Part III: Facing Dementia, The Sad Tale of Finding a Home For Mom

It was not long after the Alzheimer specialist appointment (maybe that next week) that her symptoms continued to become more erratic and strange. This prompted a blood test by her GP, which indicated dangerously low sodium levels and she was admitted to the hospital and put on an IV. This eventually helped as she regained a little of the vigor, and reasoning ability, she had before her original fall (at least while she was in the hospital). The hospital released her and mom went home.

It was not long after her return home that the memory and erratic behavior issues returned and the unpredictability of each day and what that would bring came roaring back. The panicky, no sense phone calls returned as we just tried surviving with her until her next neurologist's appointment.

That appointment, however, would not be something we were prepared for as what we were about hear would rock our family to its core.

We were anxious on the day of mom’s visit to the Alzheimer specialist. We really wanted to find out what was going on with her and if there was anything we could do; however, our meeting with the neurologist did not go well as the doctor explained that mom had moderate to severe dementia. When asked how this could have happened so fast, no real answer was given, raising more concern.

The specialist also told my brother that as mom’s legal caregiver, he had to get her 24/7 care ASAP. If he did not do this in 90 days, he could be charged with neglect.

That sent us on a quest for a second opinion. We were not about to take all of mom’s independence away without being sure, even though it looked like we were heading in that direction. Things just turned so quickly after that fall that we thought there might be another answer.

We met with a second neurologist who ordered more tests after seeing the results from her earlier testing, given by the Alzheimer specialist. For us, the new results would not come fast enough as mom would bounce around back and forth from paranoid type of behavior to near normalcy. One minute she would be kicking somebody out of her house saying she did not want them there, to the next minute being much more understanding of the situation we were all facing.

It is tough to see someone you love fall apart mentally, and physically, someone who brought you into this world, and who you truly owe your very existence to, and having no idea what was happening to them or why. It was emotionally draining on all of us, but especially for my brother as it weighed heavy on his mind – daily.

The results from these most recent tests were revealed at her next appointment and it showed the possibility of small seizures occurring on one side of her brain. The neurologist prescribed a new medication that he thought may help, but warned us that it also may not do anything. It was very much up in the air.

We did have high hopes when we left his office of what we were about to try, however, it became readily apparent within 3 or 4 days that this new medicine would not work. Mom actually got worse. That was it; that was our last hope. It was now time to get her either 24/7 at-home care or start looking for a nursing home as she could not afford any of the assisted living accommodations that were available. Money for her was just about gone.

We found a great deal for at-home care and opted for that as it would be less expensive. That lasted about three days as mom became very difficult, no, impossible, for the caregiver to handle. She would not eat much, was confrontational and argumentative, and by the second or third day, started wandering out of the house when she got a chance. In fact, the second time she was headed toward the pond that her dog had drowned just several months earlier.

At-home care was not going to work. The safety issues for her had become too great.

We were down to that final decision, that final choice that no one wanted, especially mom - a nursing home. This was one thing our mother had expressed, on many occasions, that she never wanted to have happen…never. And no matter how many times we tried to explain the situation to her, she simply did not understand. She had completely lost the ability to reason.

Do you know how hard it is to try and explain to an aging parent that they need help taking care of themselves, that we are legally bound to do something, that if she doesn’t get help her son could be charged with neglect and arrested if something happened to her because nothing was done? It is heart wrenching, especially when you get that blank stare of no comprehension and statements of “I can take care of myself” and “why can’t ______ [one of her kids] take care of me.”

And full detailed explanations about how she needed more care than we were capable of giving, that we all worked, and that the only alternative, at this point, was a nursing home simply did not register with her at all. To say this was difficult is an extreme understatement.

It is impossible to describe the emotions, and guilt, that all of us were going through. So many tears were shed.

Our only option left was to work through her doctor and have him take control over making the decision of placing mom in a nursing home. Tough thing to do, very tough thing.

In addition, we had to hire a law firm that specialized in Medicaid Law to handle all the Medicaid procedures and paperwork. There was no way we would be able to negotiate that nightmare without help. No way!!!

Just locating all that the law firm required us to find (financial statements, assets - or lack thereof, titles, deeds, loans, insurance policies, etc.) so that they could submit mom’s application for Medicaid was a tremendously daunting task with all kinds of issues and problems popping up daily. And as Power of Attorney, this all fell on the shoulders of my brother as my sister and I could not do much more than give guidance. Nothing went smoothly, nothing.

So now we sit, waiting for Medicaid to approve mom’s application and hoping for the best. Mom is currently placed in a nursing home not far from where she used to live, and we (my brother, sister, and I) visit as much as we can, trying to ease her into her new surroundings knowing full well that this will be her final place of residence. Final stop before the last days of her life.

How sad this all is, how unexpected it all began. No real answers as to why…it just is. And I have to say, I am not looking forward to the moment I stop by to visit mom and she asks “I am all better, can you take me home now” or “do I know you?” The former has already happened, the latter is inevitable.

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