Mom has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She has a variety of illnesses/conditions: Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, heart disease, kidney issues, and recently diagnosed with Cirrhosis of the Liver. Her primary care doctor says she does not have Alzheimer’s, but last year, he did tell my sister that Mom has Microvascular Brain Disease.
A little over two years ago, she had a heart attack, which required a triple bypass surgery. I moved her in with me after she was released from the hospital because I was scared she’d fall down her stairs and didn’t feel that she’d be safe in her home alone.
Her memory and cognitive skills have declined a lot over the past couple of years. She rarely knows what day of the week it is. She does not take care of herself, won’t bathe unless I ask her to, etc. She forgets to feed the cats or take her medicines. When I discover this and point it out, her answer is always “Oh, I thought I did.”
She had a staggering 20 lbs of fluid removed from her abdomen in September due to her Cirrhosis. And that was only a portion of the extra fluid she was carrying. She spent most of September and October either in the hospital or in a rehab facility. Through the fluid draining and other treatments, she dropped about 90 pounds in two months. She’s still being treated to keep her ammonia levels under control.
The only things she wants to do is to either sleep or play games on her computer. She shows very little interest in anything else, even the cats she used to love. If they try to come into her room, she yells at them to get out.
I have no other means of financial support, so I cannot quit my job (which I’ll be laid off from at the end of March) to care for her full time. I have an Intermittent Leave of Absence in place so that I won’t get fired for the time I miss having to take Mom to her various doctor appointments (primary care, GI, Nephrologist, cardiologist, and vascular doctors, etc.), but that time off is unpaid.
She shows no concerns for me or anyone else. Just about the only emotion she ever shows is getting upset when I mention that she needs to go to assisted living.
Shortly after she was released from the rehab facility she was given a nurse who comes by once a week to check her vitals and measure to see if the fluid from her liver comes back. She also has a physical therapist who comes by once a week. Nearly every week or two, one or both of them call me because she doesn’t come to the door or answer their phone calls. (I have a landline and she has her own cell phone.)
I’ve had to leave work twice because she wouldn’t answer my calls either. I’ve provided a cordless phone in her bedroom and one in the living room so that she’d have one nearby. She keeps losing the one in her bedroom. (I spent three hours cleaning and straightening her room…she’s a “Messy Marvin” and keeps messing it up, clothes and food strewn all over the room.)
I’m at my wit’s end. My health is suffering due to the stress of not being able to get her to do what she needs to do: take her medicine, be available for phone calls and home visits, etc. I feel guilty that I’m not able to help her. I feel like I’m failing her.
I’ve lost my cool with her on more than one occasion lately because of her lying to me about taking her medicine (I’ve caught her in multiple lies about it). I’ve set up alarms on her phone to remind her to take her insulin and other meds. She turns off the alarm and goes right back to playing her computer games without doing what she was supposed to be doing. Each time, she insists that she’ll do better, but she seems incapable of fulfilling that promise. I tried allowing her to prove that she can do it on her own, but she can’t. I tried to go a whole day without saying anything and seeing if she would take her medicine as she should. She didn’t. What happens if I keep saying nothing and let her skip doses? I don’t want to know because my conscience won’t allow that. It would border on abuse in my mind. She needs help.
How can I get her to understand and accept that she needs help that I am unable to provide? She insists she can take care of herself, but time and time again it’s proven that she cannot. How do I handle this?