Visits with my mother can be quite challenging. For me. If you were a stranger come to visit you would perceive my mother as alert, intelligent and able to hold her own in a conversation. Only after about ten minutes would you see something was awry. This, I believe, is the big difference between altzheimers and dementia. Mom recognizes people and knows quite a bit of what is going on in the world so she can carry on a conversation. Other people first see the problem when she begins to repeat herself or ask the same question over again. Where I see the biggest problem is when she relates stories about people and events I know. She will often meld the past with the present or come up with a wild tale about someone or something that is completely false. I used to try to gently correct her, but now I just let it go.
The Perfect Solution
My mother was back at home where she wanted to be. We were apprehensive, but willing to give it a chance. My mother’s expectations were far from reality, though. Friends would come to visit, she would be able to fix her own meals and once again go to church services every Sunday. All of her good friends were either dead or disabled and not able to leave their homes; we took the knobs off the stove so she would not leave something on to cook and forget about it and burn up the house; no one from the church would be able to pick her up for church, if she could even remember and be ready in time. Of course, Mom thought the only problem was to get her car back. If she had her car she would be able to go to church and do errands like she used to do. No way! We were not revisiting that scenario. If she even managed to get out of the driveway she would probably get in a wreck or get lost. She would have to depend on Michelle. Michelle did not drive, but we thought she could order the city senior/disabled bus service for her or call a taxi. We also expected her to manage or fix her meals, as sometimes my mother forgot to eat or would subsist on TV dinners which were full of salt.
Michelle took on the responsibility of caring for my mother to the best of her ability. She came over every morning and got her up and made her bed. She also vacuumed and dusted. We found out she wasn’t much of a cook, but she made sure Mom had vegetables and fruit and meat and cheeses so she could fix meals easily. Occasionally she would bring over meals like hot dogs or hamburgers that she had fixed for her family. She arranged for taxis to take her to the hairdresser every week. She called about once a week where I could find out how it was going. Most of the time, though, her calls were about her. She wanted to make sure her pay was on its way. I paid her in cash at first, but then when I got busier and was not able to go up for a visit, I wrote checks. A few times when I knew I would be late I had my mother write a check for her.
Even though we all did not get up to visit her that often and she was more or less “housebound” my mother seemed happy. She was home! She moved back in September and by her birthday in June all seemed to be going well. We came up for Mom’s birthday. Michelle had baked her a cake that week. We invited her and her husband over for the celebration. Michelle gave her a pretty planter for her porch. It was two weeks later when I looked over my mother’s bank statement that I saw a problem.