Monday, May 23, 2011

Feeling safe

Mom has been in her apartment since she broke out of the nursing facility on May 5, 2011. She does not seem to be doing well...but manages to teeter through each day.

Yesterday I went over in the morning and made her a good breakfast: biscuits and gravy, a fried egg, some cantaloupe and coffee. She ate everything and really seemed to enjoy her meal. I don't think she does as well when I am not there to cook for her and serve her.

Today, I stopped by after work and found that Mom was already in bed asleep at 4:30pm. The sink was full of dishes and the garbage needed to be taken out. I took care of all the housekeeping chores and then tried to rouse Mom. She was pretty asleep, but eventually came to enough to have a little water, two aspirins, a cup of coffee and a cookie.

I told her that she wasn't looking that good. She seemed dehydrated and lethargic. I told her I was concerned and that we might need to go to the hospital. She was hospitals, no doctors. It is hard to see her dying by inches, but that is what she seems to want to do. When I asked her about her resistance she simply said that she feels safe in her apartment. I guess it is my job to let her live out her life in exactly the manner of her choosing. It is not easy for me to see her story unfolding in this way but I am doing my best to help her get by until she either passes away or something happens like another fall that would send her back to the hospital.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A time of diminishing returns

I have spent the last week watching Mom fight a battle of diminishing returns. I am not sure how sustainable her current situation is I know I cannot keep taking care of her as her needs begin to increase. I cannot handle her physically at this point.

Mom called this morning asking in a desperate voice if I could come make her breakfast. I was rushing to get ready for a doctor's appointment, but I dropped in on her for about 10 minutes on my way. She was laying on top of her sheets with eyes and mouth open. At first I thought she wasn't breathing...but she stirred a bit when I walked up to her.

She was dressed, but clothes were strewn about and the remainder of her dinner was on the side table by her chair. It appeared that her dinner had consisted of saltines, a piece of rye toast with butter and jam....and a bowl of potato chips. I cleaned up a bit, then got her some cream of wheat, more toast and coffee.

I went back with more groceries after my appointment. I tried to pick food items at the store that would be easy for her to eat and a little different...four kinds of salad, oranges, cantaloupe, broccoli in cheese sauce, baked beans, and shepard's pie. I made up three individual dinner plates for Mom to eat later.

Mark stopped by while I was rounding up the kitchen garbage; the mound of diapers in the bathroom wastebasket, and all the recycling. He brings her a milkshake almost every day, Monday through Friday. We talked for a bit....he spoke briefly to Mom and then left with all the bags of recycling and garbage. I was glad that he had done that small task, but felt resentful and tired thinking about all the other chores that I have taken on over the last four years of Mom's care. He thanks me for what I do, but never offers to take on more responsibility.

Mom wanted some lunch so I heated up a frozen meal of fish with pasta and vegetables. I did one complete load of laundry and started another one before I left. I helped her change her pants after lunch...she had dropped food in her lap and stained them. Of course, to find the pants she wanted to wear required me to open one of her locked trunks. Luckily I found the right key on her massive ring right away.

Mom thanked me for everything I am doing for her, held my hand, thanked me a million times over again, held my hand some was just so desperate and sad.

I went back later in the afternoon, because I began to worry that she wouldn't be able to dry the blanket or get it back on the bed. When I walked in the blanket was on the floor in a heap by the bed and Mom was asleep. I picked up the blanket and began to put it over her when she woke up.

I asked her if she wanted some dinner and she said she could eat something small. I heated up one of the dinner plates I had made earlier in the afternoon for her. She ate two thirds of it and drank another cup of coffee. I sat with her while she ate and we talked for awhile about her situation. She wants to stay in the apartment because she can afford it. I told her that I was having a harder and harder time taking care of her. I told her that she shouldn't worry about the money....that I would start looking for a place where she could be safe. I told her again that I worried about her safety being alone in her apartment most of the time. She has been at high risk for falling and has fallen several times over the last four years. Now after her hip surgery, she is even more unstable

Mom said that she wants to die....that this cannot last much longer. She talked about her own good and kind she was...a lot like me, she said. I teared up a bit and just sat there holding her hand.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Against medical advice

Mom left the rehab center tonight against medical advice. She signed some kind of release and made it out the door. The staff called me to come, but I refused to get caught up in her latest misbehavior. The police arrived and an officer called and tried to guilt trip me into coming down there with her keys. I told him that every medical person I have talked to in the last month, including her Dr. yesterday, told me that she was not ready to go home, would perhaps never be able to live alone again, and should in fact be in assisted living. The officer contended that this was not a police problem and that it in fact was my responsibility as her daughter. I ended the conversation after that jewel of a statement.

