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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Can your Mother come live with you ?

     MOM could not live alone any more.  I was frantic.  My heart sank each time I visited her home.  I visited Mom as often as I could during the week and spent most of Saturdays helping her out, taking her shopping, out for coffee and muffins, etc.  I loved my time with her.

She had lost a tremendous amount of weight.  Her refrigerator held no sustenance in the realm of food items.  She was eating egg whites and applesauce. Her clothes, once crisp and clean, were stained, torn and unkempt.  The pieces of paper, notes, calendars, and writing pads strewed the den, kitchen counters, and stairway.  The front yard showed grass and weeds almost a foot tall.  Her living room floor displayed random pieces covering the surface of the carpet.  Mom had not washed her hair in a while.  I do not know how long it had been since she had showered. She was still operating a vehicle.  The house was quite dusty and in total disarray.  Used plates, utensils, cups and frying pans sat on the kitchen counter.  There were stains all over the kitchen floor.   I had to take a minute, excuse myself and go outside so Mom would not see my tears.  I did not want her taking on my emotional state.

When I got myself together, I went back into Mom’s home and offered to help her clean up.  I washed all the dirty dishes, cleaned up the kitchen floor, got the washer and dryer going, cleaned her bathrooms and then took her out to get a decent meal – which she devoured.

I got ready to straighten up her belongings on the living room floor,  but she said she had a “system” and didn’t want me touching her items.  To her, these items belonged on the floor just as she had placed them.  She mentally fought to organize a house that used to come second nature to her.  I could see the agony on her face and watched her struggle to try to keep her independence.  It was heartbreaking to witness.  I hugged her and told her it would all be good !   After giving her many a cheery word – and upbeat nuances – I continued to pick up and do what I could in her home. 

Help was in the near future, thank goodness.  I had a difficult time leaving Mom to go home – knowing she was barely making it in that big house without her husband to take care of and guide her.  I offered to bring her to our home for a couple of days, but she refused to leave.  I look back now and can honestly understand her hesitance to leave her home.  In Mom’s mind, if she left her home – even to come stay with us for a couple of days – she may never be back in her home.  This was her home.  These were her belongings, her memories, her safety net.  She did not want to leave.

This vile disease, Alzheimer’s had my Mother in it’s clutches.  It was not letting go nor giving her a break.  Her decline was rapid and devastating after her husband passed.  She had no one to look out for her any longer—no one to protect her…..Dad was gone.

Many were expressing grave concern for Mom’s behavior. The credit union was beside itself trying to protect Mom and her interests.  She would visit the credit union up to 6 times per day, never remembering the previous visits.  She would go into her safe deposit box each time.  Mom was phoning the doctor’s office equally as many times daily until her dedicated doctor called me at home.  Her insurance agent for both home and vehicle were contacting me, telling me to get Mom OFF THE ROAD.  Adult Protective Services had been contacted.  The caller surmised Mom’s situation and a required follow up by Virginia state law ensued.   Friends were calling asking if my Mother was OK?   The wheels started turning.  Mom’s plight could no longer be ignored.

Mom’s doctor’s words hit hard.  But they were true.  Your “Mom should not be living alone anymore”.  He immediately scheduled a series of tests for Mom – to be given by a licensed experienced, Neuropsychologist at our local hospital. Mom’s elder attorney was expressing grave concern as well as her role in Mom’s life was beginning.  She worked together with Mom’s doctor, APS officer, and Neuropsychologist. The goal was for all concerned was MOM and her safety.

Many of her friends were concerned sure–but most felt she was “fine” and just missing her husband.  One friend that our families had known for years suggested I move in with Mom on a full-time basis.  Simply quit my job, leave my family, desert my life – to her it was a simple solution.  Mom needed me full-time.  I could cook her (Mom’s) meals, drive her to appointments, the grocery store – errands – the bank – also, I could ensure that Mom bathed, washed her hair, had clean clothes, clean house, spruced up yard, etc.  I asked her where my husband and son fit into this picture?  What about my job?  Who would pay my salary?  Was she going to contribute to our mortgage payment every month?  What about my life?  My responsibilities to my own family?  Needless to say that was our final phone conversation.  

Mom’s doctor contacted me.  His question – “Can your Mother come live with you” – so she will not be alone?  was answered swiftly and without a second thought from me was ….. “NO”.  I knew I could not take the responsibility of Mom 24/7 in our home.  My husband worked fulltime, I worked fulltime for a school system.  I had a teenage son in high school that included a busy weekend schedule of athletics.  Being Mom’s caregiver now was overwhelming, I could not even begin to fathom the additional strain on her as well as my family if she were in our home.  She would be in a unfamiliar environment compared to her own home.  As her designated caregiver and DPOA, every minute available in my time slot now, already, went to Mom’s care.  How could I take on more?  My blood pressure was already high and stress most days, was more than I could humanly tolerate.  If Mom had moved in with us, I would have ended up with a nervous breakdown.

