Sunday, February 28, 2010

The imaginary boy takes the hose fittings

We had another weird incident last night. Mum rang me around 6.30pm and told me a little boy who lives in the street had come in and stolen all her hose fittings and she couldn't water the garden. I asked if she saw him do it and she said "No, he did it when we went out." I said, "I never saw that little boy near your place."
She said "He was sitting on my steps when we left." I said "But I would never have taken you out in the car leaving that little boy on your steps! I would have told him to go!"

IT IS NO USE ARGUING WITH HER. SHE IS SURE SHE IS RIGHT. When will I learn to just shut up?

She started shouting at me and telling me I always try to make out she is mad and imagining things.

So I went over to see to the hose fittings only to find her attaching fittings TO THE OTHER END OF THE HOSE, THE END WHERE THE WATER COMES OUT, while the hose fittings were STILL ON THE OPPOSITE END OF THE HOSE, so now she has 4 hose fittings, on either ends of the hoses, and I was not going to argue with her any more.

I tried pulling off the fittings on the other end but they were stuck so fast that neither I nor the little boy could possibly budge them without some implement to help.

I turned on the hoses and they both still worked, with the water coming out of the end that's meant to be attached to the tap.

She hasn't stopped being angry with me ever since, that I didn't see the little boy on the steps, or I deliberately denied seeing him to make her look bad. She suspects I'm trying to have her locked up, and she refuses to go into hospital the week after next because she thinks it's all part of my plan.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Great Flood Part 2 and the Unwanted Tradesman

Mum turned on the taps then fell asleep on the lounge and flooded the kitchen over a week ago. All the cupboards are ruined. We're waiting for the insurance assessor to come. He's a bit slow because of flooding and heavy rains further down the coast.

Yesterday afternoon she told me the assessor came the day before, after I went home. I tried to question her about it. Then she changed her mind. She wasn't sure if the man came in the house and had a look or not, but she thinks he was an insurance assessor. After that, she said she'd rung the insurance company and said she thought rain must have come in through the window. They said they wouldn't pay the claim.

I was very confused by this time. The trouble with Mum living in her own house is that from about 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. she's on her own and I can just hope nothing terrible happens.

Since it was Saturday I couldn't ring the insurance company to find out if they'd sent an assessor yet. I have told them to speak about the matter only with me, not my mother.

But Sunday morning, today, I rang her at 9 a.m. which I normally wouldn't, but thank goodness I did. She said, "A man is here fixing my kitchen up." I said, "Is he from the insurance company?" She said, "I think so." So I said, "Let him speak to me."

OMG, this was nearly a terrible financial disaster which may have cost my mother $5,000 of her savings. Mum had called the tradesman on Saturday and had said she had water damage in the kitchen and that the insurance company wouldn't pay. She needed someone to come and fix everything. So he was there measuring up the cupboards and drawers that need replacing!

I was JUST IN TIME to tell him that we were waiting for the insurance assessor to come and that he mustn't carry out any work.

That was SO CLOSE. How do I stop her doing these kinds of things? In reality, I can't, which is why she shouldn't be living there on her own, but how can I make her leave her home and her cat? It would be so cruel. I want her to stay there as long as possible but it's fast becoming too dangerous. I can't go and stay with her at night because I can't handle her angry behaviour at times. I need to be able to escape to my place. At times I am frightened of her. If I am to survive all this, I need my own space.

Another disaster averted. How many more?

I remembered to remove the fuses for the stove today. There are two of them. I don't want her trying to cook. She's never wanted to cook, but today she said she might make a stew. Hopefully she won't, because she'll find the stove doesn't work and she'll call an electrician and that will be more money down the drain.

I think I'll type up a little note, so small that she won't notice it in the fuse box. "Stove fuses have been removed for the safety of the occupant. Please phone daughter who has Power of Attorney before carrying out any electrical work."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A lovely day at Jamberoo

On Friday I took Mum for a drive to a lovely place called Jamberoo. It's a little dairy farming area that's been established since the 1820s. She had a great time. We had lunch in a little cafe - toasted sandwiches, tea and scones.

It's nice that she has some happy memories. She can still remember these outings for weeks or even months.
She seems to be happiest when she's out of her house and looking at different things to take her mind off her problems.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sadder and sadder!

