I went to Atria yesterday to let my mother know that Peach had died. She was shocked because she hadn't remembered that she was sick. We talked for a long time and I told her I would be over today for lunch.
There was no answer when I knocked on the door, which always scares me. I let myself in with my key and she was lying on the couch. I checked to make sure she was breathing and as I sat down to wait for her to wake up, her eyes opened and she groaned. She was more out of it than I have ever seen her.
She wasn't in pain, she wasn't nauseous, but she was completely confused and very anxious. She knew she had to be doing something, but she didn't know what. She says this a lot, but it was worse than usual this time. She told me she hadn't eaten. At first she said she hadn't eaten in 3 days and then she said that she had not eaten since she moved into Atria and had not been in the dining room. When I told her she had been there for 2-1/2 years, she was amazed.
I checked the refrigerator and saw that she had eaten half the piece of pumpkin pie I had left for her, so told her that she had eaten something, at least.
She told me about "the nice girl" who comes every day to find out if she has eaten and that she said she would bring food, but she doesn't know if she ever did.
I sat and listened for almost an hour as she told the same story over and over again about her confusion and about how she would wake up in the middle of the night, convincing herself that she had to keep from telling me any of her fears because it would bother me and she didn't want to be a bother. Apparently her biggest fear was running out of clean underwear (she still has 4 pairs in her drawer)
I definitely learned what it's like to be a therapist, as I just let her talk and talk and talk, though she was making no sense. I had the feeling that what she really needed was some kind of anti-anxiety medication, and it made me angry yet again (I get angry about this a lot) that no doctor has given her a baseline mental health exam, though I have asked each doctor who has seen her to do it, and she has no relationship with any doctor.
Her primary care physician is mine and I chose her not because I thought she was such a wonderful doctor, but because I could e-mail her. I have written here more than once about the difficulty ... impossibility ... of getting an e-mail account set up for my mother, which apparently even God can't do. My doctor is a numbers person. She keeps track of all of my numbers -- lab numbers, blood sugar numbers, heart numbers, but she has never asked me personal questions and is not a person I would turn to for a talk about something bothering me. But since I haven't needed more than that I haven't tried to find another doctor. She's been my doctor for about 10 years.
I tried to contact the patient services person at Atria, but she won't be in until Tuesday. I just wanted someone to TALK to to find out what was the best course for her. Is it time to move to assisted living care level, where she stays in her apartment but someone comes in to check on her meds and make sure she gets to the dining room every day, and just be a daily predictable person she might come to rely on? I don't know.
Then I came home and wrote to her doctor, who is out of the office until Monday, of course (I got a return message to that effect).
Of course all this is coming about at exactly the wrong week for me. I have four doctor appointments myself this week, three with the eye doctor (one of which is my cataract surgery on Friday) and another with an audiologist to get the process started for hearing aids. I also have my first work day at Sutter on Monday. And after my surgery, I'm not going to be able to drive until the doctor gives me clearance. So even if the doctor thinks my mother should see someone -- her, or someone else -- I may not be able to get her there.
At one point I told her that I thought maybe the severe deterioration in her dementia seemingly overnight might be a reaction to the news about Peach. She didn't remember and was shocked all over again when I told her Peach died.
She finally calmed down enough that I could make sure she got to lunch and during lunch she improved a lot. I also made sure she had a glass of wine, which I thought would relax her (and it did). But when we got back to the apartment, she said she was dizzy and wanted to lie down.
I picked up her dirty undies and brought them home and will return them to her tomorrow.
I am very worried about her.