Chapter 15 – Fear of the unknown

Things can change in the blink of an eye. The call came right after dinner and the nurse said my Mom did not seem herself.  They suggested that I come and take her to the hospital which was only 5 minutes away. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I had told myself to be prepared for anything but when it was here and now it was so different.  They did some testing and decided to keep her for observation and further testing. Hospital visits can be difficult at any time but when you are suffering from Alzheimer’s it just adds more complications.  Mom’s anxiety and confusion changes quite quickly. They informed us after 4 hours in the emergency that there would not be a bed available for some time so we wait. She finally fell asleep and after a few more hours they were able to move her to a room.

After more testing and an ECG they determined that she had Atrial Fibrillation. They had to work with medication to see what would work best for her. While this was happening of course she was very confused. She thought she was back at her apartment in the LTC facility and wondered who had been moving things in her room. Then there was this other bed and another woman and what was she doing in her space! Trying to reassure her that all is well was not an easy task. The staff at the hospital have such limited time, they do the best they can but they do what needs to be done and then move on.

The doctor’s plan with the new drugs seemed to be working. When Mom entered the hospital she began having trouble walking. Her body and brain were trying to remember what to do but it seemed to be a challenging task. The therapy department was great and with patience they started to see some improvement. She had been using a walker for the last few years, but was trying to remember how to move her legs.  It was strange it seemed like she could not remember how to walk.

During this time the reality of the health care system became all too apparent. The conversation with the doctor was that Mom had come into the hospital because of her heart issue and that had been fixed so they needed to discharge her. Since she was in the retirement area of the facility she did not have access to the extra care she required and it was questionable what could be put into place. The doctor was pushing and I was pushing back. It is so very important to be an advocate for the seniors in your life. She was certainly not ready to return to her home and there was not a nursing home bed available for her at this time so we were in a state of limbo. What do they do with this 88 year old woman, as they want her out of the hospital now? I had a meeting with the Hospital and the administrator of the Long Term Care facility regarding what we do next. The administrator made it clear that they did not have the resources to care for Mom as she was at this moment. This gave us a reprieve of 4 more days in the hospital which made a great difference in her abilities. With the therapist’s guidance  her ability to walk returned using the assistance of her walker.

She returned to the facility and they were able to accommodate with extra nursing care and twice daily home care visits. With her incredible attitude and strength she worked hard for her wellness. My brother and I placed her name on a list for a nursing home accommodation and then we waited.  We were instructed to choose 4 locations, but we chose only one as she had been in the same facility for 4 years now and this was her home, so we hoped for a room to become available and gambled she would stay well long enough to wait for one at this facility.

The strength it takes to be an advocate can be exhausting at times but it is so very important. The red tape with senior care is unbelievable. The system needs to be changed to make life less complicating for these wonderful vulnerable people.