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Posts Tagged ‘dementia; hallucinations in the elderly; delusions’

I haven’t posted anything in almost two years. Perhaps it is because I have finally accepted what is, accepted what I cannot change no matter how hard I try.  No prayers nor wishes nor hope can or will change the fact that my mother has dementia.  I wish I could say that the reason I haven’t written in my blog is because my mother has been cured.  What joyful words those would be!  But the truth is my mother does have dementia and it is progressively getting worse at an alarmingly fast pace.

Mom rarely speaks anymore and when she does it is a one word answer.  If she does attempt to converse she only gets a couple of words out before her mind and face go blank.  What follows is an awkward silence by everyone around until someone breaks that silence and then life goes on.  She sleeps day and night until someone, usually my father wakes her to dress for the day or eat a meal.  She can no longer feed herself and all food must now be run through a blender.  She chokes when drinking so her fluids must be thickened.  Just getting her to drink is a challenge since she no longer remembers how to suck on a straw (she bites it and holds on tight with her teeth) and trying to get her to drink from a cup is like pouring glue down her throat.  She no longer walks so a lift is used to hoist her out of bed in the morning to place her in her recliner where she sits, mostly sleeping, until it is time to hoist her up and take her back to bed.

Mom is now with Hospice who has graciously provided us with a hospital bed, oxygen machine, lift and many other items to keep mom comfortable.  A Hospice nurse comes twice a week to check mom’s vitals and refill any prescriptions or order other items she may need.  They have been a huge help.  Our caregiver now comes five days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. which gives dad much needed help and freedom to get away for a while and be normal.  She is wonderful and I thank God daily for sending her to us.  Every evening around 9:00, I go over to help dad get mom to bed.  Some nights it’s easy.  Other nights I come home mentally exhausted from dealing with what it takes to get her cleaned up and tucked in bed.  On weekends and on days the caregiver cannot come, I become the caregiver.

My husband and I moved to a beautiful piece of property about a year ago that included two houses side by side.  Before making the decision to move we took my parents to look at the property and asked if they were interested in moving with us.  My dad jumped at the idea so they are now living next door and I am able to help more.  As much as we loved the property we would have never moved without them since it was too far away from where they were living.  Dad loves it and mom seems very content so I believe it was a good move.

I believe that mom still recognizes me.  Perhaps it’s just too difficult to think otherwise.  On good days her eyes light up when I walk in even though she hasn’t called me by name in quite a while. On bad days she simply looks at me with those damn dementia eyes.  Up until a few months ago she would say, “Your nose is cold,” every time I kissed her cheek.  She no longer tells me that.  Perhaps it is because my nose is no longer cold, or simply because she no longer remembers what a cold nose feels like.

 

 

 

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My dad is frustrated.  I see it in his face.  I hear it in his voice.  I can’t blame him.  He snaps at my mom.  He snaps at her in front of people so I know he does it when they are alone.  In fact, a few days ago I heard him.  He thought I was gone, but I heard.  “Bullshit!  I’m tired of this shit!”  It was storming out yet my mother was asking to go to the casino, like she does everyday. Repeatedly.  Dad hates it.  Mom loves it.  Or at least she did before…  It’s in her blood.  Her father was a gambler, her uncles were gamblers.  And so is she.  And every day mom asks to go, over and over and over until dad blows.

His life has become like the movie “Groundhog Day”.  He wakes up every day to the same scenario.  He fights to wake mom up of which he is usually successful sometime around 11:00, he listens to her daily request to get beignets which they can’t do daily because of mom’s diabetes, he tests her blood sugar, he feeds her breakfast, he attempts to get her medicine down and then mom naps in her chair until lunch when the process starts over again – waking her, feeding her, then napping until 3:00, about the time I arrive.  Once I’m gone it starts – her anxiety.  She wants to go somewhere.  She begins shaking, she needs to get out and begins asking to go to the casino.  Dad puts her in the car and drives.  He’s covered every back road around, he’ll drive anywhere just to avoid that damn casino.  But sometimes he gives in.  The only positive about her dementia and her anxiety is that she won’t stay there long.  She doesn’t stay anywhere long.

