My Journal
April 1995


Saturday, April 1, 1995

No April-fooling--it's been some bad morning!

My mother got over her confused morning yesterday and seemed okay until just before lunch when she started asking how she got here, why was she brought here, telling me that she didn't need to be here, she wasn't sick, why didn't her family come? It took taking her outside and walking around the house to convince her that she hadn't left home (or to distract her so that she would forget her concern).

The same thing had happened just a day or two ago, and I had to get my sister to come and talk to her, because she was getting angry with me for "bringing" her "here".

Last night was ok till 2:00 a.m., and then she was babbling, not saying anything I could understand at all. I got her robe on her and she sat in her chair for a few minutes, then she went back to bed to stay just till 3:00 a.m. She was cheerful then and even thanked me for helping her when I put her robe on her and got her seated in her chair again.

When she woke up, she was so confused that she got mixed up about which to use to wash her hands--the sink or the commode. Luckily, I caught her just in time, and helped her (and I will never let her wash her hands unsupervisied again--she often can't figure out how to turn the water on anyway), but I think my panic at what she was about to do confused her further.

At breakfast, she took only bite and then said that she wasn't eating anything, that it was poision, that she "had seen it", that "it was going to kill everybody, kill all the children", that she wasn't "going to eat anything else in this house."

I got her to drink her orange juice and coffee and (suprisingly) to take her medicine. But when I was trying to explain (will I ever completly quit trying to explain?) that there was nothing wrong with the food, that I bought it and fixed it myself, she got so angry that she began pushing and hitting.

There was also the first bowel incontinence today. Actually it was a matter of going to the bathroom by herself when I wasn't watching and not realizing she needed to pull down her pants. She was pulling them up from the legs. I have tried to watch her carefully and go to help her in the bathroom every time, but she can move so fast and silently, even when I think I'm watching her close enough.

I have decided that this is it. I'm not going to be able to do this anymore. My sister keeps asking, keeps saying she's ready anytime I am, so I'm going to let her get my mother on a nursing home waiting list.

Sunday, April 2, 1995

I told my sister we'd had some problems, but I didn't mention the nursing home, and I only told her about the incontinence, which I said I could handle by just watching my mother more closely and asking her more often about going to the bathroom. I didn't tell her about the hitting--just told her my mother had been angry--but she knows, because it happened to her--much more than it has to me so far.

We had a good night last night, except for something that happened around 8:30 that left me sleepless and tossing in my bed for a while. Just about an hour after going to bed, my mother got up and started leaving the room. I tried to get her to stay, because it was still so early. Then giving in, I got her robe and tried to put it on her, but she pushed me away. She said she was just going to fix some dinner, and then she was going back to bed. She went to the stove and found two muffins I'd made yesterday and started trying to get them out of the zip-lock bag. I tried to help her, and she pushed me away again and raised her hand to hit me. I realized she didn't have her dentures in and that she couldn't eat the muffin without them, so tried to get her to put them in--and again, more pushing and threatened slaps. She said she had her teeth in already, and she took the muffin to the living room, breaking it in little pieces and eating it without her dentures, saying al the time that she was going to eat this dinner if it was the last thing she did. After she finished eating it, I tried to give her a glass of water, but she refused. Having crumbs all over her nightgown, she tried to take the gown off. I said "Mama, honey, don't take your gown off", and then there was more pushing and a hand raised as if to slap me. I followed her back into the bedroom and tried to get her covered up after she got in the bed, but she wouldn't let me. Every time I tried to pull the covers up over her, she slapped at me and told me to get away and leave her alone. She said she was going to talk to "that man" about getting rid of me.

I gave up on getting covers over her and just turned on the heat until about an hour later when I knew she was asleep. Then I pulled a blanket up over her. I lay there awake for at least two hours, maybe more, fearing that she would awake and we would have more to go through before the night was over. Finally I fell asleep, and then she awoke, but she was nice and cooperative. She used the bathroom and went right back to bed, as sweet as could be.

