7.02.2012

Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Last week I didn't have time to put together a post and had not seen much of my mom as I got busy with my kids birthday and other stuff.  I had been by for a visit and to deliver some things to her. 
     Our family went up north this past weekend to take in all of the Fourth of July celebrations that were going on in the city where we have a small cottage on Lake Huron (more on that later).  We left Friday afternoon and had plans for my husband to bring Megan back for some scheduled driver's ed road time on Sunday morning. 
     After a late night of fireworks Saturday night, my cell phone rang just before 7 am Sunday morning.  It was one of the Med Team people from my mom's senior residence.  They indicated that my mom had fallen after getting out of bed and that her head was bleeding.  They also said that it was routine for them to send anyone who falls to the hospital and that EMS was on their way.  At the time, I asked if they thought my mom would require stitches and they were not sure.  I asked that they call back after EMS evaluated her.  I also did speak to her on the phone and she sounded ok.  The medical staff said that my mom did use her life alert bracelet (yay!) and that someone was right out in the hallway and she called for them, too. 
     In the meantime, I called my brother to let him know what was going on and to tell him I was hoping he could either go see her or meet her at the hospital if they transported her.  The Med Team called me again after EMS evaluated her.  They said she would at least need a staple on the cut on her head.  They had transported her to the nearest hospital which was one that has been recently bought out and I did not know much about.  Since I was two hours away, I called back my brother who said he would go directly to the hospital.  This was a big relief!!  There have been other emergency room visits in the past where my brother was up north and not at all available, even by phone.  Help was there...and it wasn't from me.  For that, I was grateful.
     I then decided I might as well be the one who drives Megan home for driver's ed since I would likely need to be available to my mom.  I did not know if the hospital would admit her or not.  I was actually hoping not.  I knew I would not be able to relax on the beach until I saw how my mom was doing.  Just as we got closer to home, my brother texted that he was bringing my mom back to her apartment.  Apparently, they had done a head cat scan and ruled her as having a concussion and discharged her.  I have to admit I was relieved they did not try to keep her for further testing.  It would be so confusing to her and upon her previous hospital stay after her "last big fall" 1 1/2 years ago, she went through extensive testing and nothing conclusive was found to be wrong with her heart and the neurological problems are already known.
     I did not tell my brother I was home so as to let him be the hero of the day (he told me to stay up north).  After Megan's driving, we went over to see my mom.  She was in her kitchen...eating a banana.  I asked that she sit down, worried about another fall.  We brought her some ice cream and popsicles.  Had to make room in the freezer from all of her frozen cups of water...  I noticed that a bit of blood was getting on the couch from my mom's head.  Cleaned that up and put a towel there, then cleaned up the blood stained carpet where she had fallen in her bedroom.  Still hard to figure exactly what happened.  My mom was following me and Megan all around the apartment asking what we were doing, etc.  Told her we were trying to help and that she should sit down and relax.  She is always nervous about us throwing away her prized possessions, i.e. all the free junk she takes from the dining room (placemats, jelly containers, cups, etc...) 
     I changed the bandaids on her hands from the blood draw they had done at the hospital.  My mom asked several times when and where she would get the staples out.  Also asked many times what hospital she went to.  One of the times she asked if it was Henry Ford and I said it was, knowing it is her favorite.  Other times, I don't think she even remembered being at the hospital.
     We sat with my mom for awhile, I talked to the medical staff about checking on her through the night.  They also suggested I get her some ibuprofen for the pain.  I went out and got that.  They are only allowed to give her medicine unless it is prescribed and, of course, nobody in the ER prescribed any pain relief meds.  My mom did not complain of any headache, but I realized she should have something to hopefully help her sleep.
     When my mom first moved into the American House (almost a year ago), she was very reliant on her walker.  Now, we insist she use it in the hallways to and from meals and activities, but she has not seemed to need or use the walker while within her apartment.  I am wondering if we might start leaving it at her bedside again as we once had.  I can tell you thought that does not mean she will use it.  When she lived with us she used to carry the walker in the air...over the dog....over the step...etc...  It was funny to watch, but now nerve racking with the current situation.  There are so many things that cannot be done without 24 hour reminders and care. 
     I am left to wonder what is causing these falls and what can I do about it.  Do I press forward and perhaps get another heart monitor on her or insist on further brain scans, or do I attribute it to something as simple as a fainting spell, perhaps from lack of hydration or other causes??  Obviously, it stinks that my mom is not able to effectively communicate with us the events leading up to these falls.  Asking her if she was dizzy, tripped or whatever does not seem to help.  In the meantime, we will do our best to get her healed.  I should also mention that this whole thing caused me to experience an extreme case of deja vu...  Last year, the same "Sunday before Fourth of July" we had brought my mom up north with us and were awakened by my mom falling out of bed.  Seems so odd that of 365 days in a year another episode occurred at the same time.  I decided to spare you a picture of the staples in the back of her head and the blood that went along with it (you're welcome!).  I will be checking on her regularly and following up with her doctor today as well as the medical staff and her case manager at the Area Agency on Aging.  I spoke with her this morning and she says she slept ok and she was watching Ellen.  I want to believe her and hope it's true, but there have been too many times were my mom's memory and reality have been in complete conflict with each other.
     MORE BREAKING NEWS...  As an interesting side note, I had brought my mom a framed picture of her and "the Don" from the recent picnic we all had attended.  She had asked numerous times if I had taken their picture, and I finally decided there was no real harm in her adding his picture to her collection.  When we were visiting yesterday I realized I did not see the pic and asked where it was.  She said it was in the drawer of her entertainment unit...  She complained that she never sees him anymore and that he's too lazy to come to the meals.  She seemed irritated in a "men" sorta way.  We laughed and then she said she thinks she put it in the drawer "face down" (the picture).  Sure enough, I opened the drawer and there it was....face down.  Sounds like his family has gained their edge in trying to keep Don away from my mom.  Some things we "remember" and some we don't.  The mind works in mysterious ways!
And "So Are the Days of our Lives"....


The Hospital Bracelet

Discharge Directions

Managing a Smile...Looks Tired
Even the teenager was there...

Independence Day
The Fourth and Summertime...
The Don has been put in a drawer...and flipped over
(wonder if he knows it??)

2 comments:

Sarah WhitehouseNews said...

I would think since the falls are so infrequent- it's just part of the dementia. As the dementia advances, they may get more frequent. For now I would be glad that she is still doing well enough to be in an ALF and not require a nursing home. I am glad to hear she's ok!

Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

Hi Cindy, I know it is nerve wracking to have a phone call like that. You sound like you handled it brilliantly! Your Mom's hair is filling in nicely and she looks well. Hope you had a wonderful Fourth! -arlene