Today Mum and I looked at memorial stones and designs. I want to have mine picked out too. I don't want the kids to have to worry about these things one day.

Mum decided on one with a Celtic cross and the words "Peace be With You". We'll glue a picture of it into her funeral planning book.

I was so sad for her today! She says she's too frightened to stay in her house now that she's flooded the kitchen and caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage. She says she gets up through the night to look and see if there are any taps left on.

I don't know how I will calm her down enough so she can stay in her house with her cat a little bit longer. I had a good cry when she said she thinks she is dying. I said, "Yes, you are dying and it's very hard on me with no-one to help me!"

We had a walk on the beach in the rain with the dogs. That was quite nice.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Great Flood

Today was so terribly hot that we didn't go out for lunch. Instead I bought some sausage rolls and cream buns and took them over for Mum. I went home and at 6.30 pm I had a panicking phone call from her. I had to hurry back to her house.

Apparently she vaguely remembers planning to wash the dishes. She thinks she remembers turning on the tap. Then she woke up on the lounge to the sound of running water.

She was just horrified to find the kitchen taps had been running with the plug in the sink for a couple of hours.

The house is a terrible mess. I'll ring the insurance company tomorrow and see if they will cover it.

I think she has had another one of those strange fits, like she had on the plane, where her eyes were wide open and she was just staring straight ahead for over an hour. She looked like she was dead. I think she's just had time to make it to the lounge and lie down before passing out.

It is so frightening. I don't think she is safe in that house on her own at night any more. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to take her away from her house and her cat. But it's getting more dangerous day by day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2003: was that where it started?

My daughter, who is in the Air Force, rang me today. She recalled when she thought Nana started having memory problems. She said it was when she came back from the other side of the country at the time she gave evidence in my brother's divorce case.

She hadn't wanted to give evidence, as she really likes my former sister in law and didn't want to say anything negative about either her or her son.

She had become very confused over there with all the shouting and nastiness that was going on. I rang her once and I told her to go to the doctor as I thought she'd had a stroke, her short term memory was so bad. She wasn't making any sense at all.

But within a few days, this had passed and she was normal again.

I think that may be our earliest memory of the current problem, though, 2003; seven years ago. None of us can recall anything prior to that which might have rung warning bells.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Too many phone calls and a watch dog

I sometimes leave one of my trained watch dogs with Mum so she won't feel nervous at night. This afternoon Mum came with me while I walked the dogs on the beach.

As I was taking the dogs home I asked if she wanted one left at her house. "No, just every second night will be enough," she said. So I dropped off the dogs and I left her at her house.

At 5.30 pm, the phone rang. It was Mum. She said, "When are you bringing the dog over? Don't leave it too late." I was already in my pyjamas and not feeling too well. I explained that she said she didn't want the dog. She said, "I'm terrified. I can't stay here tonight without a dog."

I told her to ring my son and ask if he would come and get one of the dogs and take it over there. She couldn't get on to him. She rang again. And again and again. I said "Mum, take some of your medicinal brandy in a glass of milk and go to bed. That will help you sleep." "No, I am too frightened!" "But there's no-one out there!"

And so it went on. Ten or more phone calls and demands for a dog. I couldn't do it. I was exhausted and sick. I didn't feel up to driving the car. I suggested she get a taxi and come over and sleep at my place.

I don't want to start her doing this, as I need my twelve hours of peace every day, but I couldn't see a way around the problem.

It is nearly midnight. She hasn't turned up. I took the phone off the hook and turned off the mobile phone.

Sometimes I wonder how much I can take. Where will it all end?

A miserable day in court

As I've noted before, this illness has torn my family apart. Today I had to appear in court to give evidence as the police applied for an Apprehend Violence Order against 'a family member' who has been acting crazy since he realized Mum is so unwell.

The application was successful, but he is appealing against it.

I was so upset to have false accusations thrown at me. But today, I spoke to an old colleague who had the same thing happen in her family. She had guardianship of her mother and suddenly her sister started accusing her of stealing from her mother. It wasn't true, but the matter went to the Guardianship Tribunal, where my friend was exonerated.

