Parental Journal 26 from Planet Elderly: Phone Calls While Back in Missouri #1

Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015

While I’m back in Missouri for a few weeks, I’ve been having a few phone conversations with Mom:

First call on Oct. 19: Worried about the insurance reminder she received in the mail. I reminded her that she and dad have signed up for their new insurance and prescription plans and that everything is ok.

Second call on Oct. 19: “What day is it?”

Call on Oct. 20: Mom was worried that there would not be enough funds to take care of Dad. I reminded her of how we are handling that and reassured her that there are enough funds. Then she wanted to know how the premiums for the new health and prescription plans would be paid, and I told her I would arrange for them to be paid by the bank each month.

Call on Oct. 22: Mom received a call saying she had missed her phone appointment to sign up for health insurance and to reschedule her phone advisory appointment. This put her in a tizzy. I called AON and verified that we took care of both Mom and Dad with the same call Oct. 14. That was verified by the advisor, so I called Mom back and told her to ignore any phone calls or mail from AON saying she wasn’t enrolled.

First call on Oct. 23: Mom left a voice message and I called her back. She said Dad wants to come home and she wants him home. Maybe she could have someone at the house during the day, but not at night. She wants to die. She cried and hung up.

Second call on Oct. 23: Mom called back and said she was sorry. She doesn’t want to put me through this. I assured her that it’s okay to call any time she needs to. Then we chatted and laughed a bit. She said she scheduled a mammogram…and that someone had talked her out of one she had scheduled. I reminded her that I was that person. “Yeah…well…my friends say to have one and you never know. Sometimes my breast is sore. I just want to be sure.”

Phone conversation with Mom’s friend, Dorothy on Oct. 24: Dorothy called to tell me about the health insurance plan she will be enrolled in and then she changed the conversation to my mom. Apparently Mom calls Dorothy a couple times a week and asks what day it is. Dorothy is concerned about her. (Another relative, Carol, told me that Mom calls her with that same question as well.)

Call on Oct. 25: Mom called and was crying. “Dad wants a divorce.” I could not get her to give me specific details about where or how he said that. She remembered that he said, “I’ll let you have anything you want.”  To her this meant he wants a divorce. These words hurt her and she said, “I’m never going back.” She continued to talk for a while and I just listened. I decided to wait until the next day to check in with her to see how she was feeling.

Call on Oct. 26: I called Mom and asked how she was feeling. “Better,” she replied. I inquired about her being upset last night thinking Dad wanted a divorce. “I’m not thinking about it. I was up at 2 this morning and made a little chili.” Then she said she was just getting up and mentioned something about a free mammogram, so she had to go.

Other calls on Oct. 26: Mom called about mail she received from Walgreens confirming the termination of their prescription drug plan. She was upset…thinking she and Dad would no longer have any insurance for prescriptions. I called her later and explained that the mail was just verification that effective January 1, 2016, she and Dad will have other insurance for prescriptions. Then she told me she visited Dad. He was doing okay. Didn’t say much.

Call on Oct. 30: Call from Mom. She was upset. “Where are the social security checks deposited?” She went on to say she hates her life and has no money. Once again I explained that she has a checking account…”the gray one marked ‘Mom’s checking’” and she went upstairs to find it. I reviewed the different accounts and explained that things are fine. “But winter is coming and I need a pair of shoes and I don’t have a dime.” I assured her she had a dime and to look at the balance of her checking account. Once she did I lightly said she could buy 20 pairs of shoes if she wants. “I just don’t feel like this is my money.”
Then she talked about how tired she is…she’s losing weight…not wanting to eat…hadn’t been to the grocery store…and she was sorry to complain so much to me. “I need to get a job,” she concluded. She said it would help keep her busy. I didn’t say anything about her not needing to get a job or being too old to get a job. I seems to be an idea she has every now and then. Carrying through on the project is something she most likely will be unable to do.

Call on Oct. 31: Mom said there was a bill from North Shore Gas. Normally that’s supposed to be auto pay, but she could not find anything on the bill that said the amount would be deducted from the checking account. Perhaps she simply could not find that notification on the statement, but she was convinced it was a bill and she would put it on the desk for me to deal with when I come up later in November. She said she had 4 trick or treaters and they were cute. She didn’t want to hand out too much to them because she wasn’t sure how many more would stop by. Then she asked, “What are you doing tonight?” Told her I had just taken a shower and was probably going to watch a movie. She told me to enjoy the evening and then she said good-bye. I did, in fact, watch the classic “The Shining.” Unfortunately it was on a channel with commercials, so it took three hours to finish it.

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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