Managing Mom

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Getting organized

Getting organized had to be a priority after the relapse from mom’s open-heart surgery. Mom got to come home once we knew she was truly and finally stable. No more swelling in her legs meant she was out of danger.

Nurse Tina kicked in like no one’s business. I watched her night and day, monitored her blood pressure twice a day and recorded it daily. I was so overwhelmed with paperwork, medications and doctor appoints I couldn’t keep things straight.

I needed to get her affairs in order. Not only for my sanity but in the event that I am out of town or should something happen to me (knock on wood), I would have peace of mind in knowing someone could take over and care for mom. It overwhelmed me, a bit to think I was her only caretaker.

I thought, if I’m solely responsible, then it is all my fault If something goes wrong again? Take my advice and do not put that pressure on yourself. The stress of it all will make you worthless to anyone! Believe me. I know!

Once I thoroughly assessed all her needs I started a binder. In the binder, I made a section for each category and sorted all the paperwork accordingly! It was such a relief.

Getting organized will look different for each person’s’ needs, no doubt, but the first step is putting it all together. This gave me such a sense of relief. Just knowing that all her information was in one place, for all to access, makes me sane again. Yay me!

“There is no satisfaction and fullfillment than to make a difference in another person’s life”

Matthew Kelly, The Rythym of life
dynamic catholic

Getting involved

For me, getting fully involved was essential in regard to mom’s memory loss. I couldn’t rely on her to give me an accurate update of her appointments. It was important that I be present myself to take notes. In addition, it allows me to assess the doctor for myself, and see if he/she had my mom’s best interest at heart.

In this case, I found her cardiologist to be quite loving and caring. However, my brother and I found her primary doctor to be quite the opposite, rushing you at as soon as he can. He had an arrogance about him and did not like it when my brother and I asked questions. That’s a red flag, wouldn’t you say?

At one of our recent visits, after another round of blood tests, the doctor confirmed that mom has Type 2 diabetes. I should’ve asked more questions then, but he rambles off all the latest updates so quickly, I can’t even get a word in edgewise. He’s like a waiter in a busy restaurant trying turnover the table to the next seating to make another tip.

There is nothing I dislike more than a doctor that is impersonal. I understand that he has many patients. However, mom has been in his care more often than an average patient after her heart surgery. At some point, act as if you care! Geez!

All of a sudden, I get a diabetes kit delivered to my home. I knew it was for mom but I had no warning this was to come. The doctor couldn’t take 2 seconds to let me know that he was going to send over a diabetes kit? He didn’t even tell me we needed one. He didn’t tell me anything I need to know as far as mom’s diabetes was concern. I went home and looked it all up.

I don’t even bother to ask the doctor questions anymore. Even when I do, it’s always so quick and short that I don’t even get a full explanation. He just seems so annoyed or ready for his next patient! He runs his place like a sweatshop! Next!

I read all the directions and set up the test kit, but there were still questions I needed the doctor to answer. I had to call their office 3 times before he got on the phone. The nursed didn’t even know how to help me with the kit so how on earth would I know what to do! ARGHHH!

Wanna hear another doozy? At the last visit, her blood pressure was high. The nurse’s reaction caused great concern. But what do you think the doctor did? He just upped and prescribed mom ANOTHER medication. He didn’t even discuss the number with me or investigate what might have caused the spike.

Mom is on SEVEN different medications so you can understand my concern for yet “another pill” and I happen to be one who agrees that America is over medicated. Hold on, before you judge me because I do believe in western and eastern medicine practices. It just depends on the individual and how well the body receives one or the other. There is room for both. However, as a doctor, the least you can do is explain why. Is that too much to ask?

That was the last straw! I am on a search for a new doctor! Be mindful of the primary physician your mom or dad has. It matters.

Is this doctor a good fit?

Just be aware and look for signs that this doctor might not be the best fit. This list is based on my personal observation:

  • Does the doctor prescribe medication without explaining it upfront?
  • Is the doctor open to your questions?
  • What is the doctor’s demeanor when you are asking questions?
  • Is the doctor patient in answering all your questions? Is he/she thorough?
  • When there is a new diagnosis, does the doctor take time to explain the symptoms?
  • Does the doctor take the time to explain what needs to be done to monitor this new diagnosis? Does he offer self-care tips?
Action plan, implement, home care, medications

Action Plan

Take action and get on top of things from the get-go! Don’t wait for your parents to come home if they have been hospitalized. Mind you, my situation is specific to mom having a heart attack and then open-heart surgery and then coming home and having a relapse. I was fearful and overwhelmed all at once.

Tips on how to get organized:

  • I created a blood pressure chart to record the information
  • I created a chart with all of her medications, what they are for and possible side effects
  • I created a schedule of when her medications or to be taken & noted any special directions where applicable
  • I made a chart to log all her procedures, dates (if not the exact date, at least the month), follow up appointments and notes
  • I have a sheet that records all her upcoming appointments and a place to make notes after the appointment
  • I have all of my mom’s approved procedures & medications from Medical/Medi-care
  • I have a section for all her blood work that has been done

And just a note to yourself, I like to put the most current information in the front. Some people don’t quite think that way, just be sure to make a note in your binder if you do front to back or back to front for the most current information. It’ll prevent lots of arguments! (insert laughing emoji)

medication administration, pill box, manage

Medication administration

How does someone with memory loss remember to take their medication? Good question!

It takes a village! And at first, it was tricky and stumbled on our own path, we got a system that works. Mom has AM/PM medications, so we bought a pillbox that has the day of the week along with AM & PM row of boxes (see photo on left). This isn’t fail-proof, as I mentioned, but it sure does help.

Mom comes over every morning and evening, which helps us to monitor her memory.

I also have to take a blood test for her every morning before or after she eats to monitor her diabetes (remember that wonderful diabetes kit the doctor sent over with NO explanation? Yeah, that one).

Every Monday & Friday, she has to take a powdered drink to help with her potassium levels at any time of day. And you thought your parents have a lot of meds, right?

I’m sure some of you surpass mom, but more than three medications are already one too many to manage if ya ask me!

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

Create Your Village!

I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have a husband and stepdaughter that give me so much support. When my stepdaughter moved in, it was a blessing in disguise far beyond our comprehension. It has been great having her live with us on so many levels, and now, especially with mom.

My husband and I can take trips and feel confident that mom is in good care. We don’t have the added expense of hiring a caretaker so having my stepdaughter with us is truly wonderful. There’s nothing like peace of mind while you’re on vacation, right?

We have a central place in our home where all mom’s “stuff” is located. We have an erasable board to check off meds and make notes to each other, much like they do at the hospital for the nursing staff.

This was life-changing for us all, and we can’t do it alone, so don’t make yourself crazy thinking you need to. Even if you live alone, ask a neighbor, nearby friends and/or family to help if you can. Most people are ready and willing to help more than you think. Just ask. I know it’s not easy. Believe me!

My Chinese mom was so good at NOT imposing on anyone. She ingrained that in my core values so it took me a LONG time in my adulthood to finally be able to ask for help.

Just try. I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I was.

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