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Elderly parents

Left my mum in hospital today, and it was like leaving a scared child

49 replies

CMOTDibbler · 23/04/2013 21:29

Planned surgery to fuse some more of her spine and hopefully get rid of some of her severe pain which isn't helping with her dementia.

I undressed her, put her in a gown. Tucked her into bed. And sat and answered for her when she looked so blankly at the anaesthetist and surgeon when they asked questions. She couldn't even understand being asked her date of birth Sad. Couldn't understand the menu card.

She looks so small now, so very, very old. But she's not - she's 72.

It broke my heart leaving her there when it was all so confusing to her. And knowing it'll all only ever be worse.

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onehitwonder · 23/04/2013 21:31

So sorry to hear this, it is a horrible disease.

MrsFrederickWentworth · 23/04/2013 21:37

So sorry. My ma too is suffering pain Nd has serious short term memory loss, increasingly she is like a lost small child. It's so very hard to see them go down hill, to leave them, and not to be able to do anything.

usualsuspect · 23/04/2013 21:38

How sad for you. Dementia is a cruel condition. I hope the operation eases her pain.(hugs)

mynameisnotmichaelcaine · 23/04/2013 21:40

That sounds so hard. You looked after her, and should feel proud of yourself. Thinking of you both.

glaurung · 24/04/2013 02:48

It is hard. MiL was in hospital recently and was very confused. She's also got a lot of back pain from spine degenerating and I can't imagine she'd take well to an operation for it, but I guess if it helps with the pain it will be worth it in the long run.

Hope she makes a swift recovery and can come home quickly afterwards.

Needmoresleep · 24/04/2013 07:25

Poor you. Hospital and anesthetic is the last thing anyone who is struggling to keep their orientation needs. I hope it goes well and that she comes home soon.

CMOTDibbler · 24/04/2013 08:05

TBH, I'm hoping that she'll have at least a week in hospital, and hopefully a few days in the local community hospital after to give dad a proper break, and also involve care services a bit more.
The two of them are right on the edge of coping now, and though I can provide support, organise stuff, and be there on acute situations, I work ft, live 80 miles away, and have a 6 yr old and can't do stuff for them day to day. It never feels like enough.

And my brother is a useless bastard who can't even be bothered to send them a birthday present Sad. Or answer the phone to them.

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Needmoresleep · 24/04/2013 11:01

Be careful. We were promised some community hospital and then with two days notice were told that my mother would instead be discharged on Christmas eve to an empty flat, with no Social Social services assessment or care organised.

The general agreement now is that this would have been disastrous. As it was we could afford private convalescent care which gave us a bit of time to think. In retrospect though, and with a bit more knowledge of the system, I would have tried to track down the social services liaison person in the hospital and really pushed. Discharge seems a good point to get things started/improved.

Another person was temporarily in the nice nursing home because a kind relative had bought a week's stay as a Christmas present. It struck me that this was a great, albeit expensive, gift, not just for the person enjoying hotel like surroundings but all involved in her day to day care, who also got Christmas off. It does not sound, however as if your brother is about to sign a cheque...what is it with these brothers.

It is also exhausting. I went through something like this when my dad was dying three years ago. 300 mile round trips every weekend for four months. With children and a full time job. I ended up getting really run down and it took about a year to bounce back physically. It seems simple to say you can only do what you can, but its true. Social services need to be aware of how close to the edge both you and your dad are. It helps no one if either of you fall off.

CMOTDibbler · 24/04/2013 12:36

I won't believe anything till I see it! They'd cope if she went straight home, but dad won't be able to get her to comply with any restrictions on sitting/standing or exercises and of course that will compromise the fusion.

I had a nice call from the pain team earlier as she was 'being rather inconsistent' and they wanted to check up on some things.

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CMOTDibbler · 25/04/2013 08:26

Dad went to visit her yesterday, and she didn't recognise him Sad

Her assigned nurse had a chat with him as she is performing so badly - chewing liquids, not responding, and of course he'd have arrived in such a poor state as I know he'd had to sit down on his walker at least 5 times between the car and ward that they are now concerned about their home life. I very much hope this translates into something useful.

Hopefully she'll be a bit more awake today, and I'll try to go down tomorrow

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Needmoresleep · 25/04/2013 09:02

Poor you. Keep posting. I don't know if by some psychic mechanism you can feel support and good will. Trust me it is being sent.

Is your dad a stoic. Is it worth then emphasising that if he is expressing concern, he must be in real trouble, and that carer breakdown is a real risk.

I probably feel for him more than you. I dont know if your mum has had a personality change but mine was really really up and down in her convalescent care home and immediately after. (And still is to a lesser extent.) Sometimes she did not know who I was, others she was extraordinarily aggressive to me (accusations of stealing were only the start), and other times she was quite lucid, understanding and appreciative. This was really hard to process. All right my husband, when I phoned him from 150 miles away, telling me to ignore what she was saying as it was only her illness, but its not possible not to have an emotional reaction if it is your parent. Staff told me behaviour is often worse to those who are closest, and so most likely to tolerate the extremes.

This then made sense of my mother's behaviour when my father was dying. I had thought she was being pretty callous and insensitive at a time when my father was honestly frightened. I wondered why he put up with it, without complaint. I now realise that at some level he knew what was happening to her and decided to hide it (denial? because he did not have the energy to do something about it?). The burden on him must have been immense.

