Entering a fourth year

My most recent care conference for Mom was on Sept. 26. I really can’t explain the hiatus from the blog lately. I am on a somewhat less frequent visiting schedule right now, mostly because I have been unusually busy at work. And when I visit less, I have fewer opportunities for updates, I suppose. But I did realize at the end of August that Mom had hit the three-year mark at the Alz center. I’d have to check, but I’m pretty sure the anniversary date for her move there is Aug. 28. I didn’t know what to expect when she moved in, but I find it hard to believe it has been three years.

Mom also has been in a somewhat stable phase for quite awhile, so I’m observing fewer changes to report about. She walks, she feeds herself, she enjoys social companionship and she likes to talk, even though most of her words don’t make sense. She still smiles and laughs a lot. I recently had a super visit with her. We took a walk and held hands, and stopped in a sunny area to sit together on a rocking bench and just enjoyed each other for awhile. She was more alert that day than she had been on some of my recent visits, and I was cheered by the time spent with her.

I got mail today that gave me a start – two envelopes from the IRS. I didn’t file a tax return for Mom for 2011 because she has no taxes deducted from her income, and for three years now virtually all of her income pays for long-term care, meaning she has no tax liability (she is one of the 47 percent, in fact). But it turns out these were warnings of potential identity theft. I checked Mom’s bank account, and everything appears to be in order there. I’m not sure what’s going on out there, but whoever might be hoping for financial gain with her identity isn’t likely to get very far. I don’t have to do anything about it. What a relief.

So, at the care conference, her current aide said Mom remains a screamer when she is showered or changed, but that on this particular day Mom had been more irritated than usual, and yelled, “I hate you!” at the aide. The staff members know not to take it personally. I’m sad for everyone in that situation. I wish Mom could relax about the personal care she receives, but I imagine she still recognizes vulnerability.

She was scheduled to be seen by the dentist on Oct. 4. I will be interested to hear how that went. I have asked about Mom’s dental health before, but learned this time that the dentist had been “unable to examine” Mom on the last visit in May. I wasn’t able to be there on Oct. 4 because of work; one wonders if I could have made any difference in calming Mom enough for an exam if she was agitated again.

Mom’s attention span is considered poor – no surprise – and she doesn’t really participate in activities because she understands very little about what’s going on. She does occasionally dance. And she seems to be observing other people a lot of the time. She appears to be having some trouble standing up from a seated position, but the staff members think that might be disinclination more than any mobility problem. She has essentially stopped hanging around with Mr. R but still spends time with Mr. Beard sometimes. The aide said Mom had declared that Mr. Beard was her choice. She had lost 12 pounds since June, but is still considered to be at a healthy weight. She gets ice cream three times a day as well as high-calorie cereal, which she doesn’t seem to like very much. Her food intake is between 50 and 100 percent. My friend at support group told me the other night that Mom had eaten every bit of her cereal that morning. And the nurse who ran support group described Mom as one of the residents who is peaceful…most of the time. That’s what I like to hear.


6 comments so far

  1. Laura on

    I’m so glad you had a good visit with Mom and that she received a pretty good report! I love that she is social and still often laughs and smiles. I had to laugh myself about the disinclination to get up. Some things never change!!

  2. Sherri on

    Glad to hear that she is stable and doing well.

  3. momsbrain on

    Hi, Laura – yes, I thought it was funny about the disinclination, too. I don’t want her to have mobility issues, so I’m glad she’s just being her old sedentary self. 🙂

    Hi, Sherri – she is very stable. That’s the word I use a lot. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Sol on

    love the blog! thank you for take the time to write about your moms experience (and yours). Can I ask a practical question? how long was it between the initial diagnosis of Alzheimers and her moving into the nursing home?

  5. momsbrain on

    Hi, Sol – thank you very much for your kind words. And of course, you can ask ANY question. I do think every case is different. My mom was diagnosed in November 2005 and she moved into the Alzheimer’s nursing home in August 2009. Before that, she was in assisted living for 22 months, starting in October 2007. She still had independence there, with her own apartment, but she was safer than she had been in her own home. We were frankly lucky that her cognitive decline coincided pretty well with her need to go on Medicaid because she could no longer afford private pay. But also, I have seen people with higher function than Mom had move into the nursing home and adjust pretty well. I hope this helps.

  6. Assisted Living Directory on

    Nice to hear that your mom is in a more stable period now, and it is good to know that this can actually happen, and it’s not just a linear decline, so that was encouraging to me.

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