This week I was able to get Mom to the hospital before her staff called 911. I don’t think I posted about her ER visit last time, which was only a few weeks ago and involved an ambulance.
Paranoia and delusions can be part of dementia and Parkinson’s, and a large percent of the time have to do with the medications used to treat those diseases. So it gets pretty complex.
As someone who’s always felt hesitant about how many meds my mom takes, not to mention their possible interactions and side effects, it was informative for me to see how much worse she got when she refused her pills several days this month.
Although part of her crash was likely due to jumping so quickly from one extreme to another, it’s good for the part of me that hides my denial to see that it’s not so useful to use meds as a scapegoat. She’s at a stage where her brain is dependent on the drugs for stability. Dopamine stability, specifically, is a big deal for people with Parkinson’s, and Mom’s levels have been all over the map.
For the last weeks she’s been living in an almost entirely different world that only she can see, involving spies, evil plots, and terrible crimes that she describes in great detail and feels urgently driven to escape and report to the police, even if a glass window or another human is in her way. It’s maddening for her to hear that others can’t see these things happening, and aren’t willing to help her fight the crimes, which has driven her to desperate aggression lately.
Trying to break windows, calling 911 repeatedly, and throwing food, drinks, and pills that she was certain were poisoned have led to the last two hospitalizations.
Fortunately, she’s in the best place yet – the psychiatric unit of a research hospital that’s so cozy, normalized, and friendly that I don’t feel any of the creepy, stomach-churning sensations I noticed when I first stepped into the last two similar places she was held for evaluation. As I write this, I’m thinking of how many people of all ages don’t receive the advocacy they need during mental health emergencies to end up in such a helpful place with abundant, respectful, and knowledgeable staff, working as a team with each other and with me.
When these things happen, I’m always left wondering, Is this the end of the Mom I know? Is she at the last stage now?
Then when she returns to herself, like I saw at the hospital for a few hours last night, I feel so relieved and grateful to have my mom back, and yet the years we’ve gone through these roller coasters also make me feel that it could go on like this for much too long.
So many dementia caregivers go through this daily. Little glimpses of a prior personality trying to surface, or disappearing where it was just a few hours ago – and you never know where things are headed tomorrow.
Makes you hope there’s some truth to the saying hearts that keep breaking grow stronger.