Tuesday, January 13, 2009


My mom is slipping, I think. We've known for several years that she suffers from Posterior Cortical Atrophy, which is a visual type of Alzheimer's disease. It started where she couldn't "see", and after a lot of doctor visits, we "figured it out." Now, it's kind of strange sometimes, as she can't "see" the car to open the door, but she can see a fruit fly in a restaurant. It's pretty clear that her eyes "see", but only sometimes do the eyes connect to the brain....

In case you are fairly new to my blog, my mom (age 79) lives in an assisted living facility about four miles away from my house. I continue to set up her meds and take her to appointments, both because it saves money, and gives me more insight as to what is really going on. (But her assisted living place would do that for her, if I could stand it)...

Anyhow, last fall, she broke her hip. Her recovery from that, physically, for sure, has been phenomenal. She doesn't even use a walker to get around. And she seemed pretty stable mentally, all summer, too. That is to say, she knows who she is, who everyone is, she knows who the president is, etc (one of the "blessings" of this form of Alzheimer's), we just have to use small words and relatively simple (non-abstract) concepts.

In the last few weeks, though, I've noticed that she's having trouble finding the right words. This has been a symptom of hers for years, but lately it seems to be worse:

Me: Hi Mom, what did you have for lunch today?

Mom: Oh, it was....um......

Me: Oh, wait--I'll check the menu--did you have a BLT today?

Mom: No, it was....um....one of those things with everything in it.

Me: A casserole?

Mom: No...

Me: A salad?

Mom: No....

Mom: It was--it was--oh, I can't remember...

Me: Was it a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich?

Mom: Yes!!! That was it!!!

That's a pretty typical conversation for us recently. And about three weeks ago, she got confused on her meds. See, I set up her meds in those day-of-the-week pill cases, and she has a pill case for each time of day, if that makes any sense. So her morning pills are in a white case, all she has to do is figure out what day it is, grab the morning pills and take them. Her lunch time pills are in a purple case, suppertime pills are in a green case, and her new bedtime pill is in a blue case. The bedtime pill hadn't been added yet, when she got confused the first time and took two days worth of pills in a row. I notified the staff there, and they were supervising her and determined that she was doing it right, so they decided to go back to her just taking them like usual.

Then this past weekend, she got confused again, she took two doses of her lunch time pills. Luckily that was just a vitamin and an iron pill, so it wasn't too big of a mess. The staff started checking on her again.

Earlier this week, we had to add in the bedtime med, because we were hoping that the confusion was due to not sleeping well. I'm afraid that isn't it, though.

Anyhow, this afternoon, before I left for work, I stopped in with some things I had bought for her. I looked at her pills. At 2pm, she hadn't taken her morning pills OR her lunchtime pills, but her evening pills were gone. She told me that it was because the staff person had moved the pill boxes around. I asked her if they came to help her take her pills, and she said "yes, but...." and I didn't get a straight answer. I understand that the staff probably checked the day of the week, but didn't pay attention to the time that the pills were supposed to be given. Mistakes happen--like I've told you, my part-time job involves taking care of people, also, and, there, too, mistakes happen. But I'm worried about my mom. She has been having a hard time dialing my phone number lately. She says the light is bad and she can't see to dial. (I'll be buying her a floor lamp this week). But she has lived there for three years and has always been able to dial my phone number.

I know this is a progressive disease. I know it in my brain. But my heart, my heart has been hoping (and, yes, assuming) that since she was stable for quite a while, maybe she was just going to say like she was indefinitely. Or that maybe I'd see some little changes once in a while. But I'm afraid that's not the case.

I'm hoping that when spring/summer comes, she will come back a little. I don't want to see this. Even though she's lived in assisted living for three years, I am not ready for her to get worse. And the guilt. I work so much. I know she really wants me to spend time with her. And I can't, because I've got DD, and DH, and her, too, and two jobs. And not a one of them is getting the full extent of care from me that they deserve.

The "juggling"? Well, DD was very unstable for probably the first four years after she came to live with us. It was kind of a miracle that she started to stabilize, because right around the time she started to stabilize, DH got unstable. With the spending, the depression, the not working, DD's therapist and I together thanked our lucky stars that only one of them was unstable at a time, I don't know how I could've handled it otherwise. And now, DH is relatively stable, better than he has been for quite some time (as a general rule) and my mom is having troubles. So now I've to keep the DD ball of stability up in the air, while I keep the DH ball of stability up in the air, and hope that they don't fall down while I'm handling my mom's problems. Scary.


Grace. said...

And there you have it! The curse of the Sandwich Generation--caught between kids and elderly parents. Then you get to add in a hubby with mental health issues--lucky you!

I don't have any answers for you, just a lot of empathy. Do remember to take care of yourself first, or you won't be able to properly assist the rest of your family in caring for themselves.

Not Very Anonymous Mom said...

wow, so sorry you have to go through this. you sound as though you are handling it as well as you can.

Accidental Mommy said...

When it rains it pours. I get so bitter about my situation sometimes. I feel bad about it after, but I have to keep remembering I am just one person.
Can't say it helps much...but what can a person do?

Sounds like your plate is as full as mine.

perphila said...

I say it all the time but take care of yourself too. You can't juggle if your hands are useless.

The heart always lags behind the mind doesn't it?

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