Dementia And Dehydration, The Double D’s

For months it’s been one thing or another. I have so much to tell you but I have not had the energy to sit and write. But here it goes my entries will not be in order of their occurrence they will be more of a hit and miss of what I am thinking about at the time.

For the last five years I have been living my life constantly yelling. My mother tells everyone; “I’ve never liked to eat, my mother would sit next to me and yell to get me to eat.”

My mother lives constantly on the verge of malnutrition and dehydration. In the last four years she has gone by ambulance to the hospital four times, one time last year she was so dehydrated she almost didn’t make it. So I constantly yell at her to drink.

Last August I knew my mother either had a bladder infection or was becoming dehydrated she had a horrible body odor. Every time I would try to get her to drink it would end like this;

“Mom, you need to drink more.” “I’m not thirsty.” “I know you’re not thirsty, but you need to drink.” “I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.” “Mom, your diapers have a strong ammonia smell.” “I don’t smell anything. You must be smelling your own dirty butt”

I took her to the doctor’s and sure enough she had a bladder infection. She also lost 7 pounds in the last for months. When they told us she had an infection I look at my mom and said,” I knew you were sick just from the odor” without skipping a beat my mom looked at the nurse and said;

“My daughter knew I was sick because she’s a witch.” “What did you say?” “You’re a witch.” “Oh witch, I thought you said something else.”

So now I’m getting to what I want to write about, the last six days.

Okay, Saturday October 15th and Sunday the 16th, mom’s diapers again had the odor of straight ammonia, she was refusing to drink more fluids. I’m thinking dehydration. When I would say something to her it would go back to the same song and dance. I made a decision to take her to the doctors on Monday or Tuesday if she was still refusing to drink.

Monday the 17th, mom got up around 9:30.

“Mom, take a bath before it gets too late.” “Why I’m not going anywhere.” “That’s not the point you’ve been in the same diaper all night and if it gets any later you’ll be getting lunch instead of breakfast.” “I’ll take a bath and eat when I’m ready just worry about your own fat butt.”

Now, she knows it bothers me when she talks about my being heavy. Heck I know I’m big but everyday for whatever reason she brings it up. She must truly have dementia because a sane person wouldn’t be making those kinds of comments to the person who makes their food.

By the time she’s ready for breakfast its lunch time so I make her a half of turkey sandwich with swiss cheese, a bowl of soup and a few pieces of cantaloupe and watermelon. She sits down and starts to complain that it was too much food. I let her know if she kept complaining I would give her the other half of the sandwich. I walked into the den to finish my crossword puzzle.

It was about two maybe three minutes and I heard my mother snoring. “Mom wake up, mom are you sleeping, wake up” Nothing so me and my fat butt get up, I touched her shoulder nothing then I notice she had thrown up and had passed out. She was breathing but making a sound between gurgling and snoring.

“911, is this a medical emergency?” “Yes my mother was eating and passed out, I need help.” “Is she breathing? How old is she? The address and number you’re calling from?”

Finally after all the questions were answered, I called my husband and kids everyone showed up the same time as the paramedics. My husband and son stayed to clean the mess and close up the house, Dana drove ahead to the hospital and I went in the ambulance with my mom.

First before I go any further let me tell you about the ambulance. Why are all emergency vehicles so high off the ground? This was my fourth time having to call for paramedics and an ambulance to my mom’s house, I now feel like I have a close enough relationship with the dispatcher that when they see my mom’s address pop up to send a truck with a bucket to help lift my big behind into the cab of the ambulance. It’s embarrassing I felt like a Weeble (you know the roly-poly characters).

We arrive at the hospital the paramedics had already cut open my mom’s favorite dress. The nurses take her torn dress and sweater all the way off and were going to hand them to me. Hell no! I wasn’t even going to touch the bag. The look on my face let them know it was trash time.

Dana came to sit with me, lab work, x-rays, a CT scan all showed how healthy my mom was, the diagnosis was dehydration. They plumped her up with fluids and we ignored her requests for a Babe Ruth bar. The hospital would have released her but her insurance Kaiser has a policy if a patients loses consciousness they stay overnight for observation.

When the ambulance came to transport my mom to Kaiser, Dana drove me home so I could pick up my car. Now I haven’t eaten anything all day. I down a banana and three cookies and then Paul drove me to the hospital.

When I walked into the room my mom was stuffing her face with Fig Newton’s, she feeling good and wanted to know who came with me to see her and who I called. I let her know everyone knew she was in the hospital and no one came because she wasn’t ill, she was there because she was to stubborn to drink water. I told her I’ve had it. I explained the paramedics, the ambulance, doctors and nurses had more seriously ill patients that they needed to tend to, also her taking space in the hospital is one less bed available for someone else more seriously ill. I was so upset and exhausted I left.

Late that night and early the next morning I received a call from the attending doctor at Kaiser, he wanted to let me know my mom was doing well and would be released around noon.

