Monday Memories With My Mom - Update #2

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     It is May 6th and our appointment is at 1pm.  I arrived early (I was taught that for most things on time is late and five minutes (or more) early is on time.  However, I will not be early if you invite me to your house -- don't worry!)  
     The office was very thorough and early on it became clear that having my husband there to push the wheelchair (we used the hospital's wheelchair)  and help my mom while I talked to the staff or went over paperwork was a good thing.  We saw an assistant who weighed my mom, took her blood pressure (sitting, standing and lying down - forgot what that's called!?), temperature, pulse, and administered a memory test (with us out of the room).

Back to the Fancy Hospital

My Mom Was Having a Hard Time...
     Later a Physician's Assistant came and asked some in depth questions about my mom's history and the timeline.  Some of this is hard for me to pinpoint as there are days and weeks and months that are bad and then days, weeks and months where things improve.  
     Eventually, the neurologist appeared and we delved right into my mom's evaluation. Apparently, although there is evidence of fluid around my mom's brain, the MRI is not enough to conclusively diagnose NPH.  It should be noted that during this entire examination, my mom was sitting in awkward positions on the exam table.  I often sent my husband over to make sure she didn't fall right off the table.  She was slumped and seemed tired.  For better or worse, they were seeing my mom at what I would call "her worse".  When the doctor asked to see her walk, he and my husband supported her arms on each side. Her efforts were not pretty to watch and they did not make it to the hallway before the doctor decided he had seen enough for now.  The few answers my mom gave the doctor were not particularly appropriate.  The neurologist indicated that although shunting can be done in some patients with NPH, my mom was not likely a candidate.  He did, however, recommend continuing with the battery of tests needed to determine NPH as it would also rule out a number of other possible issues for my mom's rather sudden decline in walking. She would need:
Brain MRI 
Blood Tests/Urinalysis (looking for abnormalities)
Gaitrite Testing (gives information on how you are walking)
Spine MRI
Cognitive Testing (paper and pencil tasks for evaluating memory and thinking) 

   He answered my list of questions, one of which was whether it was better to keep my mom walking or to use a wheelchair.  He indicated that as long as she can "safely" walk, it is better to keep her doing so. (I have passed that information on to the Med Team staff.)
     Afterwards, a nurse came in to further explain the testing process and to schedule those tests.  He was very nice and accommodating and sent us downstairs for blood tests after our appointment.  He understands I am interested in consolidating the appointments as much as possible in an effort to avoid (and before) another trip to the ER.
     Once everything was scheduled, he escorted me and my mom to the lab for my mom's blood tests.  (Another perk of the fancy hospital, they literally escort you around -- and push the wheelchair for me, too!)  My mom (and me for that matter) do not have "good veins" and it usually takes awhile for them to make a draw.  However, they eventually did and then we were on our way.  By that time, we had spent about 4 hours at the hospital.  My husband had left to pick up our kids from soccer and track.  It was a long day, and time to get my mom back to her apartment.
      Of course, I got her an Icee drink on the way home.  I definitely need to note that despite my mom's decline in walking, I have seen a very noticeable improvement in her conversation.  No "broken record" repetition lately.  On our drive she has correctly recognized some of the streets and even recognized a "Kohls" store that no longer had a sign on the store.  This makes for a much better time together and visit.  I attribute this to her neurologist increasing the dosage of her seizure medication, although I am not positive that is it.
     Luckily "AJ" was again on staff that evening.  She actually met me at the door and walked my mom back to her apartment (with the seated walker) while I ran back to the car to get our things.  She brought my mom a sandwich from the dining room as we had just missed dinner again.  I updated her a bit as to what was going on with my mom and passed on a message to the Med Team supervisor that my mom remains a "Fall Risk" as we continue testing.  I told them about keeping her mobile whenever safely possible as well. She said she would have the staff use the gait belt on my mom.  I also updated my Area Agency on Aging case manager and asked for as much help as possible for my mom while we sort out her test results.

Dessert is her favorite part!

     Meanwhile, the wheelchair finally arrived on Friday (three days later).  I will say, once the initial huge screw up was made, things did move reasonably fast after that.  Lucky for them, I had too much else going on to worry about arguing anymore!  Thankfully, Sheri signed for the wheelchair for me so I didn't have to run back up there, and I came later that afternoon. I also signed my mom up to see the senior community's doctor on Monday so that we could bring him up to date.  He has occasionally treated my mom in her various emergency situations and follow ups, and I knew he should be updated.
     On Saturday, the day before Mother's Day, the senior community where my mom lives was hosting a Grandmother/Granddaughter movie and pj party in the morning.  They were going to show the movie "Frozen" in the theatre.  We all LOVE the movie and I was quite sure my teenage girls would be into it and they were!!  We all know how much Grandma likes her movies and popcorn, too!  My mom was already in the dining room finishing breakfast with Sheri and the movie theatre is just outside of the dining room.

In the Theatre, Waiting for Frozen (with flowers)
     We all had a nice time and my mom seemed to truly enjoy it.  I wasn't sure it would hold her attention, but it did and it was fun to see and hear some of the other seniors reactions during the movie -- so glad we all got to do this together!! 


Grandma and Kristin



Julia said...

Hi Cindy, I'm glad that your mom finally got her wheelchair and that you had that appointment with the neurologist and that your husband could be there to assist you.

I love that photo with your mom and the girls in the theatre. I haven't seen Frozen but I've seen some trailers of it. Sounds like a fun movie and it should have brought some smiles to your mom and girls.

Have a great week.

yaya said...

What do seniors who don't have family to help? How blessed your Mom is to be surrounded by all of you. I can feel the love from this post. I'm glad all went well and the movie day looked like a lot of fun! Hugs to you and your Mom.