Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:53 am Posts: 3097 Location: Ohio, US
God, I'm in hell right now. Traveling with my wife and MIL in for a mid-week Amish country break. Oh, kill me now!
She's so hard to travel with. Part of it is because she has mild dementia, the other part is she's just aggravating! We went to dinner tonight and she insisted on paying the bill, something like $55.63. She doesn't use cards, cash only. So, she starts counting it out, except she has problems counting money with her dementia. She basically can't count money, she more or less arranges it, if that makes sense; she'll put three 20's and two 10's together, stare at it, take a $20 away, add two $5's, take a $10 away, add a bunch of singles, until she finally gets the dollars right, then she starts in on the change.
Once she got it all, she asked how much of a tip to leave, and we suggested an amount, and she added it all up, pushed all her money back together in a pile and started the whole process over again. It took just over 40 minutes for her to get the bill ready. We would have paid it, or helped her with it, but she's vicious about being seen as helpless.
Of course, with her condition, you can't say anything, that would be useless, and even I'm not that mean - it's not something she can help, but god, is it frustrating.
We have an adjoining room, and she's already managed to lie down on all four beds, enough so that she's put her face in all the pillows and messed up all the covers. On four beds. Sorry, but that's like eating off somebody's fork or washing your face with their already-used cloth; now I'm too creeped out to go to bed.
While we were eating, a fly landed in my salad, got dressing in his little feet and couldn't get out easily. I wasn't going to eat it after that, but MIL reached into my bowl and sorted through my salad piece by piece, until she found the fly, dumped it out, and killed it on the table. Then she said she took care of it and I could finish my salad. Um, no. It had a bug and Lady Spiderfingers traipsing through it, I'll pass, thanks just the same.
Now we're back in the hotel where she just said she was going to leave the adjoining door open because our bathroom is directly opposite her bed, so she can walk in a straight line to get to it instead of having to make a little right turn to get to her bathroom. Um, no again. I'm not having someone creeping in and out of my room, and I'd have to leave the bathroom light on. I'd never get to sleep. So I am at least that mean, apparently.
I am so very sorry. I understand your pain to some extent. Sometimes if I'm unfortunate enough one of these ladies will walk into my shop and want her hair done. we have one that's a regular customer, she came in one time about a year ago and needed to use the bathroom. She literally smeared poop all over the walls and floor and then trailed it out through the length of the salon and still wanted us to do her hair! People like that tend to do better and are more tolerate when there is paid help to deal with them. As far as traveling with a dimentia person, you must have great patience, far greater than my own. I probably would have been guilty of granny dumping somewhere along the way.
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:31 am Posts: 1219 Location: Upstate New York
May I suggest getting in touch with the Alzheimer's Association? Their website is http://www.alz.org and you can find support groups in your area. I work with Alzheimers & Dementia patients and it can be very frustrating, and sometimes scary.
_________________ "Children are the future...today belongs to ME!" Lindsay Naegle ('The Simpsons')
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:53 am Posts: 3097 Location: Ohio, US
Thanks, all. I was hoping I wouldn't get dumped on here.
We're working with the Alzheimer's Association now, actually. She was just diagnosed in June, although she's been showing symptoms for years. She's enroute to her final destination (another daughter's), where she'll be staying from now on.
The granny dumping comment made me laugh. I have a pretty dark sense of humor and earlier, while we were in a grocery store, I pulled my wife to the side and said, "You know, we could just walk out and drive away and this whole situation would solve itself..."
Of course, I was kidding, but for about three seconds, my wife had that, "Let's do it!" look in her eyes. Honestly, she has a harder time handling her mom than I do.
May I suggest that your MIL is not quite as demented as she might have you believe? The bathroom nonsense is a tell. If she were really that demented, I don't imagine she'd be all that oriented in time and space to even be judging how linear the walk to the restroom is. She just wants an all-access pass to your room.
Your hellish journey reminds me of one my sister and I took with our dad, who was alcoholic in his old age and by then, unbeknownst to us, probably did have the beginning of dementia. At least we wish to believe so. We begged a room at a lovely B&B made of an old schoolhouse, so there was one big room with 3 or 4 beds that we took. When we were ready to bed down for the night, we found Father slipped out and found the TV room downstairs and was down there hitting on and pestering a young woman. Finally back in our room, in the middle of the night, he woke up disoriented and tried to crawl in bed with my sister. On our route we had studiously avoided any liquor stores, but in a strange town, they can pop up anywhere and he had had a couple that evening after bullying us to stop at one, acting as if he was a 7 year old and we were driving past Disneyland.
My father fell into dementia nearly 15 years before his body gave out, and didn't know us most of that time because in his mind, he was about 19. One thing I will tell you about dementia, though, is it may take their memory and disorient them, but the personality remains the same. My dad's passion was cars, buying and selling them after his day job, all his life. He was really OCD about it, looking back. In his dementia, at the nursing home, he thought the parking lot was a car dealership and would go into the office and sit down with the nursing home manager and apply for loans. And he never stopped hitting on girls.
Once the MIl dozes off, close the door quietly. I travel with one of those rubber wedge doorstops for just such occasions! I recommend you quietly slip one of those in your luggage before the next family outing.
Last edited by Preraph on Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Hear you loud & clear like a damn bullhorn -- the family vacation is my idea of pure hell.
