Daily Struggles with Alzheimer's

The Journey Continues

One never knows what to expect from an elderly person suffering from dementia. Memory becomes distorted and so does the reality of the day. As I entered the hallway leading to my Mother's apartment today, I discovered her washing a load of clothes in the laundry room. Washing a load of clothes would seem ordinary in another circumstance, but she pays a monthly fee to have her clothes washed and folded each week. Apparently the providers had not picked up her laundry and she grew a little impatient. Carrying the load of clothes back to her place was almost impossible for her. That basket is almost as big as she is.

While resting from her big endeavor to clean her clothes, Mom announced to me that she needed some more pants. I gently reminded her how many pairs she currently has hanging in her closet. She retorts back that she needs a pair of brown slacks. I know that I know that she has brown slacks that were purchased recently for Fall. Because she is angry and insisting that she has a need, I strolled to her closet to investigate. On top of her dirty clothes pile was a pair of brown pants. Another brown pair of slacks hung in her closet, ready to wear. Holding them up for her to see, she just laughs and says she must be getting senile.

All meals are prepared for her and served in a beautiful dining room on the first floor. In addition to white table cloths on the tables, there are waiters and waitresses dressed in black and white uniforms to serve the food. The food is good and the atmosphere filled with lots of fellowship around the tables. We stocked Mom's kitchenette with snacks only so that she would participate in the meals provided and eat well. Today she announced that she didn't even have a loaf of bread in the kitchen. I reminded her that her meals are provided for her. She then explained that if she missed one, she had nothing to eat. The explanation went further to clarify that a tray would be delivered if she could not make it to the dining room. She sighed impatiently. She wanted that loaf of bread.


Hygiene

My Mom has always taken pride in her appearance. She always ironed her clothes while I was growing up. She enjoyed a trip to the hairdresser weekly and loved to shop for a new outfit. A beauty shop is provided on her floor in the Retirement Village. They are reasonably priced and cater to the aging population with care and support. My Mom has enjoyed the shop several times in the last few weeks.

I noticed that Mom was not wanting to wash her hair just before we moved her. She would delay washing her hair and it would become dry and flat on her head.With prodding she eventually would wash and dry it. This resistance to hair washing has continued.

The hair dresser is so convenient. She can visit twice a week and look great all the time. She had an appointment this past Tuesday. My husband was visiting the night before and made sure she put that appointment on her calendar, in case it slipped her mind. Fifteen minutes before the designated hour, I called her to remind her of the appointment. She had forgotten about the appointment, but assured me she was heading to her appointment now. That appointment was missed. While visiting Thursday, I noticed her hair had not been done. Encouraging her to drop in that afternoon, they were too busy to take her right away. She went to play cards instead and assured me that she would go the next day. It never crossed her mind on Friday to get her hair done. The shop is closed on Monday.

I gently suggested to Mom that she might need to wash her hair in the shower, because it would be next week before she could visit the beauty shop. She insisted that she is not washing her hair any more! "I don't like washing it in the shower. It's too much work!"

To address the situation, I suggested that perhaps she needs a standing appointment twice a week at the same time of day and on the same days each week. Mom was agreeable to a standing appointment, "preferably in the morning so she can get it over with". I think that a prepayment plan might help also. Perhaps they would be willing to give her a courtesy call to alert her, if she has a standing appointment. Is this the time to contract for more services from the care providers? Decisions.... decisions.

The Will to Thrive

We eat we live, we don't, we die. My husband and I ate lunch with Mom on Thursday. The food was excellent. My Mom barely touched her food. When I mentioned that she needed to eat more, she shared that she wasn't very hungry. She is eating less and less as time goes on. Her doctor is watching her weight carefully because she has dropped ten pounds in the last few months. Her comment was that there is so much food. They eat three meals a day. The portions are not large, but geared to the guests and their age and nutritional needs.

The doctor gave Mom a prescription that would increase her appetite. She has refused to take it because of worries that she will outgrow her clothes. Her clothes currently are large on her because of the recent weight loss. Her comment on the tonic was that it made her "eat everything but the kitchen sink". Mom promised to start taking her appetite medicine daily on her own. The next step of care is to have the medication aide oversee her on this additional medication in the mornings, Time will tell the story.

What's New

The problems we encounter change from week to week. It appears that this journey will be on a bumpy road. My sweet Mother is facing obstacles that require creativity and patience on our part. She is a trooper and tries to comply. It is still a rough ride!

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PaulaK profile image

PaulaK 5 years ago from Austin. Texas Author

Pollyannalana, down the road as help is needed, there is help available. She will have someone to help with basic needs. We want to keep her as independent as possible for as long as possible. Just two days ago, I visited with the on -site hair salon and arranged for two visits per week. If she cannot remember to make those appointments with reminders from me, we will hire available services to walk her down to the appointments. I set up an account so that she would not have to pay, but it is prepaid. I feel like this is a great next step in our struggles with hair. Thanks for the write. Glad you stopped by! I am sorry about your Mom.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

It is really a shame your mom doesn't have more one on one with someone to help her. My mom had arthritis and osteoporosis so showering was painful to her, especially holding her hands up to wash her hair, so every 3 or 4 days I got in the walk-in shower with her and shampooed her hair while she rested against the wall. She had beautiful hair and everyone bragged on it. It was actually thick and dry but I used a citra-shine oil and it looked so great. I will go back and read more of your mom's story. My mom had Alzheimer's and passed away June of 2010.

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