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That’s the only way to explain things with my mom, and it has me baffled and saddened. Everyday is another heartbreak, as I listen to the things she says, and realize that I am losing her little by little. Tonight I went to the nursing home, and wheeled her into the dining room, to go over her current medications, because we will be seeing the doctor tomorrow, and have to get all the meds in order. I was curious to see if she retained much memory of her prescriptions, because it has been 4 1/2 months since she had to give them to herself. As the evening progressed, I realized how absolutely impossible it would have been for her to go back to doing that. (She even used to give herself the insulin 4x a day, and lots of other medications.) I didn’t get much help from her with the lists that I was going over, and I noticed that her attention span now is somewhat like a 5 year old child. She will try to focus for awhile, but then she will start to fidget. She’ll show me her latest bruises, as she has tissue paper skin that bruises at the slightest bump, and she seems to be very embarrassed about the constant black and blue marks. I tell her that she’s still beautiful and not too worry, but of course she does. Then she’ll tell me some story about the latest happenings at the nursing home, and we go on another rabbit trail for awhile. But I don’t mind…I love her dearly, and will listen to anything she wants to talk about. 

But as I was gathering up our papers from the dining room, she began to tell me things that saddened me again. She talks constantly lately of the kids that live in the nursing home. (None do.) She tells me that one got in her bed. She said he was about 6 years old, and he thought that he’d found his mother. One of the CNAs came in, and she finally found him (which my mom declares was hard to do, because his head was so small.) I try to smile as though it all makes sense, but it doesn’t.

Then she tells me that a Mrs. Cramer (don’t know who this is) got all the nursing home residents in a van, and took them on a trip, but they ended up back at CJ’s house. (This is the morning nurse.  My mom had a fantastic story awhile back about going to her house, and spending the night.) She says that they had a wonderful chicken dinner there. She seems quite pleased with that memory, and I don’t want to hurt her. Can it be all bad if the memory is a happy one?

Gently I asked, “And you don’t think you were dreaming?”

No“, she answered, and all I could say was, “Isn’t that something?.” As I’ve said before, while I try to calmly reorient her to the present time and place, I am quite concerned that she will not share these things with me, if I appear to be alarmed, or make her feel as though it couldn’t have happened. (She mentioned that the staff keeps telling her that there are no children, except of course, the visitors.) So I can sense her frustration when people don’t believe her. She believes completely that these things happened, and it would just worry her more, for me to say they couldn’t have…so I don’t. She also mentioned about the voices, or a radio, that keeps coming out of the plugs in her room, and I don’t know what to make of this either, as the nursing home does not have an intercom, like hospitals do. I keep trying to make sense of it all. Could a radio be playing next door? Is there noise outside (which I DID hear tonight, as I left. Very loud music, perhaps.) Are the children that she thinks she sees the same ones that were visiting tonight? NO, I know she’s not referring to them, because I remember her asking the nurse awhile back how the babies got up on her bedroom shelf, and how they stay up there so well– one was just “hovering.” I try to make sense out of it all, but it just doesn’t make sense, other than she is suffering from dementia. Many people have told me that anesthesia can affect the mind of anyone over 50–(yes 50!) Sometimes it has lasting, permanent effects on the brain, and her orthopedic surgeon warned me (before the surgery) that she may never be the same. It has definitely escalated since the hip surgery, but whether it is that, or the mild Alzheimer’s, that she was diagnosed with before all this, I don’t know. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is still very much a guess in the dark, as there are many forms of dementia, and it’s very difficult to distinguish between them. Still, as my counselor often reminds me, the end result is the same–confusion that tends to progress.

So here we are. I keep wondering, if perhaps when she gets settled in her new apartment, (and some of the stress of the nursing home is off of her) will her dementia get a little better? Or will she begin to tell these fantastic tales to the staff there? And if she does, will they say that she needs a higher level of care, or has to be moved to the memory care section of Assisted Living? I hope not, as I want her to be able to socialize with “normal” (whatever that is) people. I think it would make her very frustrated at this point, to be around people worse off cognitively than she is. So I hope that doesn’t happen.

If you were to visit with her briefly, you might think that everything is fine. She can still carry on a conversation wonderfully, and respond appropriately. But then suddenly, it will change, and as I like to say, you suddenly enter the Twilight Zone, where nothing makes sense anymore. This can happen almost mid sentence, and it will make your head spin around. Plus, she is so adamant about what she is saying. She truly believes it, and I think how sad it must be to believe something, but everyone else thinks you’re crazy. So I try not to hurt her by confronting her. I just listen, and try to make it all make sense. But I can’t, and sometimes I cry on the way home.

