Caring For An Elderly Parent: Simple Words, Not So Simple

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

So I’m still thinking about getting something for Mom to exercise her brain. I haven’t decided whether or not a tablet is the right tool yet but I’m still going to go look at a few to get a better idea. Someone suggested getting a child’s tablet, but when I researched that online I could only find ones that had very juvenile games. I’m not looking for kids games actually, but more like memory games, quizzes, math challenges – that sort of thing.

I’ve notice more and more lately that my mom is having a hard time with simple words. I can tell it’s frustrating for her because she knows what she’s looking at when she’s talking about it but can’t get the name of it to come to her. For example, when I went over last night she said, “I can’t find my _______.” Of course my first reaction was, “Can’t find your what?” I could see that she was struggling with trying to find the word but it just wouldn’t come to her. Then the hand signals started (I’m terrible at Charades!) and I could see she was getting frustrated. And then she looks at me as if I should know what she’s talking about and says, “You know, my thingy, my ______.  Blog - Pic 123

Well I did finally figure out that she was talking about her cell phone. My first thought was that she flushed it down the toilet (again) but then she mentioned she heard it drop by her sofa. I did the usual first attempt at finding a lost cell phone – I called it using my cell phone. Well I didn’t hear her toilet ringing, so that was a good thing, but I couldn’t hear it ringing anywhere, which means she probably turned the volume down accidentally, as she often does. 

After looking under, over, and around things, I did finally find it – so all is good! I wonder if playing ‘brain games’ will help at this stage of my mom’s life?

What I Learned: I can finally tell my husband that playing games online all these years is good for me! 🙂

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Call The Police – There’s Nobody There!

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Three-thirty AM…. ring, ring. “Angel, there’s people at my door…. bring the gang down the street.” I didn’t think much about what Mom was saying at the time – my husband and I just bolted out of bed and ran next door. We were pretty sure it was another one of Mom’s hallucinations but you just never know. I’d feel terrible if there really was someone out there and I ignored it.

My husband took off around the front of the house and I headed inside to see Mom. She was lying on her sofa, not looking very upsetBlog - Pic 112 at all. I asked if she could still hear them and she said yes. I could not. Then Mom asked when the police would arrive. I told her the police were not called. She looked at me as if I were crazy and said, “I told you to bring the gang down the street.” Oh, now I get it. The “gang’ down the street is the police – the police department is just down the street from our house.

My husband came inside and told us there was nobody around and no one on the street in either direction. We both knew it was another hallucination but there was no way we could tell Mom that – she was positive she heard them. It was hard for me to explain to her why we weren’t calling the police without telling her she was hearing things again. I tried a bunch of different tactics, none of which seemed to really help.

Unfortunately, the only thing that got Mom to calm down was me telling her that maybe we’d have to find her a different place to live if she wasn’t feeling safe and secure in the house – somewhere that had 24 hour security and people around all the time. She knew exactly what I was talking about, and although I wasn’t trying to make it sound like a threat, she was probably thinking that a home for the elderly was the last place she wanted to be.

So I spent some time comforting Mom and she seemed to calm down after a bit. She got to sleep finally – I did not.

My mind was whirling around trying to figure out what I can do with these late night calls about nothing. At least it’s not happening often. My husband and I will need to talk about this situation again – what are we going to do if it continues and becomes too difficult for us to handle?

 What I Learned: Taking care of my mom may get more and more difficult for me to handle as she continues to age – I may have to make a change in the near future.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Keep That Door Locked!

BCDB Image“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Today I realized that Mom does not do well when she is out of her element. We had workers come to the house very early this morning to move the heater in Mom’s attic and redo the venting for the air conditioning. Because it has been almost 100 degrees here lately, the workers wanted to get an early start – considering how hot it would be in the attic – understandable.

So I got Mom up at 7:00 am so she could get her morning routine out of the way before the men arrived. She is always confused in the mornings and today was not different…. well, actually it was different because she had some added stress about strange men being and working in her house. But I made sure she took her medication, got her breakfast and was all set for the men to arrive. I told her we’d been around all day and would stop in periodically to check up on her. That made her feel a bit more relaxed.

The men arrived and started the work on schedule. Mom questioned every noise she heard and wondered where they were going every time they left to get tools or supplies. I explained to her that they would be coming and going throughout the day and I would let her know when they were finished. For some reason she had a really hard time understanding that they were still working even though they kept leaving her house.

I spent all morning back and forth to Mom’s making sure she was OK. My husband ran and got breakfast for us all which Mom thoroughly enjoyed – pancakes! When the workers took their lunch break they told Mom they’d be back in 30 mins – she seemed much more relaxed when they weren’t in her house. The afternoon seemed to be a little more confusing for Mom for some reason. She wasn’t happy about the men using her bathroom and kept asking my husband to check that they had flushed. But the weirdest thing came a little later.

My husband and I were working away in our house when there was a knock at the door – it was one of the workers telling us that Mom’s door was locked. Hmmm…., that’s weird. But sure enough it was. So I unlocked it and went in to see what was up with that. When I asked Mom why she locked the door she said the workers told her they were finished (which was not so). So I explained to her that they were not finished and would be coming in and out the rest of the afternoon to finish the job.

