Mom's a stand-up kinda gal.
Updated: Sep 16
We've been scrambling to adapt to dementia's progression as of late. Not only has Mom's appetite taken a nose dive, but she's essentially lost the ability to feed herself. Utensils are confounding bits of futility and even eating with her hands is fading into a befuddled disinterest. Dementia has also discarded her ability to sit at the dining table for more than a minute or two, hence we're all getting a lot more exercise at meal times than we'd prefer.
Not that my waistline couldn't use a little more activity in my day, but it would be nice to sit and enjoy a repast from start to finish without running Mom down throughout the house in an effort to get her to take one more bite.
But we are adjusting to the new norms; hounding our meal-time escapee to partake of nourishment, and presenting smaller morsels for ease of eating. (Which means all of Mom's meals now look like a cocktail party platter, everything cut into minuscule bites.)
And we're constantly holding a beverage up to her lips to keep her hydrated. Gatorade has been our drink of choice lately for its hydration and high sodium content to help stabilize her blood pressure.
Which brings me to the hardest part of dementia's recent leap forward: keeping Mom upright. A couple of times a week now Mom takes to tumbling down. She's always run on the lower end of the blood pressure scale, but has graduated to sudden plunges that drop her to her knees or faint away altogether.
Our hospice nurse advised that it could be a leftover side-effect from COVID, or Dementia has started snacking on the part of her brain that regulates blood pressure.
Well, at least somebody's eating.
They say all our proactive strategies to get her steady on her feet may be for naught - falls are common in stage 7 as dementia dismantles more and more functionality.
So, for the last two months we've had eyes on Mom constantly. Mom unceasingly shuffles "The Track" - bedroom, hallway, living room, kitchen, annnnnnddd back again, rarely sitting in one place for long. On her super wobbly days it requires a lot of vigilance to keep our toppling-over dementia mom on her feet. I made the mistake the other night of leaving her sedentary in the living room, while I washed up dinner dishes. Due to the water running, I didn't hear her hit the carpet.
I came back into the living room to find her sprawled out on the floor struggling like a beetle on its back. "Whatcha doing down there, Mom?" I asked as I hustled to the rescue, feeling like an assjack for prioritizing household tidiness over my mom.
On her not so wobbly days we relax and breathe a little bit easier.
So I hopped on to the Alzconnected forum to solicit the advice of my fellow caregivers. I was kinda bummed that nobody suggested an old fashioned pillory - that would totally keep her upright and in one spot. (Plus, this chick looks happy...?)
But for the most part everyone is struggling through this phase playing the same game we are: Eyes on Mom FTW!
Ergo, we watch, and hover, and occasionally snap and snarl when wearied from the stress of our surveillance and would like to, just once for gawd's sake!, finish an episode of Schitt's Creek without having to jump up and pursue Mom down the hall. (Okay, that one's just me. The Other Girl and MotherMinder are much better in this respect.)
We do so because, like all of you who have also taken on this caregiver journey for those dementia folks you love 'da most, we're stand-up kinda caregivers, desperately struggling to do what's best for our dementia folks, and sometimes, ever so often, succeeding.