Knowing that Mom would be alone in our home during the day opened up many possibilities.  What if she decided to cook something to eat?  There was the chance of our house going up in flames.  What if she accidentally let my two dogs out?  One of them was a 130# German Shepherd.  The worst thought was of Mom walking down the street looking for me or for her husband.  What is she got lost?  What is she had been accosted?  Oh my – so many scenarios to take into account.

The only way it would have worked for all of us, would have been for me to quit my job with the school system and stay home with Mom all day.  Financially however, was impossible.  My income was necessary for our household.  Me quitting my job was not even considered as a viable option. 

The outcome for Mom was very positive.  She was in the position to be placed into an Assisted Living Facility.  Within a few days, she had forgotten about her home and melded into the ALF environment and other lovely ladies of the facility.

Thank goodness.  Mom was now supervised by medical professionals, she was well fed, treated with respect and dignity,  Most importantly, Mom was now safe.

Suzette

 

 

 

 

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Resting – lavishing after a good long walk…..

Resting - lavishing after a good long walk.....

OK – I have the couch and my pillow…I’m tired (yawn) from that long walk in the park !

Does your book suck….?

Does your book suck….?.

My beautiful “Infographic”

My beautiful "Infographic".

My beautiful “Infographic”

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“Elder Care: Don’t Steal Mom’s Identity”…..the ITRC

“Elder Care: Don’t Steal Mom’s Identity”…..the ITRC

      Thinking back over the years when I still took care of Mom, I remember adult “caregivers” telling me how their son/daughter (was then) living in their parent’s home – rent free but of course – since the grandmother had been placed in a ALF or Convalescent Center.  I would ask the “caregiver” if their parent who currently resided in an ALF or convalescent center, gave them written permission for this cozy rent free situation.  I already knew the answer, but I wanted to hear what they had to say.  NO, they said….she’s not living in it she’s in an ALF – I doubt she will ever live in it again – it is just sitting there vacant – I figured Mom (Nana) wouldn’t mind – and (my personal favorite) — my son/daughter really need a place to live for a while – they can’t afford to pay anyone rent.   

Oh and yes, a neighbor down the street needed a bed for their guest room  and since “Nana” wouldn’t be home anytime soon, they gave the bed to the neighbor (“Nana’s” bed, mind you – not the caregivers to give).  The shopping trips and movies that also didn’t include “Nana” but came out of “Nana’s” funds.  Have a couple of past due debts?  It’s OK, write a check out of “Nana’s” account…..she has plenty of money.

The son or daughter and their friends who used “Nana’s” car that she could of course, no longer drive, for their daily trips to and from school – not to mention the many stops along the way.  How did that work?  Oh yes, extracurricular activities.  I know of one instance where “Nana’s” car was wrecked – and the funds to restore it came out of “Nana’s” funds !  I asked this individual how exactly is that justified?  “Nana” paying for her own car, that she no longer is capable of driving – to be repaired due to a teenager driving (with caregivers “permission”) like a maniac and wrecking a car that they had NO right to be driving in the first place?  That is so wrong, where do I start?

My blood boiled.  At the time I was my Mom’s caregiver.  I kept meticulous records of each and every expense.  I had to be accountable to Mom’s Elder Attorney and my sister – at all times—which is the way it should be.

I kept receipts, cancelled checks, records of discrepancies from companies trying to SCAM my Mother, statements, bank paperwork, car insurance updates, the sale of her home, the sale of her car, ALL proceeds going back into MOM’s account.  It is my MOTHER’S money – NOT mine, not my sister’s.

I remember in particular, one of MOM’S friends.  I gave her a check out of Mom’s account to get (MOM) some nice spring clothes from a fairly affluent Thrift Shop. (I made it perfectly clear that I needed a receipt for each purchase) –  Let’s suffice it to say – she didn’t pay Mom back, nor did she buy her one stitch of clothes from this money. With the help from Mom’s Elder Attorney, I got back every single cent.  I deposited the $350.00 back into Mom’s account.  Perfect example –  right?

Of course the individuals mentioned above never approached me again regarding funds that did not belong to THEM.  I simply told them they needed to be in Jail.  That is how strongly I felt about the “freebies” being dished out.  How shameful of these “caregivers”.

Check with your Elder Attorney in your State, ask questions on caregiver funds and possessions, do your research,  find out how to keep records, set up a filing system, your name added to your loved ones account (NOT in your name only).  The Elder Attorney will be an invaluable resource to explain the laws on this matter. Call (EA)  them on all financial issues.  Call (EA) for suggestions, advice, anything concerning your loved ones affairs.

Thank you to ITRC – “Identity Theft Resource Center”  for featuring my book:  “Alzheimer’s Through My Mother’s Eyes” in your wonderful and informative article.  Such an important issue for families, friends, relatives and all that are involved with your loved one.  Keep it honest.

SUZETTE

 

 

 

Suzette Brown

Suzette Brown.