Thursday, December 23, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Day 23 (Help My Parents)

Mint Truffle Brownies
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
Today I took a break from preparing for Christmas with Sophia and Olivia, and spent the day helping my parents. My father has Alzheimer's Disease and my mom has multiple health issues - the most challenging of which is mobility and vision problems. Needless to say, they needed some help with last-minute holiday preparations.

In addition to picking up meat for Christmas dinner, doing their grocery shopping, and helping do some work around their home; I took my dad to his quarterly medical appointment at the Senior Care Clinic at Hennepin County Medical Center. He has seen his doctor there since May 2009 when he was diagnosed with A.D.

This appointment, though, was very different from the past ones. My dad had substantial tangential thoughts, was unable to directly answer most questions, and struggled to find the words for many basic nouns (e.g., garage, gloves).

It was painful to watch...and quite sobering when the doctor said that the time has come to stop driving. This is a major challenge since my mom is unable to drive.

His doctor also recommended that he begin an adult day program 2-3 times per week. This is something that I'll need to help him see the benefit of doing.

Despite the depressing news, my dad and I enjoyed lunch together before the appointment. There were moments where his mind was completely clear and it was like having my father "back" for some time...and other moments where it was hard to hold back the tears as he needed guidance about how to eat a hamburger...and I had to help feed him.

When we came back from the appointment, I had to share the news with my mom. It was one of the more difficult things I had to do. The timing could not be worse...just a couple days before Christmas.

On a more positive note, I brought some treats for my parents to enjoy on Christmas (or before...if they wanted to sample some). Here's one of the favorite treats from the dozen or so bags of desserts I brought them:

Mint Capped Brownie Cookie Cups

(Note: I baked these in a couple of smaller dishes and put the Mint Truffle Kisses in rows/columns so each piece had one Kiss on it.)

48 Mint Truffle Hershey Kisses
2/3 cup butter, softened (I used dairy-free butter)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon Watkins vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 48 small muffin cups (1 3/4 in diameter) with paper or foil baking cups. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat butter, sugar, water and vanilla in large bowl on medium speed of mixer until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.

3. Stir together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until blended. If necessary, refrigerate dough until firm enough to handle. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; place in prepared muffin cups.

4. Bake 11 t o13 minutes or until cookie surface is set. Cookies will appear soft and moist. Do not overbake. Cool about 5 minutes on wire rack. Press chocolate kiss into surface of each cookie cup. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle each cookie with powdered sugar (I didn't do this). Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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