Mom looked awfully confused. Every time one of the workers left her house with their tools she thought they were leaving for the day. And sure enough, an hour later it happened again! Another knock on our door letting us know that Mom’s door was locked. Geeze! What is going on? Again I explained to Mom the situation and she said she wouldn’t lock it again.

Well…. she did. And 2 men were still in her attic! She kept saying she was told they were done for the day and leaving. Wishful thinking on her part I guess. But we got through the day and Mom was a happy camper when the work was finished and she could get back to her normal routine. I was really surprised at how she kept locking the door after being told numerous times not to, but I suppose the mind becomes fragile when we age.

What I Learned: Keep the mind active and try to stay social.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: That Haunting Conversation (Again)

Blog - Pic 104“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I was visiting Mom last night and she was telling me how unhappy she is with the fact that she can’t remember things and is confused about what is going on. It usually only happens when she just wakes up, but considering she’s sleeping most of the day it happens often.

So we started that conversation again about what her options are. She obviously needs help, especially with her medication and some meals. Actually, there are really only two options – move to an assisted living facility or have a home health person come in. We both know that assisted living is the last thing Mom wants – she even said she’d probably die if she moved to one…. YIKES!

Of course my opinion of assisted living and Mom’s opinion differ greatly. I feel, for me, it would be a better situation in some ways because of the social aspect of a facility, as well as meals prepared daily, extra curricular activities, outings, and even a smaller living space to not have to worry about cleaning. Yea…. that’s what I’m all about!  Mom, on the other hand, doesn’t want anything to do with socializing, hates any type of game, and is super fussy about her meals.

After talking about how she won’t go to an assisted facility we talked in more detail about having someone come in. Herein lies the problem. What days/hours would we have the home health person come and what duties would they perform? Some days are better than others for Mom but lately she’s been having confused days every day.

Unfortunately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to call around and get information for Mom, but now I feel I have to take the time to call. It’s going to be weird for all of us having someone around all the time – we really like our space – but I have no other option at this time.

Who knows? Maybe this is exactly what we all need. Someone to help Mom with her daily activities and someone to take a little pressure off of me. And maybe even my husband and I will feel we can get away more often without feeling  pressure from Mom about going away.

Hmmm… can you say Vegas?

What I Learned: You can only put things off for so long, and some changes can be for the better.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: I Went There!

Blog - Pic 33“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

What a stressful end to my day – and everything was going so well. I slept in this morning, had a nice breakfast with my husband, got some phone calls made, did some grocery shopping, popped in to see Mom a couple of times, spent some time with our son, and had a relaxing dinner our back with a delicious frozen margarita! I decided to go see Mom for a bit, make sure her A/C was set right for the night. When I walked in her back door she was standing in her kitchen looking a little frazzled. Then she started babbling away about nobody being home and how frightened she was and how I should have told her we were going away…. what?!!

At first I was quite calm and told her we were home all day except for shopping, and reminded her that when I dropped her groceries off I mentioned I had some work to do and I’d come back later that evening to see her. She said she remembered that but why didn’t I tell her we were going away? We didn’t go away! Then she asked why she hadn’t seen anyone all day. Again, I reminded her that I had been over there a couple of times already today and this was the third time. She told me I should wake her up when I go over…. hello – you were awake!

I don’t how the conversation went where it did, but all sorts of “bad” was coming to the surface. Mom was telling me how I was supposed to be caring for her and that I should be letting her know when we are going and coming, and how I should let her know when we are home by coming outside so she can see us. Are you kidding me?!! That just pushed me a little too far. I couldn’t help myself – she was just being hurtful.

That’s when I lost it….  I basically told Mom that if she didn’t like our situation and thought she could get better care elsewhere, then maybe she should go live in a home. Yup, I went there! I was actually quite calm about it, but firm. That comment made her do a 360 right then and there. That’s one thing my mom absolutely does not want to do – go to a home. And I don’t blame her, we wouldn’t want her in a home either, but there has to be some boundaries and respect of our situation. If we lose the respect then it just won’t work.

Finally, things got calmed down and the conversation ended with a hug. Mom said she’d try to work on “boundaries”, but I’m pretty sure she’ll forget most of what we talked about in no time. Maybe that’s the upside of memory lose. And, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Mom will eventually need more full time care. I’m not sure if she’ll have to go to a home, but she’ll definitely have to have someone come in on a daily basis. That’ll be a chore for sure – finding the right match for Mom. I may have to start a different blog just for that!

What I Learned: It can be a challenge caring for an elderly parent – it’s not for everyone, but I know we are doing what’s best for Mom.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Managing Mom’s Management

Blog - Pic 47“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

My husband and I arrived in Florida about a week before the movers were to arrive – we still had so much to do. We’ve got the movers and packers figured out but still have to work on suspending utilities and phone, letting her doctors know she is moving, redirecting her mail and making sure we have all important papers with us.

