A few years ago, I vowed I would care for my elderly mother in her Hurstbourne apartment as long as it was safe. On Valentine’s weekend, after looming risks reached a critical mass, I passed the torch to my beautiful, dutiful sister — a Taylor County nurse practitioner whose husband is a surgeon.
Mom remains very much herself — charming, cheerful and generous to a fault. But beset by vertigo, she is prone to falling. Memory loss means that she sometimes forgets to use her walker or cane — or remove her reading glasses, which wreak havoc with her depth perception and sense of balance. Hypersensitive to side effects, she resists taking three medications — one of which keeps her from lapsing into atrial fibrillation.
Life gets increasingly confusing at 96. Is it dawn or dusk? Can the people on TV hear and see us? Are callers friends or con artists? Even caregivers struggle for clarity. For example, Mom attributes her longevity to coffee and routine movement. But now caffeine seems more toxic than therapeutic. It can play a role in “sundowning” episodes ranging from confusion to violent hysteria — and urinary tract infections, which can deepen dementia and trigger delirium, “a temporary state of extreme mental excitement, marked by restlessness, confused speech and hallucinations,” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary.Read More ›