Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Busy Visit to Check on Aging Parents

We spent two days at Mom’s last week. Another difficult and frustrating time. The main purpose of my visit was to attend her doctor’s appointment. We had been concerned about a screening result she had received, but her doc wasn’t at all concerned. I’m not sure he’s doing a good job for her. He seems to be so nonchalant and unconcerned about every symptom we bring him. But she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings by switching. My step dad, on the other hand, switched from him upon discharge from the nursing home. His new doc seems to be doing a good job, although Mom thinks he’s too young. I haven’t been able to attend any of those appointments, so can’t really evaluate him.

Meanwhile, Mom is even more frail than last month. Tired and frail. And discouraged. Feeling the loss of all she had loved. And in the process, she’s not being realistic. She wants to take Dad out on day trips, but can’t think clearly about what she would do it there was a problem. She’s becoming more childlike in her thinking and reasoning abilities.

And Dad isn’t much better. He resents the fact that she can’t (he thinks “won’t”) bring him home. Neither of them understands that 24/7 care is very different from a couple of hours. And a couple of hours wear her out. But neither of them can hold that in their minds long enough to understand. I don’t think there is dementia. They manage well in most other ways. But in this area, their wants outweigh their common sense. It breaks my heart to watch them trying to cope with all their losses.

While there, I was able to have a care conference with Dad’s caregiver, arrange home PT for him, take him out to dinner, arrange a new phone service for Mom, review their finances, transcribe the phone messages Mom couldn’t hear, and arrange for mail order prescriptions. And visit and hopefully encourage them. There never seems to be enough time to do all I want to do, so I always leave feeling smooshed.

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3 comment(s):

I can so relate to what you are writing. For the last couple of years, my sister would say, "Mom doesn't think like a nurse anymore." For example, she didn't know the names of her medications, but didn't keep a list. [I don't know mine either, but I'm not a nurse.]

Yet, in so many ways, mom seemed mentally quite "with it."

But when she had the stroke last summer, the neurologist said that her scan showed many age related changes and atrophy, unrelated to the stroke.

She knows everything that is going on, dates, times, etc. yet she has become passive and doesn't take initiative. And she will show us the same pictures time and again.
This is a strange mix of strenghts and deficits.

So even if she hadn't had the stroke, we probably would have had to move her out of her home, but that might have been emotionally harder for everyone. After the stroke, she knew she couldn't live at home anymore. She is in assisted living now.

By Blogger P.S. an after-thought, at 6:36 AM  

This sounds so hard. Is there someone available who could take them BOTH out for a few hours? So they could enjoy each others' company but your mom wouldn't be "in charge of" your dad?

By Anonymous Susan, at 8:32 AM  

It's so good to know we're all int this together. I understand the "sometimes with it, sometimes not" that p.s. mentioned.

Susan, great idea. I've suggested it many times, suggesting that she get a college boy from their church to accompany them. But she doesn't want anyone else tagging along and certainly doesn't want to have to buy an extra meal! Even though when they are together, they seldom talk. I'm sure learning a lot about what I don't want to become!

By Blogger Pat, at 9:21 PM  

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