Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Anosognosia - the official word for it!

Turns out there's an official word for "making right hand turns" - anosognosia. Its reassuring when what I've been experiencing can be explained in physiological terms.  Its all in this article - - explanations and some helpful hints about how to do those "right hand turns" when trying to persuade the person you're trying to look after to go along with the lastest solution to the latest problem you're trying to tackle!  Lots of trying in there, huh?  Yes its trying in more ways than one! tee hee.
They explain doing "right hand turns" as :  Their remarks should be treated with respect, followed by a smooth transition to whatever tasks or activities need to occur next. Indeed - now to put it into practice!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making Right Turns

The money issue.  I figured, if some stranger on the phone can convince Mum to walk up to Post Office straight away and get a money order to send him, surely I can persuade her to let me re-arrange her money and co-sign her account!

So I talked to her today.  I realised I need to change my habits of communicating with her, as Bob recommends in Alzheimer's Reading Room.  My habit is to listen closely and follow her logic and reasoning.  That's been getting me nowhere for years.  Now I realise the change I've got to make is like making a sudden right hand turn - leading her not where her patchy logic leads, but where I want to take her - in order to protect her from the deficits in herself that she does not acknowledge or recognise.  Seemed to work as she agreed to getting a bank account holding the bulk of her savings which I have to co-sign for her to access.  Now I'm just getting the details from the bank about what they can offer, then we'll be able to set it up.  She's not agreeing to direct debiting regular bills yet - perhaps that's too foreign an idea for her. So for the time being I'll have to try and monitor them and separate them from the junk mail!

So my new lesson is, remember the Right Turn!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Test results - is it worth the bother?

The verdict is nothing really bad - no tumours, no evidence of strokes, no vitamin B12 deficiency.  Vague mutterings from Mr doctor: many older people......some shrinkage in the brain.......mostly in frontal temporal area of step is to see a geriatrician.....blood test only shows iron deficiency.  So I ask outright, is it too early for a diagnosis then?  any evidence of TIA's? (no) so is it alzheimers?......splitting hairs- alzheimers or vascular dementia (practically swallowing the last word). Mum doesn't pick up on it.  She picks up on, and elaborates for us "well its to be expected then, through getting older".  Big smile from Mr doctor as he attempts to usher us out the door for bits of paper needed to make appt. with geri.  He's so nervous - worse than me!  However Mum has a question to ask about a money order she nearly completed following a phone call from a scammer who almost diddled her out of $200 - so he has to attend to that first!  (What more evidence do you need, I think!)  Then he comes back to the room to get us because we're stuck there with me trying to instill in Mum the "importance of not doing what strangers on the telephone ask".  Seems her early training of politeness and obedience is superseding any other thinking processes in these instances - even though she admits "he had a funny accent".  My head spins a bit trying to work out what is more important - more doctor gibberish or attending to the latest puzzle of how to protect Mum (the latest puzzle now added to the list of the other 100 puzzles to do with minding mum, sitting on the waiting list in my mind).

I'm relieved there's no nasties, but also a bit disappointed somehow.  What did I expect - that he would DO something to HELP?  Of course, problems remain - me to solve them still.  What exactly will a geriatrician's diagnosis give us?  Chance of some medication that might relieve some symptoms.  Such a palaver it will be to take her to the huge hospital, wait around, sit through something (lots of interview and memory tests I suppose).  Problems will remain unsolved. And maybe its more important to get some movement (somehow) on all the practical issues outstanding - like...but its too overwhelming to even LIST them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I am surprised how much Mum is co-operating with these medical appointments.  I hope its a breakthrough in being able to influence her to do what's needed to get the care she needs - which she has resisted for years.  She got a letter from the GP today asking her to go in to discuss the CT scan after she'd arranged the blood test.  So we easily made the plan for her to get blood tests as tomorrow then make the appointment with GP for me to go with her on Friday/.  She was quite willing, even while voicing anxiety about finding out something is wrong or being told to have another horrible test like that (the CT scan).  So that's a tick.  Have to remember the ticks.  Even if she doesn't carry out tomorrow's plan, I feel like we're getting somewhere, and I can help her do that another day.  Indeed I was surprised the GP actually wrote to her - I  wonder too what the CT report showed that he wants to discuss.   Hope its not something bad  - well can't be good really - maybe the least bad?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CT Scan - Step 1 of medical tests.

