Posts Tagged 'Dementia'

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.


I’m Back

I haven’t had a real bout of depression since my post back in November 2008 titled Depression. Every November it seems like I struggle around my dad’s birthday then add the holidays, while my grief is better I just miss him terribly.

This time however my depression was different, it lasted longer.

Taking care of my aunt for the last two years had started to take a toll on me. I could no longer do the 150 miles round trip two to three times a week to deal with her issues. Every day she was either upset, arguing with someone, dying or depressed. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I now recognize I had become codependent. I found myself adapting or ignoring her behaviors which allowed me to be involved in fewer of her conflicts.

Then you toss in my mom. I felt like there was a contract out on me and they were the hit men.

I started experiencing anxiety and a rapid heartbeat. I was stressed and on the verge of tears all the time. My family was in protect mode.

But, like I said this time was different, I realized I needed to change. I started to prioritize everything that I was dealing with. I needed to make a decision what I could deal with. Changes had to be made.

I am no longer taking care of my aunt, I can no longer ride an emotional roller coaster and deal with someone’s problems if that person is not willing to see themselves and meet me halfway. While I miss her I realize she needs to seek help, I cannot do it for her. With just this one change in the last six months I have not had a problem with anxiety attacks or rapid heartbeat.

In May I placed my mom in respite care of eight days. EIGHT DAYS of not being responsible for meals, exercise, bathing, incontinence, EIGHT DAYS of not hearing the same questions a zillion times, and the biggie EIGHT DAYS of not being insulted. I called that one week Cinco de Mayo, because it gave this Mexican independence.

I would like to say my husband and I enjoyed those eight days catching up with friends; unfortunately it was spent redoing my mom’s bedroom. We redid her ceiling; crown molding, painting, hung new pictures, new bedspread the works. When she came home she was surprised and happy, her happiness lasted two days.

It’s still rough, she still makes me cry, but when she was gone I did miss her.

I have learned the meaning of “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” I am now being selective agreeing only to take on responsibilities that I know I can handle.

I’m back and have a lot to tell you about, my white haired stalker, my two granddaughters, my husband, kids, Christmas…

I will post soon and try to post every few days, so hold on the rides about to begin…..

Go Ahead Make My Day

Remember the scene in Sudden Impact when Harry Callahan (played by Clint Eastwood) confronts a robber who’s holding a waitress hostage with a gun to her head, instead of backing off, Clint puts his gun into the guys face and says, “Go ahead make my day.”

They must be planning to do a sequel and my mom is practicing for the lead. For the last two days, minus a cigar hanging out of her mouth, she’s been doing her impression of Clint.

I was in the kitchen talking on speaker phone with my daughter Dana today at 11:45 when my mom came out;

“I’m not eating breakfast today”
“What do you mean your not eating breakfast?”
“I had Ensure this morning and that was my breakfast.”
“You had Ensure, before you showered, so you wouldn’t be in a hot shower with an empty stomach.”
“I’m not eating breakfast.”
“Okay, then I’ll make lunch.”
“I’m not eating.”

Now keep in mind my mother only eats a small breakfast and an even smaller lunch that’s it, only two meals a day and dessert, and now she’s telling me no breakfast.

So, I placed her breakfast on the table and said;

“Here’s your breakfast, if you don’t eat it, I’m making you lunch and then later I’ll make you dinner.”

The thought of actually eating two meals was too much for her, as I picked up the phone and slid out the dining room chair my mom yelled;

“Why did you throw the chair at me?”

Now keep in mind my mom’s dining room set is old and made of solid wood, the chairs all have arms and weigh about twenty pounds.

“Why did you throw the chair?”
“I didn’t throw the chair I slid it out for you.”
“Well, why don’t you just hit me?”
“Why, would I hit you?”
“Just hit me.”

I started talking with Dana and said this is what it’s been like the last two days; she keeps telling me to hit her. I don’t know what’s going in her mind. Maybe she wants me to audition for Jerry Springer.

I find myself yelling, just to get the simplest things through to her, and there she is all 110 pounds in my face saying “hit me, hit me.”

I have to see the humor in everything she does, I have to remember she’s not all there and I have to remind myself the little old piñata yelling, hit me, hit me, doesn’t have enough candy for this Mexican to pick up a bat….

Don’t Touch The Buttons

Help me understand, with dementia your long term memory stays intact and your short term memory goes to hell. Then why is it that my mom can’t remember how to work the TV.

We had put in Direct TV for my parents over eight years ago. The boxes were in the den and in the bat cave (my mom’s room). While my mom never really strayed from the regular channels she could work the controller.

Well about two years ago, our TV time was constantly interrupted. The controller for the Direct TV has forty-five buttons and mom started to become confused.

“Nancy, I can’t get channel two.”
“Mom just hold the controller and press the channel number you want once and your show will come on.”
“I did that, I’m not dumb.”
“Well I just changed the channel and it worked, show me how you change the channel.”
“I did the same thing as you.”
“Mom, you need to turn the controller around and change the channel, your pointing the controller in the wrong direction.”
“Well this is how I always did it, something must be wrong.”

