Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things are getting worse.....

A few weeks ago - or was it a few months? - Mum stopped being able to recall what day it is. She takes vitamins - no pharmaceutical medicines - and I got her one of those plastic pill boxes with the days of the week on it. I also bought her a little red box that has a button that you press and it says, "It's Thursday, 9th September, 2010 and it's just past three o'clock." This came from the Blind Society. It's been a huge help and has prevented many a phone call to me to ask what day it is. It cost around $200, but it's worth every cent.

The last few days, though, I've noticed she no longer knows what month it is. She'll start talking about something she recalls such as the birthday of her brother and she'll say "I was thinking about him because his birthday is coming up this month." Her brother's birthday was in February. This is September.

Quite often, she'll be out shopping and say, "I want to buy something for Loretta for her birthday. I'll have to send it soon or it won't get there on time." Her birthday is in May. And this is September.

I've learnt from the marvellous Alzheimers Reading Room not to contradict her when she gets the month mixed up. I just agree with her and change the subject. That way I don't offend her or make her frightened that she's 'losing it'.

Having the box that tells you what day it is doesn't help with the cat food. I put out the cat food for each day, label it and leave it in an obvious place on the kitchen cupboard.

Every day when I go to her house, that day's cat food is untouched, but she has walked down to the shops and purchased as many tins of cat food as she can carry and carted them home. The cat food she bought has been opened, sometimes nine or ten cans of it, and left all over the place. There'll be bowls of cat food in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, dining room and laundry. There'll be opened cans in the cupboard which have to be thrown out and more open cans in the fridge.

If I have to go to work, I'll get calls in the mornings, "There's no cat food in the house!" I'll tell her to walk to the kitchen with her mobile phone. I'll say, "Look right in front of you now. Reach out your hand. The cat food for today is right there on the cupboard."

She can't see it. It's not an eyesight problem, her sight is bad, but she can see a can of cat food. She could also reach out and feel for it, but she won't do that. She won't try. In her mind, I am trying to kill the cat by starving it to death.

If I'm not working, I go over there and feed the cat. But if I am at work and she can't or won't try and find today's cat food, there is nothing I can do to stop her going to the shops and getting more, then opening all the cans she has bought in one day.

I really don't know what I am going to do about this. It would be better if I brought the cat to my house, but she would be too upset.

If anyone has suggestions I'd appreciate hearing them.

The neighbour says I'm imagining it

I feel so annoyed and frustrated with people who've never dealt with dementia. This week has been a nightmare. Due to a badly leaking tap washer that had to be ordered and takes five days to get here from Melbourne, I've had to go and turn on the water in the mornings for Mum to have a shower, then turn it right off again, or all the hot water would run down the drain and the cost would be terrible.

I found someone to fix the washer, but the neighbour doesn't approve of the man. He spoke to my mother while I was at work and convinced her not to let him into the house. My mother agreed because she'll agree to anything someone else suggests. This neighbour plans to ring a plumber for Mum. That will cost around $200. I'm trying to sort the matter out.

I said to the neighbour, "My daughter has Power of Attorney and she makes all decisions on maintenance and money, and I have Guardianship so I make the decisions on Mum's care."

The neighbour replied, "There's nothing wrong with your mother. She comes up here to visit us and talks to us perfectly normally. She knows why the water is off at her house, she understands it's the tap washer. You and your daughter don't have the right to make her decisions. She can make her own decisions."

What can you say to someone like that! Every day, I get dozens of calls from Mum. "I haven't got any water." "I need to ring the Water Board, my taps are not working." "Everything is broken in my house, the toilet is broken, the taps in the laundry and the kitchen are all broken." "I need to call a plumber and get all my taps fixed."

The information, "The tap washer is broken. It's a special one that's been ordered and will soon be fixed" does not stay in her head for more than 30 seconds.

When the neighbour spoke to Mum, he would have said, "Your tap washer is broken" and she would have replied "Yes, I know that's why the water has to be turned off", because the neighbour had reminded her of what was wrong. If he'd asked her 2 minutes later, "Why is the water off at your house?" she would not have had a clue. She can only respond sensibly to such questions if the questioner has either given her the correct answer or given her enough hints so she can respond with the correct answer.

Those who have had to deal with someone who has Alzheimers will know exactly what I mean. They can present such a good front to others, they can have good conversations and not get confused depending on what subject is being discussed, they are experts at avoiding subjects they know will trip them up.

And they make it look as if you, the carer, are just trying to get a perfectly well elderly person into a nursing home for your own advantage.

Outsiders have NO idea what is going on.