Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Mother-In-Law

I'm worried about my mother-in-law. Her mind has been slipping, but we've all shrugged it off as a sign of her age. She's in her late 80's, she had to start repeating her stories at some point. And the fact that she claims to have done just about every job imaginable seems harmless enough. It may be highly annoying to sit and listen to stories that you know aren't true, but we love her so we listen. All of that is stuff that's part of aging and something that we can deal with.

We've even learned to deal witgh the fact that mom is a bit of a hypochondriac. She's actually very healthy for her age. She has to take medicine for her blood pressure and her cholesterol, but in your late 80's that's pretty darn good. Her legs aren't quite as steady as they once were, so she needs to usa a cane when she walks. Still pretty good. She tires easier than she did when she was young, and she just doesn't have it in her to do as much as she once did, but still, for her age that seems pretty good to me. And yet she insists that there's medical problems that don't exist. She'll swear up and down that she had a stroke about 7 or 8 years ago, but it's not in her medical records. She says that she has heart problems, but the cardiologist can't find anything wrong. But all of this we can set aside as the behavior of an old lady who longs to be with her husband.

What I can't set aside is what my sister-in-law told me two weeks ago. Mom lives with her and we had gone to visit with gthem for the day. My sister-in-law and I got a chance to talk on our own and shye was venting some of her frustrations about living with her mother-in-law. (Randy and Terry inherited mom when Bobby, the oldest son, passed away. When Randy passed away mom continued to live with Terry.) Apparently mom has started to become mean, especially towards Nicki (Terry and Randy's daughter). I know of one time that mom yelled at Nicki for being mean to her dad before he died. Even if it were true, which it's not, that's not something that you say to a teenage girl who is devastated by the loss of her father. Terry told me that there have been several more episodes of mom verbally attacking Nicki. This is not at all acceptable as a livingt situation for my niece.

All of that is not what worries me the most though. Terry told me that although mom straightens and dusts her own room, Terry likes to go in and do a deeper cleaning every now and then. The last time that Terry did this she was working on the floors in the closet when she noticed a cardboard tube in the corner. When she went to move the tube it was wet, so she decided to look inside of it. That's when she realized that mom hadd been using the tube as a toilet. Terry discarded the tube and cleaned the carpet, then she put down some absorbent pads so that if mom had problems and needed to use that area it wouldn't get into the carpet. Terry also put absorbent pads under the throw rugs next to the bed in case of an accident. Then she decided to take the bedskirt off and launder it to get rid of dust. When she went to remove it where it was up against the night stand at the head of the bed she found that the bedskirt and the side of the nightstand were covered in feces. After cleaning that mess she put the room back together and made it obvious that she'd been in there hoping that mom would come talk to her about what she'd found, it didn't happen. Terry started checking the pads daily, but there was never a mess on them. However, mom has replaced the cardboard tube with a plastic one and continues to use it nightly. Terry knows this because she can hear mom empty it in the mornings, and has even peeked out her bedroom door a couple times to see mom carry it in there.

When mom moved in with Randy and Terry they put her in the room closest to the bathroom to trfy and make nighttime easier on her, it's less than 10 feet from her bedroom door to the bathroom door. If that's too much for her then Terry is willing to put a bedside potty chair in mom's room. The only problem is that she doesn't know how to approach mom about it without making her feel bad. I know my mother-in-law well enough to know that pride would stop her from admitting to needing it, and asking her about could actually make the problem worse. But in the meantime this is becomiong more of a problem than I feel it's righht to ask Terry to take on. I suggested that she talk to mom's doctor about it and see if there's something that he could suggest. I also told her that she should ask about getting mom tested for demetia, because it sure sounds to me like there might be a real medical problem under all of this. For Terry's sake I hope that she follows through with the doctor, that way we can come up with a plan for how to take care of mom without putting it all on Terry.

1 comment:

mielikki said...

Unfortunately, this is what happens in old age. Our brains just don't seem to last as long as our bodies. Maybe Terry should just get a bed side commode (BSC) and put it in her room, without making any noise over it. As far as the mean ness. Sadly, I have seen that before, too. My Grandfather had issues with it. Perhaps a little "relax" pill would help your MIL....
Good advice you gave Terry about talking to her doctor.