I got there at twelve thirty. When I walked into her room my mom immediately started asking me if anyone came with me to see her in the hospital. I said no because she wasn’t sick just too lazy to drink fluids. I started to get her ready to go when the nurse came in. She was letting me know my mom didn’t want to eat breakfast but she managed to get her to eat some cereal. Lunch was delivered and she needed to try and eat something. My mom flatly refused saying she would eat at home. Knowing that I would have to continue the battle at home I let my mom know if she didn’t eat she wouldn’t be going home. She began eating.

When I pulled the car up to the hospital patient loading zone, the young man who was helping my mom into the car said; “Have a wonderful day” my mom replied “I’m on the way out.” The young man didn’t know what to say, my mom made it seem like she was going home to die.

I stepped on the gas and looked at her and said;

“So where are we going? Dancing? Lunch? On a trip? Where?” “Aren’t we were going home?” “I thought we were until you told that young man you were on the way out. You’re not dying I know this because the doctors in two hospitals just examined you, the only thing wrong with you is your need for attention.”

When we got home;

“Mom, you need to take a shower you had thrown up and haven’t had a shower in two days.” “Don’t worry about me, worry about yourself.” “Mom take a shower.” “Shut up fat ass!”

Okay this time I picked up the phone, should I call the county morgue or my brother? I ended up calling my brother because I knew his number. I put the call on speaker and asked my mother to repeat what she called me and she did. Well, my brother let her know he wasn’t happy and was coming over.

Intervention (this entry is so long maybe it should be an Intermission).

Since I have tried in the past with the Scared Straight approach having only two bad cops wasn’t working. But now were doing Beyond Scared Straight, oh yeah everyone is on board.

The next day my brother came over, he had my back; even without a script he was remarkable. (Now remember in my last entry I had placed my mom in a really nice assisted living facility for a week, so I had to change it up).

I started to explain that I could not afford to put mom into the nice facility. The cost was $150.00 a day when I placed her in for a week of respite care. Placement for long term would be a little more as she needs assistance bathing, medications and walking to and from the dining room. Now keep in mind this conversation is in front of my mom. Without a dress rehearsal this is how it went down between my brother and me in front of my mom.

“I’m going to be honest with you I can’t ask my husband to do any more than what we’ve done its going to cost two thousand more a month to put mom into a home. Can you pay it?” “Two thousand no way, I’m retired.” “Well, if I can come up with half and I don’t think I can would you be able to pitch in one thousand?” “No, right now it would be tough.” “I know that’s how it is with everyone, I do know that there’s facilities that take only SSI and pensions that don’t have the extra frills but it’s doable.” “Sounds good.”

I told my mom I could no longer take care of her, I was done until I sold the house she was going to the cheaper home, the one where she would have to share a room with one to four other woman, the one where the meals would be simple, like bologna or ham sandwiches for lunch and casserole’s for dinner. Her eyes were bigger now, she understood.

My brother also confronted my mom with his disappointment with the way she talks to me. Surprise!

What a good day this was becoming. My aunt even showed up unexpectedly, without clueing her in about us taking a firm stance in Spanish she asked;

“Eva, how are you doing?” “Not good.” “No, Eva say you’re doing fine” “Fine.”

She even let my mom know she needed to do better so she could remain home. Yes today is a good day, I feel like the troops are with me.

Now on the fourth day, Kaiser sent a very nice young girl to evaluate my mother for Palliative Care. The only ailments my mother has is dementia and RA, since she was not in the final stages of life she did not qualify for assistance.

The only thing my mom understood is that this woman was from Kaiser, she asked me what she wanted. I explained she came to see if she could help, but since she didn’t have a medical condition and it was just that she’s too stubborn to eat and drink a facility might be the answer.

Well, that night no problems, this morning I woke her, gave her breakfast, she showered no problems. My brother just called, he remarked I sounded better, and I’m actually feeling better. Mom’s not sleeping she’s watching TV quietly in her room, when she heard the phone she came out to see who called; I said my brother and he asked if I found a home for you yet.

If I can keep it fresh in her mind, I do believe it will be a good day. Peace.

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4 Responses to “Dementia And Dehydration, The Double D’s”


  1. 1 Barbara October 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Good job, Nancy! Yes, I believe you have it right this time– keep up those reminders DAILY- never let go of that!

    • 2 Nancy October 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

      Barbara your new great grandson is sooo adorable. Congratulations again!
      In the nine days since my mom came home from the hospital my brother and other family members have confronted her about the abusive language, they have also been talking openly about placing her in an assisted living facility. The results have been wonderful, the abusive language has stopped. She is not complaining as much about eating but we are still not making much headway about the fluids. I just have to remember to be firm.

  2. 4 Barbara October 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Keep it up! Don’t relent!

    As for fluids– we have the same problem with Mom. She won’t drink many fluids because she doesn’t want to get up to go pee! Now THAT is lazy!


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