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Mum and Me  – Catch Up Blog

Have not been blogging for a while. It has been full on since mum had to go into hospital after her fifth fall!!  Amazing no broken bones.  They kept her in for a whole week. Took so much blood she looked like a bruised pin cushion. She had scans and xrays and the final conclusion.  She has a long term urine infection.

Hmmmm could have told them that weeks ago.

Anyway having been seen by physiotherapists and occupational therapists the thoughts were that mum needed a rehabilitation place on discharge from hospital.  This would of course be in a care home and my mum really hates the thoughts of a care home.

So with agreement we moved the single bed downstairs and had access to the downstairs toilet (commode in the small room off the kitchen).  She continued to use her zimmer frame given after the 2nd fall and we were able to cope.

It did take her a while to come round from the experience of hospitalization. The worst bit for me was catching a nurse feeding my mum.  My mum has never needed feeding as yet.  It felt like a blow. How easy it is to get institutionalised. Needless to say my mum has fed herself since she came home.

Yes, she is still a bit wobbly on her legs but with the help of a physiotherapist who is coming to the home to do exercises – my mum has moved on from the zimmer to a walking stick.

I cannot claim that she enjoys the experience of exercise but she does do them with encouragement.

We also attended the memory clinic which ended up being a long three hour assessment of my mums ability to recall stuff.  But I am glad they took their time to get to know my mum and understand her character. Sadly, the diagnosis of vascular dementia was not a surprise to me. But now we know what we are dealing with.

 

The thing that is becoming most difficult is the night times.  Although we have the commode upstairs, so long wobbly trips to the loo are now unnecessary at night,  the broken sleep is taking its toll.  My mum can actually get out of bed herself and get back in, but it has become a habit to call me. I think she just needs reassurance that I am there.  But it is killing me.

 

I have had one night away in a hotel that was really divine. But really can’t afford to do that too often. Next week I am going away again and my brother and his wife will be on duty. I am staying at a friends so this will be a cheap getaway.   Have agreed that I need at least one day and night as a day off if I am to continue to care like I am.

I have found a great support person for me. She comes and visits every couple of weeks. It is lovely to be able to emotionally vomit all over her, turn the page and go back to caring for my mum.

 Oh, we now have a stairlift and ‘care on call’ pendant. Both of which are causing my mum some anxiety but over time I think will be very useful for her care.

 

Onwards and upwards.

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age, carers, Dementia, Uncategorized

Where is the ………..?

The game of finding things is challenging at times.  My mum constantly asks me where something is.  I thankfully have some idea as know where she generally keeps her purse, her watch, her rings etc. But if we put something down that is a bit unusual it might be lost forever. There is a pair of glasses that we have not seen for a while.  Thank god for back up spares.

My mum loves tidying up after me, she thinks I am untidy. She is correct.  But then she or me will ask where something is and she will have put it somewhere different and we have a mad moment trying to find it.  My mum gets upset at her inability to remember, she chides herself that “it is just stupid”. It is just that short term memory vacuum.

She put her rings in a dish on the coffee table the other day. Then one went missing. She remembers that she has them all together most of the time. I know she keeps them in a box most nights. Luckily today she had not put on this particular ring and it was safely still in the box.  This must be a nightmare for care home staff who often get accused of stealing but it may well be the person themselves secreting it away.

 

“Have we made a list for the shopping?”.  “Yes, it is on the pad” I reply.   But I have to show her that this is true.  She worries about forgetting something while she is out shopping.  She herself can no longer write the list.  Her handwriting now is something like a tiny spider. Unrecognisable from her previous script.  She got upset again when trying to sign my birthday card.  All of this is very challenging I don’t like my mum crying.

My mum remembers where she has always put things not necessarily where she has put them now. Her drawers are kept the same to help her find her clothes. There are different things in wardrobes so she generally knows where her coats are, etc.  But there are several drawers with tops in so I can hear her going from drawer to drawer trying to find a particular top. Then along the way she forgets what she is looking for and continues around.  “What am I looking for?” she asks. We talk constantly about downsizing her wardrobe but she is scared she will need something she may throw away.

 

My mum has been washing up for years. No dishwasher at our house. Things have been in the same drawers and cupboards for years. But alas she has a daughter and occasionally a son who move things or use unusual items.  For some reason my mum cannot remember where the unusual item goes, as she may have not used it  recently.  The colander, the grater, the salad bowl cause her great distress.  I reassure and say I will put them away. It is just great she has washed up.  But it irritates her she cannot remember.