Poor Mum, I felt so sorry for her.  Everything is difficult. When we arrive at the scanning place, she doesn't recognise the shopping centre she used to know.  Its not a very friendly place - all business like - forms to fill - no-one talks to anyone anymore - they'd rather you fill out a form.  Why are forms better than conversation between human beings?  You'd think there was a shortage of human beings, rather than the opposite!  I help her, write for her in the end as every question's a bit puzzling for her, especially when she can't make out why we're here at all!   Luckily the ct scan itself doesn't take long, and they decide against giving her dye which might feel weird or cause ghastly effects.  She tells me after how strange it all feels and how she hopes not to ever have to do that again - and why are we doing it anyway?  I explain again.

We have a look at the photos of her brain when we get home - she's interested, even though we've no idea what to make of them.   When I leave she thanks me for coming with her, says if she hears anything from the doctor about it she'll let me know.  Doesn't know yet that I'll be coming with her to the doctor, after I've first manouvered her to have the blood test, which in 2 weeks she's not had done in spite of planning to do so.  Don't need to discuss that today - one step at  time!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Doing the Washing - how does the mind work?

Mum's doing her washing today.  She lives in a high set house (a flight of stairs up to house, for those who don't use that Aussie terminology).  She has the ingenuity to work out its easier to put the dirty clothes into a plastic bag and throw them to the bottom of the stairs than it is to carry a basket down - being careful of her footing.  Then she mentions the machine overflowed last time (even though its just been fixed for that very problem - but that's another story).  She wonders whether it was because it didn't have enough clothes in it.  I try to reason this out with her, but cannot reach her reasoning on this obvious fault in the machine.  How can she figure out one problem but not another?  I can only conclude the brain works sometimes, and along some tracks.  Wish I could find out which tracks I can use too!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

One day at a time, one step at a time

On some days, like today, I remember to be grateful my mother is still in this world. (I'm always glad she is, but sometimes forget to remember the good things too). I can still call her on the phone and hear about her early life, hear in her voice that she is glad to talk to me, and that she is finding life OK today. That she's doing things they way she wants - getting up at 12 midnight to wait for the milkman to deliver the milk at 2am which she'll bring inside then so its fresh. Seems crazy to us. We suggest lots of alternatives, to no avail. Doesn't matter to her. She sleeps a lot in the day, doesn't have a whole lot to do, and it seems the most logical thing for her. But I digress - this blog is to focus on everything is alright in the world right now. I got a few more details to put in my story of her early life, so that's nice too. We left the conversation to have a cup of tea - always loves a cup of tea, Mum.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Should I Do?

What “SHOULD” I Do?
Worries – what’s the greatest? Hard to say
Hard to think about.
Basically, what I should do.
I worry about my mother falling and nobody knowing,
About the dirty house she’s now living in and won’t let us clean
The hair she’s let grow long and doesn’t wash
The disrepair of the house and yard
That she might be lonely
That she might be lost
That she might be unhappy.
She doesn’t want me to do anything, except visit and call her,
But what SHOULD I be doing
And how can I convince her?

Medical Tests First

Doctor says lets do some medical tests first. Blood tests to look at B12 deficiency (she doesn't eat meat so could help) and cat scan of the brain -didn't exactly say why, so I suppose looking for TIA's or something. Anyway, the consul went quite smoothly, though he didn't do any memory tests or explore her cognitive function like I thought he might. I'll need to take her to CAT scan probably so don't know if she'll balk at it, as we've yet to book it. So far the argument of it being for me that we're going to the doctor - as I'm worried there's something I should know about, is working. And it is also true!