Parental Journal 16 from Planet Elderly: Preparing for the Next Visit and More Confusion

August 7, 2015 10:30 a.m.

I’ve been able to be in Missouri for several weeks and things in Illinois have been fairly quiet.

Mom and I agreed that if she needs me, she’ll call.  There were few calls at first and I didn’t call her every day because I didn’t want her to think I was hovering over her.  She wants to be independent.  There have been a few more calls lately, which give me pause for concern.  No new concerns…just the same old, same old.

Mom called to say she has no money.  She’s worried about bills.  I explained that she does have money and where she agreed to keep her bank books.  She sounded frustrated.  Said she was mad at me because I moved the money around.  I explained that I have not touched her funds.  I helped to set up automatic bill pay, and we consolidated Dad’s two accounts so that there would be a source to pay for his long-term care.  No matter how many times I explain this, she still forgets.

During Mom’s calls she continues to say she wants to run away.  Getting mail, understanding what each piece of mail is, keeping track of bank accounts…it continues to confuse her because she has never had to do it.  I think this is a common problem for women of my mom’s generation who suddenly find themselves responsible for financial, mail, and household matters.   I have offered to manage all the mail, banking, and bills whenever she wants me to, but so far, I serve as coach while she routinely forgets what she supposedly learned with each of my visits.

I received a call from one of her banks yesterday.  She arrived with her neighbor, Kevin, and asked for bank statements, claiming that she does not receive a monthly statement in the mail.  She does.  We have reviewed them in the past, but she forgets that she receives them.  I have no idea what she does with them.  It is clear that she has not remembered to review each statement, and enter auto paid bills in her checkbook.   They printed out bank statements for the last three months for her. Apparently, Kevin was introduced as her grandson.  Since they did not know him, they called me after she left.  I explained that Kevin was not her grandson.  He’s her neighbor who has been helping her for many years, and yes, I know she receives their statements, but she doesn’t think she does.

This morning Mom called to ask what day I’m coming.  I said next Thursday, August 13.  “I don’t even know what day it is today,” she said.  “I use to cross off the days on the calendar to help me remember.”  Then she told me of two doctor appointments she has on the 17th and 18th…plus an oil change on the 14th…and it all sounded so overwhelming to her.

Mom turns 89 on August 16.  I’m hoping she will have a happy birthday.  I know she’ll receive cards and calls.  I plan to take her out to dinner on her birthday and to a movie sometime during my visit.  I also bought her a nice trench coat so that she’ll have a raincoat for rainy days in fall, spring, and summer.  While I’m up there, I plan to make some of her favorite foods.

Speaking of food, I told her not to bother shopping for food before I arrive.  Her response:  “I’m not shopping for food.  I haven’t been to the store.  I don’t feel like eating.  I just want to run away.”

Oh, how I wish I could find a way to bring them willingly to Missouri.  Long-term costs would be less, and everyone’s stress level would be greatly reduced.  Instead, I’m 400 miles away and unwilling to give up my life and move up there.  Mom is unwilling to move to Missouri, and I understand that.  The best that could happen would be that she would decide to move to independent living and let me take care of the mail and finances.  That’s unlikely to happy any time soon.

Mom recently visited her friend, Dorothy, who lives in the independent living section of Victory Lakes.  According to Mom, they had a nice visit and a wonderful meal.  She liked what she saw.   What she did not tell me was that she had difficulty finding the right building.  The social worker called to tell me about Mom’s latest confusion.  Mom arrived at 8:15 for an 11 a.m. visit with Dorothy.  After the visit, Mom could not find her car.  Staff assisted her and all was fine.

I’m looking forward to this upcoming visit.  It will have its difficult moments, but also is fun moments.  Overall, I feel a kind of sadness that my mom is so anxious and stressed all the time and that she allows minimal assistance.  It’s so difficult to hear her say, “I don’t know what day it is” or “I just want to run away.”  I hope I can lighten her load a bit while I’m up there.

About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 60 years and faces permanent residency on Planet Elderly. Update: As of March 2, 2017, I turned 70. I'm now an official resident of Planet Elderly. Dad passed away September 22, 2016. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of what our family experiences with one parent in a memory care unit, another living independently with short-term memory loss, and me, the only child daughter who lives 400 miles away. It's quite an adventure. Recommended readings for others who have loved ones who live with some form of dementia: The 36-Hour Day, The Myth of Alzheimer's - What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, Alzheimer's Early Stages.
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