4.21.2014

Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Well, another week has come and gone with (mostly) only good news to report.  My mom has seemed pretty well lately, and we have had some decent visits with some nice chit chat. Basically, what that means is she has not been as repetitive lately, at least not when I have been around.  
     After last week's post about the "better than usual" neurologist appointment, I called to make an MRI appointment for my mom.  You would not believe the run around I got.  Oh, we don't have the prescription, they have to fax it.  Oh, you have to call this number first.  Well, I can give you her voicemail.  Well, she is not in the system yet....  However, I was able to schedule it for April 30th. Then, I scheduled the follow up with the neurologist who specializes in NPH on May 6th (at 8 am...  Had to take soonest I could get!  Lord help me!)  I hate to say this out loud, so instead I will type it.  I'm praying my mom remains injury free until at least May 6th (at least!).
     The wheelchair prescription has been forwarded to a Medicare supplier, and I'm told it takes about two weeks.  I guess Medicare gives quite the runaround about the way the prescription is written, etc...  I sure hope if she really really needed a wheelchair, there would be a quicker way!!?  Sure would be lovely to have that chair before these appointments at the hospital, though.  Or I may have to borrow one to get my mom to and from these next appointments, which are actually in a hospital/medical building.  Can't imagine how long it might take if we have to walk.
     I also touched base with the physical therapist.  I wanted to get a feel for how she thought my mom was doing with her walking.  She said she can seen the signs of my mom's mobility declining since she last worked with her.  She noticed my mom being more repetitive than she can remember as well as needing more reminders and prompting when walking, turning, and getting up and down from a chair.  At least now I have her perspective.
     I hesitate to even bring this up, but you know here on the blog is where I keep track of things...  I did receive a call from the Med Team around 10 pm Good Friday.  Apparently, my mom was walking back to her apartment after "movie and popcorn night" (her favorite -- she talks about it all the time!).  The aide found that she had fallen in the hallway of the building.  She was picking up popcorn off the floor.  She did have her walker and the aide said she was not hurt.  Ugh!!!  All I can say is:  (a) I'm glad she made it to movie and popcorn night because she loves it (b) this definitely sounds like something my mom would do (c) thank God it wasn't a bad fall; and (d) just this past week the mom of another blogger whom I've recently come to know fell out of her wheelchair picking up popcorn (not kidding) and sadly her face was badly bruised.  I see this "coincidence" as some kind of sign, just not sure what it means exactly.
     Jacob and I brought some things to my mom on Saturday and ended up watching some cartoons that were on Saturday morning tv.  I noticed she had a nice collection of Easter cards she received in the mail.  She loves that!!  I did not make a visit on Easter, partly because my daughter ended up having an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin (she had strep throat), and I got almost no sleep the night before from monitoring her.  (Luckily, it did not become anaphylaxis!)

Thanks for the Cards!!!

A little gift from my daughter who went to Hawaii, cartoons and Jacob!


He Does Send Some Funny Texts!


     Thankfully, my brother was able to make a visit to my mom's on Easter Sunday and spend some time with her.  He also made sure I knew he was the "favorite son" that day... 

Happy To Give the Best Son Award to...My Brother, Mike!

(Now if only I could get him to take over some of these other responsibilities!  That's one way of finding out if he's reading the blog!?)




My Mom Often Finds Us Boring!!






4.14.2014

Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Stopped in for a visit with mom and this is what I found...pretty cozy, right!!??  And, the walker is right nearby...check and check!!!  Her staples have been out a week and her head is healing.  


I also found this, that Sheri must have posted on her refrigerator....


