My 77-yo mother has NOT been diagnosed with dementia/alzheimer's, although she is in a lot of pain all the time for various reasons and it seems to be affecting her thinking over the past year. Her sense of humor is lost most of the time; she can't understand sarcasm or "puns," and her ability to follow simple directions is failing (cut the fabric 33" by 27" was impossible until I drew the box on the fabric for her; and she still argued with me about why would they want her to cut it to 27" when they had just said to cut it to 33"?!). I handle her bills for her (at her request) as she started sending payments to the wrong accounts and was afraid that she would ruin her credit. She was chagrined to have to ask for help with her bills, it really underpinned her autonomy.
She had surgery last year, and I was handling all her meds for her immediately afterward. As she improved, I started having her help me set them up for the week and eventually made a list she could use to put the meds in their proper boxes herself. Now I make her do it herself every week, and she tracks when she takes her pain meds on paper so that she doesn't double up. She didn't want to do it herself at first, but she has managed pretty well for the last 5 months or so. I felt it was a good way for her to maintain some autonomy and control, as long as it was safe for her to do it.
Lately however, she's made some mistakes that have me worried; she skips her pain meds for hours sometimes and then she can't get the pain under control when we do get them in her. When her pain is that severe, she loses her balance, her logic is completely off, she can't remember what she is saying or doing... and that puts her medication management at risk. Not to mention she still tries to cook when she feels that bad. I have offered to take over the meds again, but it *is* difficult to manage them when I'm working full-time, and she doesn't even want to let me do it now.
How will I know when it's time to just take over? Should I just leave it alone and let her have her way? How can I take over all these small tasks without 1) robbing her of her autonomy and dignity, and 2) work full-time and not make myself crazy/exhausted? Is it even possible?
I read the stories on this website and count my lucky stars that I am not in the same position as some of you are. I think of you as heroes and I feel so bad for the battles you all have to fight -- and I feel a little guilty for being so frustrated and impatient and bitter about my own situation when it could be so much worse. When it might get so much worse in the future. I really admire all of you and the things you do and are going through. Makes me feel like my complaints are so minor!
However, I do know where to turn with my questions, because no one knows more about how to handle our elders with love and respect than all of you do. Hugs to everyone. :-)