My understanding is that unless her underlying disease has progressed significantly there is scope for people to bounce back to close to where they were before, assuming she has the right support in place and is able to resume routines before they are lost. But a couple of big assumptions there. The advice I had, which we took and which worked, was that she needed a couple of months of additional support to reorientate and resume routines. But put another way without that support, key living skills would have been lost, and in my mothers case a care home would have been the only option.

Good luck.

CMOTDibbler · 25/04/2013 18:21

Thank you for the support. It is very much appreciated.

I feel hugely for dad - he has a horror of mental illness as his mum was very ill from his birth till she committed suicide, and he had to watch it all (inc going to locked wards and actual padded cells by the time he was 13). And he gets no love back from her when he could do with it himself - and he's so isolated now as all her friends have dropped away.

He went to see her this afternoon and she's been moved to the single room by the nurses desk as she's been pulling all the tubes out and not eating or drinking (and spitting things out). Hasn't been out of bed even to sit yet and is on pressure relieving matress and being turned. Dad got a very few words out of her.

Will be going in in the morning so he gets a day off - its taking a huge toll on him. And promised I'd talk to the nurses about what the plan might be

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LaBelleDameSansPatience · 26/04/2013 07:06

CMOT, I have no answers, but just wanted to drop in and say how sorry I am that you have yet more worries. (()) Off now to make a cup of tea for AP, whom I left with clean clothes to put on and who will be sitting on her bed looking scared until I come back up.

I really hope that your mother does improve when she gets back home and things are familiar.

SingingTunelessly · 26/04/2013 07:13

Cmot, sending you best wishes for today.

CMOTDibbler · 26/04/2013 14:27

Love to you too LaBelle. Have you managed to access any help for AP yet?

The good news is that mum recognised me as her daughter when I went in. Bad news is that she couldn't retrieve my name.

Still not out of bed, had removed all her IVs herself, and only drinking/eating when directly observed and reminded.

Had a good chat with her nurse though, and they will be keeping her till they are happy, and are very aware of how fragile dad is. Talked about intermediate care, and they will be putting her forward for that but have already organised multi disciplinary meetings plus SALT involvement as her swallow seems poor.

Dad can't walk today - not sure if he's overdone things or what. Fortunatly mums 92 yr old friend has organised someone to pick things up for him, and his meals will be delivered later.

This afternoons actions are to talk to him about a carer popping in a couple of times a week to clean/run errands etc, and to sort out a Waitrose delivers account that I can deal with for him.

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MrsMcEnroe · 26/04/2013 14:34

Hi CMOT - just wanted to send you my support, I have been in a not-too-dissimilar position with my mother and it is awful for everyone concerned.

I think you are doing all the right things, definitely getting the shopping delivered is a good idea, and meals on wheels etc .... Sounds as though your mum's care team are aware of the situation, and hopefully you can get a home visit done before she is finally discharged? Has this been discussed? (Sorry if I've missed this upthread). Hopefully the Physio/OT/ whoever would be able to see that your mum and dad can't cope on their own. Do they claim the care allowance etc? Have you been told what they are entitled to? - is there an OT you can talk to at the hospital?

CMOTDibbler · 26/04/2013 14:40

They don't claim anything! Its taken me a long time to persuade them that they need any help at all. But tbh, money isn't really an issue (they were never well off till they retired, but as they live very frugally and sav

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drjohnsonscat · 26/04/2013 14:41

CMOT just sending support. It's such an awful disease and your poor father, having to face this given his own experience as a child.

No advice but plenty of sympathy for you all.

CMOTDibbler · 26/04/2013 14:44

(gah, stupid PC)

saved hard for their old age, they are comfortably off.

They just need practical help in the house, and support for dad to understand what is going on with mum so she doesn't send him insane.

And some joined up thinking about them as a coping duo. Or not coping!

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MrsMcEnroe · 26/04/2013 14:54

I really think that an Occupational Therapist may be of use in assessing how much your parents are able to cope with at home on a day-to-day level. Might be worth asking the nurses on the ward if they could refer you, or ask your parents' GP to help contact an OT?

CMOTDibbler · 26/04/2013 17:56

The nurse said that OT would be involved, and make a home visit.

Physios tried to get her up this afternoon and failed apparently.

Am though, vvvvvvvvv proud of my dad who has phoned up a cleaning company and booked a spring clean for the house all by himself! And did not argue at all at the idea of a regular visit.

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MrsMcEnroe · 26/04/2013 17:57

Ah that is good news re your dad - accepting that they need help is the hardest part in my experience. Good luck x

LaBelleDameSansPatience · 26/04/2013 21:40

Weeks of phone calls and emails, CMOT, visits from nurses, OT ... then nothing. Visits seem to be taking over my life, but achieving nothing.

More to the point, how are you doing? Celebrate your dad's coping even with little things; this is a very long road and everyone is doing their best. Except your brother and my sister.

CMOTDibbler · 27/04/2013 09:00

I'm ok. Ish. Without MN it would be bad, but coming here and writing it down is very therapeutic.
Yesterday dh and I had a 'date' at a local woods to walk the dog just the two of us while ds was at swimming club after school and it was lovely.

I managed to get dads sister to phone him yesterday, and as she's local to him may help out a little (she's 13 years younger, so very fit), and one of mums friends is taking dad to visit today, so thats a day off.

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TheSecondComing · 27/04/2013 09:09

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