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I am getting ready to take my mother to the third doctor appointment this week. We have another appointment tomorrow (Thursday) morning. Her pharmacist just called me about the prescription she called in this morning. Her primary care physician has lost interest in my mother because she cries wolf so often. I know exactly how he feels, but now I have to come up with another one for her. I started to call one this morning, but couldn't make myself do it. We have had at least four appointments a week since the start of January.

It seems like this would be easy to handle just by saying no, I won't take you. That is very hard to do when living with the person. If I don't think her health problems are critical, she goes into "Well, I will just go ahead and die" screaming mode. She calls doctors while I am in my room. If I don't take her, she will call a worker who charges her $100 to do it.

She talks about her symptoms from the moment she wakes until she goes to bed. I don't even want to be around her. I know the things she should do to make her feel better, but she won't do them. She loves going to doctors, and believes that pills take the place of making any positive changes. With dementia getting worse, there doesn't seem to be much hope of making changes.

I have gone into serious self-protection mode. It is impossible to work or create anything when Mother is having to go to the doctor every day for whatever illness she imagined for the day. Hypochondria, Manchaussens, or just narcissistic attention seeking, I don't know. She doesn't have the ability to care what she is doing to me. I know my time in caregiving is drawing to an end if I can't change what she is doing. Maybe she needs to be in skilled nursing where she can receive treatment all day long if she needs it. It is a shame, though, because physically she is able to live in her home. She just can't stop obsessing on every skin bump or itch she has.

Thanks for listening to the vent. I know there are only two answers -- buck up or get out. I'm sure I would be arrested if I went in the back yard and started screaming. :-O

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Jeanne, good advice as always. I could probably solve half my headaches by disabling her phone. Unfortunately, it is the only way she keeps in touch with anyone. She also calls doctors and drugstores when I'm not watching her.

This morning I had plans to call the McDonald clinic here at UAB. They are an outpatient service for elders. The target patient sounded just like my mother. With all the appointments this week, though, my body would not let me deal with one more medical issue. They'll get a call either tomorrow or Friday after I get all these appointments over with. They deal with all the problems elders face, including dementia, diabetes, incontinence, and mobility problems. They sound like they could take a huge burden off our shoulders, since there is an interdisciplinary team working with patients.

Today my mother and I were talking on the way home from her appointment. She talked of the things she needs to have done. I told her we were through with the doctors after tomorrow. She told me that when people get old they have to go to the doctor a lot -- either that or die. I told her that I knew many old people and she goes about 4 times more than anyone I know. Then right on cue, I checked the mail and got two fat envelopes from Blue Cross-Blue Shield. There were 7 claims that we received just today and more to come.

I need some coffee. Tonight I think we'll just have chicken pot pies. The Marie Callender (sp?) ones are tasty, and I don't want to cook. Being angry takes way too much energy. Sometimes I wish I could be a mellow person that doesn't get ruffled by things. I am starting to feel more like a badger.
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Ah, Jessie, you go ahead and vent! You are in a very tough role. If you do go out in the back yard and scream, take a boom box with you turned up full volume. Better to have an officer come and tell you to turn it down than to have the folks in the white coats come to take you away!

If your mother does have dementia (which seems likely) then you have to be the sane, stable adult. Obsessing on going to the doctor over every bump and itch is not rational. Say No. Then she goes into "Well, I will just go ahead and die" screaming mode. And the problem with that is ...? Seriously, that would be unpleasant to listen to but no more unpleasant than taking her to unnecessary medical appointments I would think. Or she'll call someone else to take her, for $100. I can imagine what the problem with that is, but would she really do it 4 times a week? What if you called the clinic and the ride provider and cancelled?

If she has dementia you may not be able to change what she is doing -- only your reaction to what she is doing. (But you know that, I'm sure.)

Find her a geriatrician for her new Primary Care Provider. Explain the situation in detail before her first appointment. Tell her you will only take her to specialists if her geriatrician refers her or for regularly recurring appointments such as once a quarter to her endocrinologist. Stick to it.

Maybe she really would be happier in a setting where medical supervision was always available. Certainly you would be. Three years is a long time to tough this out. You've done more than can reasonably be expected!
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