     Lord knows I could have used this "Certificate" about a month ago!!!  I'll take what I can get!!!  This is a program they are running at her American House senior facility.  My mom is also in physical therapy three days/week.  Fingers crossed.  Not long after my visit my mom was escorted off to lunch.  Yep, here's me nervously watching and spying from her apartment door as they escort her down the hall.  I wanted to see how she is walking...and I wanted to spy on the caregivers!!  I'm still nervous every time I leave my mom...
     Oh, and did I mention that the case manager from the Area Agency on Aging sent the list of skilled nursing facilities (a/k/a nursing homes) I requested after her last ER visit directly to...my mom!!!!???  I found the empty envelope.  I get all of my mom's "business" mail at my house. This was sent to her apartment.  Ugh!  You may recall I caught the case manager right before she left for a two and a half week vacation.  In fact, she is due to return today.   It would be interesting to know if my mom, who does not throw anything in the garbage, threw that list in the garbage!!!??  I can only hope if she did realize what it was that it provided an added incentive to use her walker!!!?? (Sorry, trying to look on the bright side!)
     I was going to post this morning, but thought I would add today's adventures to this post! Today, we were off to the neurologist for a check up!  It had been probably five months or so since we have been.  Between the terrible winter/snow and hibernation and then the three recent falls, this was one of my mom's only days out since January!!!  Good news -- she was not terribly agitated and seemed happy to be out and about.  It may have helped that when she asked where we were going I just said the doctor (instead of neurologist).  And, when she said "foot doctor", I just said, "yes". 
     To be honest, I have been anxious about this appointment because I realized I could not/would not leave this appointment without some firm guidance from the neurologist as to what the immediate future is likely to hold with regards to my mom and her walking and mobility in particular.  This made me nervous because her neurology appointments are rarely enlightening, informative, personable or helpful.  We just go to take care of business and improvements or useful advice are almost non-existent.   
     Fear not, as it appears my prayers were answered today, albeit in a small way.  Today, for whatever reason, the doctor had no intern with him and, for the first time since I can remember, he sat down in the exam room with us, computer and dictating machine in hand, and dictated notes and submitted information as I brought him up to speed on the numerous falls my mom has had, the nature of her injuries, and my concerns for the direction she is headed.  It was almost as if his demeanor was the complete opposite of our typical appointments.  He also observed my mom as he asked her to walk down the hallway.  Something I feel he should always do, but I have never known him do in the past.  (Once in awhile he will have her walk, but only in the super small exam room which is like two steps with the walker...)
      I told him I am a firm believer in the "use it or lose it" system when it comes to my mom and walking.  I wanted to confirm that he is also a believer.  I also told him I was afraid we may be at a crossroad, and I want to be sure to read the signs properly.   I shared with him the paperwork from the recent ER visits.  I made him aware that the falls have not been witnessed, for the most part.  He questions whether she is possibly having a seizure when they occur.  My mom is on medication for seizures related to her previous stroke and resulting surgery.
     He was firm and confident in a decision to increase the dosage of her seizure medication, and I agreed.  Meanwhile, he wrote a prescription for my mom to get an MRI from a neurologist who specializes in NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus).  This makes me happy, as I did not even have to "prod" him on this and it is something I have secretly wanted to rule in or out for quite some time.  Her symptoms, particularly her "gait apraxia"/ walking, are indicative of possible NPH.  Before we go further, we need to know if that is what could be going on with my mom.  NPH can be treatable and depending on the situation, walking can improve.  Yes, it's weird that I'm excited to explore this possibility.  It's likely because with the vast majority of my mom's health issues, there is literally nothing that can be done. 
When the neurologist finally came in the room, my mom said, "You took a long time!"
(Another sign that "Mary's still got it"!!!
      Then, another order of business I have been dreading, I asked for a prescription for a wheelchair.  He did not hesitate as the falls alone would justify one.  However, just to be clear, my immediate intention is to only use it occasionally and when necessary.  Today, walking to and from my car, her apartment, the medical building, the doctor's appointment -- a wheelchair would have benefited all of us.  The patience it takes to get my mom to and fro is almost unbearable -- not to mention the nervousness of her stumbling in the parking lot with all the potholes around.  Physically, her feet do not seem to do what she wants them to, her steps are a small shuffle, she stops very often to ask questions, and she is extremely easily distracted by her surroundings.  Again, most of this is not "new", but in light of the recent falls I am much more on alert.  That said, I was also quite proud of my patience level today!
     After the appointment, which was loooong, I went to the drive thru and got my mom her beloved "icee" drink and a hamburger and fries as it was way past lunch time.  My mom was, again, fairly lucid and pretty funny.  This makes it soooo much easier for me and I really thought it could have gone the other way in light of the fact that she has not been "out" in a long time.
     Tomorrow I will call to try to schedule the MRI.  I hope it isn't one of those things where you have to wait weeks and weeks to get in.  I'm also in the midst of renewing my mom's paperwork and housing agreements with her senior facility.  Because she receives assistance, there is a lot of paperwork involved.  
Today -- On Our Way Back in...Drink and Muffin in hand!!
     My already long "to do" list is growing!!!!  I am pretty overwhelmed and my own doctor appointments and checkups are, as always, being brushed to the side.  However, obviously I need to get this taken care of with my mom and feel a definite sense of urgency as we are trying to avoid a fall and the ER at all costs!! 
I will keep this relatively short so I can post before the day is over!!!



p.s.  Several were interested in knowing more about the character on Days of Our Lives whose name my mom so clearly recalled last week.  "Rafe" was his name...and you may agree he is quite memorable!!!



