Time for Geriatric Psychiatric Hospitalization


Tuesday I took my mother from her stroke rehab to the hospital for a swallow test. When we returned to her stroke rehab afterwards, she refused to get out of my car. She went so far as to throw my car into park when I was driving toward the entrance. I warned her that her behavior was dangerous and that if she continued she might end up psychiatrically hospitalized.

To get my mom out of my car, the stroke rehab facility had up to ten different staff members try to cajole her out of the car and back to her room. Two Orange County sheriffs were called to see if she would listen to them (not really their job).

Finally the paramedics came. A handsome young paramedic took my mother’s vitals and monitored her heart rate. She refused a wheelchair and pointed to their gurney. After a three hour standoff, the paramedics wheeled her back into the rehab facility on a gurney.

On Wednesday, my mother’s rehab doctor called and informed me that she refused food, drink, medication and all stroke rehab treatment (speech, occupational and physical therapy). He recommended a psychiatric evaluation and checked for a urinary tract infection (UTI) which can result in confusion, a delirium-like state, agitation, hallucinations and behavioral changes.

After her psychiatric evaluation, she was transferred to a small inpatient psychiatric facility with expertise in working with geriatric patients. Maybe my mother will finally get the help that she needs. Unfortunately, psychiatric hospitalization relies heavily on group therapy, a format which she cannot benefit from for she cannot talk due to her stroke.

63 thoughts on “Time for Geriatric Psychiatric Hospitalization

  1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA December 19, 2015 / 4:19 pm

    What a nightmare!

    But not at all unusual.

    A friend of mine had to hunt his mother down, who had run naked out into the woods, because she knew he was planning to take her to a nursing home (he was).

    One of the huge sources of grief in or elderly parents is the loss of their independence.

    And your mom can’t even vent, because she can’t talk! What a nightmare!

    Trapped, without any say in her own destiny.

    I don’t want to live long enough for that to happen to me. I want to leave the planet with most of my parts working, on my own terms.

    Have things calmed down yet?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley December 19, 2015 / 10:34 pm

      Well, she’s at the small psych hospital desperately trying to communicate but unable to do so. They’ve tried communication boards and writing with no success. She’s had something specific she’s been trying to communicate since her stroke.

      She has been diagnosed with a UTI. Once that is treated, some of her behavioral symptoms may abate. Other symptoms predate both the UTI and the stroke.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA December 20, 2015 / 3:27 pm

        That must be so horrible, needing to communicate something but unable to.

        I learned a strategy that I used very successfully with my dad when he lost his speech due to a stroke.

        The speech center is located in Broca’s area on the left side of the brain. The equivalent place on the right side is where we sing from. Often people who cannot speak can sing what they want to say. You might want to tell her about that, then start humming together some familiar song, without words, then when she sees that she can really do that, choose a word, one word, and sing the same tune with that one word. She may very well start singing conversations, if she catches on!

        A couple of months ago I visited my aunt in rehab, and I sat with her at dinner. She is a singer, and she loves to entertain. So we started singing old time songs, and pretty soon we had fifty oldsters singing along with us, some of whom had not spoken in years! It was really sweet. Try an old song that she would know well, like “A Bicycle Built For Two,” if she likes that one. It’s easy to sing.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Kitt O'Malley December 20, 2015 / 4:03 pm

          Her speech and music therapist were doing just that with my mother before she refused treatment. She does try singing, but still is having trouble finding the words. She’s just one month into her recovery. I understand that loss speech due to left lobe damage takes time and a lot of rehab. We have sung to her and encourage her to sing. She mostly makes noises, which at least uses her voice, or sings parts of songs she has memorized from long past but is not yet able to converse using song.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA December 20, 2015 / 4:25 pm

            If she’s able to produce some sound and snatches of songs, that’s great! A month into her post-stroke, she’s no doubt cycling through the grief process. My dad did that, and it was so painful to see. Plus my mom for 66 years told him he couldn’t sing, so I had to convince him that he should try. He wouldn’t do it when she was home…it was one of our secrets…😊

            Liked by 1 person

          • Kitt O'Malley December 20, 2015 / 11:26 pm

            That is terrible of her. Cruel. We have all sung along with my mom, laughing even as we sang nonsense noises and hummed.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. vanbytheriver December 19, 2015 / 11:07 am

    So sorry Kitt, it just gets more complicated. We went through a pretty nasty spell this year with my MIL..it did turn out to be a UTI. I’m sure they’ll check for that. Thinking of you. Hope all turns out well. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley December 19, 2015 / 12:34 pm

      Yes, they checked for UTI. Pretty sure more than one thing going on with her.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. aitcheeevee December 19, 2015 / 10:13 am

    She might not be able to actively participate in group work, but she may benefit from being present when others are talking. She may be able to relate to the other participants experiences. I’m thinking of you and your family at this time. You truly are a warrior

    Liked by 2 people

  4. bipolarsojourner December 19, 2015 / 8:10 am

    that sucks when the very people you are trying to help, act like they don’t want it or even reject outright? that would make me feel like my efforts weren’t value. that is not far to you. your efforts are worthy of praise! be strong!


    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley December 19, 2015 / 12:33 pm

      I get it that she wants out. My parents miss each other and miss their home.


  5. Just Plain Ol' Vic December 19, 2015 / 7:31 am

    Wow Kitt, I know this must be very difficult especially around the holiday season. Stay strong and sending good vibes your way! Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. maggie0019 December 18, 2015 / 7:29 pm

    This is an all too familiar merry go round to me between my mom, dad, Jim’s mom, brother (his father died from a heart condition before we met)…exhausting, overwhelming, frustrating, and lots of tears. I am so very sorry for this situation – beyond words.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. SassaFrassTheFeisty December 18, 2015 / 6:14 pm

    Hugs Kitty. I KNOW it’s not easy for you or her. Please know you have my heartfelt and deepest prayers, thoughts and positivity to get you through this {HUGS}

    Liked by 1 person

      • SassaFrassTheFeisty December 19, 2015 / 12:47 pm

        You’re welcome. Being on the other end of the health care i know how frustrating and heartbreaking it is for family to see their loved one change after a stroke. Just keep praying-even if for the tiniest bit of peace for your mom. {Hugs}

        Liked by 1 person

  8. dyane December 18, 2015 / 5:21 pm

    You are an incredible, strong, loving daughter. You must be wiped out from such an ordeal – my prayers are with you every step of the way. I’m so glad to hear she is receiving specialized help, Kitt. I’m also hoping for a miracle – that she’ll be able talk soon somehow. I can’t remember if her speaking again is a possibility; please forgive me, but even if it’s not, I am hoping for that miracle.
    Love you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley December 19, 2015 / 12:30 pm

      Regaining speech after a major front lobe stroke takes time. She has made progress, but the progress is slow going. Thank you, Dy.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. lolabipola December 18, 2015 / 5:03 pm

    😔 Your poor mum! And poor YOU! My husbands mum had a stroke many, many years ago. She couldn’t speak for about a year, but one day, out of the blue, she began singing “You are my sunshine” to my father-in-law. That moment was so powerful for him that he became a believer. A beautiful story. I pray your mum experiences a miracle too ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • lolabipola December 18, 2015 / 5:04 pm

      She still struggles to get the words out, but she is totally aware of what everyone is saying.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kitt O'Malley December 19, 2015 / 12:29 pm

        Same. I think. Maybe she doesn’t understand everything, but she understands much more than she can communicate.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley December 19, 2015 / 12:28 pm

      Interesting how they can access speech through singing. Singing uses right side of brain, so for left side injuries that affect speech, can often sing before speak.

      Liked by 1 person

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