He wants to get her in Gambler’s Anonymous, but can that help someone with dementia?  Probably not, but I don’t have the heart to tell him that.  I wish I knew how to fix this problem, but I have no answers.  Reasoning with mom is fruitless.  She just shrugs her shoulders when you mention to her how much dad hates it, she doesn’t really care.  “I like it,” is her only response.  At this point she only cares about what is in her mind at that particular moment, there is no thought given to anything else.  The dementia has stolen her ability to be reasoned with.

I worry that the stimulation from the casino, the flashing lights, the bells and noises blaring at her as she sits hypnotically pressing that big red button on the slot machine is further harming her mind.  There is no thought process to it.  There is no exercise of the brain going on, just the same methodical pushing of a button.  I wonder if there has been any research done about the effects of casinos on the elderly, on someone with dementia.  Certainly it has to do more harm than good.

I wish I had an answer to dad’s problem.  I wish I could help with it, but honestly I’m not sure how to extract that gambling gene from mom.   If only gambling was something that was erased from her memory rather than things that are important.  But I can’t fix it, I can’t erase it from her memory.  So dad continues to get frustrated and I continue to feel helpless. And that sucks.

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Mom wants very badly for my youngest daughter to have a boyfriend.  Why, I’m not sure.  So…she has started seeing guys that my daughter has dated in the past.  How funny! 

We first noticed something was not right with mom almost two years ago when she started talking about my daughter’s boyfriend with the red convertible who was in medical school.  She would see them everywhere – at the casino, when he bought them all a steak dinner, when they drove up together with my grandchild sitting on “Mark’s” lap in the front seat of his convertible.  First of all, there is no Mark, never has been.  Second of all, my granddaughter is my oldest daughter’s child and she would never, ever have let her daughter sit on someone’s lap in the front seat of a convertible.  I had to break it to mom gently that there was no “Mark” in medical school who drives a red convertible dating her granddaughter.  That was hard.  She didn’t understand at first and wanted to know where she had gotten that?  Beats me!  She now accepts that there is no Mark and has since moved on – thank God.  But I guess she has substituted ex-boyfriends for Mark. 

A couple of weeks ago mom mentioned to my daughter that boyfriend A had stopped by that day.  “I guess he saw your mom’s car at my house and thought it was you.  He stopped by to see you,” mom told her.  They haven’t dated in over four years.  And then on Easter Sunday mom mentioned that boyfriend B had stopped by.  My daughter graciously responded with, “Well I guess he was looking for me Granny.”  She only dated that guy for a couple of weeks.

It’s funny how the mind thinks.  When mom wants something badly she just makes it happen in her mind.  Too bad she can’t make it happen in real life, I might have a very nice son-in-law who is a doctor by now.  🙂

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I am honored to have been nominated for the Sunshine Award by fellow blogger frangipani @ http://frangipanisingaporenicum.wordpress.com.  I am a first time blogger and started my blog in an attempt to keep my sanity through a difficult time.  I feel blessed that I have received so much support from other bloggers that either have experienced or are now dealing with the same issues as me.  And if I can help someone along the way I feel thankful.

The Sunshine Award is to award “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”  The rules appear fairly simple and are as follows:

1.  Thank the person who gave you this award and write a post about it – thanks again Frangipani

2.  Answer the questions below.

3.  Pass on the award to 10 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.

Okay, here goes…

Favorite Color –  the color of my granddaughter’s eyes, a beautiful shade of blue

Favorite Animal – a bird, the mere fact that they can fly is amazing to me

Favorite Number – I don’t really have one but let’s go with number 1

Favorite Drink – I have two, my morning coffee and evening Cabernet 🙂

Facebook or Twitter – I don’t know anything about Twitter really but I do have a Facebook page even though I never go on it.  So I guess Facebook wins.

Your Passion – My family

Giving or Getting Presents – giving

Favorite Day – Sunday, our Family Night when the kids come home bringing friends, my parents come over and we all enjoy a meal together.

