Caring For An Elderly Parent: Now We’re Going To A Party!

Blog - Pic 111“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I really felt bad for Mom the other day. Her hallucinations seem to be getting worse and I’m having a hard time dealing with them. She seems to have the most hallucinations when my husband and I are away from home for most of the day. Like the other day, I stopped by Mom’s and told her I was leaving with my husband for work and I’d see her when we got home. I’ve learned from past experience that I never give my Mom an actual time that we’ll be home because she will hold me to it.

So on our way home I called our son to see how things were going with him. He just happened to be outside talking with my mom at the time and Mom was questioning when I’d be home. I told our son we’d be home in about 30 minutes, which he relayed to my mom. We did get home within 30 mins but I didn’t talk with my mom right away because we had some internet problems we had to deal with – oh boy, what a mistake.

While I was on the phone with the internet company my mom must have called through about 5 times. Since I didn’t answer she started calling our son’s phone. Finally I went over to her house and asked her what the problem was – why was she calling so frantically? She told me I wasn’t home in 30 minutes and she was worried and then she saw me get into our son’s car and leave. What?! Then she asked me how the party was. Wait…. what party?

She was so positive that I was at her house earlier telling her that we were going to a party. I’ve tried telling her that what she’s seeing and hearing is really not happening, but obviously to her it is real. She truly believes we went to a party and there’s no telling her any differently.

So….  do I go along with her hallucinations? Do I stick to my story and tell her what she saw and heard is not real? Everything I read says don’t tell them their hallucinations are not real – it will just upset them. Yup! That is true. But going along with them can lead to other problems – my mom would want to know why we didn’t take her to the party with us!

What I Learned: Hallucinations are real to the person having them and it’s impossible to convince them otherwise.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Cell Phone Nightmare

Blog - Pic 98“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Is it just my mom or do most elderly people have a problem understanding someone on a cell phone? Honestly, it’s like trying to talk to someone who doesn’t understand English. Is it her hearing? Is it her cognitive ability? Maybe both?

The other night I called Mom back after she left me multiple messages – which I couldn’t understand. The first thing she always asks me is “Are you home?”  And for some reason when I say yes she always says “No?” It takes a few back and forth ‘yes’ and ‘no’s’ for her to get it.

Then we’ll talk about the simplest things and she’ll twist everything around.She’ll have us going to a party and ask when we’ll be home, then she’ll have us going to bed when it’s seven o’clock at night.

I get a little stressed with it because while I’m trying to correct her she keeps talking over me and making things worse. I’m not really sure how she hears some of the things she hears (like us going to a party) but it certainly makes for an interesting conversation. I’ve gotten to the point now where it’s just easier to go over and talk with her instead of trying to converse on the cell phone.

And, of course, it’s always MY cell phone that’s the problem, or MY hearing that’s the problem. Oh…. don’t get me started on MY hearing problem….

What I Learned: Arguing doesn’t make things any better…. and stay away from the cell phone!


Caring For An Elderly Parent: We’re Going To A Concert!

Blog - Pic 110“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

The mind is an interesting thing. The one thing I’ve never understood about ageing is hallucinations. Today was a very strange day with Mom – I wonder if it has anything to do with the events that have happened over the last few days because Mom has been out of sorts for a while now.

But today was just strange. My husband and I thought we’d take Mom out for dinner since she’s been asking to go out for the past couple of days. We don’t usually go out during the week because we are so busy, but for some reason Mom has mentioned going out to eat every time I’ve seen her. She is always so happy about going out to eat that I thought that this is just what she needs.

So off we went to a local restaurant where everything went well. Mom enjoyed her dinner (as did we) and, of course, she took home a dessert for later. We noticed that she was not quite herself tho, so when we dropped her off at home I told her I’d come over a little later and spend some time with her.

A few hours later I went over to see how she was doing. My husband came with me to check her kitchen tap (which she mentioned earlier was leaking) – so he got to see Mom in one of her “confused” moments. When we walked in the back door she was on her cell phone calling me, and then she told me she was all ready to go to the concert.

What? She had her shoes on and everything. I, on the other hand, was in my pj’s ready for bed. So Mom starts telling me about how Elsie and Harry (her deceased sister and brother) were telling her to call me so we wouldn’t be late for the concert. Mom couldn’t remember what concert we were going to but I had lots of tickets and a whole bunch of us were going. WOW! My husband looked at me with a WTF look on his face.

