The Assisted Living community has tried three times to get blood from my Mom and she’s refused each time. I hear the haunting voice in the back of my brain telling me that if my Mom starts to be combative on a regular basis, she is going to be moved to the next level of care … the “dementia” unit.
The only time this was mentioned to me was a few weeks ago when I was asking the head nurse if they could reconsider how they might get my parents to eat lunch. The nurse mentioned that my mom has been somewhat ornery when it comes to eating and was making it difficult for my Dad to eat in the lunchroom. This issue has mostly resolved and now my Dad usually eats lunch on his own, and my Mom stays in the apartment and makes herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
My Mom has always been the one we have to navigate around. During the move to Assisted Living, the doctor prescribed a pill that reduced my Mom’s anxiety (Ativan or generically called lorazepam). She took it temporarily, but she has been much more agreeable, even well after being taking off the medication. They only prescribed it for use during the initial transition into Assisted Living.
As I hang up the phone, that little seed of fear lurks. My parent’s are the happiest I’ve seen them in years together. I told the nurse I would get my Mom to a lab to get her blood work done. It’s always going to be something. Unfazed.
My mom is very thin and as you might suspect, her nutrition poor. She has been taking vitamins to help bring up her numbers which is monitored with periodic blood tests.
The nurse on duty calls at 6:45 a.m. to let me know that my mom refused to allow the lab technician to take blood this morning. When I call to see how my mom is doing, she says she is doing fine. I ask her how she’s walking today — on my last visit she refused to join us for lunch because she felt too unsteady on her feet. She tells me her foot still bothers her a little, but taking off her shoe helps. She doesn’t remember that the day before she was so dizzy she stayed in bed most of the day.
When I ask about the blood test at first she doesn’t understand my question. I let her know that I believe if some of the numbers have gone up, she won’t have to take as many pills — which she hates. After a few minutes she admits that she doesn’t like the idea of having her blood taken in their apartment. “If something goes wrong, they have no equipment for any emergency procedures!”
When we were moving my parents from Independent to Assisted Living, the Executive Director shared some ways to phrase things to illustrate the benefit. I have used this suggestion many times and today I respond by telling my mom how lucky she is to have “concierge healthcare”. I share with her the last time I gave blood I had to drive to the clinic and it took over an hour just to have them draw two vials of blood. How lucky she is to have them come to her home and get it done in a few minutes.
I am surprised and humored by my mom’s response. This would be at least the third time they have taken blood from my mom in her apartment. I’m quickly reminded how her Dementia can bring on other types of mental illness which today presents itself as anxiety. Schooled.