Wednesday morning, I took Mom to the Unitarian church for the monthly Senior’s Lunch. Usually, the chaplain from our Fellowship has taken her and brought her back. This time she had a class just before and I was to take Mom and she would bring her back.
So at 11:30 I took her and dropped her off and then went to my company’s office to drop off some paperwork and then went to pick up some lunch. I sat down in front of my computer and started eating and suddenly an email popped up telling me that Mom had taken one of her “turns” and they wanted to know what I should do. She had called the home number and my cell (which I had forgotten to bring with me) and left messages on both. She had sent the email at 1:30. I got the email at 1:45. I tried calling the church three times before I left the house and three times (during red lights) on the way there.
I arrived at the church and found Mom sitting up, looking fine. Apparently, a doctor had been there and had taken her pulse and said it was “really fast” and that she should be seen at the hospital.
I took her pulse and it was fast as well a irregular but it usually is after one of her “turns”. She hadn’t actually passed out and unless she actually passes out, she has been fine afterwards. If she passes out, I have called an ambulance. I decided to take her home. She said she was feeling fine. She got up but by the time we got across the back of the church, she was feeling dizzy again. I got her to lie down and gave her some water which , again, usually helps her perk up. We tried again and, again, she felt dizzy after only a few steps. Her pulse was still a little fast and still irregular so I called an ambulance. On the way to the hospital her heart rate went up to 160… They put her on a medication to bring the heart rate down and over the next few hours it went down… and then went too low (29, at one point — 60 is normal). The crash cart was on hand, just in case. They were talking of keeping her in. They talked about putting in a pacemaker. Finally they let her go home.
The diagnosis was Sinus Tachycardia which apparently an irregularity brought on by stress — either mental stress (fright or flight) or physical stress (improper diet, failure to take medications, getting up suddenly, age-related, too much coffee…). Sometimes it is short duration and you recover quickly but if it continues, it can kill. The “good” thing in all this is that they were able to take a really good look at what was going on with Mom when she was having one of these things. Previously, they were more or less guessing about what was going on. over the last few years she was on 4 times the amount of blood pressure medication as she should have been. Once they took her off the medication, she stopped having her “turns”. In recent weeks, she had had a couple of dizzy spells.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that in the last couple of weeks, Mom has been forgetting to take her Metformin for her diabetes and forgetting to put on her Nitro patches. Since those have been the medications that she’s always been able to manage on her own, I had been monitoring but not having to take over for her. In the last few weeks, she’s forgotten she even has to take her Metformin and I have to remind her and actually show her the medication. In the case of the Nitro patch, if I remind her, she remembers. I can’t trust her with the other medications. She’ll take them repeatedly or not take them even if I leave them out for her. I have to hand them to her and give her the water to ensure that she takes them. At least with the Nitro and the Metformin, it is easy enough for her to manage them… if I remind her and easy to check to see that the patch is on (and off at night) and if there is or is not a 1/2 tablet in the bottle.
Food is another problem… Left to her own devises, she will eat bananas all day long and eat all the yogourt in one sitting. She’ll eat cheese and crackers instead of the raw veggies I have put out for her. I can’t buy large tubs of yogourt because she’ll eat half the tub and leave the rest out on the coffee table, under the coffee table or under the couch. If I tell her it needs to go in the fridge, she says it doesn’t have to be refrigerated… apparently the “Keep refrigerated” on the container is “optional”. That’s IF I don’t find the container two weeks later… I can’t buy individual containers of yogourt because she’ll eat all 20 over two days… instead of the carrots and humus that is right beside it.
I bought some frozen toffee puddings to have for the odd treat. Yesterday, I found she’d eaten one for breakfast and later in the day I found she’d eaten another one for lunch. She didn’t remember having eaten them and refused to believe that she had. I got angry.
Then I realized that getting angry wasn’t the answer and that coming up with a sensible solution was the better way to deal with problems.
SO… this afternoon I ran out to Sears and bought a full-size upright freezer and a full-size fridge (without a freezer) for the basement. That way I can bright food into the house and put it in the basement fridge and freezer, bringing up just enough for the day and only the stuff that is good for her. Since the fridge in the kitchen is a side-by-side and the freezer is too small to actually fit what we need, this was an easy solution and one that Mom would accept. I could have gotten a fridge-freezer more cheaply ($1000 as opposed to $1700 with the extended warranty) but I still have the problem of not enough freezer space. Given the money I will save in wasted food and taking Mom to and from the hospital because she hasn’t eaten properly. They arrive next Thursday.
The next thing I did was set her up with Meals on Wheels for Mom. She’ll get hot lunches three days a week and she’ll have nutritious frozen lunches and breakfasts for Tuesdays and Fridays when we go to Chiropractic. She can cook them herself when I am working. They are low-sodium, low-fat, and appropriate for diabetics. The hot lunches arrive fresh at the door which means that she’ll have someone come to the door and that, in itself, will provide some stimulation for her. The range of frozen meals is amazing! They have chicken, fish, beef, pork, and vegetarian options. They have a section of Chinese-inspired meals, a butter chicken option, a huge variety of soups (Mulligatawny!!!) and desserts. AND… They work out at less than $5 per meal!
I can get the frozen meals delivered daily and also go and pick up them in bulk at a central location. That way, I can ensure that she’s getting a healthy, balanced diet that is appropriate for her, that she will like and that she can feel she has some control over.
Not only is a healthy diet good for her physically, it is good for her Alzheimer’s. The better she feels, the longer we’ll have her with us and THAT is my priority.