CATERPILLAR: Who are YOU?

ALICE: I–I hardly know, sir, just at present–at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.

And that’s how it seems with my mother…

Please see other articles I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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7 Comments

  1. My heart breaks for you. I am going through the same thing with both of my Parents – Dad being further along than Mom.
    You said: “I just listen, and try to make it all make sense. But I can’t, and sometimes I cry on the way home.”
    I am so with you there! I listen to books on CD rather than music while driving, now. It’s self-defense, really. The simplest of lines in a song can turn on the waterworks, and then it’s pull over and cry. I just don’t want to have to try to explain it to concerned passing motorists, or curious cops. I mean, where would I begin? And, how would I explain to my boss that, as a result of trying to explain, I’ve been locked away in the loony bin?

  2. My Dad did that when he broke his hip and was still on the morphine(in hospital).Then,He was confused alot in the rehab (nursing) home too, but no big stories like the hospital. He did tell us lots of inaccurate information about appointments, dates he would be released and would argue about Dr. or nurses names that he saw even when we knew better. I am sorry you are suffering this.We went through it in the spring.(((hugs)))

  3. Thanks Nauri for your understanding comment, and I am so sorry that you are going through this with TWO parents. I know you have your hands full! Please stop by from time to time, and we can exchange stories! Hugs-Sparkle

  4. Hi chowchow: My mom’s confusion seems to be getting worse. She can’t remember much at all short term. It is so sad and frightening. Thanks so much for sharing your story, and drop by again when you can. Hugs-Sparkle

  5. I too have a mom in a similar situation. She has been in a nursing home for 4 years after breaking a hip – she will be 99 in a couple weeks. This summer she fell and broke her other hip and had surgery. Since then, I have watched her descent into confusion and dementia. She has a phone in her room and calls me up to 4 times a days when it’s really bad. She thinks that the Republicans are trying to silence her since she is a Democrat (my dad would be proud of her) and calls to warn me of what is going on. She told my daughter not to bring her little children to the nursing home because “they” are going to kill everyone in her family. Dr. put her on some meds and I thought it was abating for a while. But no – tonight she called me and told me to call out the militia, she had been captured but escaped and needed help. So, like you, I have learned to go along with it and told her not to worry – I would make a phone call and get it straightened out. She thinks I have connections because I worked for someone running for state office this year. I figure that it’s ok to let her think so if it gives her some sense of security. When I talked to the doctor about it, he said not to confront her about it not being true since it makes her so upset but to just go along with it as best I can. I too leave the nursing home in tears more times than not. I find myself crying quite a bit when I think of how she is deteriorating. I think for those of us who are going through this that we are a combination of emotions: anger, sadness, mourning. I know that my mother, my best confidante, my best advocate is not here anymore and little by little, she is dying right before me. And so we grieve with these facts. Losing a parent is bad enough but watching them disappear into a fantasy world is hell.

  6. Andi: I am so very sorry for your situation. I know it must be painful watching the decline that occurs in such a dramatic way with dementia. Apparently, many people go through this after surgery, and sometimes it gets better to a degree, and sometimes it doesn’t. I never realized how devastating the effects of anesthesia can be on the brain. I agree that it’s best not to confront with the truth, unless it might be something they need reassurance about. (My mom was sure that there was a rat underneath her bed in assisted living, and that time I did look under the bed for her, and reassure her that there was nothing there.)

    My prayers are with you. Big Hugs-Lonnette

  7. Thanks for your prayers. That’s probably the best thing I can hear right now. Today she called about 8 times about some relatives of my grandmother’s sister(I’m not sure she even had a sister). Mom said the son of this lady was going to get his father to come and talk with her. Mom’s almost 99 – so right away we knew that was off! Everytime she would call, she would say she was going to go get the people, put the phone down and never come back. I would hang up and call the desk to hang her phone up and check on her. I can’t say enough good things about the care she is receiving in the nursing home. They are very kind and considerate of her condition and oh so patient. I called my brother and asked him to talk with Mom – he did so and is coming to see her tomorrow. He’s about 2.5 to 3 hours away so I really appreciate it. My husband insists that I just need to reach out to my brothers to get help but they are pretty glad not to be the one with the day to day stuff. It’s a trying time. I’m trying to get her some help on diagnosis and treatment but we live in a rural community and there isn’t a lot out there. Her dr. is good but not a geriatric guy. It’s a challenge every day. Hugs back to you. Andi


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