This is the account of one of my clients who found some comfort in writing about the problems she faced when dealing with her mother’s move into a frail care retirement home. It is a long piece so I am posting over several days.
Lisa my mother had at 81 become demented, we think of people who have dementia as ones who become old and forget things but the side effects can be any of the following manic, frenzied, unreasonable and crazy. In this particular situation Lisa wanted nay demanded to continue to live in her own apartment and refused to believe that there was anything wrong with her but in reality she had simply lost the ability to take care of herself as well as her home. I had decided to take leave and travel from Toronto to place my mother in a home as now it had become obvious that she was no longer able to cope, she was unable to budget; there were threats of eviction at her rented apartment and the electricity had been cut off when she had forgotten to pay the bill. When I arrived I found her that she had lost a lot of weight, was dressed in a dirty dressing gown and wearing shoes that were a size too small, the flat was dirty and had a fowl odor. There wasn’t any food in the home, her clothing had vanished and even worse no toilet paper, soap or towel in the bathroom. The once clean home and presentable Lisa had become unkempt and dirty. She had an excuse for everything. The fridge was being defrosted, the clothes were being laundered, and she was going shopping that morning. Never mind that it was 1pm.
I suggested that I take her out for lunch, partly to feed her and also to talk with her. Lisa ordered the mixed grill, the largest meal on the menu, steak, a chop, bacon, sausages, tomato, mushrooms and chips, it took her half an hour to get through it but she did, she was starving. While she ate I explained that I had started receiving calls from her neighbours about Lisa knocking on their doors late at night asking for food, a teabag or a cup of sugar and they indicated she was keeping bad company with a neighbour who they felt was taking advantage of her. I pointed out that her bank account was constantly overdrawn no matter how much money I placed in it. She forgot everything except her ATM number. I said that she would have to be placed in a home to protect her and keep her safe. Lies all lies, everyone was jealous of her, unfortunately that was what Lisa has said all her life when the cracks began to show. She was not moving, she could pay for it all she had money, regrettably she did not as I supported my mother.
In truth the problem that had gone on longer than it should, was partly mine in that I was feeling terribly guilty – because my mother did not want to go into a home and said that her house was spotless, her clothes were clean she always had food and everyone else was telling lies. We also lived in different cities and frankly on the phone she came across well so I had not pushed it. The defining incident for us both was the car accident; I had to take responsibility now. Nobody knows what really happened but my mother ended up in hospital with stitches in her head and unfortunately according to everyone around her, seemed a little crazier. Everyone including the doctor’s said it was time for Lisa to go into some type of home as my mother was out of control. I took their advice as I could not allow this situation to continue I had to take responsibility now for the safety of my mother.