The Caregiving Roller Coaster Twist No. 267

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor those of you who blog, there is a feature that lets you schedule posts. I love it because I know if I have something to say, but already posted for the day, I can push the story forward a few days. I’m hesitant to barrage you with more than one post a day. I’m breaking that rule today … and might not follow it again.

I did that last week with These Sneaks Are Made for Walking! In the morning I posted the story about Palliative vs. Hospice Care and went to visit my mom to find her using a walker to move around her community. I came back, wrote about it, and then scheduled to post. I didn’t think about at all as the weekend unfolded. So now the story is a little out-of-order. I’m sorry for that. I also realize I posted twice on Sunday … but I did sleep between posts so they felt like two different days. ; >

Unfortunately, on my visit today (Tuesday, 3/31), I find mom isn’t doing well. The hospice social worker told me on Monday they were not going to discharge mom after the fall and that she was not interested in getting out of bed.

The PDA I see most texts me this morning to check in after she arrives and reports the same this morning. Just last week she had mom walking all over the community and today, she is unable to even transfer herself. I know she is bummed to see my mom in such a state after she was doing so well. We all are.

My mom still has a very pronounced lump on her forehead and now has a black eye. The discoloration can be seen all the way down to her neck. My mom asks me to repeat almost everything today which is very unusual. After my visit I call back the social worker to ask her when the doctor is going to visit next. She tells me he’s going to see mom tomorrow.

After I’m done reporting what I saw, she tells me point blank “most people don’t recover from a fall like your moms.” I supposed we have all heard how devastating falls are to frail elderly patients, but it just didn’t seem that bad as we sat in the hospital. I was more worried about a concussion given that two of my daughters good friends have just suffered one. Mom didn’t even have a concussion, but the lingering effects are very noticeable and real.

We’ve been to this place before. If this is the beginning of the end, I only pray for it to be swift. However, I have watched my mom fight back from a lot worse. Told.


Tougher Rules for Elderly Drivers

conesOn January 1st, Virginia implemented tougher rules for elderly drivers. They include requiring the individuals to renew in person, renewing their license every 5 years (instead of 8), and passing the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ vision requirements or presenting a vision statement no older than 90 days from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

When we started to see dings on my dad’s car multiplying, we stopped asking him to pick up the kids from school. When they would get lost driving to my house, I was very concerned about having them behind the wheel and the safety of the other drivers on the road. They had driven to my home hundreds of times and my dad began to get repeatedly lost on his way over. When he finally did arrive, he would be relieved, but had no recall of any previous instances. My dad was finally diagnosed for Alzheimer’s.

My parents felt that driving was a right, not a privilege. I recognized and appreciate the need to be able to get around, but they were unsafe drivers long before the doctor finally submitted the papers to the DMV to rescind their licenses. They bought into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), but would repeatedly tell us they weren’t old enough to move in full-time.

For detailed information on how we dealt with and managed this, you can read a summary of the steps we took that I posted as we were facing this very issue.

I’m glad the state is taking some action, but know that my parents would have passed the test well into the first few years of dementia. I believe that driving is a privilege we should have to earn probably more frequently than the initial milestones when we are in our teens and now these minor checks at 75. My parents managed to renew their license early and I shared my concern back in 2012 that the DMV was not doing enough. I consider this often as I imagine where my husband and I should live next and how we might manage our driving. Pondered.

Please share what your state has done about this issue, if anything. 





Stopping Scammers Together

oldphoneAt the local community center, I’m involved in the Lifetime Learning program and teach a class on how to organize and protect personal information so it can be easily found, or shared when needed. There are great discussions in these sessions and last week, one of the participants shared the recent article written by Michelle Singletary with The Washington Post titled Let’s Band Together to Stop Scammers.

Fraud affects everyone, but many of the scams are targeted specifically toward seniors. The one that surprised me was done by telephone and the individuals talked their target into giving them online access to their computer. They would say there were calling to update the software or trouble-shoot a problem identified with the machine and during the process access the hard drive and steal personal information stored on the computer. The typical result is immediate fraudulent use of credit card information stored on the computer.

My family went through a period of several years where we were concerned that our parents would be scammed. Not only did my Mom seem to misplace her purse weekly, but we had one instance where my Mom called my sister (who is a lawyer) at 2 a.m. in the morning worried about some home improvement contracts she signed. For the same work, my Mom had signed one contract for $800 and another for over $5,000. We assume my parents forgot they signed one contract and hired a second company to handle the repairs. When I arrived the next day, my Mom had forgotten the call and it took a while to uncover the two contracts. We were lucky she told one of us about it and we could intervene to help.

There are so many types of scams, but in general it seems that when in doubt, you should check it out. Never give information to someone over the telephone asking for personal information. AARP has a Fraud Watch Network that is free. You can enroll online and receive both electronic information as well as updates in the mail. The crooks are crafty and have made stealing our identity and money their full-time job. Forewarned.