“Nancy, hurry come quick something’s wrong with my TV”.
“Now what’s wrong?’
“I’m trying to watch channel two and everything is in Spanish. I think I need a new TV.”
“Mom that’s not channel two its twenty-two, it’s a Spanish station, just press the button once.”

“Nancy, nothing works on my TV.”
“Mom you keep pressing the input button.”

Then it happened. She noticed the little door on the bottom of the TV and more buttons to push. Thank God for electrical tape she didn’t need more buttons.

Finally the decision was made since she didn’t watch the expanded channels we would go to regular TV. Another problem since mom’s TV is seven years old it would need a converter box.

“Nancy, my TV won’t turn on.”
“Mom you need to leave the converter box on.”
“The TV still won’t go on.”
“Mom you still have to turn the TV on.”

“Nancy my TV won’t go off.”
“Mom, you need to press off, your pressing on.”

So for Christmas mom got a new TV, no converter box, just a nice flat screen TV, along with it a new easy controller. Life is good, no more problems. Wrong the new TV now picks up about three channels for every regular station instead of just one channel two, she gets two-one, two-two and two-three, shit! Thank goodness for channel locks.

Did it end there? No, she now noticed the red lights on the bottom of the TV, I told her it’s just to let you know the TV’s on. But there was something about the red lights, she just had to push, hell they’re working buttons.

We now have fewer problems thanks to the new TV, electrical tape, and an easy controller, because the next step would have been to take out the TV and give her crayons.

Happy Birthday Chris! (January 3rd)

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Monday night when darkness fell, we brought mom home.

We put mom in the backseat, she was confused because she always rides shotgun. Then I got in, right next to her, when she realized no one was sitting in the front seat with Paul, she looked like a deer caught in headlights. 

A thirty minute car ride must have been an eternity. I clearly and sternly told her what was off limits, I explained there was a new sheriff in town and all laws are to be adhered to; 

No more DUI’s; being, Discourteous Under the guise of Insanity.
No more terrorist threats of caregivers or their family. 

Black Tuesday, or the Day the Earth Stood Still, started early; 

“Mom, its eight o’clock time to get up.”
“No, I’ll get up later when I want to.”
“No more getting up at eleven, you will be getting up in the morning and exercising.”
“I’m not going to exercise; my doctor said I don’t need to exercise.”
“That was the doctor at Disneyland, your doctor at Kaiser said you need to walk for exercise, and I’m not going to discuss it anymore.”
“You’re a Gestapo.”
“Get used to it.” 
“Mom, you’ve been up for three hours, I need you to walk two or three times from your bedroom to the den.”
“I’ll walk later.”
“If you’re not up in fifteen minutes, I’m going to put your chair into the standing up position, so you’ll have to get up.” 
“Why are you being so mean?”
“It’s not that I’m being mean, you need to drink, eat and exercise, once you get your blood circulating you’ll feel better.”
“I’ll feel better when you leave.” 

Later that day; 

“Mom, its time for lunch.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I didn’t ask if you were hungry, I said its time for lunch.”
“I’m not going to eat, I’m not going to eat, I’m not going to eat.”
“Paul, bring me the video camera.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to video what we go through at every meal and show everyone how you behave.”

She ate everything.  

It didn’t go as smoothly as I wrote, I ran into a lot speed bumps, but ultimately each day got a little easier. She still tried to start arguments but instead of trying to reason with her, which would leave us both frustrated, a few times I would laugh and sing dumb songs, and believe it or not it worked; 

“Mom lets get everything ready for your shower.”
“I don’t need you to help me, Nancy go get my Depends, and a new nightgown.”
“Ok, I have everything you need.”
“Turn on the water, and regulate it, help me take off my nightgown and slippers, help me get into the shower.”
“Mom, let me help you, sometimes you miss washing areas that need to be washed.”
“I know how to shower; I don’t need your help.”
“Ok, just trying to help you out, forget  I asked.”
“Nancy, wrap a large towel around my back, get a little one for my body and feet, and then help me out.
“Ok, mom everything is done.”
“No, help me with my slippers and zip up my robe.”
“Mom, after helping you I need another shower, I’m sweating.”
“You don’t help me, you never help me, and you never do anything for me.”
“What, I do everything for you” and then I remembered this is how it starts, so I stopped and started singing.” 

“You never do anything for me, hee hee, hoo hoo.”
“You never do anything for me, hee hee, hoo hoo.”
“You never do anything for me, hee hee, hoo hoo, ha ha”
“Are you drunk?
“I don’t drink, hee hee,hoo hoo.” 

I couldn’t believe it by meeting her with laughter instead of frustration she stopped and walked away. So if all it takes is humor to avoid her constant need of arguing, I’m free, free at last. 

Hee hee, hoo hoo, ha ha. 

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