AT HOME WITH MOM

 

Mom always had a huge garden on the farm. She grew potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, onions, green beans, sweet corn, pickles, cucumbers, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries. There was a bed of asparagus along the fence, and rhubarb plants in another area. A peach tree and an apricot tree grew along the path to the chicken house. We used to say that if we couldn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it.

When Dad retired from farming in 1968, he and Mom moved to a house in Decatur. The house was on a quiet street, not far from a small shopping center. The property backed up to the baseball fields of a high school. The backyard was perfect for a garden. Dad trucked in a load of good, black dirt.

Mom and Dad lived in that house for many years. Then Mom’s mind began to fail. It was as if a computer in her brain had a short in it. Once she tried defrosting a frozen chicken by putting it in the bedroom closet instead of in the refrigerator. She was storing the object in an inappropriate place, an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another time, Dad had driven Mom to the beauty shop just a few blocks away. He told her to call him when she was finished at the beauty shop, and he would pick her up. He was sitting in his big Lazy Boy chair next to the front window when he saw Mom walking past on the sidewalk. By the time he got up to go outside to get her, she had disappeared. Vanished. Dad called the police, and they came to help search for Mom. They found her around the corner about half a block. She was sitting in a Burger King! Getting lost in familiar places is another early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sometimes when they left the house to visit relatives, she would become frantic at dusk. She thought they needed to get home to put the screen in the door of the chicken house so the foxes would not eat the chickens. That was the routine we had when we lived on the farm, but that was years ago. This was another sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mom could still dress herself. She could still cook. Since Dad was in good health and living in the house with her, Mom was able to continue living in their house. Without Dad, she would have needed in-home care or an assisted living facility. She died suddenly at age eighty-one.

If you have a family member who needs in-home services, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission.

For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

CALL JULIE BEFORE YOU DIG

When the snow melts and the grass turns green again, homeowners often get the urge to begin working in the yard or garden. Maybe the husband and wife go to a nursery and select a tree to plant in the yard. Maybe they stop at Home Depot to look at the samples of wood fence to enclose the backyard. The kids would love to have a swing set or, better yet, a tree house. Each of these projects requires digging in the ground.

Have you ever thought about what is buried in the ground of a typical subdivision? Storm sewers, sanitary sewers, natural gas lines, electrical wires, telephone lines, cable wires, water lines. If the homeowner accidentally punctures or severs one of these underground lines, the results could be catastrophic.

State law requires that you notify JULIE at least two business days (excluding weekends and holidays) before any digging project regardless of the project size or depth. Even if you are digging in the same location as a previous project, you must notify JULIE.

To notify JULIE, call 8-1-1 or 1-800-892-0123. Call center agents are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There is no charge for this service. According to http://illinois1call.com, you will be asked to provide the following information when you call:

  • Your name, address, a phone number at which you can be reached, an email address and a fax and/or pager number, if available
  • The location of the excavation will take place, including county, city or unincorporated township, section and quarter section numbers if available, address, cross street (within ¼ mile), subdivision name, etc.
  • Start date and time of planned excavation
  • Type and extent of excavation involved
  • Whether the dig area has been outlined with white paint, flags or stakes

You will be given a dig number that identifies specific information about your locate request. It is important that you keep this number as proof that you contacted JULIE.

JULIE does not own or mark underground lines. Instead, JULIE notifies the utility companies so that they can mark your property. The utilities use the following colors of flags, stakes, or paint to mark the underground lines:

  • Red – Electric
  • Yellow – Gas, oil or petroleum
  • Orange – Communications
  • Blue – Potable water
  • Purple – Reclaimed water, irrigation
  • Green – Sewer
  • White – Proposed excavation
  • Pink – Temporary go to https://survey

WARNING:

An underground line may actually be within 18 inches of either side of the marked line. This is called the tolerance zone. Use extreme care when digging within 18 inches on either side of the utility marking. Digging by hand is recommended within the tolerance zone.

—By Karen Centowski


To see a video called Digging Dangers 24: Strike Three! Excavation Accidents YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A53Qo1QIp3w.

RECOVERING FROM A STROKE

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Twenty-five years ago, Bill and his wife and their six children had gone to have dinner with Grandpa at his home. Seated around the kitchen table, they all enjoyed the Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, biscuits, and gravy. The room was filled with chatter and laughter. Then suddenly, something radically changed. Grandpa seemed confused. He was having trouble understanding what others were saying. It was as if he could not hear.

No one in the room recognized this as a stroke. No one knew that sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, sudden difficulty walking, or loss of balance and coordination were all signs of a stroke. No one knew the importance of getting the stroke victim to a hospital immediately. They only knew that one minute Grandpa was fine, and at the next minute things had radically changed.

It was obvious that Grandpa could not stay in the house by himself. If he could not hear, he would not be able to talk on the telephone. He could not use the phone to call for help in an emergency. He would not be able to hear the doorbell ringing. He would not be able to speak with someone who came to the door.

The dilemma that families in this situation face is immense. Immediate family members may work or have young children at home. Some immediate family members may live hundreds or thousands of miles away. Placing the stroke victim in a nursing home is a very expensive option. The stroke victim’s family and the stroke victim himself often would prefer that the individual be able to continue to stay in his own home.

What services are available to help a stroke victim recover? Rehabilitative therapy usually begins in the hospital, often within 24 to 48 hours. When a patient is ready to be discharged, a hospital social worker will help develop a plan for continuing rehabilitation and care.

Some patients go to a skilled nursing facility when they are discharged. Others go to a setting specializing in rehabilitative therapy. Others return home directly.

Piecing together care in the home can be difficult. Family members and retired nurses and individual Certified Nursing Assistants may be able to cover the shifts, but it is a challenge to find them on your own. In addition, what happens if someone is sick or on vacation? Who takes care of paying the employees? Using an agency such as American Home Health definitely has its advantages.

Agencies such as American Home Health can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or Registered Nurses (RNs). American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee.

For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski