By Lisa Baker
What come to mind when someone says surprise? You probably think of many things depending on what’s going on in your life.
Well right now for us, our surprise is Mom has a urinary tract infection (UTI). With dementia patients, a UTI can come on so quick like a surprise. It really knocks these patients for a loop. With Mom, she seems very unresponsive, eats basically nothing, and drinks nothing. She can look very dazed almost like she isn’t aware of where she is.
Dad on the other hand gets more aggressive, mean, very agitated, and unreasonable. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Right now, Mom is in the ER. They are running the usual test and giving her IV antibiotics. They also did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. It is possible that they may want to admit her for a few days until she shows some improvement. My sister-in-law, Stefanie, is with her in the ER and depending on how Mom acts may stay with her if she is admitted tonight. When Mom is like this, we very much have to play things by ear.
If it were Dad, we would probably leave him with the hospital staff. I know you must be thinking we don’t love him; we do, but that just gives you an idea of how mean he can be. We know that is not the real Dad we have grown to love. It’s very hard to sit there and take it all. This is one of the times that you have to also take care of yourself.
No one has the right to tell caretakers of dementia patients that we are doing it wrong. We are the only ones that can decide what is best for our parents and our family.
Stop and read and reread that last sentence. Now don’t be afraid to use it.
Everyone’s life and circumstances are different and even more so when dementia plays a role in a loved one’s life. Only you know or can even try to decide what is best for you.
Please don’t forget that. If you forget everything else, don’t forget that.
For us, the next several hours to days will tell if treatment is effective enough for her to return to her facility. If not, we could be back to square one looking for another place for her. Now we wait and keep checking on her and see what the doctor has to say.
Dad seems to be his usual self at his facility. He still wants to go home. He hangs on to the thought of going home. In his mind, he can take care of himself. I saw him Thursday of last week. He was very hung up on the fact that my first husband and I had separated and divorced. He was upset that I didn’t tell him about it. I’ll tell you he helped me move out when we separated more than six years ago.
He was also upset that I didn’t tell him that I was getting married to my current husband. Yes, he and Mom both were at our wedding four years ago, but all I could tell him was, “I’m sorry Dad; I thought you knew.”
My visits with him last no more than an hour most of the time. That’s about all he and I can take. It’s even gotten to where I have to figure out a way to slip out unnoticed. If I don’t, he thinks he is walking out the door with me.
I hope that all your surprises are the ones you can be excited about. I’ll let you know next time how things go with Mom and how Dad is doing.
As always, take time to make memories but also take care of yourself.
How many of you are caregivers out there? How many of you care for a loved one with dementia? I would love to hear from you.