Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Helping with Mom

Mom is declining very quickly. My sister,Rita and I,and Vicki, on occasion, have been doing the best we know how to give her the care she needs.Stacey got her feelings hurt and once again,dropped out of Mom's care and life,totally,as she did when Dad was dying.Stacey had been doing an excellent job of caring for Mom and should have recognized that Mom was in a bad way, and should not have let Mom's words get to her.Nevertheless,Rita and I are taking turns, staying 3 and 4 days a week with Mom, around the clock.Vicki drops by when she can. Mom fell a couple of months ago, and has gone down hill since then. She has fallen a few more times,but the last few times have been indoors. The original fall was in the yard. We doctored her the best we could, feeling that she had no broken bones, but since she kept complaining of her hips hurting so bad, we decided to take her in for some x-rays. No broken bones were found. She has been down so much with the hurting in her hips, she has lost 90% use of her legs.She does walk a few steps occasionally with our help and the aid of a walker, but those attempts are minimal.Her appetite has dwindled to almost zilch. We could hardly get her to take a spoonful of anything to get her medicine swallowed.Several months ago, we had her evaluated by a neurologist, and he said she had dementia and early Alzheimer's.We have been giving her the generic form of Aricept for several months now, but the hallucinations,seeing things and people who are not there,hearing the phone ringing when it is not,hearing voices calling her name.All of these things seem to be getting worse, so we chose to take her off the two medicines, the generic Aricept and the generic Zoloft.which we felt we causing much of the problem. Her primary care doctor said it was worth a try, so he prescribed another medicine that should help to some degree.The straw that broke the camel's back was an episode that occurred at my house during our family's Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve night. After putting her to bed, like I have always done, I left the door ajar, so as to peek in on her occasionally.When I went to check on her, the door was locked and she had barricaded herself in the bedroom by piling the wheelchair and anything else she could find,in front of the door. With the help of my son-in-law, I managed to get inside. She was crouched up in a desk chair with an arm full of quilts over herself,clutching 2 bottles of hand lotion. When I questioned her as to what she was doing, she was convinced there was a wild party going on,with lots of drinking,me included, and I do not drink. She claimed I was taking pictures of her in all sorts of compromising positions and putting them on the Internet.She would not be convinced that none of this was happening. She was sure there were lots of strange men out there trying to get in to harm her. She wanted me to call the police so they could take her to a safe place.When asked about the hand cream,she replied that her needed something for protection, and that was all she could find.When asked how she had the strength to pile all of those things in front of the door,when she is not able to get to the bathroom alone,and she replied that when your life is threatened, you can do a lot more than you think you can.I sat with her and tried to calm her down enough to get through the night,which I finally did after about an hour, but she would not be convinced that I had not done the things she had accused me of.She calmed down enough to finish the night out,here with me, but the following morning was Christmas day, and we had planned to drive her to Rita's home that morning. With all of the confusion, I decided to take her straight back to her home. Since she has gotten down and so bad, we had moved her back into her big house. She has not liked that at all, but with us having to care for her around the clock,we felt it was necessary to make that move.She still struggles with that.She asks daily, if she will ever get to go back to her home,meaning the garage apartment we built for her after Dad's death. She was very uncomfortable in the main house by herself. In the garage apartment,she felt much safer.Not so many windows and doors at her back at every turn.She has lived in the garage apartment for 11 years now, so I am sure she misses that home. For one person, it worked just fine, but for several,it was too cramped.No room for all of the equipment she was using to function on a day to day basis.I am sure that is a contributing part of her confusion,being forced from her home, even though, when I explained to her that we really needed to move back into the big house for various reasons,she did say she did not want to be the one to hold us back from proceeding with the plan.She said she was ready to move.Without a doubt, I am sure she would not remember having said that, if asked now.

The doctor gave us a new medication for Mom. It is called Mirtazapine.
Her appetite is greatly improved, and the horrible side effects,presumably from the previous medicines, are lessening to some degree. We are trying our best to build her up a bit. With a horrible head and chest cold,as well as the limited use of her legs,and a next to none appetite, she has fallen back greatly. We are trying to build her up as much as possible, but she has gotten so low and lost so much weight, we feel our trying is in vain. We try to encourage her to think positive, but she is convinced she is dying. She has given up,for the most part, and sleeps most of the time.She had a long bout with pain this past month or so after falling the first time. We were giving her ibuprofen and tramadol for pain every four hours for several weeks.Then she described the pain as being in her hip and going down her leg,with some twitching in her leg,making it sound like sciatica to us.We decided it was due to her sitting and sleeping in that recliner that she uses for a bed,against our wishes,but her being so stubborn and headstrong, we let her sleep there.Now that we have decided it is a sciatica problem, we have been working with various seating and sleeping set ups,thus relieving that pain. Now her pain meds have dropped off to a minimum and long periods with no pain meds.She still has lots of trouble remembering many things.She does not remember ever seeing many of the things she once used,much less how to use them,but memories of her youth and various other portions of her life are very vivid in her memory.She gets confused as to who we are.Her own children. She cries a lot for her children never caring enough to come and visit, even though she lay dying.She says she thought your children would come when she was nearing death,but yet no one comes.I,of all people, understand that Mom has always had a bad habit of speaking before she thinks about how her words will be perceived by others, and many times the words she speaks,do hurt the feelings of the one she might be speaking to, but after 65 years of knowing how Mom is, I know by now that she will never change. It does no good to correct her or scold her for the way she speaks to others. It only makes things worse by trying.She always ends up in tears when confronted about the words she used that offended some one, but as we all know,a spoken word can never be recalled.

It's hard having to hear her longing for her children to be around her at this time, but Rita and I try to comfort her, the best we can.She worries about never seeing her siblings and their families again. They live so far away in Louisiana.She worries about never getting to go to church again. Her life has evolved around her church,where ever she has lived, since she was a teenager,when she first accepted Christ as her Saviour.Rita and I both pray for peace for Mom daily.Mom even prayed aloud,herself, one day recently,something Mom has never done.She has always had a lengthy prayer list at the end of each day. Many times, she has told me about falling to sleep before she had completed her prayer list.Mom has always had trouble practicing what she preached, but who of us is so perfect,we can judge her on her short comings?I'm sure she did the best she could with the tools she had.She has once had the mind of a college professor, due to her own self educating,but now she has forgotten most of what she once knew.I only hope am am half as strong a person as my Mother has been. She has endured a lot of pain in her life time. The most pleasure she has gotten from life was having her nine children, and even that has jumped up to bite her.Only God knows why,during our lifetime,we must endure so many twists and turns,heart ache and pain, before it ends? Mom has read the Bible through numerous times and I am sure,even she,does not understand why she must suffer the way she is, here at the end of her life.

P.S. She had a great experience today. Her beloved friend, Joe Stampley, sent her a copy of his latest CD. That cheered her up tremendously. They have kept in touch for years. Mom is one of his greatest fans and when she was able, she would attend many of his concerts,whenever they were near her home.

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