So a few more years trickled by with clues to Mom’s deterioration popping up now and then. One evening, she told a bunch of us visiting that she’d decided when she came to a stoplight, if no one was coming, she’d look carefully (carefully, remember!!) and drive through the intersection. The specific one she mentioned was next to the police station. “Mom!” I cried. “You will get a ticket at minimum and your license revoked because of your age! Stop it.” She was rather mad at me; I chalked it up to her being different from me in life view, but in retrospect, and knowing now that failure of judgement is one of the hallmarks of dementia, I can see it was an indicator that she was headed downhill.
Then my sister discovered that Mom’s pills were mixed together, and thus she was not taking her meds properly. I had heard of a system to have a machine that was an automatic pill dispenser at the right time with the right pills, PLUS it would loudly announce that it was pill time. Again, Mom was disgusted and angry that we decided to subscribe to the service, but by then my sister and I were convinced she needed help. It turned out that the pill machine was helpful, but required some significant time to load the machine properly. I’m a tad absent-minded, and my attention drifts pretty readily, so I had to focus intently to get it right, and even then I worried that I’d make a mistake. My parents also got the service where they could push a button on a wrist or chain around the neck and get help. My father was very happy to have the magic button, but Mom was not, and wouldn’t wear the alarm.
Added to all this was my mother’s urgent bladder syndrome; she had become almost trapped in the house because she would need to pee so suddenly and had to be able to rush to the bathroom frequently. We tried some medication, which helped a little, but not enough. Mom figured out what to do without telling us: she stopped drinking much, which meant she didn’t have to go to the bathroom very often! Hurray! She was so pleased with her solution. We discovered, however– after she became immobilized with exhaustion, and had heart tests and blood pressure tests–that she was dehydrated, and a symptom of dehydration is exhaustion. So we started the battle of getting Mom to drink enough fluids to have any energy. If she drank enough, she wet her pants, so we moved to pads, and then “briefs” in place of underwear to keep her clean. If she didn’t drink enough, she felt nauseated, dizzy and exhausted. But she didn’t want to drink. Round and round we went with this issue, and no good solution apparent. Trying to deal with her needs was becoming a huge challenge, especially with her fighting us every step of the way. Mom fought getting older in every way she could, but it was catching up to her, and we watched with frustration and grief as she continued to lose the battles, and before long, the war.