Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Conversations with Dementia 1

Conversation with Mom during lunch, sometime in the fall 2015

Mom - I still don't get it
Me - Don't get what?
Mom - That joke you told
Me - I told a joke?
Mom, shaking her head sadly - You're slipping.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The beginning

During spring break 2013 she went for a walk. That was normal, she had always walked every day. A police officer came by our house though and said that she had fallen and was a few blocks away. Someone called an ambulance, but she was refusing to go with them.  Stephen went to pick her up and I got her purse and insurance information. She had a broken shoulder and nose. I was just relieved it had happened during break so I was home. She was funny in the ER. They asked her what happened and she told them that she had gone walking "for her health." We joked about how she had to give up roller blades. I noticed though that she was more dependent upon me to make decisions. I thought it was all about her having trouble hearing. Maybe not though.

By the next spring it was clear that she was having "cognitive" issues. It started with little things. The first thing was that her Kindle stopped working. Of course it wasn't really not working. She would complain that it the page button wouldn't work. I would try not to tease her when I pointed out that that happened when it was turned off. She must have dozed off. She laughed. And then it happened again. And again.

In the summer of 2014 she got really obsessive about her meds. She was concerned that she was taking too much medication. She didn't think the labeling on the bottles was accurate. I called the doctor's office multiple times to confirm that the were. I started setting up her pill boxes for her so she would not have to worry so much. Then one morning she wasn't feeling well and it turned out she had taken a whole weeks worth. We were in the ER again. Fortunately none of her pills were very dangerous and it was just a matter of managing the side effects. She was clearly confused in the ER, but it wasn't clear how much of that was a result of the medication.

The school year 14-15 was tough. I called home more often. I wasn't sure about leaving her alone, but I did not have a clear idea of what to do as an alternative. She didn't seem inclined to go anywhere. She mostly just sat in the living room falling asleep over her Kindle.

In the summer of 2015 things were getting bad. The biggest issue was time. She would get tired at 7pm and go to bed. She would wake up an hour or so later and be convinced that it was morning. We are fairly north (Idaho) and right at edge of a time zone, and so at 8:30pm in the summer it is bright. It did not look like evening. Stephen bought a digital clock and explained to Mom that it was set every day by a satellite and she could trust it to be accurate. She would go look at it sometimes and then ask if the satellite had come by yet today.

Sometimes she would get worried because my sister needed to be picked up from school and she couldn't go because she couldn't drive anymore. It was odd. She understood that she was living with us and retired and no longer able to drive. She also thought my sister was 15 and needed to be picked up.

In August of 2015 she fell in the kitchen and broke her hip. She traveled to the hospital in an ambulance, spent three days there and then went to the rehab hospital. Fortunately both facilities were within half a mile of my house, so I was able to be with her often.