Mom is falling everyday. Is she having strokes or is she just weak?

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Mother had a hip replacement in March (?) around then--spent 8 weeks in rehab then came home (lives in an apt with my brother's family). For the last 8 weeks or so, she has been falling, the last 2 weeks, she has fallen every single day. She has a "fallen down" alarm pendant, but it rarely works as she really just blacks out and slumps to the floor, so the alarm does not go off. She is too weak to push the panic button on her own. Last week she laid on the floor from 11 pm to 5:45 am when she regained her ability to push the alarm. She also loses bladder control when she has these episodes, and her ability to speak for a length of time. She's covered in bruises, but can't tell you how she got them. She falls only between 10 pm and 6 am...never during the day. Out of 5 siblings, only 2 of us really take care of her. I went yesterday with my hubby and we put in a bed guard rail--but she wouldn't let us install it the "correct way" because it would have meant moving a little side table she has..she completely flipped out when I showed her that to install it correctly we'd need to move this table--screamed at me and said "You have taken everything from me...I'm keeping that table"...I know at that point to walk away.
Realistically, even is she is having mini-strokes, there is nothing we can do. She is able to take care of herself.....barely. I go there 3-5 times per week, and do what I can, but I make her angry, so I usually don't stay long. She says very hurtful things to me, and yes, I know I am supposed to let the comments roll off my back, but they still hurt. I guess I am wondering if this passing out and falling down is leading to a bigger stroke, or if this is a normal part of aging. (She's 85). I don't know how my brother handles it-- she will happily use up every minute of every day he is off work, when I can step up and do some of this for her--she won't let me, b/c she doesn't like me as well. We cannot get the other sibs involved, they just don't want to be. I guess I'm just venting, but I do want to know if this blacking out and falling is something to be concerned about...or if it's just more of the aging process. Sure wish she could be nice to me.....when she passes I am going to be so exhausted and sick of her unkindness...I don't think I will even care--and I know how awful that sounds.....she can say the cruelest things to me, and I am still trying to learn how to let it go. I'm trying to clear her apt of obstructions and falling hazards and she's screaming at me that I am trying to take all her things away from her (a ratty kitchen rug, a bedskirt that trips her up, a bag of wet depends she leaves in the hallway....) I don't get her at all. I REALLY wanted to move her to AL but the other sibs all said NO WAY--well, THEY don't care for her, so it's easy for them to say. They have not seen her the day after a fall when she is incoherent and covered in fresh bruises. Just wonder how long this can go on.

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Top Answer
She falls down in an apartment where your brother lives? Tell him the next time she blacks out to call 911 and have her admitted to the hospital. Psych meds may make her a happier person. In any event, you need to find out why she's falling/blacking out. She might have a uti. Important to have her worked up by a competent team, including a geriatric psychiatrist. Onceshe is in the hospital, her living conditions need to be aassessed. Frankly, it doesn't sound like anyone in the family has a grasp on the situation.
Mid, I get your concern and how much you worry about your mom. But as an adult, she made choices. And if that choice was to throw her lot in with your brother then you are not obligated to wrest her from his care.

My mil ignored warnings to stop smoking (she had copd) and when my husband would visit and try to reason with her over this, she would threaten to report him to APS. She chose her youngest to be POA, someone she exerted total control over. So that when she decided to starve herself to death after open heart surgery, he said "fine, okay, this is what mom wants". People who are competent make choices. We don't have to kill ourselves "fixing" these things.
The siblings are in denial. She needs at least assisted living, which will extend her life. A few more falls at home alone will land her in a full-on nursing home far sooner than you think. Talk to her MD, I think he would agree.
It is hard when you are the one doing most of it, you have a clear handle on the realities of the situation -- and the siblings can't or won't listen to what you are seeing.

If possible, I would try to get her to an appt. with the family doctor over these falls and blacking out incidents. You could fib and say the doctor called to remind her of an appt. she "already" had scheduled if you think that would work. The spells do not sound like a normal part of aging, and the fact that it happens at night is making me think there is some medical answer -- think about how when your kids were sick and it would always get worse at night, you know?

Your instincts are spot on, there is something going on and she needs to be seen and evaluated. I think you are wrong about not being able to override your siblings wishes. Since they are basically not involved, I think that leaves you in a great position to do just exactly what you think is right. They may show up later and complain, but you can say you did what was needed, and likely the doctors will back you up.
Repeated falls are a warning sign that there is a problem. If the warnings are not heeded, she is likely to break a hip or worse. Does her doctor know she's falling this much? I bet he would not think that's okay.

I'm not sure who has legal authority over her, but it seems like she's in dire need. She could have any number of medical conditions or progressing dementia. I wouldn't wait for something drastic to happen to get her attention.
It sounds like a living nightmare for you, I'm so sorry.

Well. You could go over her head. Take pictures, take them to her doctor, outline the living situation and recent history, etc. etc. But to be honest you'd just be covering your you-know-what. Because, whereas one would normally agree that your brother is being an ostrich and the other sibs - well, goodness knows what they're thinking - your brother has an unusually good case for not taking this further. Also, it sounds as if you've no questions about your mother's capacity? So even if you did appeal to higher authorities, if she's competent and she says no… everyone's on a hiding to nothing.