It was important to make sure I was an account manager on all my mom’s accounts that she held – credit cards, utility companies, phone companies, doctors – basically everyone that my mom dealt with, because my mom was just not able to handle any type of cognitive work any more. Her bank book was a mess, she was behind in credit card payments, utility payments, phone bills – you name it, she was behind. And the sad part about that was she was paying late fees and interest for no reason – the money was always there. Poor Mom, she just couldn’t keep up with it.

I literally spent days just calling everyone to try to get her out of that mess. I must admit, I did a pretty good job! I got her all caught up in her delinquent bills and got her set up on automatic withdrawal for most accounts. The hardest thing was getting the companies to put me on as account manager. They (obviously) needed my mom’s consent which meant mom had to talk to each of them – not too much of a problem, but my mom gets confused easily and it was a little stressful getting through it.

So we were all set for the big move; as you may recall, Mom won’t fly, so let’s go get the RV!  Yup, we are driving Mom across the country in an RV. You realize we’d be home in like 6 hours if we flew, right? But hey, ROAD TRIP!

Should be interesting….

What I Learned: I realized that Mom wasn’t super woman any more – someone really needs to step in at a certain point.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: What Next?

Blog - Pic3“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

OK, where do we go from here? Mom clearly does not want to leave her home, but we have to do something – being alone was certainly playing a toll on Mom’s mind and I realized more and more that if we let her stay in that situation she would go down hill quickly – we can’t let that happen.

My husband and I were definitely more aware of Mom’s situation after talking with people and reading a lot about the elderly. I know now how important it is to not be alone – especially when you’ve lost or given up your driving privileges and are confined to your home. That’s when the mind starts being lost – that’s my interpretation from witnessing my Mom’s actions.

Our trip to help Mom was unsuccessful (although we did learn that she definitely needed help) and being back in California was only going to make things more difficult to figure out. I was keeping my siblings up to date on Mom’s situation – they both live in another country and are very busy people with a lot going on in their own lives as well, so trying to come to some sort of an arrangement for Mom was difficult. One thing we all agreed on was that Mom could not stay in her home alone any more, and a senior facility in Florida was not an option; not only because Mom was adamant about not living in one, but who would keep an eye on not only Mom but on the people who are caring for her? That’s a real concern for me.

Maybe my brother or sister would like to have Mom “visit” for a while?

What I Learned: For a healthy body and mind we need to stay active and socially involved.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Mom Should Be So Thankful!

Blog - Puzzle

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

After a lengthy conversation with my husband, which included a whole lot of “what the heck are we going to do?”, I decided I better start doing my homework on dealing with an ageing parent. I started reading a lot about dementia – Wow! Is this what Mom might be going through? Poor Mom. One thing I learned about dementia from reading WebMD is that depending on why it started it may be treatable; there may be hope for Mom.

I have a lot of mixed feelings going on – I feel really bad for my mom and I’m quite worried, but I’m also feeling guilty. We talked with Mom on more than one occasion about moving closer to family so she’s not alone, but she just doesn’t want to leave her home. Understandable – she’s comfortable there and is very familiar with her surroundings, and California is the last place she’d want to live.

So why do I feel guilty? More reading and trying to understand the process – and it’s a long one! The only thing that is keeping me together is my wonderful husband. He is so caring and helpful in so many ways – here I am falling apart and he’s picking up the pieces and putting the puzzle together. What conspires over the next few months I can honestly blame on him – and Mom should be so thankful.

What I Learned: Having emotional support is half the battle…. thank you luv!


Caring For My Elderly Parent: The Beginning (Or Maybe The End)

Blog - Ghosts

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Honestly? I never gave it any thought about caring for my mom. She’s always been so independent…. you know, she’s Mom. I wouldn’t say we are “close”, but we had a good relationship growing up. We would have our late night talks – she gave me advice, I told her I didn’t want her advice – the usual mother daughter stuff. I was much closer to my dad but he passed away many years ago and Mom has been on her own ever since.

So when that phone call came from security where my mom lived telling me that she was calling them frequently because of intruders in her house, the first thing I thought was “what has happened to her neighborhood?” Then the head of security told me there were no intruders in her house and I asked how he could be so sure. He said because the people Mom was hearing and seeing lived in her attic and floated around the house. Holy cow! What was going on? The word “dementia” came up a few times when I talked to the head of security – apparently he went through a similar situation with his dad.

Looking back I thought the signs of my mom ageing were few, but I realize now that there were many – I saw them, I just didn’t acknowledge them. When she stepped on the gas instead of the break and drove through the wall at her accountant’s office I did give it some thought, but her willingness to stop driving made me feel she had her wits about her, and she told me she knew what the problem was –  it was the car’s fault! I chalked up the loss of memory and difficulty finding words to just getting older – it happens, but I have to admit that the floating people, hearing music, people living in her attic and the man dancing across the street at three in the morning were signs that something was really going on – we just didn’t know how to deal with it. The one thing we did know is that we had to get to Florida to figure things out, but with living 2500 miles away with a busy schedule it was not going to be easy.

What I Learned: Life really creeps up on you, and although scary at times, it’s good to be aware.