And wonder of wonders, she slept until 6:00 a.m. this morning. Well, actually only till 5:00, if it weren't for today being the first day of daylight savings time. I guess it's good she can no longer tell time, or she might have insisted we get up an hour early.

When she did awake again, my mother was talking about fixing dinner. I told her I would get breakfast fixed right away. When I had it ready, she refused to go to wash her hands and come to the table. She said it was "too early", and mumbled something like she didn't "want to go". I left her alone, got myself dressed, and brought breakfast to her on a tray. She ate, and she said her reason for not doing so before what that she was "just waiting to see what ya'll were going to do."

Something strange happened last night at supper, too. As I was washing the dishes, she told me her mother was really old and sick and she was afraid she was going to have to quit school and take care of her. She asked me how much longer I had in school. Then she asked "Am I not in school?", and when I said "no", she just said "oh". Everything was fine as we went to watch "Little House on the Prairie" which is usually safe. (The previous night had Jesse and Frank James in in, and that wasn't a good one to watch.) She laughed at Mrs. Olsen throughout the show, and she was in a good mood at bedtime.

Monday, April 3, 1995

It's 2:00 a.m., and we just got up. It's chilly in the house, but I couldn't get my mother to stay in bed just a little while longer so I could turn the heaters on. At least she did let me put her robe on her and her wrap over her legs. I've learned the less I protest her getting up, the less angry she gets. So if she says no once to my request that she go back to bed, then that's fine-- it's time for us to get up.

Getting her to Sunday dinner yesterday went well. She woke up confused, but she seemed to understand when we talked about it as I served her a snack. Then I said we would take a walk in a few minutes. We did, and I guided the walk up towards my sister's house, showing my mother the flowers all the way there. She didn't protest at all when we arrived at the door, and then I told her we had been invited there for Sunday dinner.

She's confused about something now. She was mumbling just now about "that man." But I've found again and again that it's pointless to try to explain anything to her. I've got her settled in her chair and I've moved to the next room where I can watch her.

At the last Alzheimer's support group meeting I borrowed a video that is helping me understand more of what is happening. As the Alzheimer's affects more of the brain, the hallucinations will increase--not only visual hallucinations, but auditory as well. In the past few days that has been happening a lot. My mother asks something about what she thinks has been said even when nothing has been said at all.

My sister and I had a talk yesterday and I told her everything. Even before I did, she was encouraging me to just say the word and we would have our mother put in the nursing home. I told her how important it is to me to keep on taking care of my mother through the summer, how my minimum goal is a year, how I've got to try it for at least four and a half more months, that the closer I get to that year with my mother, the better I will feel, the more I will feel that my time here wasn't worthless, a waste, and I a failure.

Now at 3:30, my mother has just gone back to bed after being up and wandering around the house for a half hour. She was feeling of the wrap she had taken off her legs, and then feeling of the arm of her chair and saying there was a dead man there. She was in such a panic about it, pacing through the house, saying something had to be done. Finally she wore herself out, and I led her back to the bedroom. As she crawled into bed, I told her I was going to go turn the light out, and she said "You'd better do something about that poor old dead man, too." I assured her that I would.

I went back to bed but couldn't go back to sleep. She got up at 5:00 a.m. As I was fixing breakfast, she started looking confused. She ate most of her breakfast, but she didn't say a word. At times it was like she was trying to say something but couldn't. After breakfast, she took me back to the bedroom to show me. She thought someone was in her bed. I turned on the light and moved the covers to show her there was no one there. She went to sit in her chair, but she began acting like she couldn't get her breath and shaking like she did the day the nurse insisted she be taken to the emergency room.

I assumed that she had indigestion, but I wasn't sure what to do since antacids weren't supposd to be taken within an hour before or after Zantac, which she'd taken just before breakfast. I called my sister, and she said to give her a glass of water first. Halfway through the water, my mother got up to go to the bathroom, and she felt better after that. I think that she just needed to have a bowel movement and didn't realize what was wrong.

