Every year, hubby and I load our two babies (in the photo above) into the car and take off for a week to Colorado Springs to visit my MIL and her second husband Bill.
This year was going to be difficult as Bill was moved into an Assisted Living facility back in Jan, leaving mom all alone in a large five bedroom home overlooking Pikes Peak. We knew changes were coming, we just didn't know what changes, or when.
Mom is 87 years old, Bill is 91. I knew that going into the home the first time and not being greeted by this very loving and warm man, would be hard, but I didn't know if would hurt so much.
About a month before we were getting to leave on our annual road trip, we were speaking with my brother and sister in law in Denver, when we realized mom was beginning to have some problems of her own. We had all agreed that she could not longer be alone, and she had spoke of moving into an apt or a small condo.
Learning that she was having memory problems, trouble knowing and remembering what day it was, reading a calendar, things like that, we knew that some serious decisions had to be made for her own good and safety.
I don't think I have ever spoken so much to my sister in law as we did in those few weeks. Mom's memory loss was coming on too fast. We wondered if there was something wrong that had not be diagnosed.
Dawn (SIL) told me of her mother that was hallucinating by seeing people in cars that were not there.
Did you know that women over the age of 70 can have hallucinations when they have a UTI? It's very common place, although I had never heard of it, but it was a starting point.
Off to the doctor in what we all hoped was going to be a very simple diagnosis. That was not meant to be.
O.k, maybe some silent strokes.....
We had her neurologist give her a head scan and we found lots of good information there, but not necessarily what you might want to hear.
There is a lot going on in mom's 87 year old brain. Like for instance, some evidence of silent strokes. Those are the strokes that kill the blood vessels and eventually kill the area of the brain that no longer received blood from those vital vessels. So, memory loss......
I think you could call it some "dementia."
I found out that day that dementia is not a disease of it's own, like I had always thought, but it's a symptom of anything disease, such as good old age. :) We'll all be there if we are lucky enough.
"she won't get any better", he said, "she is going to only get worse." Of course, no one can predict how long that could take, maybe years, maybe months. It's any ones guess.
So, the decisions are coming fast and have to be made. I told my hubby, I have loved your mom for 40 years, lets bring her here to live with us. She will be well cared for, be so close to her grand children and will be able to get to know her great grand children. It's perfect for all concerned.
We thought about it, talked it over with the rest of the family and it was final.
I didn't want mom in a locked down facility, she is not ready for that step yet. It's so hard when you are between being able to live alone and have to give up your independence.
We have no idea how long we will be together, but it's all good and we are up to the challenges this will bring our family. After all, what is family there for, is not to help each other in any way we can.
Needless to say, we didn't have a vacation after all, but instead spent four days packing boxes and cleaning up, changing addresses and getting all the medical things sorted out.
We cut our vacation short and along with the help of our nephew, we brought mom and her car back with us. One big happy family....well, not always, this is very hard on her. it's not easy to be told you can't live alone, your memory is suffering and decision making abilities are impaired, but we are getting there one day at a time, one step at a time.
Dawn did ask the neurosurgeon about mom being able to drive and this is the advice he uses when the decision comes down to take the keys away:
IF you have an accident
IF you get a ticket
IF you get lost, it's hand them over. Pretty good advice I think.
Since then, I have been busy creating and doing what I love to do. Here are some recently listed items on my website, Someplace in Thyme
More mom stories to follow.