The first 10 months Mom lived with us she was doing well enough I could leave her alone for an hour or two to grocery shop and run errands once or twice a week. She was not a fall risk and kept herself occupied with reading, journaling and watching Rocky, our boxer. But a few months ago she had a surgery to repair an abdominal aneurysm. It never occurred to me, and the doctor never mentioned Mom might have a permanent decline as a result. Apparently it’s quite common in the elderly, especially those with dementia, to lose ground they cannot recover after such a surgery. Mom ended up spending almost a week in the hospital and then another 2 weeks at an intensive rehab hospital before she was able to come home. And I was told she could not be left alone.
Since her surgery Mom has become semi-incontinent, she can no longer journal, she gets breathless by just getting out of her chair, she can no longer dress and undress by herself. And the drawers in the filing cabinet of her mind get stuck a lot more.
At first I thought she would gradually get better–both physically and mentally–over time. I’ve come to realize it’s not the case and have come to accept our new normal. But even with the new normal there are surprises.
As for never leaving her alone, I now have a CNA from a companion care service that comes in every Friday so I can grocery shop and run errands and every other Monday for me to have a fun day. We all need fun days and when you are on call 24/7 you especially need it.
Last Friday when I went out, I shopped for and found a new chair for Mom. The PT mentioned her current chair was too low and difficult for her to get in and out of since it was a rocker/recliner. When I got home Mom was sitting in another room than her usual. When I asked Mom why she wasn’t in her chair in the usual room she couldn’t tell me. But I realized from her comments she did not know where she was. I asked her if she was upset and she said she wasn’t because she knew I would come and take her back home. I gently led her into the Living Room where she sits by the picture window and all was well.
I told her about the chair I had bought and described it to her–it has a higher seat and is a comfy recliner. I had to schedule a delivery date for several days later. She was so excited about getting a new chair. Every day she asked me when the chair was coming. It finally arrived one morning while she was still in bed. I moved out her old rocker recliner and placed the new chair right beside the picture window where she likes to sit and watch the birds and anything else that might be going on. After I got her up and helped her get dressed, I told her I had a surprise. With a look of happiness, she asked if her chair had come. You would have thought it was a throne for the pleasure it’s given her. There is a regal look about her as she sits there surveying the household. I guess that makes me the lady-in-waiting and Rocky the sometimes-jester.