Welcome to Great Basin Creations. My name is Jennie, sometimes I refer to myself as Ol’ Ma Starkey. I am a Boomer, a parent, a person who has spent years finding my “self,” and a caretaker for my aging parents. This blog will provide everyone with recipes for home cooked meals, food related articles, issues we Boomers are facing as we age, and issues we may have to deal with as our parents age.
Although I will be creating new and tasty recipes, they will be slow coming, probably no more than two a week. I will be developing them from scratch, and that takes time.
Let me introduce you to why this blog is being developed and why its important to me to share my experiences.
Another New Beginning
In 2008, I lived in Alaska (32 years in total) and received a call from my mom. My dad had been taken to the hospital with a seizure and she thought I should come down for a visit. I also received calls from my sisters explaining their concerns for my parents. Although my parents were in their mid-70’s, something was lacking in their lives.
As things happen with age and a stroke suffered by my father several years before, they had to give up many of the things that they dearly loved: travel, bowling, and other community activities. The stroke forced him to retire from his full time job and his EMT job with the local ambulance service.
When my youngest son and I made it to Elko for the visit, it was apparent what my sisters and aunt were talking about. They needed someone here. My sisters had husbands whose vocations would not easily transfer to this area. I had an ex-husband, three teenagers, and a job with the State of Alaska. One of us had to give up something and it was apparent my giving up Alaska would be easiest.
In August, 2009 I was finally able to retire and move to Nevada. Thus, a new chapter in life began at the age of 50.
Starting life in a three generational household wasn’t easy at first. Certain adjustments needed to be made, but after the first year, things leveled out.
I wanted to start this new life long before my parents physically needed me knowing there would be an adjustment period. It was fortunate that I took early retirement when I did. Six months after we moved in, my mom suffered a fall at work. She shattered her thigh bone. It was a silly fall, tripping over her own feet, but it ended her working career. Because it wasn’t the fault of the employer, she didn’t qualify for workman’s comp. Although my dad had recovered physically from the stroke, there were still issues with his cognitive skills. I don’t like thinking what would have happened if we had not been here for him during that four months.
As time went on, my dad’s cognitive skills decreased, along with losing his place in time. He would think we lived “up on hill,” a farm we lived at just outside of Colville, Washington 30 some odd years before. His doctor at the time referred us to the Cleveland Clinic located in Las Vegas. They have an small office in Elko where he could be seen by the nurse and seen via video connection with the doctor. After the testing, they diagnosed him with possible Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Disease in addition to the damage done during the stroke.
Most everyone is familiar with Alzheimer’s. Not so much with Lewy Body Disease. According to Medlineplus.gov, Lewy Body Disease is one of the most common causes of dementia in the elderly. There is no cure. But it can be temporarily controlled with medication.
The first medication they prescribed was Aricept (donepezil). The change was dramatic. He was no longer losing his place in time, and for the most part, the hallucinations went away. Physically, though, was another problem. Falls were becoming more frequent. Eventually they also prescribed Namenda (memantine). Falls are now almost non-existent (he has been on these medications for about five years). He is in Physical Therapy as a healthy body helps the mind. Having my daddy back is not a permanent situation as these drugs only help for a while. Eventually the damage being done by the Lewy Body Disease will over come the medicines.
I love my life and wouldn’t give it up for a second. After working my entire adult life, I am enjoying retirement. Yes, I am a 60 year old woman living with her parents.
As caretaker, my days are simple at this point. My folks do not need a lot of assistance per say. My folks make their own breakfast and lunch, with me preparing dinner. I do the shopping, run them to appointments, and when spring finally arrives to the Great Basin, do the gardening.
My mom has taken on more now that the new doctor has made medication changes. She is now doing laundry, keeping the front room picked up, and making lunch for her and my dad. A change I love seeing. Funny how changing one medication can make such a big change.
My duties as caretaker will change with time. My dad is having problems staying busy. He was a busy man, holding three jobs along with EMT and CPR training business when he had his stroke.
He is going to physical therapy for three hours a week. After medicare stops covering the physical therapy, I will be taking him up to the senior center for one of their exercise classes a few times a week. When I warned my mom that she too will be going. I didn’t get “the look” we in the family all know, but more of a “yes I know, but I don’t like it” look.
I bought my first car (mid-sized SUV) in several years as their sedan could not accommodate two walkers and three adults. My new vehicle (used but new to me) has been a life changer. Both parents can go to town, walkers in tow. Their sedan was close to the ground and painful for both to get in and out of. The SUV is so much easier for them to enter and exit from. No bending over to get in, and no pulling them selves up trying to get out. If you are a care giver, I highly recommend tossing the sedan and getting an affordable SUV.
I have another business with my sister and her daughter in law selling home made crafts. My end is jewelry, beading, and cricut crafts. It provides me with time to focus my creative side. Not making much money (I spend much more than I have brought in).
Most importantly, I make sure I get away somewhere once every six months. Usually its to family. I used to hop in the car and off I go. My dad fell during one of my road trips and the hot August Nevada sun gave him a nasty burn on his legs. After that situation, I had to adjust a few things. One, he was not allowed outside by himself any longer (he always was busy outside weeding, mowing, gardening) and two, I don’t leave them here by themselves anymore. I do have two sisters who do their best to let me go on an outing.
The latest was with two of my kids, my daughters partner, and my cousin (also a caretaker to her mother and celebrating 5 years cancer free) traveled for five glorious days in Las Vegas.
I will be traveling next to the Bigfoot festival in Baker City Oregon where my youngest sister and her family reside. My mother no longer is taking water pills, so they will be joining me in the road trip. Will be fun for us all!!
Issues I will be Posting in the Future
Health issues such as dementia, high blood pressure, cholestrol, possible Macular Degeneration, living with bariatric surgery, and arthritis among the many.
Gardening in the Great Basin and high desert is not easy. I thought it was hard in Alaska, its even harder here. The growing season is shorter also.
Pets, my fur babies, Java (husky/rotweiller mix), Bubba (black lab), Miss Priss (cat), SusieQ (my parents mini-dauchsy), and Puddles (my daughters cat staying with us until they find a pet friendly apartment) provide the house with many moments of amusement and frustration.
Food. So much good, so many problems. We are venturing into the Mediterranean Diet at doctors recommendations (all three of us). I will be sharing my take on this change of eating. So far, looks like an easy transition.
I hope this introduction to myself is enough to have you return. Is there a Boomer issue you want covered? A recipe you would like to see my take on? Fur baby issue? Caretaker issue?
Leave your comments below and we will go through this journey we call life together.