Parental Journal 31 from Planet Elderly – More Difficult Phone Calls

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 early afternoon

Mom called at 6:15 a.m. today to tell me Dad has been coming to the house and taking his things out. “It’s over,” she said. Instead of reminding her that he lives in a nursing facility, I just reflected her thoughts and feelings…kind of wondering where she would go with this.

She believes he’s leaving her and she is planning to take the rest of his stuff over to where he is. She’s done, too. She wants nothing more to do with him. She’ll get a job…likes where she lives now…worried about if she can’t drive anymore…will have to live very simply and not spend much money even if she gets a job. There’s not much money left.

Then she apologized for calling so early and burdening me with her problems. We ended the conversation and I sat there kind of stunned.

Mom called back 30 minutes later asking about bank accounts. She wants to make sure she has what money is coming to her and said I’m to keep paying dad’s expenses from the money market account we set up for him…and I’m also to manage the checking account that pays for regular monthly bills, most of which are on auto pay. I said, “Okay.”

About three hours later, Mom’s neighbor, Kevin, called. “We have to talk,” he said. He’s been watching out for my folks for years and views them like grandparents. He’s also helped them with house matters, transportation matters, etc. He keeps an eye on Mom to make sure she is safe, eats, and takes her medicine. All this is done out of close neighborly concern.

So Kevin and I talked for quite a while, sharing observations and concerns. We are on the same page. His main reason for calling today was to report that Mom has gone over the edge. Apparently she packed up bags of Dad’s stuff from his dresser, put them in the car, and took them over. She was very angry.

Kevin reported that Mom repeatedly misplaces her keys, uses remote devices to try to make a phone call, claims she has no money, claims someone is coming into the house, believes Dad is having affairs…has trouble using the TV remote…has sometimes left the burner on in the house…etc. etc. etc.

We developed a first plan. 1) I would call her doctor’s office, tell Jose what’s been going on and ask him to inform the doctor. I would also request a referral to someone who will do an assessment of Mom’s confusion, anxiousness, and forgetfulness. I did that and reminded Jose that Mom is scheduled for a visit on Dec. 15. 2) Kevin will be taking another person to visit Mom’s doctor, and during that visit he will also speak to Jose and express concerns “as her neighbor.” 3) Kevin will also take Mom to her appointment on the 15th.

It was good to have such an open and frank conversation with Kevin. I feel like I know have some leverage, and since he lives right next door, he is keenly aware of how she thinks and behaves. He has voluntarily taken the brunt of assisting with recent crises in the past few years.

I’m hoping that we can get a referral and move toward getting a diagnosis concerning Mom’s confusion, memory loss, and anxiety. I believe it’s related to dementia, but it’s also quite possible that some medicine would greatly enhance her quality of life. I cannot direct and manage things for both my folks unless at least one doctor deems her unfit to manage her affairs.

Since Mom and Dad both seem to be in fairly good health overall, I still hold on to the idea of moving them both to Columbia where we can manage this phase of our lives better. That may prove to be quite difficult…but not impossible. Tomorrow I will make an appointment for an informational visit and tour of an appropriate community here in Columbia: Lenoir Woods. They have everything from single homes to full-blown Alzheimer’s skilled nursing care.

Saturday, December 12, 2015 2:40 a.m.

Mom called me at 1:50 a.m. “I was just thinking about something. Never mind. Bye.”

So, of course, I’m up and can’t sleep now. Made some coffee and decided to write for a bit. I’ll nap/sleep later.

Thing is…Mom called me Friday afternoon (yesterday) and announced, “The check books are gone. Someone has been in the house and taken them.” So I calmly asked if they were in the bottom left drawer or the upper right drawer of her dresser. She went to look and returned a few minutes later to confirm that they were gone.

“Well, how about your purse? Sometimes you put your checkbook in your purse.”

“Hold on,” she replied. I waited a few more minutes and she came back on the line and said they were in a garment bag.

“A garment bag? Why?”

“Because I’m scared to death someone’s going to come in and kill me. Somebody has a key.”

“Mom, the only other people with a key are me and Kevin.”

“Yeah, well there is someone else.”

“Who?”

“Dad.”

I should not have tried to explain, but I couldn’t help myself. “Mom, Dad does not have a key. He’s at Victory Lakes and he doesn’t drive.”

Then she blew up. “Oh yes he does. You don’t know. You don’t believe me. YOU THINK HE IS GOD! THAT’S IT!!” And she hung up.

My reaction was immediate and physical: blood pressure up and teary eyed. The more difficult times have arrived, and I wrestled with the idea of going up there before my scheduled departure next Saturday. That’s a possibility. I called Kevin and left a message on his phone telling him what had just transpired on the phone. I didn’t ask him to call back and he did not call back. He has voluntarily watched out for Mom and Dad for several years…and has been there in the middle of the worst of times, but I would not be surprised if he just decided, “I’m done.”

Then, again, maybe I’m just projecting my own feelings. Will spend the day doing some planning and researching how other “long distance” children deal with elderly parents who live far away. This is all so sad and complex.

SIDE NOTE: My visit to Lenoir Woods was wonderful. I spent an hour with the coordinator of social services and explained my situation. From her point of view Dr. D. is being negligent in not acting on my requests to have Mom referred for an assessment, and she said, “Your parents need to be where you live.” That would be wonderful…to be able to move them both to Columbia. Lenoir Woods has several levels of care…from patio homes to skilled nursing. My Dad would be quite content in the skilled nursing building. The independent living apartments and assisted living apartments are wonderful, plus new independent apartments will be built in the next year and a new skilled nursing facility in two years. Even in its current state, it’s clean comfortable and lovely…much nicer than Victory Lakes.

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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