We met with mom’s mainland doctor yesterday afternoon. This guy is practically perfect. He was very upfront and honest with mom saying her EEG was negative. She asked if that meant she could return home. He said while a negative result was good on one hand, it didn’t tell him why she was having memory problems, and he needed to keep looking for answers. I added the bit about passing out and wrecking two cars… I couldn’t decide, as the conversation went down this alley more than once, if he wants to focus on memory rather than losing consciousness while driving to help mom accept her memory loss, or is maintaining that focus because it’s the major medical problem. I’ve emailed him to find out.
He’s taking mom off of cholesterol medication, saying after a certain age it can do more harm than good, and is adjusting a component (the beta blocker) of her BP med as her heart rate remains very low (52BPM). He also asked her how long she’d been talking B-12, and when it was last checked. Mom didn’t know. He’s ordered a blood draw (next Monday), and will see her again in late April. I had wanted to get to neurology, an MRI etc. Dr. O is going to string this along at a much s-l-o-w-e-r pace. I’d never considered this as an option. That’s why he’s the doctor!
Dr. O’s conversation with mom showed him definitively that she has a neurodegenerative disease. She’d start to answer a question, pause, admit to losing her train of thought, and then start talking about something completely different.
He and mom were sitting side by side, with me across the coffee table. Mom would look at her lap as she answered questions from time to time, and Dr. O would look at me for confirmation. He got my wide eyes when mom was really off track. She correctly answered how long she’s lived on the Island (most of 40 years), but when asked, ‘When did you leave the Bay Area?’ Mom said, ‘Oh, the late 60’s!’ When asked how long she’d been at the AL community, mom looked at me and asked (after I didn’t give her the answer), ‘Has it been most of a year?’ I replied I didn’t think it had been quite that long.
Mom asked me, as I was getting ready to head home, “You don’t have to catch a ferry to get home, do you?” She thought we were on the Island. This and a few other recent comments have let us know mom has thought of late that (but not all the time) the AL community is on the Island. My daughter explained the following: When a resident first arrives in assisted living (with dementia and not wanting to be there) they ask to go home all the time. Their confusion increases, and their brains get busy trying to reconcile all the upheaval. During this time the brain can actually build new pathways, which seem to ultimately help with their transition to accepting the AL community as their home. As they transition to their new environment, the resident can end up believing that their new living situation is their home of old. My daughter then shared a lovely story of a retired pastor, who upon transitioning, thought the AL community that he lived in was his former church. He spent his days tending to his flock and the business of running his church. These signs and snippets from mom are early, and positive signs of this transition process.