I took Mom into the living room and we talked for a bit. She explained what she heard and who was saying it and then I explained that we weren’t going to a concert. She looked at me like I was lying about what went on – she really believes that the whole concert conversation happened.

I’m really having a hard time dealing with Mom’s hallucinations because she believes they are real and can’t understand why I keep telling her they aren’t. Should I NOT tell her they aren’t real? I can’t try to pretend that it’s real. Am I doing more harm than good by trying to let her know that what she’s hearing is in her mind?

It’s just getting weirder and weirder  every day. I usually try to let her know that the noises she hears can be explained by normal old house noises, like irrigation pumps under the house, A/C running, the washer/dryer running, the refrigerator making noise, etc. so she feels more at ease. The one thing I can’t explain to her is the people in the TV behind the program running singing or talking – that is just unexplainable.

What I Learned: I am going to do what ever I can to keep my mind from hallucinating – I sure hope I can.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Feeling Helpless

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

IBlog - Pic19t’s been a while since Mom has called me in the middle of the night – which has been awesome for me! I’m not sure why she called last night but she did. I went over there about 3 am because she seemed frantic on the phone about not knowing what to do. When I got there she was just sitting there wondering what she should be doing. I explained to her that it was 3 am and there was nothing she HAD to do – no medication to take or anything like that.

She was very upset that she felt confused – just wasn’t sure about anything. Honestly, I really didn’t know what to do. My emotions were mixed – I was upset that I was over there at 3 am and couldn’t do anything, and I was feeling sad for Mom because she just seemed so lost. It’s like she understands she is confused but doesn’t know why.

I just stood there trying to say something to console her but didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t want to tell her that it’s normal for someone her age to be feeling like this because Mom is so determined to not be like other elderly people. I finally told her she should go back to sleep, and when she wakes up it will be morning and she’ll be into her normal routine

For some reason Mom feels that when she wakes up she should be doing all sorts of things – I guess like she used to years ago when she was capable. It’s a funny thing really…. at times her mind seems so lost and other times it’s like her mind is 40 years old but her body is 90. It must be so frustrating at times for her.

I wish there was something I could do to help Mom through her tough times.

What I Learned: Elderly people can feel helpless at times but their caregiver can also feel helpless.


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: Happy/Unhappy 4th of July

Blog - 109“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

We knew Mom would not be happy about us going away for the 4th of July holiday, but my husband and I really need this. We don’t get away for vacations often but we’ve been spending the 4th in Vegas for probably about the last 5 years. We combine my birthday and my husbands birthday with the 4th since they are so close and make it a night of fun and relaxation. Our son and his girlfriend have been joining us for the last few years as well, so it’s been a great trip.

Last year was a bit of a disaster telling Mom we were going and not including her. She just doesn’t understand the scope of Vegas though. I tried explaining to her about all the walking, the crowds, the 115 degree weather, the smoke, the noise…. the list goes on. Everything Mom hates. Not to mention that my husband and I just want to get away and have no worries while we are there.

There in lies a problem if Mom comes along. It’s unfortunate, but Mom is just not capable of handling the Vegas situation. If anyone has been there then you know it’s a fast paced city – something Mom cannot cope with. And what about the stress on me and my husband? Going for only one night, we like to get as much entertainment in as possible, and we usually stay up until the wee hours of the morning.

I’m sorry Mom doesn’t understand and I realize it’s not really about going to Vegas – it’s more about being at home without us, but there has to be boundaries and my husband and I need our own space. Bottom line. Mom will have a caregiver with her who she knows so she’ll be looked after, so I am quite comfortable with heading out of town – I’m actually really looking forward to it.

What I Learned: I need time with my husband and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Sneaky, Sneaky!

Blog - Pic 83“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I never thought I’d by playing hide and seek at this stage in my life, but having Mom on the property has brought on a lot of game playing. I have to admit, my husband and I have become very creative in dealing with ways to spend time alone. It may sound childish, but I’ve come to realize that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to an ageing parent.

In my situation, my mom has a terrible time dealing with being alone – especially after dark. I’m pretty sure that’s a common trait for people who are ageing. I also know that my mom would freak out if she knew we were not on the property at certain times – I know this because she is always calling me and asking if we are home.

Today was a particularly funny situation. First of all, I should mention that my husband and I are terrible at sneaking up, around, or out of any situation – if we are trying to go unnoticed it’s a given that we’ll get caught. So we decided to go grab a pizza for dinner, sit out back (just the two of us) with a margarita and enjoy the beautiful summer evening.