These days I won't vacation with ANYONE but my husband, as he's the only trusted, worthwhile traveling companion in my life. My previous travels with my own family or my in-laws have been so hellacious that if I want to relax and have a good time, it's better to just stay peacefully at home.
Certain members of my family and DH's are just so reflexively petty, envious, whiny, self-dramatizing and generally unpleasant they can't have a good time ANYWHERE, I kid you not.
Just recently I drove up to San Francisco to visit my younger sister for a bridal shower, and it fell to me to entertain my mother for awhile. First I took her out for English high tea for breakfast, then out to Napa for some wine-tasting, and then the next day after the shower, I took her on a walk: first stopping at the Ferry Building for a snack of champagne, artisan soft cheese, and farmed American paddlefish caviar, after which we walked to City Lights Bookstore and I bought myself a stack of books, and then bought the two books she had selected for her as a little gift. Then I treated the lot of us to dinner at Scouma's seafood to thank my sister and her fiance for putting me up at their condo for the weekend.
Guess what happened? I did all the driving and navigation, paid for everything, wined and dined that woman like a princess -- and she was WHIIIIIINING at me by Saturday, first because I haven't tried to make nice with my abusive a**hole older brother ("He's getting married this year... you could at least TRY...") Then she bitched about my driving even though I was driving safely and have a clean driving record, and then after I left, she whiiiiiined to my little sister about how "Rose always travels so lavishly... Rose is so ostentatious... Rose always spends all her money on herself... Well, I suppose she can take people out to expensive dinners and eat caviar because she doesn't have kyyyyyds..."
She acts like I do that every night or something -- I even told the silly thing that luxury foods are a special occasion thing for me. My tradition is make myself a caviar omelette with French champagne twice a year: on my birthday, and for New Year's Day brunch. And, I prefer American paddlefish roe because sustainably farmed, and it's excellent quality yet reasonably priced, and Caspian Sea sturgeon are being overfished as well. Yet you'd think I was Leona Helmsley or something.
Yes, they use the enforced togetherness and enforced jollity of "vacation time" to get their drama on: some of 'em, like my Mawm, like to play the martyr and make a big fake show of being SOOO humble and low-maintenance; my dad, two oldest brothers, and eldest brother-in-law like to get their sadistic jollies on picking on people; and then you get the martyr-moos who go on and on and ON to the captive audience about HOW difficult it is to raise these kids...
And the old infirm ones like the OP's MIL are the worst. Last time my MIL visited, we went to a local botanical garden to see the roses, and as it turned out, MIL couldn't even walk a mile or two through the (totally flat) garden paths, even at an absurdly stately pace, and leaning heavily on my husband's arm. Mr. Rose had to run back and get one of the courtesy wheelchairs so we could wheel her around like a pile of washing.
Gee, I thought courtesy wheelchairs were for actual handicapped people, you know, like parapalegics and amputees and people with leg casts. Since when does being morbidly obese count as a handicap...
_________________ Because this body is a recreational area, not a manufacturing plant. Because my baby is a blue-eyed hunka burnin' Irish man-love, and he's all the baby I'll ever need. Because it's my life, and I don't want to.
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:53 am Posts: 3097 Location: Ohio, US
MIL isn't stark raving mad, just mild dementia. She's been on meds about two months. Her most prominent symptoms are difficulty articulating speech, short-term memory loss, and a general inability to manage daily tasks, like writing checks. The other day, she was arguing with a recorded phone message, which actually made me laugh a little because she was getting pissed, shouting, "Quit talking for a minute! Stop talking and let me answer!"
She's present enough that she knows she has problems and it frustrates her no end. That the hard part. She'll say, "Im going to sweep the, the, you know, the place where the things are when they're not out, you know, you're not at the place in them, and they're there at night, you know, where they sit in, dammit, you know what I mean, right, the place for the things?". Translation: I'm going to sweep the garage.
As for the bathroom thing, she's paranoid about that because at her house, her bathroom is directly across from her door. At our house, same thing. When she was staying with another daughter before getting here, her bathroom was down the hall and her daughters bedroom was directly across the hall. So, I'm betting you can guess what happened. Yep, she peed in her daughter's room in the middle of the night. Twice.
Regardless, the adjoining room door will be closed. I can't have people creeping in all hours of the night.
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:59 am Posts: 190 Location: USA
Oof, you have my sympathies and I'm in full agreement that you're being very patient considering the circumstances. There's nothing wrong with a caregiver for feeling frustrated or impatient or enjoying a little black humor because sometimes that's what gets you through the day.
My grandmother died last August after having Alzheimer's for several years; I remember how deeply painful and frustrating it was for my parents...even with paid caregivers and eventually a move to a nice facility. My mom used to do a lot of venting about how crazy my grandmother drove her with all of the odd behaviors, limitations, and stubborness. Alzheimer's just sucks all around. Sorry to hear that your MIL has it, CarryOn.
_________________ “Sometimes I really think people ought to have to pass a proper exam before they're allowed to be parents. Not just the practical, I mean.” - Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 3:22 pm Posts: 442 Location: USA
You have my sympathies. My mother's husband died of Alzheimer's a couple of years ago. While at first it was mild, it went downhill quickly, and his last visit before he passed was just awful. It's such a sad disease, but it is also so hard on the caretakers. Honestly, if one of my parents or DH's parents got dementia I would be putting my money toward getting them in a home than taking care of them in my house. I would visit regularly, but I just don't have it in me to do the 24/7 thing.
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