of keeping a book open ... and then, turning a page becomes quite a task.
FINALLY: I did an online search and found the most amazing thing: The Levo Book Holder Book Stand. It's available at many places on the web (here are a couple of  links: book stand, book stand 2)
Here's my Dad ... reading yet another of his favorite Civil War books ... you'll notice the stand can be adjusted to many different heights (right over the side rails!) and then the holder, itself, can be tilted to the appropriate angle. It came with a clip-on, battery-operated book light, which is great. See how the handy page holders work? This is a pretty thick book and yet, the pages can be held open quite well.
Here's the back view.
This has been an exceptional find. It was well worth the price. I might add that the stand is actually very heavy, but it comes on rollers.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Still Looking for an Easy-to-Use CD Player

While I'm quite disappointed that the Sony cd player that I had come to know and love for its ease of use is no longer manufactured, I'm back to looking around for a replacement. I recently stumbled upon the Coby MPCD281 portable MP3/cd player with am/fm radio ... It looks a little more difficult, with its smaller buttons; however, on the positive side, it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles to complicate things. One is able to pull up the lid to place the cd inside, which is great. Too often, the newer models have yet another button to push to get the lid to open!
This model appears to be readily available at many places. Here's a link to it at Coby MPCD281 It also comes in a variety of colors. If anyone has any prior experience with this model, please let me know. For some reason, the red color is the least expensive. The blue, the white and the red are much less expensive (on, anyhow) than the black. Take a look and see what you think.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another Choice for Easy-to-Use CD Player

A very kind reader just discovered this cd player for her elderly mother:
 It is mounted on the wall. Once the cd has been placed inside, the user only has to pull on the cord to operate it! The person who recommended this said her mother lives in an assisted-living facility. The cd is changed periodically by the staff. She wrote a large sign that reads, "To hear music, gently pull on the cord." Click on the link for more information and photographs of the unit.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jay Easy Wheelchair Cushion!

I know I haven't shared any new products lately! In fact, I notice that the last post I wrote was almost a year ago! YIKES! However, if you're reading this post, you are probably in the same situation I am ... taking care of an elderly parent (or parents) ... and so you know how difficult it is to find a free moment!

The first new thing we've found is the Jay Easy Wheelchair Cushion. Before we found this, my father had recurring pressure-ulcer problems on his left side (his weak side). His body tends to lean to the left, putting more and more pressure on the same spot. This wheechair cushion has a gel insert and conforms to the shape of the body. It's been a fabulous find.

There are many different prices, I've noticed, so take your time and search.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

THE Overnight Brief Test!

Using this wonderful little 500 ml. measuring cup filled with water, my father's CNA (Blanche) and I tested the three most-recommended overnight briefs. By far, the one that can hold the most and still not separate is the Dry 24/7. This brief is incredible! It held a whopping 3500 ml of water and STILL did not separate or leak!

Yes, even after filling the measuring cup SEVEN (7) times, this brief still held up! The next to be tested was the Abri-Form Premium. It felt great out of the package, but didn't hold up nearly as well as the Dry 24/7.

This is the Abri-Form Premium Air with the cloth-like exterior. It started to separate after 2000 ml of water (4 measuring-cupfuls of water), but it didn't leak and it still held together.

Last, we tried the Tranquility ATN (all through the night).

We had to conclude that the Tranquility ATN brief was our least favorite. Take a look at it after 2000 ml of water. It is separating very badly. It didn't leak through, but it's such a mess, I'm not sure how it would be if it were actually on someone at this point.