Just as we walked around the corner of our house we see Mom opening her back door (which opens up to our courtyard) throwing treats out to the dog. Oh oh…. busted! Both my husband and I flatten ourselves up against the fence and side step it as quickly as possible to the gate. I can’t believe she didn’t see us! I’m sure if anyone had seen us we would have looked pretty silly. I slowly and quietly opened the gate and we jumped in the truck and headed out. Will Mom still be at her door when we get back? You bet.

Now we need a plan to get back in without her seeing us – or if she does, have a plan of what to say. So again, I slowly and quietly open the gate. My husband grabs the pizza and I run defense. If Mom sees us, I can distract her while he sneaks past with the food. Well all that planning for nothing – her door was open but she wasn’t there…. so that was a good thing. I’m not the type who feels very good about making things up, but in our situation I feel it’s better to say and do things that won’t upset Mom.

So everything turned out fine. My husband and I had a nice relaxing dinner out back and Mom was none the wiser.

What I Learned: Some game playing is needed when caring for an elderly parent.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Major Decision or Major Disaster

Blog - Pic 106

Well I think I’ve made a major decision about my mom. I’ve been fighting with what to do about having someone come in and help her out, trying to figure out IF someone should come in, and what days/hours, etc. So after discussing it with my husband I think we figured it out.

My mom called this morning at 7:30 and left a message on my cell. I heard the phone ring but it went to voice mail by the time I woke up. I know Mom will call again and again if it’s an emergency (a Mom emergency I call it, because it’s usually nothing) but the phone didn’t ring again. Three hours later the phone rang (waking me up again), but this time I answered it. I figured it was about time I get up, even tho it was the weekend. Mom was asking when I was coming over because she didn’t know how to take her medication and didn’t want to do anything until I got there.

I told her what to do over the phone – which is pretty simple – “take your pill.” But since I was awake I decided to go over there and make sure she was OK. Mom is always out of sorts after she sleeps for a long time – which is getting more and more every day. She had taken her pill correctly and was getting her breakfast ready, so everything seemed fine.

I think it’s a little premature to have a home health aide come in every morning just to make sure Mom is taking her medication properly. Sure it would take the pressure off me, but having someone else involved may just cause more problems. If you only knew my mom.

So… my major decision. I’ve decided to help my mom out by going over every morning to help her with her medication. At least I’m going to give it a try. As long as my mom can work around my schedule we shouldn’t have a problem. During the week I can run next door when I get up before I start my day, and on weekends I’ll just go over whenever I wake up. That’ll work…. right?

I guess we’ll see. I’m going to give it a try anyway, and if it doesn’t work for me I’ll have to look at other options. At least I’ll save Mom some money by not hiring someone to come in and Mom will feel much better about everything.

Here’s hoping anyway!

What I Learned: I don’t mind helping my mom out as long as it doesn’t become a real burden.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: I Make Her Food Taste Bad

Blog - Pic 105“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Mom loves to eat out. That is definitely her all time favorite thing to do. And she’s always loved gourmet cooking with lots of flavor. My husband and I take her out for dinner every Friday and usually one other day during the week – and always when she has doctor’s appointments we go for lunch too. But lately she’s been complaining about how everything she orders has no taste.

I’ve read that as we age we can lose our taste buds, but I never read that it could be my fault for my mom not tasting anything. Yup! Somehow my mom can always spin it around to be my fault – even losing her taste buds.

You see, this is how it is. We go out for dinner; my husband and I know pretty much what we are going to order (because we’ve been going to the same restaurant for over a year); Mom peruses the menu even tho she’s a vegetarian and there are only certain items she will eat; I will ask her if she knows what she’ll be having; she always says no and continues to peruse the menu; then I try to push her along by suggesting something; and finally she’ll order one of the items I suggested – which is usually the same thing she orders every time.

By the time we order we’ve seen multiple tables come and go – and my husband and I are starving! So when our food arrives my husband and I are always enjoying every bite – the food is always wonderful here. Then I look over at Mom and she looks disappointed. Should I ask? Of course I do, and I get the same response as usual – “it doesn’t have any taste.” Even adding condiments doesn’t seem to help.

Then I know what’s coming next. “If I hadn’t listened to your suggestion maybe I would have something that tastes good.” Really? And don’t EVEN try to tell her it could be her taste buds. Oh right, a 90 year old has perfect taste buds. But I don’t let it bother me because she’s MOM. My husband pats my leg and gives me a kiss – it’s all good!

What I Learned: Don’t suggest anything to eat? (We’d probably still be waiting to order if I didn’t)