New to this, New to that, what should be done, what's the next step?

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Ok. I'm going to try to be detailed, but not too detailed that it bores you. I am a late in life baby. My mom was almost 41 when I was born. I am now 32, so she is now 73. My father is 65. Throughout my life, my mom has had back problems resulting in many back surgeries. I was 6 when we moved from Ga to NC. When I was 8, my dad was injured causing him to start having back problems and a few surgeries. When I graduated from High School in 98, they moved back to Ga. to be closer to a back doctor that my mom would go to twice a yr down there (cause she trusted him so).

A few years ago, things have begun to go downhill. My mom started having seizures and would go into a trance like state. Then she had a toxic UTI causing her to go into a coma and almost died. She came out of it (obviously, since I'm here :) ) The seizure activity continued. Sometimes I would talk to her on the phone and she couldn't think of simple words as "book" or little things like that. She would also end up having to hang up with me because she'd start to hit herself on the head with the phone. She ended up in the hospital for dehydration and my dad finally got another doctor to look at her. He ran some other tests and found she was actually having strokes, not seizures. (remember those doctors she trusted so much in Ga....ha!) Got her into rehab in a NH and she started doing soooo good. Dad was doing also good because he was able to sleep since he wasn't having to listen for her to see if she was trying to cook (she once left a pot on the stove in the middle of the night and almost started a fire) or doing laundry or trying to clean up a spot on the carpet from the dog. He was walking up to 2 miles a day and sounded so strong.

Then she came out of the rehab. And she began falling again. She had memory problems again. She was up all the time. I finally convinced them to move back up here to NC to be back closer to me so I can help out some.

They did in Jan. Since then, my mom started getting better, but then turned again for the worse. She has fallen a lot, she forgets when I have talked to her, forgotten HOW she has fallen or how she got a bruise.

Dad has been sooo worn out from AGAIN having to listen for her. He on anti-anxiety meds, then gets upset at himself for getting anxiety. I told him that if he WASN'T upset about this, I would be more worried. This is his wife of 34 years and he doesn't like seeing her this way. HELLOOO!?!?!

She has lately been asking where certain people are or if she can call them. The thing is...the people she is asking about are...dead. The thing that got him was two days ago, she came rushing into the room he was in, looking terrified. She said "Where's my baby?" He said "You haven't had a baby in over 30 yrs." She just walked out. A little later she again came rushing in, again terrified, saying "Where's my baby?!? My blond hair, blue eyed baby boy?" My dad said "You haven't had a baby boy in over 40 years." She said "He was just at the end of my bed!" He told her "You don't have a baby." She walked out of the room (He's not that great at tact..lol).

I saw her today and besides looking tired, she was ok. The main problem my dad has is, since she was ok today, he goes "Well, she's ok today, so maybe it'll blow over." This has been his response every time something happens. I have used the "What if she falls and you don't get to her in time?" and the latest one I used was "What if she walks out of the house and forgets where y'all live?" to try and get some sense into him.

I'm worried that something is going to happen to her and then he's gonna feel guilty that he didn't act fast enough. (or even me that I didn't push more). I don't know what exactly is going on with her, cause the docs say she's fine (I hate to tell them...she's not!!) but something needs to give somewhere, but I'm not sure where and where I should exert myself into it all. Or how to go about doing it.

Thanks for any help :)

32 Comments

I think she needs to be seen by a doctor that is used to geriatric patients. Maybe she needs a CT scan to see if her brain is ok. I mean does she have the beginning of Alzheimer's or are they strokes, or a UTI? Too many questions to know. AND I would suggest a second opinion.
Hey Lgm, good to see you here, was reading you on LIsa's thread..... I agree with Nancy, time to get mom a complete eval, head to toe, brain to butt....don't know if the strokes are responsible for her behaviours, but time for dad to listen to you...step up and do what you feel is in her best interest... have no regrets... if you feel there is more going on than the Dr. sees then find a geriatric Dr. that specializes in elder care..... I'm sure others will have suggestions also..... good for you insisting they move closer to you... and would your dad agree to getting some respite? Sounds like he needs a serious break from all the stress... and of course he is in denial, that's just part of loving her.... and his own fear of what is going on with her.... let us know how he feels about getting a break and we'll try to help you get started.... hugs across the miles to you.....
I agree with Nancy. Mom needs to be seen by a geriatrician. And that doctor needs to be breifed about what is going on at home -- not just what shows up in the office.

Mother is not fine. Women who are fine don't ask where dead people are and don't think there are babies at the foot of their bed and don't wake up every few hours and become active. Mother is Not Fine. This will not Blow Over.

How much should you butt in? I think it would be a great service if you can have your mother thoroughly evaluated.

Once you have a better handle on what is behind her not being fine, then educate yourself and gradually your father about the most effective ways to deal with it.

For example, if she has dementia with delusions and/or hallucinations, telling her "there is no baby," may not be as helpful as "the baby's mother came and picked him up a few minutes ago. She thanked you for taking such good care of him."

