FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ Hannah and Her Sister (and Their Mom) / Editorial List
My mother fell about six weeks ago and injured her
right leg, but healed with using a walker.
Then, when she felt really good, last Saturday, she
fell in her room and broke her left hip.
She had surgery last Monday with a nerve block
rather than anesthesia (because of how debilitating
anesthesia can be on dementia) and she came through,
but is now in a very reputable short-term rehab.
We want to keep her out of adult undergarments, so
using the bathroom remains normal to her. But,
in order to keep her safe, we have to be there all
night to alert the staff to respond to her bathroom
My sister flew in last week and already we are
burned out. I had to work yesterday, so my sister
had to do 20 hours. After that, I was with mom for
18 hours. I'm so wound up right now, I haven't
taken a nap yet, and then my sister will do another
Mom is like a child now. Speaks quietly. Doesn't
remember five minutes ago. She has no memory of
pain, so every walk to the bathroom is this
discovery of "Why is my leg hurting so much?"
surprise reaction. She forgets that it hurt when she
walked on it an hour ago, so there is no problem
with her getting up to go to the bathroom.
We have reached a crossroads between pain meds and
risking further retreat into dementia. The pain she
is in is too much for us to bear. We've been
selfish. It's time to give her enough meds to be out
of pain. If she loses us, at least it will be our
hands on her. I am screaming.
Oh, and she will be 97 in October.
Did I say that I am screaming?!!!!! Life is cruel
to the elderly. So very cruel.
Your mom is extremely blessed to have you and your
sister in her corner. You both have your hands
filled with some of the most vexing challenges we
face as caregivers. I am concerned about the hours
you are both putting into your caregiving. Are there
other family members that can offer any assistance?
(OK. Donít laugh. Even a few hours a day between any
willing family members can help break up the load
for you and your sister). Have you contacted the
rehab facility to see if they could offer any
enhanced support? I appreciate the trade-off
you have to make between effective pain management
and cognition. Have you consulted with your
momís doctor on the issue?
I would like to share your story with our readers to
get any advice and support they might have to offer.
P.S. When talking with family caregivers in Arkansas
a few years ago, one caregiver told me she would go
out in the woods behind her house and scream at the
top of her lungs. I wouldnít suggest that if
you live in New York City. Maybe, rather than
dishing out loud screams, some dishes of chocolate
ice creams would help.
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