Mother is now a regular at the Dietert Center Take Five Club. She even went an extra day one week when they had their Valentine’s Day party, and picked out a special shirt to wear that had hearts woven into the pattern.
We’ve made some progress, and I’ve got other things in the works that she is as yet unaware of. This past week, she had an appointment with the podiatrist, who said that her feet were very healthy, just needing a little extra attention due to her age, and then he recommended a specific style of SAS shoes. And since SAS stands for San Antonio Shoes, and we are only one hour from San Antonio, we should be able to pick those up this weekend.
Next week, we return to the internist for what I have told her is a medication check, but actually we are going to be getting a referral for a neuropsych evaluation so we might have a definitive diagnosis and baseline information.
After that, I’ll be setting up appointments with the dentist, the optometrist, and a bone density scan. With each appointment, I anticipate the same conversation.
“Mom, I need to set up your appointment for (insert current concern here).”
“I don’t need an appointment for (current concern)!”
“Yes, you do.”
“My (current concern) is just fine!”
“I’m making the appointment for next week.”
I’m not sure how I’m going to explain what the neuropsych eval is all about. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but we have seen some decline just in the time she has been here.
“What’s Good Friday?”
I was quiet for a moment, because I was somewhat shocked by the question, and then debating how to answer and it what detail. “It’s the Friday before Easter.”
“Oh. The Dietert Center is going to be closed on Good Friday.”
“Well, that’s not a problem for us, because you go there on Mondays.”
I borrowed a copy of The 36-Hour Day from the Take Five lending library. It’s about being the caregiver for someone with dementia. It’s taken me awhile to start reading it, but even just the few chapters I’ve read have helped my mindset. What I read last night talked about how difficult it can be to perform multi-step tasks because there’s so much to remember, and things like cooking, cleaning, or even taking a bath can be confusing when one can no longer remember which steps, in which order, are necessary to the task.
So, I have a better understanding of Mother’s lack of initiative in helping with the cooking or cleaning. In a strange kitchen, she doesn’t know where anything is or where anything goes, compounded by the fact that she doesn’t really remember how to cook anymore. I guess that’s better than me having to worry about her burning the house down.
The book also talks about all the behaviors that are part of the dementia process, and how if family members are unaware, they might believe their loved one is just being lazy or stubborn or mean. I saw Mom in several of the examples, giving me additional insight into this process. She has always been fearful of unfamiliar situations, especially if they challenged her skillsets, and her increasing forgetfulness exacerbates these fears. I’m glad now that she voluntarily gave up driving.
I am still attending the Kerrville Writer’s Association meetings, although I haven’t actually written anything in several weeks. I have also bought studio time at the Hill Country Arts Foundation, which is a wonderful artists’ cooperative, and I have been there a couple of times to play with clay. I’ve found that Mother is less anxious with my being gone in the evening if I am able to make it home for dinner before going out.
So, I’m slowly exchanging resentment for understanding. I know I have been doing the things I need to do. Now I am working on doing them with the right spirit.