Since then she's been so different every time she's woke up from her naps. The first time she was feeling great and in a really good mood. The last time she woke up she said that she was hurting, but she said she had already taken some medicine and that it didn't work, and she went on to say that nothing did.

Tuesday, April 4, 1995

Last night was great except for one terrifying incident a couple of hours after my mother went to bed. She got up, asking where Sue was. I told her I was Sue, and she just went on asking and saying she was so worried. Every time I would tell her I was Sue, she would get madder and madder, even using a bad word twice. I had never ever heard my mother say such a thing before till a couple of months ago, and then I still wasn't quite sure I had heard it.

I saw I wasn't going to get her calmed down, so I called my sister, and she and her husband came and talked to her for about an hour or so till they got her calmed down and back in bed.

She didn't wake up again to go to the bathroom until 4:00 a.m., and I had to look at the clock a second time because I couldn't believe she had stayed in bed that long. She went back to bed then and slept for another hour. Breakfast went smoothly except that she kept on stirring her cream of wheat instead of eating it. I kept telling her it had been stirred enough and that she just needed to eat it. She would eat a few bites, and then she would be stirring it again and again. Finally she forgot about stirring it and finished off the bowl.

Saturday, April 8, 1995

We're up at 1:00 a.m., but that's better than 10:30 p.m, when my mother had tried to get up earlier, but I talked her out of it.

Her 79th birthday was Thursday. She wasn't too excited about the cake and presents at first, but she did try to blow out the candles. I asked her later if she'd had a good birthday. She said "yes", and for a minute I thought I saw just a glimmer of happiness and gratitude.

Wednesday, April 12, 1995

The last few nights have been great, and I have become spoiled. I keep hoping when we have a few good nights that maybe the sleepless nights are over for good. But no such luck. And as for luck, tonight is the night I took my contact lenses out, and I am blind as a bat but can't put them back in for several hours. We are up at 11:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 13, 1995

Now at 2:15 a.m., I can retreat to my nook in the next room now that I have my contacts back in. I had to sit in the same room with my mother until I got them back in, because I was afraid I wouldn't see her if she got up from her chair.

I am wide awake now, but nauseous after a glass of coke, a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, and a caffeine pill.

Friday, April 14, 1995

At 6:25 p.m. tonight my mother wanted to go to bed. At 6:30 she got angry with me for taking her to bed. She said she couldn't sleep on "that old hard bed" and that she wanted to sleep in her "other bed" (her chair).

I told her that if she would just sleep in bed for a couple of hours till I got that much sleep, then I would be ok and we could get up. She got really angry then, said that she was going to talk to "that man", going to talk to Myrtle (my sister), going to find someone good to stay with her.

I said ok, I would leave if that was what she wanted, we would take care of it tomorrow, would tell Myrtle then.

She told me I should sleep in the daytime. I told her that I had to cook then, clean the house, wash her clothes. She told me that I didn't do anything, that I didn't cook hardly anything, and so on.

She got into bed, but she kept tossing and turning and raising up to look at me. So I said ok, she could get up if she would let me help her put on her robe, and we got up for another night.

Saturday, April 15, 1995

I made several mistakes last night before I got my mother back into bed around 9:30 p.m. Around 7:30 she went back to the bedroom and sat on the side of the bed but didn't get into bed. I sat down to talk to her, and she was apologetic but said she couldn't believe she had really said those things to me. She kept on saying that so much, and I tried to tell her why. We've never made any attempt to keep the truth from her--that she has Alzheimer's.

To get her mind off it, I thought maybe we could watch another video. It held her attention. It made both of us sleepy enough to go back to bed, but perhaps a movie that late added to her confusion. Mistake number two was giving her a second Thoridazine just before she went back to bed.

