Parental Journal 19 from Planet Elderly: Mom Doesn’t Want To Talk About It

Been treading murky waters with Mom. It’s difficult to see her so confused at times. Yet her mindset is saying: I must learn to do and manage everything myself.

I decided to plant a big seed the other day. I calmly and gently spoke to Mom about my concerns about her short-term memory and the confusion she has about bank books and mail. I told her there are different things that can cause this…like stress, depression, loss of sleep, medicines… and that I’d like her to see a doctor.

“I’m fine. I don’t want to talk about memory ever again and I will not ask you for help ever again. I won’t even call you. I will not go to any doctor appointment…and I hope you just leave tomorrow.”

“I’m not leaving. I’m trying to be calm, Mom. I’m not the only person who is concerned.”

“Who…who else is concerned?”

“Kevin, Marci, Carol, Barbara, the staff at Victory Lakes…”

“Nobody has to be concerned. I think I’m doing pretty well under the circumstances.”

“Yes…you’re doing fine with most things, but when you continue to get appointments, times, and dates confused…when you have trouble understanding the mail…when you get lost driving…these are of concern.”

“Well, you don’t need to be concerned about me. Just go home and leave me alone. I feel like you’re always watching me.”

”I’m sorry. Yes, I do watch…and so do others. We’re concerned…and in some ways I’m responsible for you.”

“No you’re not!!”

“We’re family and family look out for each other.”

“We’re not family!!”

“Oh…you mean I’m adopted????”

Then she got sheepish…”No, you’re not adopted. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“Ok. I’ll just go read.”

Mom went upstairs and watched TV for about a half hour.  An hour later we were sharing a pizza and chatting as usual. The next morning, not a word was said about my first mention of getting some professional help. In fact, she came down the stairs like June Cleaver and sang, “Good morning! How are you today?” I’m not sure she remembered the conversation, and she hasn’t brought it up since.

I stayed home the next morning and let her visit Dad by herself. I made some meals for later and did some writing. I needed time away from her and time to be just by myself. I also made a list of commonly called phone numbers for her and I used bold blue marker. It’s taped onto the refrigerator where it can be easily seen. I made a typed list a couple months ago, but it’s nowhere to be found.

When she returned from visiting Dad, Mom entered with a bunch of mail and was flustered. She has to have her eyes examined again and her doctor has to verify that her vision is fine. This needs to be done by October 31 or she will lose her license and privilege to drive. She panicked saying she needed to schedule an eye appointment. I have told her several times that she has an appointment on Oct. 6, but she forgets or ignores the reminder. She wanted to call the eye doctor, but she could not remember his name. She kept calling him Schaefer, but that’s her doctor for female matters. I told her the eye doctor’s name and referred her to the new phone list. She called to make an appointment and was told she already has one on Oct. 6. We taped the letter and the form her doctor has to fill out to the refrigerator so it will not get lost.

Another piece of mail required her to contact the gas company to schedule an appointment to have the meter and any gas appliances checked. The company is doing a major project. She was given a web address, but doesn’t have a computer. A phone number was also given…and she spent over 20 minutes trying to dial the toll free number and navigate the phone tree…which, of course, referred her to the web site. I so admire her determination. I would have thrown the phone against the wall, but although she was ticked off and kept shouting, “I don’t have a computer” to the phone tree, she did okay. On the fourth attempt, she reached a human who told her to ignore the notice…that she would receive another letter later.

And then she received a statement from one of the banks. She claims she never receives paper statements, but here one arrived and I coached her (again) on how to compare the statements with the bank books…and not to worry if there was not a perfect to-the-penny match. She has a difficult time 1) identifying amounts deposited from amounts deducted on bank statements, and 2) using a calculator, but she says, “I have to learn how to do this.” When she finishes, she has me check things over and it’s usually fine, although a bit difficult to read. She’s doing what she can now and she needs the freedom to learn and do what she can…even if her pace and method drives me nuts at times.

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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