Monday, May 27, 2013

Breathing Easier

Took Smokey over for a visit.
With each passing day, I'm feeling more comfortable with the decision to place my mother in a facility.  It's wonderful to come home to a quiet, peaceful, calm house and to be able to relax, as one should in their own home.  Thus far we have both also been able to be more caring and patient with one's much easier when not being bombarded with anger and frustration 24/7.  My mother has had two minor last Wednesday and Thursday when (I think) it finally sank in where she is and that she's been there a while with no mention of going home. But, suddenly Thursday afternoon  she got out of bed and carried on.  Today I went over right after lunch and she was angry (with the staff) because she wanted to take chicken from her plate to feed Smokey (her cat) and they wouldn't let her put it in her pocket and take it to her room.  She accused them of being rude.  If Dr. Phil were to ask my mother whether she would rather be happy or be right, my mother would choose "right" every time.....and add to that, have the last word!  So, when she wouldn't let it go, I left......and returned to my tranquil home!  I went back before dinner, got her out of bed and we sat outside a bit.  She was hungry (didn't eat lunch), not very talkative and in a world of her own.  I did all I could to prepare her for dinner, a good night's sleep and a better day tomorrow.  She tried to lay guilt and I didn't bite (and the staff she was angry with had already gone home) I hope she had a good dinner and will start tomorrow on a better note.

A frame for my mother.
I know many of you thought I should have done this a long time ago, but I know myself well enough to know that I will reach a point beyond which I will not go.....and I'm okay with reaching that point because I also know that I've done as much as I could do.  The stroke was the point that I knew I was out of my depth and needed help. In any case, I do appreciate your support and helped me get to "The point".... Thanks for hanging with me so long.

No sooner had I gotten my mother settled than I came down with the sinus infection from hell.  I've had minor sinus problems in the past, usually relieved by an over-the-counter medication.  This was nothing like that!  I felt crummy for a few days and then on Friday night it all seemed to settle on the left side of my a whole new meaning to "so ugly it hurts"!  The bones in my face, the inside of my mouth, even my teeth hurt..  I was in pain all night and by 8:45AM of Saturday morning I was in line at the local urgent care facility.  The doctor prescribed a Z-pack and prednisone but, even hitting it with that, it took 7-8 days to clear. There were days when I could only eat cold soup and the afternoons were spent in bed. I never knew sinuses could do that....and I hope I never experience it again.

Other than that, I've been getting back into my walking routine and connecting with friends.  Our weather has been beautiful and it's wonderful to be able to enjoy it. Due to the sinus infection, I had to cancel lunch plans with Sharon, but we've reschedule for this week.  Janeen and I will be having breakfast together tomorrow, and I hope to see Thea and Cheryl next week.  There is also so much around the house that needs to be done.....and, as I told Janeen, I'm having a hard time focusing.  I'm so accustomed to going from one wildfire to another, with no chance to plan or anticipate, that I find it's now difficult to tackle something that requires forethought and persistence.  Once I've caught up with friends, I hope I can develop "a plan" to tackle some things around the house.

So, overall I feel much less stressed.  The ideal scenario would be that my mother come to terms with her situation and make the most of each day.....but, to be honest, that isn't her nature and there isn't a lot I can do about it.  I will be there for her in whatever way I can, but I am so thankful to have my own space again!
A little pooch humor.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Trial by Fire

Yes, I'm still alive, but barely!  As of Thursday of this past week, my mother entered Belfair Gardens.  It is an Alzheimers/dementia care unit and is literally within walking distance of my house.  So, I've been visiting twice daily and have yet to find my mother in her room.  She's always in the common area participating in whatever is going on, and she seems to really enjoy it. 

You can imagine that this past month has been very stressful for me as there were a lot of difficult decisions to be made with no one to really rely upon, although my friend Chris has been a great listener and very supportive.  Even so, when Mama had the stroke in early April, I knew i could no longer maintain things single-handedly. That was the factor that tilted the balance for me.  I had been conferring with Karen at Memory Matters and had attended one caregiver support group meeting.  I asked if I could meet with her again, as my last ditch effort before trying to qualify Mama for Medicaid.  That would mean putting the house back in her name so that Medicaid could be reimbursed for services rendered.  Karen immediately contact Palm Court (same type of facility as Belfair Gardens) and asked about financial assistance until the house could be sold.  I talked with them the next day and my financial adviser the next.  Since there is a buyer for my mother's house, we decided that I could swing the heafty payments for three months until the house is sold.  At that point, the funds from the sale would pay for my mother's care.  When that money runs out, Medicaid will kick in.  it was only then that I realized why was not happy with going the Medicaid route now...... they would get the funds from the house without providing the type of care my mother needs.  She would be put in a nursing home, which would most likely hasten her decline.  I'm now okay with selling the house because it will provide the appropriate care she needs.  I feel bad about selling the house because i know that Mama would never agree to it if she knew, but I'd much rather the proceeds go for her care.......i don't need a second house and I hope I've saved enough for my care in later life.

Anyway, once that was all determined, I thought I should at least check out one other facility, so I called the place right outside my back gate....Belfair Gardens.  I went over that same morning and took a look.  It's a newer facility and they seemed very good.  I met a few people who had relatives there and they were very pleased with the care, and the cost, while expensive, is a flat fee.  Palm Court had a sliding scale based on the care required, and you know the care required is going to increase as health declines.  With that and not having to drive onto the island to visit, it was a no-brainer!!

After hours of working out details and filling in mountains of paperwork, the next job was figuring out how to actually get my mother there.  We are well past the stage of discussing it and understanding it.....we were never good at that before we became demented!!  Kerry, the Wellness Director at Belafir Gardens, asked if I wanted them to "pick her up".  In the discussion of it, we decided that Kerry would come to the house for an assessment and describe "the activites" to Mama and invite her to come.  She did just that and my mother agreed.  On Thursday they came and picked her up and took her over.  While she was busy there, I packed her things, took them over and set up her room.  When Kerry was free we took her to her room and told her we thought she would be a great candidate for the program.   Surprisingly, she said she'd like to participate if she could!!  With that, it was done. 
At the Mother's Day Brunch

In the short time she has been there, we have attended a lovely Mother's Day Brunch on Friday.  There have been sing-alongs, bingo, a religious service (weekly), a piano concert, and on Sunday they were trying to see how many words they could make from the letters in "Happy Mother's Day".  Today they took a bus trip to Parris Island.  Every afternoon at 2PM they have ice cream in the ice cream they are kept busy.  I'm not sure she likes the food, but she does like the staff and they have been very good to her.  So, all in all it has gone better than i could have expected.  I just hope it lasts.

As for me, the house seems very quiet at times.  I have yet to get used to shopping or running errands without feeling that I need to rush home.  There is also an undercurrent of sadness, which I hope will subside in time. There is still a lot to be done....I'm hoping to get an increase in Aid and Attendence Benefits to help cover the costs, and I am going to have to sell my mother's house and, even though I know it's the right thing to do, there is a sadness to doing it.

I am getting back into my walking routine and have scheduled some lunch dates with friends. As things are resolved and the situation settles into normalcy, I hope to have a life again.  In the meantime, life goes on.....Victoria and Howard have had a baby boy, Allan has left Saudi for sunny Spain and Ann and Martin have moved from Holland back to the UK.  Here's wishing everyone well in their new ventures.

A special thanks to those who stayed in touch over the last few months, even when responses were slow in coming and, even then, often filled with less than cheerful news. Your concern and good wishes were greatly appreciated.....more than you know!