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!!!



Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

Hi Cindy! I love these sweet pics of your Mom. SO happy to know that there is a possibility of help - those visits to the neuro are difficult and exhausting. Hang in there with the paperwork - you've got this! Nice post! :)a

Kim said...

Cindy, Lots of progress in the right direction in this post. I'm glad the neurologist spent some time with you - so often the specialists are almost on roller skates going from patient to patient.
I'm not sure I knew your Mom was on seizure medication. Do you know that is some research that seizure medication for Alzheimer's patients can help with aggressive tendencies? I heard about it a few years ago from a caregiver in Texas. It was being explored there as a treatment.

Julia said...

Thanks so much Cindy for keeping us abreast of how things are going with your mom. I sure hope the MRI will shed some light as to what is going on.

I agree with you that a wheelchair would be so much easier to get your mom to get around and I'm sure she would enjoy being pushed around in the parking lots as opposed to have to walk so far.

You have to wonder about the common sense some people use to get their important jobs done. It's a puzzle to me why this important information was delivered to your mom as opposed to you. This must be happening on a regular basis for other residents. They could have emailed you the list and asked for a confirmation that you received it.

I hope that you will have a wonderful Easter celebration with family.

yaya said...

Whew, what a day for both of you, but it sounds like many good things will be moving forward in her health care. She looks wonderful too! I hope all goes smoothly and frankly, if I lose memory of somethings, I would love to remember a face like his! Ha! Have a lovely Easter weekend!

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Yes, I certificate for you as well!

Have a delightfully lovely Easter.