Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Phone Call You Don't Want to Get

Last night at 11:37, I received a phone call from Lifeline informing me that my mother had fallen. Thank God she was wearing her emergency response button this time! She appeared to be alright but was unable to get up. We did have the squad bring her to the hospital to rule out any injuries not readily apparent and just because she is 85. After a head CT and other x-rays, she was treated and released at around 04:10.

The doctor informed us of her test results (labs and radiologic tests good) and inquired about her living status. When he heard she lives alone... he looked concerned and suggested a nursing home..TWICE.

I looked over at her...and my mother the one who is feisty and argumentative with me ...resistant to my helping her straightening her apartment, taking her garbage out, or basically any good thing I try to do or give her...looked like she was going to cry. My mother does not show a soft side except too animals.

She was lying back on the stretcher with 4 blankets nestled up tight around her neck because she was cold and she looked frozen in place... but it wasn't from the cold but rather by abject fear which evidenced across her face and she just looked straight up to the ceiling.

I felt so sorry for her in that instant and reached over placing my hand on her frail, bony shoulder and said "Mom...don't don't have to go into a nursing home now." (I don't know that yet. I don't know what I think and am still processing it all) And then she forcefully said "I'm NOT going into a nursing home!" I looked at the doctor and saw his quiet concern/disagreement.

She is alert and oriented. Yes... forgetful, mixes up stories and embarrasses the heck out of me when I hear total untruths she has told me she told people about me or my family... but it is absolutely NOT dementia. She does crossword puzzles (good at them), word searches and is an avid reader...mostly the latest Reader's Digest health books, alternative medicine, medical facts type of books. She has stacks of them.

She cooks and does things for herself. She needs help but will not allow me to do things I can plain;y see need to be done. I will vent elsewhere or this would turn into something the length of "War and Peace".

The problem is that she is not steady on her feet and so uses a cane or walker. The times I observe she isn't using them, I remind her (gently) and she goes off like a firecracker on me telling me not to lecture her. She is being better about it now though... but not completely.

The problem is also that she doesn't have good flexibility in her legs, nor strength to rise up from the bed, sofa, chair, etc. and so takes effort on her part. And she has to crawl and then flop into bed because if she sits on the bed 1st...she can't lift her legs up onto the bed. Everything is either too high or too low for her to get out of easily.. if at all.

So last night as she was crawling into bed...she slipped down and landed on her knees on the floor and could not get up. Thank God for Lifeline!

Lifeline is an excellent program and more people should have it. Not everyone can afford it but then they may qualify for a grant that will pay for it. I got my mother on such a program. The last I knew it was around 40 a month and so very worth everyone's peace of mind and safety of the client. It often enables people to live independently longer than they otherwise may have. We got a letter once from an elderly lady thanking us for the program because she was able to stay home and be with her dog longer. :)

But I digress.

The ED docs concern is that because she has begun to fall and she is on coumadin, she could bleed to death if she has a bad fall.

So younger son and I got her home and situated in her apartment and got home at 05:30 this morning. I called the ED doc back to clarify some things. I am thinking that perhaps some PT to strengthen her legs but he thinks that given her age and condition that we should consider a nursing home.

So... my head is spinning with this stuff. I am going to get on the phone tomorrow and call some contacts I have to see what they suggest. I should have done this sooner but admittedly have not wanted to face this. I went on line to get some info on nursing homes in the area. I also assuaged some guilt by reading how difficult it is for most children when it comes to this. In her case even more so for various reasons. I am an only child and so don't have any siblings to help with decisions or care. Unfortunately with her finances, she can't get one of the better ones. What I really want to do is make it possible for her to live in her apartment.

I feel scared and I feel overwhelmed. I don't want to lose my mother. And it breaks my heart to see her scared and vulnerable... and physically weak.

We went back over tonight. I made her a BLT on rye that she loved and printed up some pictures of her cat and also a great family picture that she was in with the boys and Devan. She lit up when she saw that. We did some things around the apartment. I also said that I don't want her going into a nursing home but that she HAS to stop arguing with me when I want to clean and organize. She needs a clearer walking path and some things HAVE to be cleaned out for her safety. She didn't argue with me. Maybe hearing the doctor state she needs a nursing home will cause her to be more cooperative with me.

I hope so.

How do you pick out a nursing home anyway? And aren't they for people who can't do anything for themselves. I think assisted living with medical availability would be best.

And then her cats..she loves them and they are her heart. I think she would die of a broken heart worrying about them. We can't take them because our shepherd would never tolerate them.

The best solution is making it possible for her to stay in her apartment.


Chrysalis Angel said...

Seaspray, I'm sorry you are facing this on top of what you need to do for yourself. This is a difficult thing. It's very, very hard NOT to go into denial as an adult child of someone that needs you to make the hard decisions. One of the things that first goes is their sensor..inappropriate things said - that embarrass you. There is saying it like it is, and there is just letting it loose, and your loved ones cringe. If you get the chance, check the cupboards and especially the freezer, and where she may keep the flour for cooking...look over things..their taste buds can go and they will have things out of date and things that aren't something they should ingest. Sweet, Seaspray if I can help at all mail me, morale support always awaits. I'm starting into somethings that will make me not as available....I do check my mail if you need. I'm thinking of you.