 

Some things were moved when the new central heating was put in. This caused great upset for my mum who really couldn’t remember where something went if there was a query. We tried very hard to put everything back as it had been before but silly me did not take photos. It has taken two months to find a home for a plate that “just wasn’t right”.

I sometimes ask her where something is and she looks back very frightened and in a small voice she say’s “I just don’t know”.  She is worried and concerned that she can’t remember. Terrified she will forget something important.  I reassure her she has three brains trying to remember now, her, me and my brother.  But, we are all over fifty, there are no guarantees.

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age, carers, Dementia, Uncategorized

Mrs Wobbly fell down

Monday I arrived home to find my mother on the floor. She just looked up at me. “I can’t get up” she said in a very small voice. I had no idea how long she had been there. I had been out for three hours.
She looked well despite being on the floor. I gently checked her out to see if anything was causing her pain. I tried to help her get up but she could not get herself up onto her knees to use the chair and I was unsure whether we may be causing more harm.
Despite her protests I dialled 999. The paramedic arrived very quickly and did an excellent job of ascertaining my mother’s situation and her current memory and confusion issues. He physically assessed her and she was deemed fit if a little bit out of sorts by the fall.
We helped her up onto a chair together and suddenly my mother was back. She was asking why the “doctor” had been called. She had no clear memory of events.
Despite the paramedic really wanting her to go to hospital my mother refused. I was happy with this and could not see why waiting in a draughty A & E department was going to help things. She clearly had not broken anything and was able to walk and go upstairs. I suspected aching and bruising might be her only after effects of her fall.

For me this was an interesting challenging point in our relationship. Yes, I was her daughter, her carer, but I changed into the emergency nurse at the sight of her on the floor. I went through the motions of immediate first aid and contacting help. I advised my family of the incident and watched my mother like a hawk all evening.
I went into professional mode and still have not quite got out of it. I have now gone on twenty-four hour call out. I am not sure I can do that for very long without burning out myself. But I don’t want to leave her. I know her and can help her navigate the health care system. I know she can be rude and outspoken which might not go down well with other professional carers.
But I am aware I need to care for me. Not sure how to do that. But something has changed.
Today my mum is aching. “Why does my hip hurt” she asks. She has no memory of the fall.

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age, carers, Dementia, Uncategorized

Letter from a Carer

 

Dear Doctor,
Why is it so hard for professionals to see my mum as I see her? Why do we see a different person every time we go to the practice? There is no chance of anyone building a relationship with my mother that she can trust. Why do we see different people, for various aspects of her health? Why can’t she see someone who will treat her as a whole person, and plan her care holistically and work with me as her carer. I believe there was a standard that all elderly people should have a named GP who will co-ordinate her care. I am not aware this has happened for my mum. In fact, the junior staff seem unaware of this standard. Over 75 Named GP 2013

She is 85 and she has signs of dementia. However, she passes every one of your silly tests as they test her intelligence not her short-term memory. She greets everyone she sees with a smile and puts on a great vocal performance, but she is extremely anxious that professionals will interfere in her life and want to put her in a home. I know she has signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s. Her short-term memory is very poor. But if she sees different people every time she does not get a chance to build a relationship or any memory at all that she can trust and value. They also can only assess her on the ten minutes they have available. It is not long enough. She cries with me afterwards as she does not like “these strangers” taking over her life. I try to reassure her that we all want the best and will try our utmost to keep her at home for as long as possible. But continuity of carer would be a distinct bonus.
She won’t give permission for a “falls assessment” despite being very wobbly on her legs. We laugh and we call her “Mrs wobbly”. But she is scared her legs are going to let her down and she won’t be able to walk. She knows intelligently that occupational therapists are there to help but she does not want strangers in her house. Telling her what she can and cannot do. The beaurocracy of it all means that unless she consents no one can do anything. That is poor support of me her carer who might need aids to assist my mum’s wellbeing. Surely the staff could spend more time and build a relationship over time so that she does trust them and welcomes them into her home.
I suspect I am dreaming in this modern world of the NHS when only ten-minute appointments are offered. This is not long enough for my mum. I know that there are specialist nurses now taking on the role of doctors in the surgery, however it would be great if one could be specialist in dementia/elderly support. My mum cannot be processed. She can’t be seen quickly and sent on her way. But we are made to feel that we are holding things up when she begins to talk and reminisce.
I as a carer have registered as such now. Just so that someone knows I am out there caring for my mum. But I cannot do it alone and need professional support to respect my opinion and help us care for my mother together.