Just before 2 a.m. she was incontinent. While I was clumsily making an attempt to change the sheets and watch after her too, she told me that she would go back to bed when I got it ready. When I finally got it ready, she wouldn't go back, nor would she put on her robe, nor her wrap over her legs. The house was chilly, so I turned the heat up high for a little while.

Mistake number three: The well pump was running and there was no water after my putting the sheets on to wash. I had been told that the pump could burn up if it kept running like that, when there was no water coming through. I had forgotten where the switch was down in the cellar for turning the pump off. So I called my sister in the middle of the night again.

She came, and my brother-in-law came with her and turned off the switch. She sat and talked to my mother for a few minutes only to hear "That woman thinks she owns this house!" My sister didn't have her usual success at getting her to go back to bed. I apologized and told my sister and her husband to go on home and back to bed. She was reluctant, but I told her this was something I would just have to wait it out.

Just before my sister had arrived, my mother had said "You can take your baby and leave!" I don't know what caused that one. An earlier movie last night (not the latter one), had got her a little upset because of some loud noise--and it was one one of her favorite movies--a Shirley Temple. Perhaps she had remembered something from that, and it caused all the confusion? I keep thinking that we may have to completly stop watching movies. She seems to enjoy them so much at times, but I never know when any part of a movie may get her confused and upset.

Sunday, April 16, 1995

My mother got up again last right after going to bed. She went back to bed at 9:30 p.m., but she got up again at 10:00 and wandered around the house. She was convinced there was someone else in the house, some child I was not taking care of, I think, and it took turning on all the lights and walking through the house several times to convince her otherwise. Then she sat in her chair and fell asleep.

At about 3:30 a.m. this morning I was so sleepy I just couldn't stay awake any longer. I lay down on the couch in the next room, in a position from which I could still see her but she couldn't see me. I just lay there watching, but did doze off around 4:00 a.m. As soon as I fell asleep, she was up out of her chair, picking up her wrap, looking at it, turning it over and saying something about giving "this ice cream to the little boy". I tried to find out what she wanted, to play along with it this time. She said the ice cream needed to be put up, that it would melt out here, so I took her wrap to the kitchen, but that didn't satisfy her. Then she said the little boy needed his breakfast, so I thought maybe she was saying it was breakfast time. I told her I would start breakfast and set a place for the little boy so he could eat. Then she said he wouldn't eat it, tht he wanted ice cream. So I got her some ice cream, thinking she was meaning herself, but when I brought it to her, she said she couldn't give the little boy ice cream because she was crazy.

I told her she wasn't, and that she just had a disease that made her not remember and that confused her. I left her then, and watched from the next room again. Then she got up to go to the bathroom. I went to help her, and while there she told me that she wished someone would kill her, that she wanted to die. I tried to comfort her, to tell her how much she's loved. She said that things were just not right and that she wanted to do what was right but she just didn't know what to do. I told her that what was right for now would be going back to bed, that she would feel so much better if she would just lie down in bed and get some rest for at least an hour till breakfast time.

She did, and we slept till 7:00 a.m. She didn't look like she felt much better then, though. She ate most of her breakfast but she was silent. After breakfast, I got her to go to the bathroom, saying we needed to get her Easter Sunday bath. After she used the bathroom, I guess what I had said sunk in. She refused the bath and said she wasn't going anywhere today. So I helped her get dressed, and she sat in her chair and slept for several hours.

I didn't think we would be spending Easter Sunday at my sister's, but we did make it, thanks to lovely warm sunny weather that allowed me to "trick" my mother into going by inviting her on a walk to see the flowers. She doesn't realize where we are going, and by the time we get to my sister's house, it's usually ok, and she enjoys the day once she gets there.