Why does this have to happen? Right when we need help and support from our families they suddenly turn against us.

Such is the life of the carer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Strange Co-incidence

When we go to Collegians Club or the Italian club for lunch, we nearly always meet up with Olive and Jim. I thought they were younger than Mum, but I checked out their date of marriage on the Births & Marriages website and I found they were married one year after Mum. I noticed they were married in Liverpool N.S.W.

So I said to Jim as we were getting coffee for the 'patients', "I was born in Liverpool where you were married, at the private hospital in Railway Street." Jim nearly dropped his cup. He said "My first son was born there!"

Comparing notes further we discovered that Olive and Mum had their babies only 13 days apart in that same hospital!

So that gave them something to reminisce about. What an amazing co-incidence.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Too much cat food!

Cat food has been a problem for a number of years: too much of it. Mum would leave tinned food on plates (used by her afterwards, from the family dinner set) in the bathroom, in the kitchen and in the laundry. At times you'd step in it, there was so much of it. She is sure if she doesn't leave it all over the house, the cat won't find its food and will slowly die of starvation. This is SO annoying. Worse still, she buys the most expensive food for the cat. The dry food comes from the vet in bags that cost $58 and are meant to last three months, but are used up in a week or so.

Now that she has stolen the cat from up the road, it is double trouble.

I've hit on an idea, though. Her eyesight is terrible, so I've been buying cheap dry food from the supermarket and topping up the $58 bag. Now it's almost entirely filled with Whiskettes instead of Science Diet.

As long as she doesn't notice, we'll never have to go back to the vet for expensive food again! I'll just keep topping it up and she'll think there's plenty left.

I can't do anything about the tinned food, but at least we're saving on the other one. I'm learning that you have to tell little fibs in order to survive this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Going out for lunch is a good idea

I take Mum out to the club for lunch every day. She likes this and always cheers up. If she is in a negative mood or plain angry, she changes once she gets into the restaurant. There is a nice old couple there, Jim and Olive, that we like to talk to. Today we sat at their table to eat.

They'd never guess she has dementia, as she is able to carry on a good conversation without getting mixed up.

I already told Jim she does have dementia, and he told me his wife also has early dementia. Olive starts talking to strangers and won't stop. That is often a sign. Eventually Jim has to drag her away, saying, "Olive, come on and eat your dinner and stop annoying people while they're eating!"

She doesn't mind and it makes her stop! She is quite interesting to talk to, but she won't often let you get a word in and she does repeat the same stories. Mum doesn't know she's repeating the same stories because she can't remember. So it works out well.

As I was walking down the stair, I saw a man who wasn't there

This morning Mum thought there had been a man in her front yard last night. It was pouring rain most of the night, yet she said she heard the little boy across the road and two doors down saying "Mummy, look, there's a man in the yard." I would say it's damn impossible to hear a little boy say that from her full brick house in the middle of the night with rain pouring down.

The other day she also said there was a man 'in her driveway', but when I asked her to look out the window and show me where, she said "In Bud's yard" (the man next door). She can barely see a thing due to macular degeneration, so if there was anyone there, it was most likely the owner of the house, not an intruder.

Almost every day she says "Last night the dogs went mad - there was someone in my yard." She means the neighbours' dogs, which bark at nothing and are untrained, unlike my watch dogs who are trained not to bark or growl unless someone actually touches the gate or fence or starts to come in the yard.

So the dogs were not barking because someone was in her yard, they were just barking like they always do.

I am worried about her hearing this little boy's voice. One night she claims she heard his mother say "Go over to that old lady's yard and bounce your ball on the footpath to annoy her", and she says he did, and it was dark.

Then she said on another occasion she turned on her hall light around 10 pm and the boy called out "That light shines straight into my bedroom!" and then his mother said "Go and annoy her tomorrow." This is definitely nonsense, as the boy would be asleep by ten, and as well he has shutters on his bedroom window to keep the light out. Mum's hall light cannot be seen outside as the door is solid, not made of glass.

But try and tell her this and she says, "You are trying to make out I am stupid again."

Today, I just said, "I don't want to hear any more about these intruders. You'll have to learn to live with them." This kept her off the subject for a couple of hours.

