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Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Message Board


Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Board Index


When I first posted to this board (I think while Mom was sent to first geri psych unit) I thought about coming back and being active in it, but it was heartbreaking and discouraging to read about the everyone's experiences with loved ones who have dementia. I come from a long line of people who think they can "do it in their own". That's one of the reasons my mother lasted as long as she did independently (and faked it well). And why it's difficult for me to ask anyone for help. But then again, am I asking for help or am I just asking for a shoulder to cry on or an ear to bend?

When I look back on the last three years, I can see that nothing has changed. My Dad died in 2008 - Mom had dementia long before he died suddenly. He knew something was not right with her and told us so, but it was (like we've experienced) impossible for him to help or change a subborn, independent, smart woman who ALSO MUST have know there was something wrong with her mind, too. When he died, I remember panicking KNOWING that my mother would need help, but she NEVER asked us for help. She just pretended like nothing had changed. She kept up her routine, just like Dad was there. Get up, make breakfast, start reading romance novels, go the store, read more romance novels, cocktail hour at 4:30, dinner with wine at 6 (she would go out 2-3 nights a week to a restaurant), go to bed. She would never call us. We would call her. "Everything's alright! Everything's fine!" Then all the signs began to appear. Stacks of papers on the diningroom table, keeping a lot of cash on hand, checking account with 10 -20 grand in it, getting lost in the car (the worst time was when she got lost going to my brothers. It took her 3 hours. Everyone was in a panic. When she arrived, she pretended like nothing had happened.).

In October - 14 months after my dad died, I got my brother to start looking at independent living with me. We found a good place, showed Mom - she was enthused and then lost her enthusiasm and we couldn't force her to go. Well, come Christmas Eve, she fell down the stairs at her home, while we were all leaving. She had consumed too much alcohol (something I blame myself and siblings with too) and went upstairs to smoke. She passed out and fell an entire flight of stairs! Only thing broken were ribs. So after she came out of the hospital, we attempted to hire a caregiver - 4 hours a day. My mother couldn't stand ANYONE looking at her or helping her, so she would tell the woman to go home. Somedays, she wouldn't let her in. Then in the midst of this she had a lodged kidney stone - back to the hospital.

Don't ask me how THIS happened, but we went to the independent living place and within one week, she had an apartment (paid) and we got her in. I don't think she knew what was happening. My brother played the hard cop. For the next six months, we (mostly my brother) cleared out the old house and sold it.

So now my mother is living by herself, in an apartment - following the same routine she had at the house. But this time she has no car. She learns to take the courtesy bus to the grocery store for her supplies.

I had taken upon myself the weekly task of going over and filling up her medication containers. She skipped so many times and denied it everytime! Why didn't I know something was wrong?? More than just forgetfulness?? I did this for a year. Then I finally paid the nursing agency that works within the independent living building to give her the meds in the morning and evening. And now it was winter, and she didn't want to take the bus. I'd call her to ask her what she needed from the store. Sometimes I would take her. Other times I'd pick up her supplies ( including alcohol and cigarettes!!). She stopped eating breakfast and lunch. She would watch TV all day and then go to the diningroom for dinner (she had one full meal per day included on the monthly assessment fee). But, she would start drinking in the afternoon. She didn't know what time of the day it was, let alone the day. One day I was there at 1:30 and she was having a cocktail. I asked her what she was doing and she responded that she was treating a cold! I then talked with one of the nurses and the nurse suggested that she might have alcohol-related dementia! This was last February. At last - I had a diagnosis!! I told everyone about it, and no one believed me - or wanted to believe me. Even my friends.

I still enabled her with alcohol, though, but noticed that she wasn't drinking too much. I learned that it didn't take long for the alcohol to hit someone who was 84. One drink would do it - but I think she was FORGETTING about how many drinks she was having - she was drinking from HABIT, not from being an alcoholic.

Then it happened - She'd been drinking and fell in her apartment. Her alcohol blood level was high in the E.R., so my guess is she passed out. And that's where we were 12 weeks ago!

Whew! And now you know the rest of the story. I am exhausted. Thanks for listening. Thanks for caring. I hope to be able to help others in the future. I just have to feel like I'm living for myself. I have an appointment with my therapist (who helped my get over the death of my Dad), so she remembers me and knows my past. I feel like I'm hollow inside. I know it's only temporary. Hugs to all of you.
Janet





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