Monday Memories With My Mom - RETURNS 2

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     On November 20th I had scheduled another routine neurologist exam for my mom.  I was anxious to get that appointment done "before the snow" started flying too much around here.  As with all of these appointments, I go in with a positive attitude and try to limit the sense of dread that sometimes comes over me.
     I was encouraged as it was this day that I met Sheri, my mom's new private aide.  She works with my mom seven days a week from 8am - 11:30am.  Although I had talked with Sheri by phone, I was happy to meet her in person and find my mom dressed and ready to go.  I even got some assistance getting my mom out the door.  We also finally straightened out with her supervisors that Sheri would now be giving my mom her showers on the morning shift.  This way there should be more consistency and they will be catching my mom at the start of her day.  There will be more about Sheri to come, but let's just say she has been the saving grace in all of this caregiving fiasco I have experienced over the last six to nine months or more!
      Our trip to my mom's appointment started off quite well!  I immediately attributed my mom's improvement on our car ride to Sheri and had hopes that perhaps my mom was finally getting some sleep.  What I am trying to say is that there were moments of "real" conversation between me and my mom.  I remember my mom saying in the car, "Do you miss Grandma and Grandpa"?  To which I said, of course I do and she said "me too".  Then, my mom asked, "Do you and George ever get to go out on dates"???  To which I said, a little bit but not very often.  She brought up about a few such meaningful things, and it was almost liked she had them stored up to ask me just waiting for that moment of clarity to do so!!  I was thrilled and started imagining how we would have such a lovely lunch afterwards and have more of this type of conversation.
      Then, by the time we arrived at the doctor's office the anxiety and loss of confidence set my mom into continual repetition of all sorts of questions.  The waiting room was extra crowded and my mom was the only one who seemed to be a bit of handful during our wait.  Thankfully, it was not too terribly long before we were seen. 
     The routine questions and lack of my mom's ability to give accurate or relevant answers is always a bit discouraging to me.  However, we went through the drill of getting her blood pressure checked and updating the doctor on falls and new or continued behaviors.  In turn, we receive very little advice of how to cope or what can be done to help manage them.  Just some knowing looks and nods from the doctor.
The Waiting Room

The Waiting Game

The Long Walk Down The Hallway
       I also remember that on this day, went I went to the drive thru to get my mom her beloved Icee drink, they said their machine was broken.  By then, I was also feeling a bit broken myself.  My mom was in full agitation mode and a 30 minute car ride with this kind of agitation can be grueling.  However, once back at her apartment, I immediately sensed that more and more my mom is most comfortable safe and secure in her own apartment.
     At this point, I am starting to call my mom's and talk with Sheri every few days.  I am gradually letting her know some of my mom's history and that I am hoping she can help me determine if and when my mom is getting to bed at night.  At this point, it still doesn't appear that she is from what Sheri can tell.  However, I begin to see signs that someone besides me is caring for my mom.  Her Christmas décor has been displayed...and there is an angel watching over her!  She is even wearing her new shoes!  Although she is still sleepy, she appears better groomed and for that I approach Thanksgiving with gratitude.
      Because Sheri works seven days a week, I learn that she is even working on Thanksgiving.  Aside from the relief of knowing that if all else fails, every morning Sheri is getting my mom back on track -- I am also happy for the companionship she gives to my mom each day.  Gradually, she is getting to exercise class again, to church, and some of the other social activities in the building.  Somewhere along the way "The Don" and the frequent visits to his apartment seem to have almost completely subsided.  I wish I could piece together exactly how or why that has come to be, but for now my mom seems irritated by him when we mention him. 
     This year, me and my family had a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home and after some indecision about whether to include my mom, we ultimately decided to bring dessert to her instead.  To date, sweets have never been declined by my mom and her apple pie a la mode was no exception.  Even though when I arrived I found my mom in some definite need of assistance, we ended up all having a few laughs with Grandma.

A Four Person "Selfie"
      More and more, I am keenly aware of my mom's overall declining health*.  Meanwhile, I am determined to try to get her sleep and schedule back on track so I can figure out how much of her decline is sleep deprivation and lack of care and how much is attributable to what inevitably lies ahead of us....



Kim said...

I'm so pleased that you were able to have an actual conversation with your Mom, although it was brief. It is hard to express to others just how meaningful those little moments can be.
On Monday I had heavy work commitments and was not able to get to the hospital at all to see Mom. The next day her nurse told me that at supper time Mom asked her where her daughter was. It almost brought me to tears.

Julia said...

I'm so glad that you are seeing signs of better care for your mom and it's encouraging that she is taking part in conversation. She seems much happier.

I love the family selfie photo. I hope for continued improvement in your mom's care. I love the fact that she asked if you and your husband had been out lately.