Rositta said...

Seaspray, reading your post brought back so many memories of my Mom. She too didn't want to go into a home and as it turned out didn't have to. She started falling also but being here with me I was always right there. My friend on the other hand had a more difficult time with her Mom but finally convinced her to move into an assisted living apartment. What is available here which you might not have is Homecare where they send someone a couple of hours a day to do light housekeeping and personal care. My Mom had that even though she lived with us because of my own health issues. Maybe you could find someone on your own who does that type of thing. Regarding the bed, maybe an automatic hospital type bed with up and down controls might not be a bad idea and a reclining chair that also is on automatic controls. That's the stuff we had for Mom that really helped her stay more independent. Hope I've been some help, email me any time. I'm going away but can check my mail from time to time...:) and hugs...ciao

Elaine said...

Ummm, Seaspray,

if your mother is of sound mind and does not want to go into a home, she should have the right to stay at home. Having had this real fright might make it an appropriate time to get her to accept help at home.

Here we have home carers who can come in and get someone up and washed and dressed if need be and put to bed at night. Housework and a simple meal can be prepared. I don't know how much of this is available on your side of the pond, but all aspects of care could be investigated.

Putting her into a home could be the worst thing possible for her.

My heart goes out to both of you.

SeaSpray said...

Dear Chrysalis, Rositta and Elaine-thank you very much for your thoughtful and supportive comments. You all helped me to feel a little better when I read them. I will come back and address each one separately later today or evening.

Your thoughtfulness and wisdom shared is greatly appreciated. :)

SeaSpray said...

Hi Chrysalis - My mom has always had a knack for coming out with erroneous things that most people wouldn't say now. My d-i-l was pointing out yesterday that her grandmother does the same kinds of things and may be how some people did things in their era but... I don't know..what about common sense? But I do suppose it has exacerbated with age.

I never thought to check her food. She does like spicy things now and she never did when she was younger.Then again..she is aware of her groceries.

My dilemma is safety..because in describing some concerns I have to a hospital co-worker he said "She's a hoarder" and that is exactly it but not things of value. Things that should be thrown out and clutter up her walking area and could. She tells me to stop lecturing her any time I suggest things..and I am nice about first and then admittedly get frustrated. Now I do have the ED doc's statement for leverage and I am so glad that came from a doctor. I do feel bad for her and hoe frustrated and scared she must sometimes feel but she just doesn't cooperate when I can plainly see things need to be done.

One big thing though. she is letting me be in charge of her money/bills and I got her out of the red and so now she is trusting me with finances...usually. Remember her sending MONEY to win those fraudulent contests???

Thanks for being there ..all this time. I am here for you too. I know this is an exciting and busy time for you with school and working for SEVEN doctors.

What is it like working for all those docs? :)

SeaSpray said...

Hi Rositta- your mom was so fortunate you could be with her 24/7. i wish we could too. But we have a small house and no extra rooms and she would not want to give up her cats anyway. Our dog would never tolerate them.

We lived with my grandparents and so she was there for her parents. the doctor said they lived longer because of her presence. so I carry a lot of guilt that I am not able to do the same.

The doctor mentioning nursing home is giving me some leverage to go in and do more now. She let me bring 3 loads of laundry home where normally she insists. I am going to look into an agency helping out if possible and I think she might like the interaction if she can let her privacy barrier down. Also I told her that once a week I will strip her bed and do the wash. She didn't fight me. I was so overwhelmed for the 1st couple of days but I am starting to put plans together.

A motorized lift chair is an excellent idea! I had actually asked her if she wanted one back in 2004 because her recliner is broken and I could see it might be beneficial but she adamantly refused and did the other day too. I reminded her what the ER doc said and she went along with it. There is also some kind of a cane handle that attaches to the bed where she can pull herself up that she agreed too get.

I had forgotten about the chair so thank you for the reminder.

And thank you for your support to Rositta. :)

SeaSpray said...

Hi Elaine- I appreciate your wisdom and wholeheartedly agree with you. I could see my mother shutting down emotionally if she lost her independence and her beloved cats. She would be worried sick about them every day she is alive.

Yes we do have agencies that do these things. It depends on the price. Sometimes she qualifies for discounts and perhaps there is something now.

I feel we need to draw up a plan and so when in writing perhaps she won't resist as much. The ER doc did scare her and so while still testy..she is also listening so far.

I really HATE all of this but of course saying/thinking that doesn't do a darn bit of good.. perhaps it's even counterproductive.

She is also very private..gregarious at times but reclusive. I think she'd be miserable.. and she tends to be negative vs optimistic and I think it would be worse.

You're right Elaine... Old age is a bitch. of course the alternative isn't great either.

I tell everyone though that I want to live to be 103 to beat my paternal grandmother's record of almost making it to 103. I am competitive. ;) She crocheted and won blue ribbons in hr area for her beautiful and intricate work...even at her age. I have a picture of her crocheting that a local paper took of her and mentioned her winning ribbons.

If we have a sound mind and can still contribute... that is a blessing. I wish I had a chance to know her when I was older. :)

You're always so sweet too Elaine...thank you. :)