"Rafe"



4.07.2014

Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     As I prepare this post late Sunday night, I first want to again thank all of you for your kind words and support.  There are a few of you who are walking this walk or have been in a similar situation and "get it".  Others are just nice compassionate people.  I appreciate all of your support as this is definitely the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Taking care of my mom.  Completely switching roles.  Making decisions for someone who does not know what is best for them.  Taking away some independence.  Getting legal affairs in order.  Applying for necessary medical insurance and assistance.  Being mom to three teenagers at the same time.  The list goes on and on and that's just the stuff we can talk about in one post...
     However, I am happy to report that we stayed out of the E*******y Room this week!!! (insert applause).  I don't want to say the words...that's how nervous I am!!
     I was in touch with Sheri several times, and I visited my mom on Wednesday and Saturday.  On Wednesday, I was greeted by this sign on my mom's apartment complex door.  The dining room was closed as there was a flu bug going around the building.  For one second, I wanted to turn around and pretend I never came, but I had already had my flu shot and knew I needed to check on my mom!!  
    Right after I got there her lunch was delivered at 11:30 am.  Kind of early since she usually goes to lunch at 1:00 pm, but I asked her to come and eat it while it was still warm. My mom does not have a microwave and does not have use of her oven or stove.  It was Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn and sherbet and she ate every last bit of it and every kernel of corn!!  The food is so-so and with them having to deliver to everyone it was 70s TV dinner style.  Honestly, if I was not there I doubt she would have eaten it and can almost guarantee she wouldn't have eaten it all.  A week of eating all meals in the apartment had to be a long week!!  They actually extended the closing to this past Saturday, which was the first day the dining room was back open.
     Sheri indicated there was one day that my mom showed signs of a flu bug.  Thankfully, they were moderate and did not last!!  Sheri also had a bug, but came in to help my mom because she said she was afraid they would not find anyone else.  
     Whilte I was there, I noticed my mom's staples had not yet been removed, so I followed up with the Med Team to make sure the home health nurse would be removing them soon.  After a few too many phone calls from me, I found out the nurse planned to remove them Thursday as she did not think they were quite ready on Tuesday when she was there.  Boy, I tell ya you really have to stay on top of all these things!!  

      As I sat with my mom, she was kind of dozing and we were watching TV (Channel 4, of course).  Days of Our Lives happened to be on...  My mom has watched for years and actually got me into Days of Our Lives when I was a teen.  Normally, my mom would be at lunch when it is on at 1:00 pm.  As we were watching quietly, at one point my mom said, "Is that Rafe?"  I said, "I'm not sure, I don't think so" (I always get him and another character, EJ, mixed up because they look similar to me and I hardly watch anymore.) Then, it hit me!!??  How did my mom remember the name "Rafe" (of all names) who is a fairly new character on the show, which she hardly ever sees anymore????  She is just full of surprises sometimes.  I can't tell you how rarely she retains any current information. A perfect example, she still denies knowing anything about a "Sheri" who helps her every morning for four hours seven days a week!!!??  Chalk one up for the mom for knowing Rafe!!!  (Of course, I secretly thought -- she isn't ready for a nursing home!!??)
     On Thursday, the home health nurse called me and indicated she was with my mom and going to remove her staples.  Sheri was also there, so I felt comfortable even though at one point I was going to try to be there with her.  Her head is healing nicely, but I would not say it's competely healed.  
     My mom is soooooooo overdue for a haircut, style and color!!!  She was already overdue because I had not wanted to bring her out in the extra nasty winter weather.  Once the weather gradually started getting nice, well then the "you know whats" happened three times...  I still have to wait on coloring her hair, but a cut and style is definitely on my "to do" list.  As luck would have it, my kids are also on Spring Break this week so it's busy!!
     On Saturday, me, my husband and Jacob all stopped in to check on my mom.  She was sitting comfortably reading something and no TV was on.  We chatted and my mom seemed pretty good.  The repetition has been at a minimum lately.  Really pretty good.  My husband said, "Mary, did you hear the Tigers won today?"  She was happy to hear that.  I talked to my mom a bit, and then told my hubby to stop playing with his phone and talk to my mom.  So, ya know what he said???  He said, "Mary the Tigers won today!" and then she said, "Yeah, I know one of you already told me that!!"  If you knew the usual drill, you would know why this is soooooo funny to me!!!  My mom simply does not usually have any short term memory left.  The Tiger news normally would have been "news" to her.  But not this day!!  I teased my husband for trying to pull a fast one on his mother-in-law!!


     A little while later, I asked my mom if she knew what the date was???  She studied her time/date clock I got for her a few years ago.  After a little effort she settled on April 5th.  I said, right!  Do you know what April 5th is?  She repeated the question and thought for a minute then said, "Grandma's Birthday?"  This, again, was quite surprising!!  I said, "right"!!!  Then, as my mom detected my surprise, she said "What do you think I'm an idiot?????"

  
     So, here I am back on the roller coaster riding along with my mom through the highs and lows, thrills and spills, sometimes holding on tight and sometimes throwing my arms up in the air just enjoying the ride!!!