I return to visit my Mom a few hours after she was found on the floor. We aren’t sure if she fell since no one saw what happened and my Mom doesn’t remember. Within an hour of the “fall” that resulted in EMTs being called, she gets up and is moving around. For several months she has been walking more stiffly and taking shorter steps. There appears to be no change in her movement, speech or behavior. I discuss with the staff that I would just like to keep an eye on her and let them know I would be returning later in the day. When I return she is still sound asleep and the night shift has set aside a meal for her should she awake and be hungry. For several months, she has days that she sleeps through. So this isn’t out of the ordinary either.
I return to check in on my Mom the next day. The EMTs had asked if I noticed any changes in my Mom when they were assessing her. While she seemed to have more trouble sitting up in bed initially, I wonder if we just haven’t seen her try lately. I remember being surprised when I realized how long it was taking her to dress now. There seem to be no other changes in her movement and the day after she is back and engaged in the morning and afternoon activities the community offers.
I know that as the family member, I am probably going to be the first one to notice changes in my Mom. I remember being dumb-founded at how long it took for any doctor to initially diagnose my parents. A month before my father passed away and well into moderate Alzheimer’s, he got a 29 out of 30 on the mini-mental or folstein test often used as the first gate down the pathway to a dementia diagnosis. I tell those that ask that if you are noticing a change in behavior, you need to pursue your concern. It’s important to request a Neuropsychological Evaluation that will take at least two hours and is administered to understand where there might be cognitive decline.
My siblings and I will continue to keep a vigilant eye on my Mom. I can’t imagine how our health care system can effectively manage those individuals without someone who can be their medical advocate.
For now, I feel like the skies are still gray, but the thunderstorm has passed. I feel a butterfly in my gut as I imagine what the next crisis might be. Squeamish.