I tried calling the crisis clinic to get in contact with the Mental Health Professionals. I got a lot of sympathy and validation, but not much in the way of actual help. I was told that the MHP's, do work 24/7, but that they were not available for this kind of situation.

I had called her apartment manager to let him know that she may be showing up there. She did show up there and apparently told him that the staff at the facility had gotten cab fair together and sent her home. So much for any kind of reasonable discharge plan. It also appears that the staff didn't do any kind of competency testing before they let her walk out the door. we have a 91 year old woman who no one wants to deal with. She made it home..which has been her goal for a month. The bad news for her is that I cannot help her anymore since she alleged that I threw her down the stairs ...creating the broken hip situation.

I am totally emotionally exhausted with her, her health, her drama, her inability to do anything in a rational manner, and her complete and absolute narcissism. Tonight I am done with her. I have put my cell phone on silent and unplugged all the land lines.

The one good thing I did today was finalize her cremation and burial plans. I go to the bank tomorrow to get the money to pay it off. Perhaps one day she will finally rest in peace.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Today was the day that I spent some time talking to the MHP (Mental Health Professional) who had interviewed Mom this morning. He came away feeling that putting her in a psychiatric facility would not be the best for her. She admitted to him that I did not push her down any stairs.

She sort of understands that her remarks are going to keep her in the rehab facility until the doctors clear her. He suggested an adult group home, and I told him that would not work with her long standing paranoia and borderline personality traits. It is unclear to me now when I may be dealing with her personality quirks or some mild form of dementia. All I know is sometimes she is very nasty and combative.

I said that I was willing to work through the process with Adult Protective Services and help her get home if she is able to be there. That is kind of doubtful but at least we could have that be her motivating goal.

I talked with Mom tonight..she had been vomiting since breakfast. She sounded weak and really tired. She said she didn't want any another day goes by with no food. I am beginning to wonder if something organic is wrong with Mom. It could be the congestive heart failure or it could be something else unrelated. I will see her tomorrow evening to see how she is doing..hopefully she will have eaten something and gotten some fluids in.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas 128 (1957).

Simone de Beauvoir, in her treatise on old age called La Veillesee,
concludes that "the manner in which a society behaves with its old
people unequivocally reveals the truth-often carefully masked-of its
principles and its ends.

Simone de Beauvoir, La Veillesse (Old Age)

I am up at 4:00am looking up information on civil commitment laws in Washington State. I woke up and just could not stop worrying about Mom as her situation deteriorates. She could end up being committed to a treatment facility if she keeps going down the path she is on now. The police have been to her rehab facility twice..once when she called and said she was being kept against her will, and once when she tried to escape. She is persistent in her desire to go home, but that is looking more and more unlikely.

All of this just breaks my heart. She is her own worst enemy it seems. I cannot convince her to cooperate with her treatment. Some days she will do her physical therapy and take her medications...other days she will not. When I called last night she was in her room stubbornly refusing to go to dinner. When the nurse told her I was on the phone her only answer was "I will deal with her later". She is in full on combative mode.

I am exhausted both physically and mentally with this situation. I won't be able to protect her anymore or mitigate whatever trouble she gets into now. I have power of attorney, but have limited contact due to the story she told the doctor about me shoving her down the stairs. Stairs that she admitted yesterday she did not even have in her apartment. She just keeps spinning out of control. The further she spins, the less control she has over her situation.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

6:52am Sunday

Today the phone rang at 6:52am. It was a staff member from the rehab facility telling me that Mom was trying to escape again. She was pissed because she had a lot of other patients to care for and needed me to come down to help. I explained that I could not be alone with her because of the allegation she made against me.

A second nurse called a few minutes later and told me that the would have to call the police if she kept trying to get out the door. The police finally were called and talked her back into her room somehow.

I dropped off some clean clothes later and got an earful about how she was going to sue her "Jew" doctor. She was upset that I had brought so many clothes. I told her I wasn't going to make a bunch of trips this week just for her clothes.

I left the room so upset that I started to sob in the hallway. The nurse hugged me and then explained that they had called a county Mental Health Professional in to assess Mom's condition. This could lead to civil commitment. All of this just makes me sick to my stomach. There is very little that I can do at this point except watch Mom going into an angry free fall. It is terrible to witness.