I guess you would call these events 'auditory hallucinations'. Very worrying.

A bump in the night

I hate to think what could happen when I am not around, but I cannot handle Mum 24/7, so she will have to stay in her house until a place comes up in an assisted living facility. She is happy to do this, but she gets terrified at night, imagining that people are walking around in her front yard, or trying to break into the house. So I leave one of my watch dogs with her every night and pick him up in the morning.

This morning she told me that she had jumped out of bed very suddenly because she thought she heard her cat in distress outside. I think she just had a nightmare as the cat is always inside. She had walked right into the hallway wall, which is made of brick and concrete. She said she had nearly knocked herself out. She thought she might become unconscious so she'd written me a note that she'd hit her head and then she'd gone back to bed.

She has a small lump and a red mark on her forehead. It doesn't look too bad.

If she'd left a light on she might have been able to see the wall. She has macular degeneration, but with her bad memory she cannot remember the way around her house, so she is very likely to run into things that she doesn't remember are there. I think she'll probably remember to leave a light on from now on.

I know that it is very likely she'll have a bad accident in her house. I remember a lovely lady who used to live opposite Mum. She was a former nurse and very alert and competent. She was only around 65 years old, but one day she'd walked into a door inside the house. I had called her that day and spoken to her. She told me she had a huge headache from walking into the door. I reminded her that she could have bleeding on her brain and she should go to the doctor. She said she'd lie down for a while and she thought she'd be fine. But the next day, her niece had found her unconscious on the floor. She died six weeks later.

Mum is very lucky she didn't hurt herself too badly when she ran into the wall. I'll keep an eye on her over the next couple of days.

But I know that an accident could put her in hospital and from there she'll probably go to a nursing home.

She wants to go to the assisted living facility, but I doubt they'd allow her to live in a self-care unit. I think they'd want to place her in medium care.

She's being assessed by the Aged Care Assessment team for placement in a couple of months' time. Then we'll know what kind of place would suit her.

A Confusing Letter

I wish Mum lived in the same street as me, at least. Then I could help her when there's some small problem. Last night I was already in my pyjamas when she rang and said she'd just opened a letter from the hospital. She has very poor eyesight but I could tell that her lack of comprehension went a lot further than that. She was like a dyslexic person trying to read that letter. I was trying to figure out what it was about but she was only giving me a word here and there. Finally she read the word 'infusion' so I knew it must be a letter about the iron infusion she has to have. I told her I couldn't go over there as I was ready for bed. She usually gets very cranky when I say I can't, or won't, come over. Being unable to comprehend written words is a new development. She was writing herself notes to remind herself about things, but she started saying "I can't read my own writing!" My brother was ringing and shouting at her about a nurse he sent to visit her and find out what was wrong with her, since he thinks I am lying about everything, and she couldn't remember what the nurse had said. So I typed it up in huge letters on an A4 sheet and left it by the phone. Even so she couldn't read the message to my brother, whose newfound interest in his mother and dislike of me is causing all kinds of problems. I wish he'd just go back to the way he was, ignoring Mum on her birthday and Mothers Day and only talking to her when she would call him. He was a lot less trouble then. But he is paranoid that I am taking her money. Maybe there is something wrong with him too, even though he's only 50 years old. Change of personality, paranoia....or maybe I am just paranoid about paranoia.

I just hope that by the time I get to her house she hasn't lost that letter. I'm making a mental note to advise the hospital and all doctors to send letters only to me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another fairly good day

Mum has been good this week. She's been very alert and able to remember nearly everything she needs to. However we did have a problem with the old doorbell. I found the attachment that goes ding-dong and went to throw it in the bin. She said, "Don't throw that out, I put it in my pocket when I go outside so I know if anyone's at the door." I said "It won't go ding-dong then, because that's the old one that doesn't work. Remember how we got a handyman in and he tried to fix it but he had to get you a new one?" "It's not broken, it still works!" she said, getting agitated. At this point I should have let her keep the bloody thing and got rid of it when she wasn't looking. But I picked it up and headed for the bin and that's when she nearly whacked me, but I jumped out of the way just in time.

Why am I so dumb that I can't remember not to disagree with her, but to do things that need to be done when she isn't watching?