Saturday, 19 April 2008

Falling Down

I accomplished something yesterday that I was extremely proud of. I got my stepfather to the doctor. He had fallen out of bed about 5:30 and the paramedics had to be called out. One followed me into the kitchen and said we might want to get my stepfather checked out by a doctor and that it might be time to put him in a nursing home because my mother is in no shape to look after him.

This was after he'd woken us at 1 a.m. He'd gotten up in the night and couldn't get back into bed. I tried to move him as best as I could but I lay awake worrying that he was going to fall out of bed again. And of course he did.

The doctor checked him out fairly thoroughly. I told him about the two falls my stepfather has had since I've been here. I wanted to say more but held back. I asked about a test for stroke. The doctor decided my stepfather should see a neurologist and made an appointment. He also took some blood. I told him my stepfather has difficulty moving his legs and asked if this was due to age. He said it isn't.

When we got home there was a message from the Home Health caseworker. She came by and I told her I was very concerned about leaving my mother on her own to look after my stepfather. I told her about the falls, and his general weakness. She was very sympathetic and suggested we get the doctor on board. He could get my stepfather admitted to the hospital for observation and then to a nursing home for rehab. This would give my mother some time to recuperate and grow stronger too.

I told my stepfather's daughter (not the negligent one) what the paramedic said and what happened at the doctor's and what the caseworker said. She seems to be on board.

But I don't trust her altogether so I emailed the doctor today and told him my concerns about my stepfather's rapid loss of strength, about another fall my stepfather had while my mother was in the hospital, and how my mother has been under extreme stress looking after him.

Today we found out my stepfather is anemic. The doctor wants to run more tests. He called me today about my email and said he thought hospitalization would be a good idea. He wanted to take my stepfather off one of his medications over the weekend and we are to call him on Monday at 9 a.m. Here's the snag: I told my stepfather I spoke to the doctor and he might want to hospitalize him. My stepfather doesn't want to go in to the hospital. I'm afraid he'll talk his daughter out of it. And his daughter is taking over talking to the doctor. I don't mind. It is her place.

But what happens to my mother? My stepfather continues to go downhill, his daughters won't do anything to help my mother, then my mother goes downhill and probably ends up dying before he does. That is the nightmare scenario I am trying to avoid.

My stepfather has high care needs. He can't get out of a chair on his own. He shuffles instead of walking. He is incontinent and wets himself all the time. He can't change his clothes without help. He can't turn over in bed. He has great difficulty getting in and out of bed. Sometimes, but not always, he has mental confusion. He sleeps most of the day. He is very weak.

My mother got into a very black mood when I told her about the anemia and what the doctor said. Why? She thinks his daughters will blame her for not taking good enough care of him. He's a stubborn ass, sometimes. I told her if anyone is to blame, it's himself for insisting on going to the VA hospital and his daughters for doing nothing. One of them was supposed to take him to the doctor after his fall while my mother was in the hospital. She never did. She said the doctor said he was in good health. I think it's hard for doctors to know if they're not given the full story, and I don't think this one was given the full story by the daughters. Why? I don't know. What have they to gain by doing nothing? My mother's death?

In the meantime I am plotting what to do for my mother if they decide not to hospitalize him. I must make it very clear that she is in no shape to look after his needs. Either someone will have to come in and stay the night with them (everything bad seems to happen at night), one of my nephews will have to come out for a while, or my mother has to move to Florida. She is not his carer and will not be his carer.

Pray for me.


-Ann said...

These posts are just heartbreaking, really. We had a rough time last year when Peter's dad died after a prolonged illness. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but at least all the siblings were involved and pulling in the same direction.

You fight for your mom and do your best by her. Don't worry about how it looks to anyone else. She's your priority. It sounds like you are on the right path. Don't let anyone push you around on this.

Swearing Mother said...

Tell your Mum that there are all sorts of reasons for anaemia, and diet may not be one of them.

Hope you get her and everything sorted out. It's a tough job you're doing.

Vi said...

Your mum is number one priority. Keep plotting the best for her. A helper sounds like the best thing possible.

ChrisB said...

You have to do what's best for your mum, but I can see that this is not easy, given the circumstances.Your stepfather really does need to be admitted to hospital for proper assessment~ hope he doesn't persuade his daughter to go against the doctor's advice. I don't really know what to say because you are in such a difficult position.
You remain in my prayers.

Kaycie said...

This may seem devious, but try to see if you can get social services involved. That way, it's not you or your mother instigating his removal from the home.

My great aunt insisted upon caring for her husband with alzheimer's long after it was safe. He wandered off one day in the early morning while she was still sleeping. She was in a panic and called the highway patrol because he was missing. Social services was called when he was found. The end result was that he was put into a care facility for observation, and he never went back home.

While it was difficult for her at the time, and very sad for all of the family, it was the best thing that could have happened for her. She was and is in relatively good health, but 24 hour care of him was exhausting her.

Good luck. I'll be thinking of you and hoping for the best possible outcome.

blueangel said...

Thank goodness your mother has you! These posts are quite hard to read because nearly everyone can identify with them or imagine them happening to them in the future in some form.
My thoughts are with you.

Flowerpot said...

oh my thoughts are really with you. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Nothing should be blamed on your mother, she is his wife not his slave and she should never be made to feel responsible for his diet - that is totally unfair. There should be an equivalent Social Services who will help your mother and give her home support? Your stepfather in the meantime, must be hospitalized for his own safety and for your mother's sanity if nothing else. I would be very tempted to tell the doctor everything, despite what your stepsisters are saying. The worse thing that can happen is that they don't speak to you! No one has a right to make someone a carer in a situation like this. And that is exactly what your ss are doing to your mother. How dare they.

This brings all the memories back with Jim who had stroke after stroke before the farmer and I could no longer cope with him and had him admitted to hospital. He knew he was ill but insisted on coming back home. The man needed 24 hour nursing care of which he could not receive in his cigarette littered, shit infested bedroom and when he told the nurses I was going to be his full time carer that made me so angry.

You will have been to the meeting at 9am now and I do hope it went well for you and your mother. Please keep up posted.
Crystal xx

Katherine and Pippa said...

Your step-father's symptoms sound very similar to my father's. And so does their scenario as a couple - woman unable to cope physically, a bit of home help but not enough, about the only thing different is that there was only me so it was relatively easy to sort. Although also across the seas.

If you want any more comments or to email me please let me know. I have so been there.


DJ Kirkby said...

Sending you strength...

Lynne Thompson said...

We are almost here now. My Mother in law is having a hard time--she fell several times this month and my father in law cannot pick her up (sob). He is ready to move somewhere like assisted living, but she is the picture of denial. It is very sad to see them not cope well. I am so sorry for your mom and your stepfather and you. Definitely do all you can to make sure your mom doesn't take care of your stepfather when she is not able to! I saw my elderly uncle almost kill himself taking care of my aunt...Prayers are on their way--Lynne

Kelly said...

I am just so distressed on your have so much to deal with right now. Take care of your mum, but take care of yourself too.
Praying for you. xxx

Pixie said...

No doubt it's all moved on since you posted... and hopefully to a place of resolution so your mum can get her strength up.
You must be exhausted.

cramerj said...

Would not a bit of diagnosis help the step father. for example a common cause of anemia in the elderly is occult blood loss from the bowel.
EG stomach ulcers , taking aspirin and other drugs, and neoplasms of the colon. Surely this has all been looked for?
Confusion can be brought on by many remediable ailments.

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