Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Well, hello there!  The month of February was filled with quite a lot of time spent taking care of my mom.  So, I guess I took advantage of the relative quiet after those few weeks and have been trying to focus more on things at our home and with the kids.  I guess in some way I am constantly trying to keep things in balance and prove to myself that I do have a life outside of caregiving...although sometimes it does not seem like it!!??  All the while, I have been visiting and, of course, remained in touch with my mom.
     I visit with my mom at least once a week, and upon visiting a couple of weeks ago my mom told me she fell.  I had not been advised of any fall.  If the medical alert button is used or the staff is aware of a fall, I believe they are supposed to notify me.  I was a little alarmed when my mom showed me her knee.  It was a pretty big scrape and she had a small regular sized Bandaid across it.  (That's all she has is the regular ones.)  I went to the office of the Med Team to see if they could give me some gauze and tape to give it a better bandage.  At that time, I was even more surprised to learn that they knew she had fallen.  They said the housekeeping staff told them they saw her on the floor.  At that particular time, I chose not to get into a discussion of why I was not notified (and why it appeared nobody even gave her a hand taping it up).  I had my mom put her leg up and let her "boo boo" get some air.  I then got my terrible nursing skills going and made a makeshift ice pack out of a makeup bag.  As best I could determine, she had fallen the day before.  My mom also told me she hit her head, but it was ok.  Ugh!?  Of course, I have no way of knowing for sure what happened.  Did she hit her head, too?  Was she ok?  How did she get up?  Did anyone help her?  How do you get such a big scrape from falling on carpet?  She says she fell when she bent down to turn on her tv. 
     I want to contact the off sight supervisor about this.  I have not been happy with the lack of contact lately by the medical staff.  That and the lack of follow through with her escorts to exercise class and such.  There is a huge amount of turnover with the staff.  There have been numerous people in the past year and a half and the lack of consistency makes it hard for me to keep the staff up on things.  Just when one group understands my mom's needs, it seems that staff moves on and we have to start over again.  I believe the staff is spread pretty thin, and I am quite sure they are underpaid.  I do have some hesitancy in going to the supervisors in that I fear if I get someone "in trouble" my mom's care could also suffer.  For the most part, her needs are being met.  (Or are they??) 

Mom Relaxing and Letting Her Wound Get Some Air...

A Pretty Big Scrape...and My Lack of Nursing Skills...
      I have also been setting the alarm on my iPhone for 10am weekdays to try to determine whether my mom is now making it to the chair exercise class she is supposed to be escorted to.  The first week or so, I found my mom answering the phone at those times.  I would then contact the Med Team staff and remind them she is to be escorted to those classes.  I was glad to peek down to the exercise room on a recent visit and find my mom in class.  It appears I found them during the "cool down" session and I took a couple of minutes and watched.  I know it looks like prison glass, but I was watching from one floor above the exercise room when I snapped these photos.
     On that day, I had planned to take my mom to the Michigan Secretary of State office to get a new handicapped parking permit and to replace her recently expired Driver's License with a State ID card.  (Rest assured, my mom has not driven in a few years, but her Driver's License only recently expired.)  It was very cold outside and I was disappointed my mom had chosen that day to were capri length sweatpants.  When she came back to her room from exercise class, I helped her get dressed into long pants and I tried to do her hair and makeup a bit, as I figured she would be getting her photo taken for her ID.  Of course, this all started the series of questions about where we were going and why.  It is not unlike the movie "Rainman" (with my long time favorite, Tom Cruise).  Remember the constant questions and agitation that would set in with the Dustin Hoffman character?  Well, that is kind of what it is like.  I was fairly pleased that I was able to throw some hairspray in her hair and work a little magic in a relatively short period of time.  Meanwhile, I was dreading the common long wait at the Secretary of State office...it can be grueling.
The Cool Down Period of Chair Exercises...
     Thankfully, the Secretary of State office was pretty organized and after taking a number, we moved to the front of the line pretty quickly.  For that, I was thankful.  Before our trip, I had checked with the Secretary of State to learn more about my mom transferring from a Driver's License to a State ID.  On the phone, they explained that she would just have to sign a document indicating she was "voluntarily" surrendering her license and that was all she needed to do.  That was all....!!????????  Do they not know that taking away the car keys from my mom at the age of 66 was incredibly difficult on me and my mom?  Do they know that the mere mention of the words "driving" or "driver's license" is guaranteed to trigger a series of questions from my mom about when she can drive and why can't she drive, etc...???  Oh, and how she never killed anyone driving or anything!?  (Thank God!)  I explained this to the lady on the phone and she indicated that the clerk's would be understanding of our situation.  Yet, I was not anxious for this trip mainly for that reason.  I decided to put the emphasis on the reason for our trip on the renewal of her handicapped parking permit and not the other part of our business.

