Caring for an aging alcoholic.
My mother is almost 89 and has about doubled her alcohol intake in the past several years to where she is drinking about 12 oz (hard liquor) per day and she is only 116 pounds. She is still living independently but in an apartment situation that comes close to assisted living. She is going through her money at a fairly good clip due to not only insisting on the high alcohol consumption but also an obsession with eating out (at O'Charley's) in a nearby town at least three days a week despite having her meals paid for at her living situation. Her immediate and recent memory functions are pretty much nonexistent, and her attention/concentration is poor, but otherwise she presents as fairly high functioning. Her liver enzymes are still normal, amazingly (is it the Irish in her?). Her kidney function is slowly failing but she was still only borderline Stage IV renal failure last year when she was checked (due to see specialist in October again). She has high blood pressure controlled. No other health problems currently.
My husband and son are helping me. My husband drives 34 miles to get her then round trip 25 miles to take her to lunch then 34 miles home on Monday and my son makes the trip on Fridays. On Wednesdays she pays for transportation from the living facility to go to lunch. I take her medication/pill organizer to her on Saturdays but don't stay long as I can only take so much of being around her. Her medication is locked up and staff get it out and watch her take it. She actually takes very little medication, just 2 for blood pressure/heart, and the rest is nutritional supplements because she is so depleted (folic acid, vitamin d, b vitamins etc,). We have tried Aricept since March but as I see no improvement in memory, and more decline, I am thinking of stopping it. This is likely alcoholic dementia and the usual cognitive drugs will not help. I am wondering if I should not bother with all the vitamins either, since I read she is likely absorbing very little of them.
We have been trying to figure out how to get her to stop shopping when we are not with her due to fall risk and the fact she can't remember what she needs, she buys things she already has, and she doesn't even follow her list when she does shop. But mostly the fall risk. Plus in Wal Mart she gets a scooter and is dangerous driving it. Also we are trying to buy her liquor and keep her supplied so she won't go out and shop for it on her own, but she keeps drinking more than we expect.
She has had repeated falls but rarely any serious injuries. She did fall down her basement stairs at her home in 2010 but amazingly only broke her arm.
Her apathy is increasing. She refuses to socialize at the place where she lives because "they listen to Christian music and are people that don't do anything" (as if she does anything besides drink and watch Fox News). She is more and more obsessed with getting out of her apartment and complains constantly about loneliness.
As she declines further, I am unclear what lies ahead. I can see her needing a higher level of care, but how will they deal with the alcohol consumption? In 2010 she was given a prescription for a limited amount of alcohol while she was in LTC briefly but she wasn't drinking as heavily then and handled the reduction. At what point and how do we decide that she is spending too much money on the alcohol/eating out (right now it is about $800 a month with the gas, lunches out, and all the booze). She still has money left but if she needs a more expensive living option, she is not going to have money for long. She is spending about 2,100 a month now for the apartment situation.
We did take away the car in January. She was still driving and has been driving drunk for years. The wake-up call for us was a notice from State Farm that there was a minor personal injury lawsuit over a minor fender bender that occurred in 2012. It was worked out with insurance but we figured it was a warning that her luck might be running out. She put up a fuss for awhile but doesn't talk about it any more and says she knows she can't drive now but thought we took the car away "too soon."
So my main questions are dealing with the alcohol consumption and ethical issues in managing her money for her--do we put her on a stricter budget for example? We do not have guardianship or anything but she is letting my sister manage all the bank accounts and bills (she doesn't have the attention or memory skills to handle anything to do with money anymore).
Thanks for any and all input in advance!