Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lola's Changing Habits

I haven't posted in a while, but I have been keeping various notes throughout the week. So let's recap a bit.

Lola had the wanders on Sunday. She wandered all over the house multiple times. When she does this, she'll stop by a table or place where she has stuff sitting out and look at them. Sometimes she'll pick something up and then set it back down. From watching her it seems she doesn't remember her possessions. I've removed some items, and she's never commented on them being missing. That's a good thing because she finally had so many knickknacks and things from Bebe that it made a person (me) feel overwhelmed by stuff. Now I think I can more freely declutter without upsetting her.

Two days she wandered into the kitchen and got pudding cups for herself. She can't remember to get them out of the refrigerator, but sees them sitting on a shelf and gets those. I've had to stop leaving them and things like shelled pecans sitting out in plain view because she has no concept anymore of how much of any one thing to eat.

On the one hand, you'd think that at 89 it's time to let yourself eat as much of anything as want. On the other hand that's a bad idea due to the stomach upset that can cause. Because she sleeps so badly, a lot of her wandering seems to be done while I'm deeply asleep. I discovered that she'd eaten a whole soup bowl of pecans in one sitting, and another time scarfed down three pudding cups. The result of that is me cleaning the toilet.

Since I can't figure out a way to make me sleep more lightly in the early morning hours, my only solution is to make sure nothing like that is left out anymore. Things like cabinets and refrigerators are effective blocks to her eating sprees. It's sad because now she can't even manage to make herself a bowl of cereal in the morning if she's hungry. Neither will she wake me up to get her something to eat.

Lola can't handle cleaning up after bowel movements well. We've kept Cleaning Wipes by the toilet to help. However, now she seems to have forgotten to use toilet paper first and just goes for the wipes. A lot of them. Which she now puts in the toilet instead of the trash can like she used to. Then, naturally, she freaks when the toilet gets stopped up. Both she and my dad lost the knowledge of using the plunger. She rushes to wherever I am to get me to look at that toilet. Uh oh. 

Closing the package of wipes is beyond Lola now, also, so they dry out. I think it's time I started an hourly patrol of the house to save us from Lola's wanderings. It doesn't seem to matter that I've been dealing with their decline now for a couple of years and should accept it. It still simply smacks you in the face over and over that your formerly intelligent parent is incompetent.

The other day on the way to the kitchen to fix her breakfast I saw her sitting in her chair with her teeth in her hands. When I returned in a short time with a bowl of cereal, she was still sitting there with the teeth in her hands. I asked her if she'd brushed them. Like, reminding her of these things is actually going to do some good rather than be a source of sadness for me. After a couple of unanswered questions, I finally said, "Mama, open your mouth and talk to me." She finally said, "I don't know what to do with them."

The woman of quick wit that could always smack me down in a New York second is totally gone and replaced with a woman of little capacity.

She has begun to turn on the porch light in the morning. After rising from bed, she walks to the front door to look out before sitting in her chair. Now she's started turning on the porch light when she does that. She's also taken to turning the table lamps by her on and off, on and off. The living room is inherently dark, so lights need to be on when someone is in there - in other words almost all the time. I finally resorted to covering the switches with electrical tape to thwart the constant on/off.

In an abrupt reversal of her normal pattern of not going to bed until I sent her at 1 or 2 a.m. in the morning, this last week she's started getting up between 10 and 11 p.m. and going to bed on her own without even saying good night. While I'm occupied elsewhere, she'll silently creep to bed.

The only really disturbing part of this is that I hate to wake her up for her nightly medicine. None of the medicine she misses is life threatening. However, it means she misses the Xanax and sleep aids that are fairly effective in helping her sleep more soundly for longer periods of time. So the wandering in the night becomes more of a danger. She also misses her last dose of the Parkinson's meds. That's produced no discernible effect, at least to me.

On the whole she seems to be content. At first she was perturbed by the gradual loss of her abilities. It seems that now the loss has taken away the awareness to perceive such loss; thus, she's content. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem to be such a bad thing.

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