Monthly Archives: August 2014

Hard to Believe

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Hard to Believe

I can’t imagine what is going on in my mother’s mind; it must be a constant struggle. The past has melded with the present and she can’t remember what she did two minutes ago, much less the day before.

She still knows us and understands what is being said to her and she can carry on a conversation, but has difficulty retrieving what she wants to say. She will sometimes use the wrong word, for example, say refrigerator when she means television. Her conversations are filled with events that never happened. She walks to the store, drives places, and visits with friends and relatives long gone. When I shared pictures of our vacation we had just returned from, she said, “We went there too, the week before you did.” We don’t try to correct her; if these made-up memories give her comfort that is OK.

Mom tries desperately to maintain control and interact like she normally would. I think her strong independent spirit has allowed her to keep fighting. This strong spirit has started to get her into trouble, however.

Her caretakers all like my mother and think she is a sweet lady, but when she doesn’t want to do something and feels she is being forced, she lashes out at whomever is near her. At first, when the aides said she hit people, it was hard for me to believe. Then I witnessed it myself one day when my sister tried to let her cut my mom’s hair. She gritted her teeth, said, “No, I don’t want to,” and punched her in the arm.

Last month I was called by Atria when my mother insisted she had to go outside and wait for her mother who was picking her up. By the time I arrived she was back in her room, but not before five different aides had tried to reason with her and were recipients of her wrath. She ultimately gave in when the patient services director told her that her mother had called and said she was delayed and would come and get her later.

Mom sometimes doesn’t remember where she is. One day an aide called me on my cell phone while I was shopping. She said my mother was very agitated and needed to talk with me.

“You need to pick me up,” my mother said. “I’m locked in a gas station and I can’t get out.”
“Mom, you’re OK. You are in your room at Atria.”
“Where? I don’t know what you are talking about? You have to come get me.”
“All right. It’ll be about 20 minutes. I’m in a store.”
“You need to come right now.”
“I’ll get there as soon as I can, Mom”

I arrived about 25 minutes later. Mom was sitting in her chair. She smiled at me as I came in.“Oh. I didn’t expect to see you today. How are you?” “I’m fine, Mom,” I said as I sat in the chair next to her. “But how are you? I was worried about you. You said you were in a gas station.” “What? I don’t know anything about that.” I was glad that she had calmed down. She cut my shopping trip short, but probably saved me some money.

When I visited her a few days ago she seemed very subdued. I discovered that her doctor had prescribed Depakote and Celexa through hospice. After I googled MedMD I understood the changes. Celexa is an anti depressant and Depakote is given for people who suffer manic episodes, usually connected with bipolar disorder. I was worried. I talked with my sister and we scheduled a meeting with her hospice case worker/nurse as well as the patient services director. When we expressed our concern that she seemed a little lethargic they both said that she was given the medications to calm her down. Assisted living facilities cannot house violent patients. In other words, Mom cannot live at Atria if she continues to become agitated and hit the aides.
No medication: acting out
Medication: subdued
What do you do with a recalcitrant mother?