Tuesday, February 12, 2013

She Won't Listen

Last Saturday night, my husband and I went to a movie.  I turned my phone ringer off, as I always do in a theater. My husband forgot to turn his off.  When the movie was nearly over, his phone rang, but very quietly.  He checked it and saw that my sister had called.  Then I checked my phone and saw that I had missed a call from her.  Since she had tried to reach both of us, I thought it  might be important, so I went out into the hallway and called her back.

She told me that our mother had called her.  Mom had fallen in her garage and hit her head on the concrete.  Mom lives about an hour away from us, so we hoped someone closer could get to her in a hurry.  I called her neighbor, who helps her out from time to time but the neighbor wasn't at home.  My sister did not want to drive another hour because she had just returned from a six hour drive, bringing her daughter home from a gymnastics meet in Chicago.

I called another sister, who lives ten minutes from Mom, but she was babysitting for her three grandchildren.  I asked her if she could put them in the car and drive over to check on Mom.  She said she didn't have car seats for the kids.  I asked where her daughter was.  She and her husband had gone out to dinner.  I called my niece on her cell and asked her if she could go check on Mom.  She and her husband left their dinner and went to Mom's.  They took her to the emergency room.  They called me back to tell me Mom had a huge bump on her head and that she was being admitted.

We went  up the next day to see Mom in the hospital.  She looked like she had been in a bad bar fight.  She had bruises on her face and two black eyes.  She was in a good mood though, as they had given her morphine.  They did two CT scans and let her go home that afternoon.  We asked her how she fell. She said she was carrying packages into the house, with both hands full and still trying to walk with her cane.  She tripped on a step in the garage.

My sister and her kids told us they think Mom is not safe living by herself in the house, since her husband died in October.  One week ago the pipes froze to her water softener and water leaked into the house.  She had to pay $3,000 to have repairs done.  We are not sure if the price was fair because she went ahead and had it done without telling anyone else.

My sisters also think Mom should not be driving.  She drives to church, to art class, and to the doctor.  None of them are far, but we still think it's probably not a good idea.  We found a senior apartment that we think she would like.  Some of her friends from art class live there, and they have free transportation to every place she would want to go.  They have security and medical care and full maintenance of the apartment.  However, Mom will not consider it.  She wants to stay in the house.  She says she has the whole house to herself, why would she want to move to a small apartment?

We suggested calling Meals on Wheels, mostly to have someone checking on her every day.  She refuses to accept them.  She says she "doesn't want to feel obligated" and besides she still can cook.  The hospital called and wanted to send a physical therapist to help with her mobility.  She refuses that.  She says if anyone takes her car keys she will call the police.  She says if anyone takes her to a senior facility, she will take them out of the will.  She gets very angry when we suggest anything.

Anytime Mom receives any kind of official mail she has to ask us what it's for and what she should do with it.  She doesn't understand so many things.  She needs our help, but she won't let us help her when it comes to her living circumstances.  My niece who lives close to her says she will no longer go over to help Mom because she is "enabling" her and is afraid she will come in the house and find her dead.  My sister who lives close to me, an hour from Mom, and I don't know what to do.  Mom says she wants to stay in the house until she dies.  We are afraid she has a death wish at this point, that she doesn't want to live without her husband.

The sister who lives here is a physician and she wanted Mom to stay with her after she left the hospital so she could keep an eye on her.  My husband and I went to the hospital when Mom was discharged and told her we were going to take her to my sister's house.  She kept saying "I don't want to go there." Once she was there, she said she wanted to go home the next day.  She said she couldn't take a shower at my sister's house because she was afraid she was going to fall on the slippery shower floor.  I bought a mat to put in the shower.  She took a shower, but she still wanted to go home the next day!


Jennifer A. Jilks said...

If she continues to act like a child, taking risks, you must intervene, judy. I have written about this for ever.
This is self-abuse.
Sis is right. You cannot enable her to live unsafely.
She may well have dementia, and should be tested by her doctor.
Here are some screening tests for dementia.

judy in ky said...

We have talked about asking her doctor about this.

the veg artist said...

I have no experience at all of anything like this, so can only offer my sympathy. It does sound as though something has to be done, though.

Pam said...

Oh Judy. I feel for you.
I and my friends are surrounded by this - my Dad and my Mum's sister are just like this, falls and all, and the topic of how to deal with it often comes up when I talk to others my age.
Some elderly, lucky not to be cursed with dementia, are sensible and plan for a future of possible falls, uncertainty in reasoning ability, and listen wisely to advice, even deciding of their own accord to give up driving - others are fiercely stubborn, very confused and refuse help and advice, much to their detriment, which causes distress to their families. Mix in anger and resentment and it's so hard!
Medically my Aunt's driving licence has been 'temporarily suspended' now for 3 more months! Why don't they take it away when she has dementia and confusion! She is irritable and asks 50 times a day about her car and keys, annoying other residents and her family.
My dealings with family and friend's parents involve those in their mid-eighties in various stages of medical assessments, some with the beginnings of dementia - all of my friends have been involved at some stage with the elderly driving issue. The hospital finally took my Dad's driving licence away when he had a heart attack - his own doctor was useless up to that point.

judy in ky said...

Dear Pam and Artist, I do appreciate your sharing your thoughts and sympathy with me. It helps to know that others are dealing with this, too. This does seem to be a universal problem among people with aging parents. I wish someone could develop a vaccine against dementia.

littlemancat said...

This is so difficult, Judy. You have my sympathy, but I really don't know of any helpful advice to offer. My parents, thankfully, were sensible and able to accept help and suggestions very well. Indeed, the issue may well be the onset of dementia unless your mother has always been this way?
Best to you and your sisters. I am so glad that you are not the only child.

judie said...

Hi Judy..linked here from Pam. Nice to meet you. Sad about your mom. I know you worry. Just last night I was watching a program on OWN; Lisa Ling's America series and she was going through something very similar with her father. She and her sister tried everything, like you, to no avail. The program ended without a solution. Hope you find a solution soon. I know you must worry.

judy in ky said...

Mary, I'm afraid it's probably the onset of dementia. She's become much more stubborn.

Hi Judie, it's good to meet you too. I'm sorry I missed that program on CNN. Maybe they will repeat it. Thank you for visiting here!