Parental Journal 60 from Planet Elderly – Diagnosis Explained, Emotional Tornadoes, and Plans

Wednesday, May 11, 2016  afternoon

It’s mind boggling to think about all that has transpired over the past 48 hours or so, but at least things have leveled out a bit and the high drama and hysterics are on the back shelf…for now.

Monday we visited with the neuropsychologist; she went over the main points of Mom’s evaluation report.  Diagnosis:  moderate dementia with possibly Alzheimer’s.   None of what she said made any sense to Mom.  She only heard all the “you” statements, as in “You have difficulty with ….. and ….   You have a tendency to ….. and ….. etc.

Mom went on the immediate defensive and flatly stated that she intends to keep driving the little she does drive, she will not have strangers coming to the home to help her manage her medicine, and she will not leave her home and move to assisted living.

It was an extremely emotional visit and Mom became volatile.  Here’s what I remember about the next couple hours:

  1. Three times Mom tried to command me to leave the consultation.
  2. In front of the psychologist, she yelled at me and told me that as soon as we get home I should pack my bags and leave.  “You are dead to me!  You just want to put me in a nut house!”
  3. During the ride home, she continued to cry and yell…telling me that I was not going to move in with her (I agreed!!!!)…that she would not leave her home…that I was killing her…that she might as well kill herself because her life is over…then she reached for the car door but I had the lock on.
  4. She said that if I spoke to anyone about her, she would kill herself.
  5. She told me to forget about her. Just live my life.  Go away.  She never wanted to see me again.
  6. She continued to yell and I finally pulled over and told her to stop yelling or I would call 911. She then reached for the car keys and tried to take them out of the ignition.
  7. She settled down and we finished the ride home fairly quietly and agreed not to fight. As we approached her home, she apologized.

Neighbor Kevin came over at my invitation in the early evening.  I wanted a witness as I told Mom that I would need to occasionally talk to others because we needed a support system and help to look at options for the future.  She exploded, told Kevin to leave, and I went upstairs.  I was ready to pack up and go over to a motel for a few nights.  She continued to yell about killing herself, so I told her that if she mentioned killing herself one more time, I was going to call 911 and they would take her to a mental hospital for observation.

She shut up.

A few minutes later she had Kevin back in the house and wanted him to go over the report.  We sat in Mom’s bedroom and he reviewed some main points.  It was great to have Kevin as a third person…someone other than “the daughter.”   By 8 p.m., all was quiet and civil.

 

Yesterday (Tues.) Mom went to see Dad herself while I went to the library.  I had to make copies of some things and I wanted to check with the local police department about legal responsibility for Mom.  I was told that she is free to do as she pleases, even with a diagnosis of dementia.  That answered my question.  Obtaining legal guardianship is the only way to force an elder parent to move or to receive care he or she does not want. I hope to avoid having to obtain guardianship.  It takes months and is expensive.

Before going back to Mom’s yesterday morning, I stopped by Jewel for some comfort food.  I was quite anxious about going back to the house…not knowing what state of mind Mom would  be in.  Turned out she was calm, cheerful, and sweet as a lamb.  She loved the comfort food I brought home and we had a terrific rest of the day and a nice evening.

Follow up with Dr. Gupta

Today was our follow up visit with Dr. Gupta.  I wasn’t sure if she had received and/or read the evaluation report yet.  I felt happy that we were able to get an appointment so quickly.  She was WONDERFUL!  She asked Pearl what the meeting with the neuropsychologist was like.

“Ok,” Mom responded.

“What kind of tests did she do? Did she do any motor skills testing to look at balance and coordination…things like that?”

“I don’t know,” Mom said.

“That’s okay.  So what did she say during your evaluation visit?”

“Nothing, really.”

Dr. Gupta looked concerned, but didn’t press any further.

I told Dr. Gupta that we had a plan in place for a close neighbor to check in on Mom twice a day and provide assistance with medicine, driving, and anything else…that Mom did not want assistance from an agency and that she did not want to move to assisted living.

Mom agreed to take a new medication to slow down memory loss (a generic form of Aricept), and Dr. Gupta agreed to see “how things go for the next few months.”

From this visit, it is clear that Mom does not remember the diagnosis and what it means.  She continues to claim that nothing is wrong, but she’s will to take some additional medicine.  No MRI was recommended, so we don’t have to put Mom through that experience yet.

Five Minutes Ago:  New Explosion

Mom found her copy of the neuropsych evaluation and decided to read it.  One paragraph in and she became furious to learn that I had shared concerns with the doctor.  I tried to explain that family members are given a survey and asked to write about their concerns…and that’s what I did.  It’s normal procedure.  I had to explain that I did not write the report.  The doctor wrote it.

She blew up and I did something I have not done ever:  I blew up, too.  Totally wrong thing to do, but it just happened.  I was tired of being blamed for things and being told I exaggerate things.  I told her that I’m not the only one who has made observations and is concerned.  When she asked who else, I was blunt:  staff at Walgreens, staff at Victory Lakes, neighbors, people at the banks, the local police.

She told me she is glad I’m leaving soon to go back to Missouri and to never come back.  As I type this, she is trying to read the 12 page report, much of which has neuropsych/medical terminology.

I don’t know what the rest of the day will be like…or tomorrow or Friday.  I do  know that things are in place for Kevin to check in on her, she has new medicine, she is safe unless she ventures out on her own and no one can keep her from doing that just yet….and I need to recharge my mind and spirit and go back to Missouri for a while.

Fifteen Minutes After Explosion

Mom stopped reading the evaluation report and went upstairs.  A few minutes later she came down and nicely asked me to remember to tightly put the cap on the toothpaste because it leaks out and she’s been cleaning it up.

“Ok,” I said.  “I’m sorry.  I know it leaks. I’ve cleaned it up, too.  I’ll try to be more careful.  And I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

“Oh, we both get a little upset now and then.”

(Yup)

Five minutes later she asked if I’d go with her to go see Dad again, “while I’m still able to.”

“Sure.”

So off we went for a late afternoon visit.  Mom was with him during his dinner time and she was delighted to see him calm and smiling.   She and I laughed and chatted in the car…not a sign that we had been screaming at each other an hour earlier.

They were so cute together…happy being near each other. She loves to hold his hand.

Mom and Dad May 11, 2016

After the dinner visit we came home, had some leftovers and she hugged me.  “Am I better today?  I’m doing okay, right?  Please tell me I am,” and she laughed.

“It’s all good, Mom.  We’re both doing just fine.”

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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