At the end of January 2004 my Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the early stages. I knew something was wrong after I started my new job and Mom would stop by everyday to visit. I started in September and Mom was just fine but, by October I started to see a decline in her memory. Then one day I got a phone call from Mom, which was very rare, asking me if I could loan her some money to pay off a bounced check. Of course I said yes. When I went down to give her the money, we sat and chatted for awhile and she finally said she was thinking of filing bankruptcy. I asked her why, and she said because a family member owed her money. I asked how much, and she told me. After I left I called another family member and told them what Mom had said. This family member proceeded to go over to Mom’s and find out what was going on. Needless to say, the family member they took all of her bills and credit card bills and called me a few days later to tell me that the amount Mom had said that she was in debt was not correct. Mom’s credit card bills added up to over $26,000 and she had nothing in her apartment to show that she spent that much money, plus the younger family member kept all of the receipts. After that Mom would not answer the phone, she would call you back if you left a message. She was be harassed by credit card companies. The worse thing about this is my Mother always managed money beautifully. We found out that she had been taking the checks you get from the credit card company and just writing them out when ever she or the other family member needed money.
We also found out that sometimes she would forget to take her insulin and would double up on it in the morning. I knew of our County Aged Resource Center in our county and contacted one of the ladies that I knew. The oldest family member and myself went to have a chat with her to discuss my Mothers financial status. We were told to file my Mom under elder abuse, and it would be up to our Mother if she was to press charges against the other family member or not. We knew that as long as Mom was alive she would never file charges but, we had to have her listed under elder abuse to get her the help she needed to stay at home. With the help of our County Aged Resource Center we were able to get Mom premade meals for her diabetic diet. We also were able to get an electronic pill box that we would fill once a week. We would set the timer and when it would go off it would drop her pills into a drawer. The only way the buzzer would stop was when Mom took the drawer out and took her pills and put the drawer back in. The area where the pills were was built with a lock on it so that she could not get into them to get more pills. The pill bottles we would lock in another box. It was kind of sad to have to do this to make sure she was safe.
We also started pre-measuring cereal and different foods out for mom. We would make up some of her favorite meals and freeze them in containers for her. Each container was enough for a meal. Being that Mom was diabetic we had to go through her cupboards and get rid of all the junk food that she wasn’t suppose to have. We also contacted the county on getting someone to come in and take Mom out shopping or to eat twice a week. We had to buy a Iron that would automatically shut of in few minutes, as we came over one evening and found that her Iron had still been on from the day before. Now all of these things were happening before Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Mom was burning food in her microwave. The year before she had started a fire in her apartment by putting something in the oven, and turning on the stove top burners which she had covered with covers and had paper and other things sitting on top of them as a counter top.
Each month that passed Mom seemed to get worse, my older family member and myself, we would find that when we were there talking Mom would stop talking and shut off the television. This had never happened before. We found out when she was diagnosed that her short term memory was not good, and that we would have to talk slower and one at a time or Mom for her to comprehend or would stop talking. This was because she was not able to participate any longer in a 3 way conversation. Once diagnosed they put Mom on Aricept which did help some. We started having her go to a Adult Day Care Center at least to take a bath twice a week, as she was having difficulty getting in and out of the bathtub and we were unable to help her. Mom loved the bath, we would pack up her tote bag with her towel, shampoo, deodorant and clean clothes so it would be ready for her. We had tickets prepaid for, her so that the Red Cross could pick her up and take her on Monday and Thursday.
We started looking at Assisted Living Homes. The first one we saw was wonderful, the staff was very nice, they had all homemade meals, they kept the people living there active, plus it had such a home atmosphere. Of course we looked at others but, with mom having Diabetes, some of the Assisted living homes did not have a nurse on duty 24 hours a day. After looking at around 8 Assisted Living Homes, we settled on 2. Mom had always told us she never wanted to live in a Nursing Home. So came the time that we had to take her to view the Assisted Living Home, which we dreaded. The older family member just said to Mom that we were going to pick her up on Monday at 1:00 PM. We arrived and Mom was already to go for her ride. I drove out to the Assisted Living Home and when we got there Mom got out of the car, she had no idea where we were. The older family member did not say anything until we got to the door, and that is when she told her where we were. The look on my Mother’s face was fear, and we just knew she would fight us on the assisted living. Once we arrived we were greeted by one of the aides who Mom and us on a tour, she told her about the meals and the kitchen, where Mom would be able to help out. They had a board posted with breakfast, lunch and supper on it. All of Mom’s favorites. We then proceeded down the hall to the individual rooms, where the nurse would pop in and ask if it was OK for all of us to come in and see their room. By the time we got to the third room which was decorated similar to my Mother’s apartment, Mom said to the Aide, Sign Me Up. My older family member and myself just hugged and cried. We were so happy that she would be able to be somewhere where we knew she would be happy.
We already had Mom on the COPS program that would help with the finances to have her be able to live in Assisted Living. Now Mom had to wait for an opening of a room. So the waiting began.
Over the next few months mom’s walking became slower. She had a back condition for years that just became worse. There was 2 times where we had to have the ambulance come and pick her up, as her legs got so weak that she would be sitting on the floor. She would make her way over to the phone and call the older family member. We had the life line put on her phone which helped allot. Then mom started having problems with her blood sugars. I tried to help take her blood one day, she could not remember how to take her blood, so I had to call the company that made her blood sugar testing machine. Thank God the number was on the back of her machine. The gentleman walked me through each step. So we were finally able to take her blood sugar level. It was elevated. We kept track of the blood sugars. She was either going to high or to low, and then her blood sugar levels started dropping. Mom finally ended up in the hospital for a week, with the Doctors trying to get her blood levels straightened out. It was finally the decision of the Doctor that mom needed to be in a nursing home because she was unable to control her levels at home, which was due to the fact she would eat when ever she wanted. The look on Mom’s face when they said she had to go into a Nursing Home was not what we expected. This was because she had the Assisted Living Home in her mind and that was where she was going to go.