On our follow-up visit with the geriatrician, my dad get’s called back … alone. Both parents saw the doctor a week ago, but he didn’t do more than talk with and cognitively test my parents. Today was so he could do some additional medical tests.
For almost a year I have sat in on every medical appointment except one or two when my siblings have been in town. Due to the cognitive states of my parents, the doctor’s required someone was with them during each appointment.
I immediately go to the front desk to raise my concern. They let me know it’s fine, the doctor wants to see my parents alone.
While I waited with my mom, she wanted to talk about why we were here. I share that this is the primary care doctor and he’s reviewing their medications. For the first time, my mom pulls out her checkbook and recites that she is on Lipitor and Aggrenox. You would have really seen my shocked face. My mom has denied she was prescribed any medicines for so long, I avoid the topic. However, just last week she wanted me to explain the medicines in her bathroom. I told her they would help her memory and prevent her from having a stroke. I knew those were two carrots she would stretch to grasp.
The conversation meanders to my father. I remark that Dad has been given an “Alzheimer’s diagnosis.” I know she really didn’t catch it when the neurologist reported it, but the past few weeks she has been very open to discussing the difficulty in helping my father if we are alone.
As if on cue, the social worker stops by to visit with us. My mom tells her that we were just discussing what the care options were for helping with my dad. This social worker really is the “elder-whisperer” — my parents are very private people and my mom is openly sharing with not just me, but the social worker. We discuss that they could move into assisted living or she could hire someone to get dad on a routine while she runs errands or plays bridge and they stay in independent living.
My mom asks if my dad could move into assisted living while she says in the independent living apartment. The naval blockade has cracked. My parents have been so united for the past year, I did not think my mom would consider him going to assisted living without her. Surprised.