With kind regards

Her Carer

 

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age, carers, Dementia, Uncategorized

Time to Care

 

My mum has not been well this week.  She needed another dose of antibiotics. She has been very tired and lethargic and I am having to help her more in the mornings now to wash and get dressed.

This development made me think about all the paid carers out there, who must be at a particular house, at a certain time. They get someone up; washed and dressed and possibly breakfast too; all in about a fifteen minute or, if you are lucky, a thirty-minute call.  It is impossible.

It is impossible if you are trying to maintain someone’s independence. Giving them some autonomy over their life, their day.  It is impossible to ensure someone’s dignity in the process too.

Let me explain. 

 

My mum was tired she really did not want to get out of bed at her usual time about eight-thirty.  She at 84 has a right to choose when and whether she gets up in my mind.  Yes, I know she needs to get up and eat and move around to be healthy, but if on the odd occasion she doesn’t feel like it, why should she?  Would the carers make her get up?  Would they be able to come back later?

I left her for a little while longer, after I had given her a drink.  I then helped her to have a wash in the small bathroom.  I let her do as much for herself as she could and wanted to do but of course this took longer and she was breathless so needed to sit down and take it slow.  I helped her to dress too. Knowing what she usually wears and how she likes to wear her undergarments is essential. Do the carers who come in know these small but important aspects of dignity.  Especially if it is a different carer every day?

Once dressed we moved downstairs for breakfast. My mum has a range of breakfast cereals and rotates them each day. But she will say if she fancies a different one. I warm the hot milk she likes and make her a cup of tea. By now she is tired again and says she needs to sleep again. Breakfast sometimes takes a long time.  If you as a paid carer are needing to be off to your next call, it must be very hard to give choice and give time. What must happen if they have to actually feed the person?

I am very lucky. I can give my mum all the time she needs. I try and work with her so that she is doing what she wants to do. Don’t misunderstand me I do get frustrated if I am going out to work and things are going a little slow. I do get annoyed when I make a meal and she sits and looks at it as if I have given her green worms to eat.

 I get tired doing all the washing ironing and cleaning. No less than every housewife in history. I have become a housewife!!!  I have never been a housewife.  But there are more sheets now and of course she complains “are you washing again!!!”.

But I love my mum. She can be really funny. I am sure those pop-in carers would not appreciate the humorous moments we have.  I am glad I am free to care for my mum and have a flexible enough job to cope for now.

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Short story, Uncategorized, wordpress 101

YARN

via Daily Prompt: Yarn

My dad could tell a good yarn. He would sit at the back of church and tell stories to make people laugh as they arrived for mass. He would also tell stories to the little people to keep them entertained.

To spin a good yarn means that the story is not all that truthful.  A story that entertains but is not necessarily based on fact.  It leaves the listener asking “really?” Like I said my Dad could spin such a good yarn that people did believe what he said. With the added factor of a bit of gossip mixed in. People were not sure what was the truth and what was not.

 

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age, carers, Dementia, Life, Uncategorized

Major upheaval

When people with memory problems go through major upheaval apparently, it can have a major effect on how that person copes. My mum has understood that she needed a new central heating system but I don’t think she quite got it that this would mean huge disturbance.

We tried to keep this to a minimum. I packed all her treasured belongings away in boxes. I even labelled the boxes so we would know where they went back. We kept my mum’s bedroom much the same as possible. It was me on the mattress in the spare room. I had to collapse my own bed in advance of the work.

My mum spent the day of the big works at her sisters and the workmen did do as asked and we were back in the house on the same day with heating and water. This was amazing and I thanked them profusely.

The trouble started as we started to put carpets back and replacing items on the walls and shelves.

Yes, I knew almost where things went back but could I remember the actual positions of each item. The answer was no and my mum did not know either. All she knew was that she had all this stuff and she could not remember where they went. This distressed her greatly.  Even when I decided to only empty one box a day she was very anxious.  It was just more evidence her how bad her memory had got.

When my brother and I disappeared to put the carpets back she would ask. “What are you doing?” a thousand times. Even when we explained, because it was a new thing, she could not remember from one minute to the next. 

Four days on the house is gradually coming back together. I am tired with the physical effort but exhausted with the mental strain. I feel I could sleep for a week.  Thank God for a Bank Holiday. But then again, my mum will be up and ready to go to the bank on Monday because that is what she always done. It will take her a day to realised she cannot go.  Oh, and there is another one at the end of May! 

 

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