Were you able to visit your mom on Mother’s Day? How did it go? Did you walk away feeling good about the visit? Or did you walk away feeling worried? If your mom is struggling with dementia, visits can be anxiety producing, especially if you live out of town and are not able to visit as frequently as you’d like.
If this is your situation, you need to make the most of each visit, not only to share valuable time together, but also to keep tabs on your mom’s overall health as well as the level of her cognitive decline. And, equally important is to take time right after each visit to jot down notes about your observations, while they are still fresh in your mind.
Here are some things to look for, observe and take note of when you visit mom:
- Did she have more difficulty remembering you and other relatives?
- Did she have more difficulty responding to questions than she normally does?
- Did she seem more fearful or anxious than usual?
- Did she become uncharacteristically combative?
- Was her appearance less neat and tidy than normal?
- Did she appear to have bathed within the last couple of days?
- Were her surroundings more cluttered and/or disorganized than usual?
- Was there old food sitting out on the counters or table tops?
- Were there spills left on the floors or table tops?
- Were there signs that she was leaving doors unlatched or trash cans overflowing?
As important as your answers to the above questions are, what your gut tells you may be the most accurate assessment of all. If you had that feeling that “mom isn’t doing too well” after you left, it’s time to take some steps towards ensuring her safety and getting her the level and type of help she needs.
First, share your notes and observations with your family members. Make sure that you have a Power of Attorney to enable you to make decisions on your mom’s behalf. This is also a good time to begin looking into care options and decide whether it makes more sense to hire a caregiver for at home care or transition her to a local memory care community.
Above all, however, it’s important to understand that her living conditions will not improve as long as she continues to attempt to care for herself at home. Dementia, after all, is not a disease that goes into remission. By taking steps now, however, you will not only be doing right by your mom, but you will have far less worry and greater peace of mind.