Once Mother's problems are better identified, it may be possible to help her sleep through the night better, and hence give your father a better rest.

It may be necessary to bring in outside help.

But first things first. Try to arrange for a geriatric evaluation of your mom that considers all aspects of her health, not just her back.

Good luck!
Ok. So what should I say to her..or what should he say to her..either and or...in order for her to go to a geriatrician? She doesn't remember these episodes and I always hate to even suggest to her that she has forgotten something. So should I/he/we tell her anything of what she has been doing or just tell her it's for a check-up? But wouldn't she see thru that? See...I'm at a loss at how to approach her (and so is my Dad).

But yes, I will definitely call about the geriatrician, just...what to say to her.
(And thanks...cause I woulda never known about doing that! :) ...I might have found that long post by accident, but there was a purpose :) )
Hi Lgm: First of all, everything posted above is excellent advise. Absolutely, get your mom into a geriatric specialist who deals with dementia. Maybe her primary doc can give you a referral. Are you or your father authorized to speak to her primary doc on the phone or in a consultation? Hopefully, that is the case and it will make things easier.

My suggestion would be that you write down all of the problems your mom is having and take it with you to the specialist. He can read it so you don't have to explain it all in front of your mom.

I think I would approach it from her falling. Does she have a memory of her falls? Can you say, "Mom, we are taking you to a specialist because you are having too many falls and we want to see if there is some medication that can help. We want an expert in on your care, a good second opinion." This may not be the perfect words, but you will need to be somewhat honest that you feel she is having more small strokes and you want to get her the best medical help. She might know more than you think she knows, even if it's just a feeling that something is wrong. I hope she will listen to your father and understand that you both want her home and safe.

My dad has had a couple of strokes and he has some dementia as a result. It's vascular dementia and that could certainly be the case with your mom. It does sound advanced, but there could be some medications that will help her sleep at night and stop the hallucinations.

You are starting a new journey. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Take it a day at a time and do all you can to let your mom know she is loved and safe with you.

Please keep us posted. Love and Hugs, Cattails
A geriatrician is simply a doctor who specializes in treating elders, just as a pediatrician treats children. There is no stigma attached to seeing such a doctor. Now that your parents have moved near you, you are trying to see that they have good care, including a great Primary Care Provider. You've heard good things about this doctor and you want Mother to start by having a check up, seeing if she likes this doctor, then having her records transferred to this clinic, etc. Personally, I wouldn't go in to all the episodes with Mother. There may be a need for that at some point, but I don't see it just to get a check up.

Having an established relationship with a PCP before need arises is just good practice. Dad should have a local doctor, too, now that they've moved. If he doesn't, then he should have an appointment, too. (Of course I'm not suggesting the same kind of testing for him. But that is behind-the-scenes with the doctor, and Mother doesn't have to know about that.)

Good luck!
And, by the way, a geriatrician is not a "specialist" in the sense that you would have a "regular doctor" that you see about some things and then also a geriatrician that you consult about only special things. It is like a child having a pediatrician -- that doctor is the child's primary care provider.

Both my father and now my mother had/have geriatricians as their PCP. It has nothing to do with dementia in either case. My husband sees a dementia specialist for treating his Lewy Body Dementia and sees a geriatrician (who keeps informed of his dementia treatment) for everything else.

A geriatrican is a great place to start and would be a wonderful choice for a PCP, but there may be additional referrals involved, too.
Lgm, 2 years ago my father in law went thru some congestive heat failure and skin cancer surgeries. He's very closed mouth about his dr visits. Since I do not work during the summer, I was the obvious choice to take him to dr appts. I filled the paperwork in for him to sign. There was a paper involving the privacy act, and the question was did he give permission to discuss his health with anyone other than him. I filled out my mil and all 4 of his children. Now after his appts any one of them can pick up the phone and find out his examination results. I would think that would apply in each state.
Hi lgm, you are in NC? Great geriatric treatment and eval clinic at Duke. at 1st visit, family w SWorker, mom w MD &RN. yes write out concerns. Sw will meet w md and then everyone meets together for results, recommendations. The give mom a written report to take with her that day. Great service! They also have a memory disorder center at Duke. Which region of NC R U in? I know of some other resources too, Duke is great though.good luck.
Lgm, Yes make a list of the things that are scaring you and your dad. Sit mom down when she has a clear mental moment and say "Mom, remember when I was growing up and you would see that there might be something wrong with me? maybe you thought I might be getting sick, even though I didn't think so? Well that's what's happening now to you, and I NEED to get you in to see a doctor in order to see if I'm right or not". Paint a 'word picture' for her to understand what's happening to her, in relation to how she felt when you were in need of help. Tell dad to get his head out of the ether bag and get on board with you, cause you're taking her in no matter what. None of you can live like this, especially your poor mom. Good luck.

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