Anxious about Dementia

So here I am, in my car, which is pretty hot. Probably have to open the windows to let in some air. Just going to make it hard for anything to be heard. Oh, oh, that feels good.

Okay. I’m on my way to the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County, or whatever it’s called, Alzheimer’s dot org of Orange County. ALZ.org for those who want to check out the national Alzheimer’s US group. But I’m going to the local OC chapter’s educational series. The first one is Basics – Dementia Basics. I’m driving, so I’m not necessarily getting the title totally correct.

I’m actually pretty anxious going to it. Anxious because, well, this is pretty emotionally trying for me having both my parents with dementia right now. My mom’s struggling with what’s called vascular dementia, which is secondary to her stroke, and can be caused by heart problems, blood pressure, high blood pressure. All those things can damage the brain. Right? High blood pressure goes up, damage to the brain. So, and her stroke was the most damaging to the brain. Just horrible.

And, my dad has been struggling with memory loss for many, many years. This last year it’s just taken a real dive. He still has his social skills, but his memory is pretty fried, especially his short term memory. But he’s able to reason. His intelligence is there. It’s alcohol-related dementia. Some people are more susceptible than others. Have people drinking the same amount of alcohol. One gets cirrhosis. The other gets alcohol-related dementia. The other gets nothing. So, you never know what you’re playing with in terms of your deck, and you better take pretty good care of it.

I try to do my best. Well, I don’t do my best. I try to do my better. (Laugh) I don’t exercise enough. I know that. I’m taking cholesterol meds rather than strictly adhere to a low fat diet. I try, I look at the fat content in everything, but I just have my weaknesses, especially since my mom had her stroke. I’ve put on at least ten pounds, maybe fifteen. I think it’s about ten pounds according to my physician since her stroke, and it’s pounds where you don’t want to have it, on your stomach. That’s the area that’s not good for your heart.

Heart health is what I really have to take a look at now as somebody who is susceptible to stroke. My grandmother died, my maternal grandmother, my mother’s mother, died of stroke, and she’d had several TIA’s, which are like mini-strokes, before that. So, anyway, just checking in.

Vascular Dementia and Psychosis

trees and mountain range in distance
My husband, son & I are visiting my sister, her family, and the in-laws (my sister and I married brothers) in Oregon. Beautiful outside. We can see Mt. St. Helens peaking out in the distance, but it doesn’t really show up in this photo.

Trying to focus on nature’s beauty to give my mind and my soul a break from the burden of caregiving for my parents.

Had to have my mother psychiatrically hospitalized again. Vascular dementia due to her recent stroke in addition to pre-existing mental illness (she’s my mother, I’m her genetic legacy) led to psychosis. Hope that her new medication regimen will improve the quality of her life.

Painful process to watch, seeing someone you love devastated by a stroke. My mother’s vascular dementia is worse than my father’s dementia. He has no short-term memory and is aware of his memory loss, but still has verbal skills. My mother has lost her ability to communicate, which makes it very difficult for her.

Take care of your brain. Injuries to it can alter your life in terrible ways.

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).

Unraveling

  
After a week of crisis intervention, starting with calling 911 upon realizing my mom had had a stroke last Saturday, I’m coming undone. Time for a break. 

Luckily, my sister and I got reserves (husbands and sons) helping us out with our parents today. I plan to go home and take Sunday as a day of rest. Wish me well. Wish us well. Keep up the prayers. Thank you.