Dementia damsels in distress.
Updated: Jun 11
New strategies! New meds! New care partner!
When we last left our heroines they were in a pretty precarious predicament. Villainy reigned supreme leaving Girl, The Other Girl, and Mom hog-tied to a railroad track while the Dementia Express accelerated its murderous momentum, bearing down on those poor, helpless creatures as they begged for salvation.
Who you calling helpless? We're not helpless.
If something ain't working we fix it.
So we're trying. To fix it. Mom's psych doctor recommended giving Mom a low dose of Seroquel daily for relief from the rage and hallucinations (generic: quetiapine). I had done my research and was resistant to the use of anti-psychotics as they are specifically not approved for dementia. Dr. Susan was upfront about the risks, but also had good results with her other patients, so we decided to give it a Snidley-Whiplash-mustache-twirl of a whirl.
We started with 12.5mg a day, a half-pill each morning. Five days later Mom still despised us (and everything else on the planet except milkshakes), so Dr. Susan approved increasing to 25mg a day, a half a pill in the morning and another half at night. That brought slight improvement. Really, really slight; about 20 minutes fury-free every other day with bathing still an 11 on Mom's Atrocity Scale (How to bathe a Beast). So this last Friday Dr. Susan upped the dose again to 37.5mg, a half pill in the morning, and a full pill at night. It's only been four days, but so far things are calming down a bit.
Saturday was spent in the company of a mostly content Mom - she even smiled! Like more than once! And hammed it up for the camera when I tried to take a picture of that smile to send to The Other Girl!
She got a little squirrely at the puppet show that day, but I can't really blame her - unless you were four years old it was a pretty terrible puppet show.
But I tell 'ya, I felt like The Hero when I managed to give her a shower the other morning! By myself! With minimal histrionics, and only a little bit of pushing and kicking!
Unfortunately, sleepless nights have increased (we've been hitherto blessed with a Mom who almost always sleeps a full 12-hours). So far that seems to be the unwelcome trade-off for less rancor, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that the Dastardly Dementia manifestation of ferocity has been sort of foiled.
We've also hired a part-time live-in caregiver who started this week. When we brought Mom back from memory care last September (read about how wrong our MC experience went here), our plan was a return to split 24/7 care between The Other Girl and I through the holidays, then sucker a third, unsuspecting victim into our care partner world after the first of the year.
To find candidates I utilized Care.com (and recommend the premium membership if you're in the private care market), but the caregiver we ultimately hired came to us through an act of serendipity - make that carendipity! A couple months ago, The Other Girl struck up a conversation with a gal while getting a manicure, found out she had been doing private dementia care for a couple of years, and promptly began using her for occasional overnight shifts. This was a great way for us to "test drive" the live-in care model; we got to see that she was competent, kind, patient, and that Mom was comfortable with her, and we felt confident that we too could share our living space and co-care with her.
A few reference calls and background checks later and voilà! We now have a professional Mother-Minder!
So our schedule is thus: Mother-Minder and I will co-care for Mom four days a week, with M-M doing the heavy lifting. The Other Girl will do one overnight a week, and help cover if extra days are needed, and I will take the remaining two days of the week for 24/7 Mom mischief. We're hoping with this strategy we can keep Mom at home at a reduced rate of stress for her (and ourselves), at a reduced rate of cost than memory care, and with a higher chance of improved quality of life for her amongst familiar faces and surroundings.
And if these new strategies don't work out, well, we ain't helpless, we're CAREGIVERS! We'll figure something else out and fix it.