Monday, April 17, 1997

We were up last night before midnight, with my mother wandering through the house. She was looking for someone, and I couldn't figure out who. Then she said something about her mother. Then she began talking about some money that needed to be paid to someone. As she sat in her chair, she asked if I had any money, and I told her "Yes, a little, and you can have it if you need it". Then she scolded me--I couldn't figure out why at first, and then it sounded like she was scolding me for letting someone borrow money, which she went on to tell me was why I had money problems. Then she said "They said you'll have to wait till morning". I had told her earlier, when she was wandering through the house and talking about money, that no one was here and that whatever needed to be done about money could wait till morning. So she waited, but by sitting in her chair.

If it weren't for times like yesterday afternoon, I don't know if I could make it. We were all sitting in lawn chairs out under the trees in the backyard at my sister's. My brother insisted we switch chairs when he saw I was about to fall asleep in an upright chair. Once in the lounge chair, I promptly fell asleep.

Wednesday, April 19, 1995

We are up tonight at 11:00 p.m. The past few nights I've been giving my mother a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime, and I really think it's helped, but we ran out and she didn't have it tonight. The nights she did have her cup of tea, she got up more often to use the bathroom, but she just went right back to bed every time. Maybe I've found something that will really help.

Sunday, April 23, 1995

I've been getting so spoiled lately that if we get up an hour or two early, I think it's terrible. We've had some really good nights, sleeping all night long and even past daylight the next morning.

When I had my Alzheimer's support group meeting and shopping day yesterday I visited a health food store and got some herbal blends, with chamomile and other herbs that are supposed to promote relaxation and sleep. It seemed to help us both last night, though we were up at 3:00 a.m. My mother got up then saying "that other girl" told her it was time to get up.

Tuesday, April 25, 1995

Everything has been fine the last couple of days and nights. Today didn't start out well at all. My mother slept until 6:00 a.m., but she got up confused and angry. She asked me if I had gone to her parents house, and I told her no and that I'd been right here with her. I watched her as I was fixing breakfast and saw that her anger was growing. So I stopped and went to ask her what was wrong, thinking maybe things would be better if we talked about it.

She said she wanted it stopped, that this was her house and she wanted all this carrying on, this tearing up things, this fighting stopped. I tried to tell her that she'd just had a bad dream, and then I went back to preparing breakfast, fearing that she wouldn't eat a bite when I got it ready.

Surprisingly, I was successful at getting her to eat and to take her medicine but not at getting her to believe me. Her confusion just seemed to grow as we talked all during breakfast. She said someone was trying to take her money, that there was a man here in bed with the girl that stayed with her. When I told her I was the girl who stayed with her she asked "Was that your husband in bed with you?"

I'm told not to correct her, but how do I not try to straighten her out about something like that? I can't let her think there's someone else here when having someone else here would make her frightened and angry like this.

We got through breakfast and changing clothes, but she was still confused and irritated with me. She took a little nap and when she woke up I asked her if she needed to go to the bathroom, and she said no. I peeked a minute later and saw she was on the way there. I went along to help, and she informed me that we were too late, it had happened already. This was our second time for bowel incontinence.

Afterwards she told me that "they" had given her something that had cause this. Then she told me she wanted "that thing for my hair", and I gave her a comb. We had got her hair just a bit wet in the shower, and she was upset about that, I think. She combed and combed her hair all forward in her face. Then she fell asleep in her chair.

Wednesday, April 26, 1995

We were up at 3:00 a.m. again, but at least it wasn't midnight or earlier. My mother got up extremely upset and asking why she had been taken to this place and where is Myrtle Lee (my sister, who she thinks is her sister), and something about some man. I got her settled in her chair and saw talking to her wasn't working, so I left her there and went to watch her from my spot in the next room.

I got lucky. We were up for only thirty minutes. She called me back to her and this time wanted to know why I got her out of bed. So we went back to bed and slept till 6:00 a.m.!

This morning my mother said breakfast was cold, and everything tasted terrible this morning, but some days are like that, I've learned.

Copyright © 1995-2004 Brenda S. Parris
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