Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The latest, but not the greatest news

This is an email I sent all my friends/relatives today.

Dear all,

This is another lazy update. I am just so tired from running around after Mum that I can't write individual emails.

Mum has got a fair bit worse in the last few weeks. Her carer who comes every day says she has noticed this too. We have noticed her spending a lot of her time
going in circles searching for the cat. She'll find the cat, return to the kitchen and then say, "Where's the cat? I don't know where it is," and go looking for it again.

The cat is very old and never moves off her bed these days, so it's always in the same spot.

Unless someone breaks the 'Where's the cat" cycle, it could go on for hours. Though occasionally, it changes to 'Where's my handbag?' and that is usually followed by
paranoid ideas about people coming into the house and taking it.

I'm having to spend more and more time just supervising her to stop these things happening and to stop her doing silly or dangerous things around the house.

She always accuses me of not feeding the cats, but their bowls are always full of Science Diet. Even when shown the full bowls, she claims they're not full enough and I am cruel to the cats and trying to starve them.

Taking her out in the car is the best way to stop these silly notions. She likes to go out. But it means I have to spend most of the day driving around or wandering around shopping
centres with her. She has endless energy but I do not.

The last couple of days she's refused to sleep at her house, insisting on coming here. We are not too excited about this idea, because in the past she has sometimes spent the whole night looking for imaginary cats that are 'outside in the cold', 'lost', 'in trouble' or 'getting run over by cars'.

I warned her if she starts that nonsense I am taking her home and so far, so good.

If she's at home at night, she believes there are men on her back porch. They are not breaking in, they are just standing there talking. One of the things they say is, "This is silly, I'm going now." Apparently they say the same thing every night.

She barricades the back door, tying string around the handles and around the legs of tables, then stacking things up against the back door. She then closes two more doors, putting chairs up against them.

You can't tell her there are no men out there every night, it's a waste of time. You can't prove to her there are no men by going out there at night and shining the torch. She'll say they've just left.

The only time she is reasonably happy is when she is away from the cat and the house.

There was very bad news following the removal of a breast lump. The lump was Stage 1 invasive cancer. Next Thursday she goes to Wollongong Hospital to get the lymph nodes tested and some of them removed. A drain will be inserted afterwards. I've asked the doctor to keep her in at least one night and he's promised to transfer her to the private hospital if things are looking a bit grim. I told him I just can't manage on my own.

After that there will be radiotherapy every day for 3 weeks - right over Christmas! We didn't need this.

I will be very surprised if all these awful things don't bring on a stroke and kill her, but then, people can be very resilient. She may well live for several more years. However I am preparing for the worst.

She really wants to go back to Townsville for another short holiday so I might try and organize that for this weekend if I can.

My brother and his daughter have not contacted her. It has been 11 months now since they bothered. She is very upset over this. I expect though, with her memory worsening, she may even forget she has a son, or forget that he hasn't been here recently. The other day, she forgot the name of the cat, and I think that's a very bad sign. However, she still knows all of her other relatives, even those she hasn't seen for years and she knows who's dead and who's not.

She is starting to think Patrick is her son though. She told the estate agent the other day that her 'son Patrick' had done some work in the garden. She also calls my daughter her daughter as well at times. Patrick would have made a much better son than the real one - he's a total disgrace.

So for the foreseeable future we will be dealing with the cancer and its treatment. I hope to be able to take her on some more short holidays since that's the only time she seems happy and not in a terrible state over things she imagines are 'lost' or 'stolen'.

It looks like I'm stuck with her sleeping over here. Having a break from her for 12 hours or so was a big help but she hates her house so much and is so terrified of these no-existent porch-dwellers that I doubt she'll agree to sleep there again unless I stay there too.

If the house gets sold I suppose we'll go ahead and build the granny flat though there's a bit of doubt whether she'll live to see it or enjoy it for long.

I still can't stand the thought of a nursing home. This might change if she takes a major turn for the worse as I can't let my own wellbeing go downhill from looking after her. I am just constantly tired and exhausted.


  1. Oh Lorelei,

    Yes, you have your hands full. Can she read notes you put around?

    "The men said they wouldn't come back." (You can't argue with her hallucinations.)

    "The cat is usually on the bed."

    Some is funny. My husband passed a test and he is still allowed to drive with his GSP unit. Once he went out three times to get gas in a gas can for his riding lawn mower. Each time he couldn't remember why he went out! My husband says I bring the laundry basket back to our bedroom full of dirty laundry even though I ask him if he ever runs out of clean clothes.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you for this surgery.


  2. True, you can't lose your own health if taking care of her turns to 24 hrs a day. I'm surprised she forgets about the cat if she's not home.
    Its hard to believe your brother still doesnt think your Mother has alzheimers. I guess part of it is that he just doesnt want to.
    Hugs & prayers for you.

  3. i understand my mother is just like that or wores sometimes and she is only 50 years old dosent know who i am understanding sara

  4. Yes been through what you have described, all I can say is unless you want your entire life dominated by tending to your Mum's constant demands (and she doesn't of course realise she is being demanding) you must start researching somewhere for her to go. It is a shame nursing homes seem to have such a negative stigma, I managed to find a really nice one that only has 20 or so residents and it is like a small hotel for people with memory loss.
    Start making appointments (when you have the time!) and do your homework - research, ask questions, try to go visit some and turn up unannounced, a good way of checking them out. Good luck!

  5. Lorelei, I am so sorry to hear about your mother's decline, her cancer, and your neglectful brother.

    It is so hard isn't it. Is your mother's assistant able to come to your home to give you some relief? Know that I have said a prayer for you and will keep you in my prayers.

  6. Thank you people for your comments. Anonymous, I'm so sorry to hear your mother is only 50 years old and has dementia. I have finally organized for Mum to go into care. I will still be on duty of course - I'll be visiting every day and taking her out for drives and so on, but it will be a relief not to have to take her panicked phone calls during the sundowning time. Someone else can deal with her imagining prowlers outside the window and putting up barricades! I wonder if she'll do that in the new environment. I wouldn't be surprised; her bedsitter room has a very large window and it's sure to be the focus of her attention and imaginings.

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