My Parents Are Still Apart

  Overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. Trying to do the best I can. The assisted living memory care where my father has been staying cannot accommodate my mother’s difficulty swallowing liquids due to her stroke. 

My mother is back in skilled nursing after a psychiatric stay for major depression and behavioral changes due to a UTI (urinary tract infection which can result in confusion or delirium-like state, agitation, hallucinations, other behavioral changes, poor motor skills or dizziness, and falling).

For now, my father remains in memory care. When I first looked at senior care options, I did not even consider looking at board and care homes for my parents, for I imagined them to be crowded and depressing. I only had in mind what the worst homes are like. There are nice homes. Of course, they cost more. 

A beautiful brand new board and care home close to my home can take them both, but it does not yet have its license. Once there, my parents will live in a two-room suite with a private Jack and Jill bathroom and sliders from both rooms to the backyard. My mother loves flowers, so I plan to plant some with her. Now the yard is simply walkway and lawn. 

Kills me that it is taking so long to get the two of them back together. 

My dad keeps saying he wants to move back to the beach, but I cannot oversee their care from our home and my son is adamant about not wanting to move again. We’ve moved our son far too many times. He attended five elementary schools. That’s four too many. We promised him we would not move again once we returned to Mission Viejo from the Mojave Desert.

My parents’ home is not senior friendly. Three stories tall, it presents fall risks. Significant deferred maintenance needs to be addressed. As kitchen appliances have failed over the years, my mother bought toaster ovens to cook. My greatest fear is that if my parents returned to their home, they would go back to drinking, which means that my father would again fall down the stairs (he does so at least once each time we visit).

Time for Geriatric Psychiatric Hospitalization

ems-gurney

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.

Spring is REALLY LOUD

Common yellowthroat  Credit: George Gentry/USFWS
Common yellowthroat
Credit: George Gentry/USFWS

Springtime can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in both those with depression and bipolar disorder. For those of us with bipolar disorder, SAD can trigger mania and hypomania. The stressors of these changes contributed to my psychiatric hospitalization a decade ago.

As spring has approached and the days have lengthened, I have had mild symptoms of hypomania, including insomnia, which I addressed with my psychiatrist by reducing my SSRI dose. We left my dosage of divalproex (Depakote) the same. Initially, we tried halving my dose of the SSRI escitalopram (Lexapro) to 2.5 mg for six days, with the intent of removing the SSRI altogether. But I found myself unable to stay awake during the daytime, so I remain on 2.5 mg.

To me, spring is a cacophony of noises accompanying the frenzy of renewed life. The days are longer. The birds build nests and make it known loudly and clearly with their calls that they are mating and starting anew. All that springtime bursting and bustling of new life, is stimulating, and for me, overstimulating.