Camera Ready for our Trip to the Secretary of State

     I quickly filled out the appropriate forms while we were waiting, had my mom sign a few things, and then waited our turn.  I often sign for her as DPOA (Durable Power of Attorney), but I coached her through her own signature and guided her to the lines where she was to sign.  What I was NOT prepared for was the part where the very nice clerk handed us a couple more forms for my mom to sign.  And how my mom cheerfully, and obviously unknowingly, signed the document titled Voluntary Surrender of Driver's License...  How embarrassing...right then and there I could feel my eyes slowly filling with tears.  My poor mom, who had somehow managed to be independent for so so long, was officially signing away one of her favorite privileges -- the right to drive.  Somehow, a family decision to take away the keys a few years prior came full circle for me at that moment.  Couple that with the realization that my mom would probably never knowingly sign such a document.  Well, it just filled me with sadness and made me realize how long this journey has been.  The clerk reached for her box of Kleenex and put it on the counter, I said thank you so much, my mom's ID picture was taken, and we were on our way.  My mom looked at me confused by my sudden tears.  At the time, I was confused too.  I just told her I get a little crazy sometimes...(ha!!)

Sometimes Documents Make Me Sad :(

     Meanwhile, I have been thinking about my mom's knee and her recent fall.  I know I need to take some kind of action to express my disappointment with the system.  Megan and me were at a music competition nearby recently, so we picked up some larger Bandaids and some pop for my mom.  I was glad to see the scrape was healing and getting smaller, but this time I was surprised at the amount of bruising that had since appeared.  Poor mom.  She had two small Bandaids on it this time, and some scotch tape to make it stick better...  I fixed her up and am hoping next week it will look better. 
     I also brought a light bulb for my mom.  Why, you ask?  Well, our phone rang at midnight Friday night.  I had just gone up to bed and my heart stopped.  We listened as the machine picked it up before we got to it.  There was my mom's voice explaining that the light bulb on her lamp on the nightstand burned out.  To her, it could have been noon instead of midnight.  We were relieved it was just a light bulb!!  She was glad when we replaced it for her. 
     I decided to let my mom know she had called us at midnight the night before to tell us about it.  She was shocked...  I told her it scared us when she called because usually when the phone rings late it is bad news or an emergency.  She said, "well it was bad news and an emergency -- my light bulb burned out"!!!!!!  She was having a good day and we got a good laugh out of it!!!

I know, Not Pretty...

Megan and Grandma
Good Times!!!



yaya said...

I'm so sorry your Mom had a nasty fall. I work in health care, but not in a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, I would certainly bring up the fact..with photos..of your Mom's fall to the head of the place. It's also sad to think you fear she would not get good care if the staff got in trouble for this. That's really scary to me. When people get jobs with the elderly or Alzheimer pts. you'd think they would be the kind of personality suited for that position. I'm not naive, I get that places are busy...but really? I hope you get some answers and the care your Mom deserves and care you are paying for. It's not cheap! I was on the board of directors for a nursing home and assisted living facility for 3yrs..We would have taken action against sloppy care! Good luck. Oh, I understand your tears too. My Mom doesn't have Alzheimer's or dementia, but at 87 her eyesight is not great. She still drives to church but is thinking she will not renew her license when the time comes. In Illinois you have to renew every 2yrs after age 76. It's a tough decision for her..and us to really realize time has flown that quickly.

Jennifer said...

OMG, how did she fall like that? That sucks!

What ever happened to your moms car??

Ramblings of a Suburban Mom

Kerri said...

I am wondering why the medical staff...or any staff isn't tending to your mom's leg? She deserves that care that I'm sure she is paying for.
I read your post yesterday at work on my lunch break and got a little teary as you were describing your mom not renewing her license. So sad. You do a really good job of describing what it is like to care for a parent with alzheimers.
That one picture of your mom (the one you helped her get ready for) is so good! And, I can tell your daughter and mom have a special relationship...I can always see it in the pictures.