Favorite Flowers – Roses

And my list of nominee/winners:

http://danceonthewhale.wordpress.com/

http://onesweetiepea.wordpress.com/

http://notquiteold.wordpress.com/

http://bakerbettie.com/

http://truthletsandthoughtbits.wordpress.com/

http://FundeMental.wordpress.com/

http://angelsandmiracles101.wordpress.com/

http://brookemcgillivray.wordpress.com/

http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/

http://mydementedmom.com/

Thanks again to frangipani.  No pressure to the bloggers I’ve nominated.  Just enjoy and have fun with it.

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Sitting on the patio with mom yesterday she suddenly exclaimed, “You need to do something about that hair!”  I burst out laughing – mom of old was back.  Before I started highlighting it, she was always giving me trouble about how grey my hair had become.  Actually, I meant to call for an appointment earlier in the day, but got caught up in other things.  I immediately picked up the phone and dialed my hairdresser.  She can’t see me until the 17th so I guess I’ll hear it from mom for a while longer.

Good to have you back mom.  🙂

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“You can change the path of your life from dark to light or from negative to positive.  Every single time you focus on the positive you are bringing more light into your life, and you know that light removes all darkness.  Gratitude, love, kind thoughts, words, and actions bring light and eliminate the darkness.

Fill your life with the light of positivity!”

The quote above is typed on a small piece of paper and taped to my computer monitor at work.  I don’t know who wrote it, I don’t remember where I found it, but apparently at some point in my life I thought it profound enough to type it and tape it to my monitor.  Although these are words that I NEED to hear every day, I continue to overlook this small scrap of paper.  I probably have not looked at it in months.  Yet today it caught my eye.  Today I needed to read it – again.  I needed those words to remind me to change this negative path I have been following.  Change my negative attitude about what my life has become.  Look at the positive in my life – and there is plenty.  Perhaps this is a start.

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For Christmas our youngest daughter bought tickets to the theatrical performance of the Lion King for my husband, herself and me. The performance was to be held in New Orleans where our daughter lives which is a couple of hours from our home. Since the musical was scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. it called for an entire night away from home. For the last few weeks I have been hovering somewhere between depression and insanity so the timing of this event was perfect and we decided to make a weekend out of it. Arrangements were made for Uncle C, good-byes said to my parents and off we went.

We arrived in New Orleans around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, checked into our hotel and then walked around the Quarter grabbing a glass of wine or two until our daughter could meet us. We had a lovely dinner at my favorite local restaurant before heading to the theater. The production was wonderful, the costumes were fabulous and we all enjoyed it tremendously. The black cloud that had been hovering over me for the last few weeks began to dissipate.

On Saturday our daughter recruited us to help with a project at the inner city school at which she teaches. She had requested permission from the principal to start a community garden and the principal had readily agreed. Our daughter applied for a grant, but had not yet received a response, so my husband and I hit up a few of our friends for donations to assist with the garden. Saturday morning, armed with our garden tools and about $250.00 in donations we headed for her school. After renting a tiller we began working the 20 x 20 foot area that was to be the community garden, just my hubby, my daughter, me and the principal. As hubby tilled the earth the rest of us cleared the debris that remained after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the school that previously occupied the property. We then began to form eight very neat rows where the students were to plant the tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, eggplants, strawberries and various herbs that we bought. Few, if any, of these third graders have ever seen a garden, have ever seen vegetables growing. In fact, one student asked if they were going to grow pizzas. “No,” my daughter responded, “but we will grow the tomatoes that go into the sauce on your pizza.”

I must say that there is nothing quite like working with the earth and getting a little sweaty and dirty to clear one’s head. I felt so much better, so much happier just being there, with my hands in the dirt, doing something that will make so many children happy – that maybe, just maybe will enhance their lives. We all left tired and dirty, but very satisfied.

Another evening in New Orleans was just what we needed before heading home refreshed. No, things at home have not changed. Yes, Uncle C is still living at my home and yes, my mother still has dementia, but at least for a short time I feel like I can handle it again.

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