What DOES R say, besides referring to the living will I mean? If she's keeling over for no obvious reason it sounds like a blood pressure issue, wouldn't you think? Is that side of things under control? But rather than some herbert on the internet (i.e. me) guessing, I'm sure you'd rather just get her checked over: and I don't believe R can justify withholding *all* medical treatment on the basis that she doesn't want heroics. It's not the same thing. As you say.

Meanwhile, at least it won't be you with the broken hip. I can't think of anything else very comforting to say, I'm afraid. No teeth grinding! - you'll make your migraine worse. Best of luck, hope you get somewhere.
Well, I'm about to propose the unthinkable - call APS because of her situation, which is an adult in danger because of inability to take steps to protect herself from injury. When they see her all bruised up and brother is next door and doing nothing to help her, plus blocking her from getting timely medical care, you won't have to be the bad guy in this any more. Waiting til April is not OK. She is not safe. She did not say she wanted NO MEDICAL CARE, just not artificial life support. Feel her pulse - if it is irregular, she needs that looked at ASAP. She could very likely be found not competent given a decent geriatric evaluation; her being verbal, recognizing familiar people, and doing whatever self care she does does not mean her judgement or even her orientation to reality is intact. I would guess that she is sundowning and getting her seen later in the day could help them to pick up on deficit areas most easily. To be brutally honest, she probably has a better excuse for her irrationality than your siblings do. And to be more brutal still, and I'm sorry if this is too much or too far over the line, I *hope* that "R" is simply in denial and not expecting to profit from her demise as early as possible, because that's what ignoring this will lead to. Over 6 hours laying on the floor can do great harm, including pressure necrosis of skin and/or muscle (rhabdomyolysis) and along with the inability to get any food or fluid for that period that could be the end of a sad story.

This isn't about bedrails. It's about denial and failure to protect a vulnerable person, whether she is nasty because of depression or misjudgement or because she's been nasty lifelong does not matter as much as the simple facts. She is living alone with an alert button she cannot and does not use, and under those circumstnaces probably should not be. There is no guarantee APS will do the right thing, but you will have done the right thing by making the call. I'm sorry you and hubby are the only rational ones in the family who can see this is no good, it is a heavy burden to shoulder, at the risk of alienating siblings to boot...
I did talk to my brother yesterday, and he apologized to me--seems like mother is pretty adept at playing each of us against the other--for example-I was AT HER HOME yesterday at 12:40, removing the bed rails. I commented that she seemed pretty dressed up. No answer as to WHY she was dressed up (she always hangs out at her apt in housecoats or PJs, only gets dressed if she's going out) R was home, but I was in and out in 5 minutes and didn't talk to mother, other than to ask how she fell off a kitchen chair--she said she didn't remember. Later that day, I went back to R's to get something he had for me, he informed me that 5 minutes AFTER mother was supposed to be at a dr's appt, (@ 1:20) she came and found him and informed him that they'd missed it. He asked her WHY didn't she ask me to take her (as I was right there!) or why she didn't just come and get him , as he was simply doing some yardwork and could easily have stopped. No answer from her. He did call the dr and re-schedule for next week. R and I discussed this at length, that she hides from each of us what she wants and plays us against each other for maximum sympathy. She KNOWS this appt was to discuss the continual falling and look for possible reasons--(altho she had repeatedly told me she didn't have an appt until April, she knew all along she had one yesterday). We will all make sure she gets checked thoroughly.
And BTW, R has the power to change the calling list from her panic button. My sister, who set it up, and swears she has always been 2nd on the calling list, was not even on it. R put only the people who actually live in his house on the list (4 of 5 of his kids are over 21 and certainly able to care for mother). They can always call 911. R is beginning to wear out, and he is not as in denial about Mother as I thought. So, altho he refuses to entertain the thought of an assisted living facility, he is getting sick of the manipulation. He did tell me to take a couple weeks of respite and jusy not come see her-he was going to call the non-present sibs and give them "assignments" to come see mother, clean her apt or take her to appts. They don't call or come unless something dramatic happens. I will enjoy the break.
My mother was plagued by much the same type of episodes. I finally did my own research and found out that the heart/blood pressure meds were causing it. She was taking Toprol . She was also experiencing numbness in her hands. The episodes were triggered when she had her hands in warm water (washing dishes) and when she stood for long periods (washing dishes) She was still working at the time in her hair salon, so shampooing hair and standing up styling were also triggers. I can't tell you how many times she blacked out before I discovered the culprit. Trips to the ER etc. She would go stuperous and slide down or just black out and there was not the sudden loss of consciousness. Check her meds!!!! None of her doctors seemed to have a clue. Not her PCP or her Cardio specialist. Go figgure. I took her to a new cardio specialist who put her on a lower doseage - given at night not in the AM and the problem stopped.
From what I have read on the forums, I would recommend you go back to your Mom's residence and remove those bed guard rails immediately [if you did install them].... an elder can get tangled up in those rails if they try to get out of bed, or they will scoot down to the end of the bed to get out. There are rubber mats you can put on the floor beside the bed to help on any falls.

As others have said, you need to find out what is causing the fainting. Is she still on any type of pain pill for her hip replacement, that could easily cause the fainting and loss of bladder control. Or it could be an inner ear imbalance. Or she can't feel her feet by the time evening comes. Or a knee that give out. Make some excuse to take her to the doctor.

Blacking out isn't part of the aging process. My Mom is 97 and has never had a fall. Yet my Dad who is 93 is always tumbling over as he is losing his balance doing stuff he shouldn't be doing in the first place.

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