Parental Journal 47 from Planet Elderly – “Too Much to Worry About and Too Much to Do”

Friday, April 8, 2016  evening

I’m enjoying a beer as I relax this evening.  Blue Moon, as a matter of fact.  It’s a nice, light beer.  Kind of taking the edge off a busy day of packing and getting ready for tomorrow’s trip back up to Mom’s.  It won’t be dull.

I’ve been in MO for several weeks.  During that time I’ve moved.  For most of that time, things were quiet.  However, on Tuesday of this week I received a call from the Grayslake Police Department, Officer Bill Frawley.  He wanted to make me aware of an incident that happened at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning.

Apparently, Mom drove about a block from home and knocked at someone’s door.  She thought she was home in Skokie (where she previously lived). The person who answered clearly saw that Mom was confused, so the police were called.  Officer Frawley arrived, chatted with Mom, and made sure she got home safely.  He said Mom knew who was president, but she thought the year was 1947.  She knew I was coming for a visit.  She was also using a driver’s license that identified Skokie as her home.  He told her he was going to call me.

We visited for quite a while.  I told him of what I’ve been doing for the past year with visits…talked about my dad…Mom’s short-term memory loss…my being an only child living 400 miles away…etc.  He was very supportive…said I was doing all I could under the circumstances.  I also told him Mom has an annual exam April 20 and that I’m pressing her new doctor to do more cognitive assessments.  He took my contact information and my driver’s license number.  He said he would write this up as a wellness check.

Since I’m going up there tomorrow, I decided not to say anything to Mom about the call from Officer Frawley.  This conversation needs to happen in person when she is relatively calm and relaxed…which she hasn’t been for a long time.  She has called crying about having no money…claiming she has no bank accounts…she thinks I receive her Social Security check and pension check…all the usual worries about finances that are stuck in her brain.  I listen and then slowly remind her of the different accounts and tell her she can go to the bank any time and get money if she needs it…that the Social Security and pension checks are automatically deposited into her accounts.  I try to fit in where she is and provide support and reassurance, but to get there, I listen to a stream of delusional thinking.

After the conversation with Officer Frawley, I wrote a letter to Mom’s primary care physician and reported what happened.  I also requested further assessment…asking her not to use the word “dementia” with Mom because if she hears that word she’ll walk out and won’t cooperate.

What I pick up from our recent conversations:

  • She is not eating well.
  • She is not sleeping well.
  • She does not understand mail she receives.
  • She is very tired and stressed.
  • She said she’s afraid to drive.
  • She’s often afraid to answer the door if the bell rings.
  • The dining room table is covered with pieces of paper she has found here and there. She cannot make any sense out of them.
  • She has made some cash withdrawals at one of the banks but claims not to have done so.
  • She doesn’t trust Dad. She thinks he’s taking money out of the bank.
  • She weeps and often speaks of not wanting to live: “I hope I die.”  “Maybe I should just throw myself under a bus.”  “All I want to do is run away.”  This has been reported in my letter to Mom’s doctor who specializes in treating the elderly.

Clearly Mom is deteriorating.  I need to check in and we need to have some serious talks about options.  I may even call Officer Frawley and have him stop by for a visit so that he and I can meet and both talk to Mom about our concerns.

Without leverage from the medical community or the law, I am unable to direct Mom to a situation that would be better for her.  I would like her to try a service where someone stops in each morning and afternoon.  With that kind of assistance, she can stay at home.  If she eventually loses her driver’s license, the service can drive her to see Dad.  She will probably tell me she “does not need babysitting.”

I’m going to be walking on eggshells during this visit…trying to keep her calm, keep the trust she has in me (most of the time)…and let her outbursts drift past me without taking them personally.  With some of things we’ll need to talk about, I am expecting outbursts.  I thought that surely by this time she would give up and be receptive to suggestions.  Nope.  She’s holding on to the idea that she cannot change her daily routine…and she hates her life.  She also hates the confusion she is experiencing (“I feel like I’m losing my mind.)…and I know she is fearful.

Mom ends most conversations with “I have too much to worry about and too much to do.” All she knows is fear and worry, especially when she is by herself…her sometimes very confused and delusional self.

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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