Monday, July 23, 2007


I'm in the process of shortening my aunt with down syndrome's new pants. Not only do I suck at stuff like this, but it's making my eyes cross too. And being the bright child I am, I bought five pairs I have to do this to. I have one leg of one pair done. Ugh.

The shortest pants I've ever been able to find (that work for her -- she has that typical strange down syndrome build and is very short -- her inseam is only about 22-23 inches) still need to be shortened by at least 4-6 inches. I actually looked at capri pants in tall sizes, but the longest I could find had inseams of only 21 inches. I figure Di has enough against her without wearing high water pants. Besides, she's a bit of a messer when she eats (if I don't watch her carefully she will eat anything with her fingers and can end up with food absolutely everywhere), so her clothes have to be very much wash and wear.

She does know better than to do that although down syndrome people who are also profoundly retarded -- as she is -- tend to develop Alzheimer's-like symptoms as they age. Apparently most of them over 40 do show significant Alzheimer's-like symptoms. Di is 57 and definitely isn't as sharp as she used to be. That's actually a huge understatement -- she hit her highest point at about 21 and has been regressing ever since. Although she was supposed to have the intellect of a 5-7 year old, she did learn to read and write, and even could do rudimentary book reports (meaning she could recount the story line, but she had no concept of meaning) when she was in school. Now her writing skills are limited to writing (printing, actually) her first name -- which she now misspells (she misses either the i or the a, spelling it either Dine or Dane instead of Diane), and she will generally only do it once, so you better know what you want signed or you are shit out of luck! After that she just makes some lines. I think that bit is more to do with her stubbornness though, because she does have a bit of a "you can't make me" attitude sometimes, which can be funny or frustrating, depending on when she pulls it. She can still read some things, but it is pretty much limited to individual words on signs (she doesn't see very well either). I doubt she understands what most of the words she can read mean.

Overall, she's like a young child, but without the potential or the curiosity (not having curiosity is actually a good thing because she doesn't get into things like a child would -- that's a big help). For instance, personal hygiene. She doesn't do it. I bathe her, wash her hair, comb her hair, brush her teeth, everything. I dress her. She will take off her underwear and put on new ones -- if I tell her to, hand her the new underwear (properly aligned), and nothing distracts her. Same deal with her regular pants. I have to put her socks on, but if I had her boots (high top light hikers for ankle support) one at a time, she will put them on (although sometimes she puts them on the wrong feet), but I have to tie them. And I have to stand right there...if I go into the bathroom to put things away, she stops what she is doing and sometimes will start removing what she has just put on. I have to put her bra, shirt and sweatshirt (if needed) on for her. However, when she needs to go to the toilet, she goes on her own. She even does it at night (her bedroom is right next to the bathroom and I put up a baby/pet gate to keep her from going anywhere else). And she does this so consistently that I rarely use adult diapers on her. Trust me -- this is a wonderful thing. I would much, much, much rather clean her, dress her, cut up all her food (except pizza, cake, and ice cream in a dish -- she does just fine with those), help her up and down any steps, etc., etc., than have her be incontinent or unable/unwilling to go to the toilet when she needs to.

And now I have the second leg of the first pair of pants hemmed (wrote a little, hemmed a little -- that helped keep me going), so I can hit the hay.


Blogger veleska1970 said...

**ewww** i hate hemming pants. even with the aid of a singer sewing machine, i still always end up fucking up the cuffs and they are always uneven.

i've never known anyone with down's, but my maternal grandmother had alzheimer's for about 6 years before she died, and we took care of her for the last several of those years. it was utter hell. she was violently combative and mean. once she whacked me across the face so hard it not only knocked my eyeglasses off, but left a huge bruise on my nose. yeah, we had the problem with hygiene, too, but the more serious problem was trying to get her to eat. she was wafer-thin, and we had to force her to eat because she alway sisinted that she "just ate" a few minutes ago, when in fact she hadn't eaten the entire day.

she died new year's day in 2001, and we were blessedly relieved. not so much because of any inconveniences we went through, mind you, but because SHE was finally free of that utter hell. and, this was not the same woman i knew. i don't know who that woman was, but it wasn't my grandmother!!

3:23 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:25 AM  
Blogger General Catz said...

That's a lot of work and i hope you are getting some more help with it than you used to.

9:27 AM  

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