So I have noticed a disturbing trend over the past week or two of everyone talking about Mom in front of her. And she feels it. She has made a couple of comments that indicate that she is feeling dismissed or disrespected.
Today, I had to rush off on her for a work meeting and she made a comment that she was just trash. That one really made me sad because I think Mom has legitimate cause to feel that she is being brushed aside or not taken seriously sometimes.
To be fair to all of us, it is difficult. Mom communicates a lot less. She does not have a lot of insight into her dementia or her medical history and will not be the person taking the follow up steps. So some of these conversations have to happen around her. Or it can be more efficient that way and especially when interacting with doctors that seems to be their preference. But, not so long ago, Mom was consistently the most together and capable person in any group. She feels the difference in how people treat her.
I struggle with how to keep Mom feeling respected for her life and experience while being realistic about her current capabilities. I should try to make more of a point to ask her opinion or defer to her where I can. Showing her love is a part but she needs to feel respected, included, and heard too.
Mom does not like the doctor. We spent a good long time — months — fighting over whether she would be seeing any doctor at all, ever, for her very obvious memory problem after my father passed away. I used every possible approach from flat out yelling to enthusiastic, cheerful daughter to desperate coaxing to, well, you get the picture.
Finally, she agreed with the critical caveats that the doctor had to be a male (no comment) and must be funny or she would not deign to return. Why humor is my mother’s primary requirement for a doctor, I do not know but happily her doctor passed the test. He even handled Mom declaring, “I do not like going to the doctor,” as her written sentence in the mental status test with some grace.
We moved some distance from our one approved doctor however so I started looking for a new one and made an appointment a few months ago. Mom dragged her feet enough on the way to that first appointment that I scheduled with a new doctor that we finally arrived well past the appointment time window. Mom’s resistance was so frustrating to me that I actually burst into tears in front of the receptionist who delivered the news that we would have to reschedule. One full afternoon of my vacation time from work wasted. So I rescheduled. On the day of the second appointment attempt, Mom got in bed and told me she needed a nap and that she would not be going back to Finland. Apparently our 15 minute drive had felt unacceptably lengthy to her. That sent another afternoon of my precious vacation time down the drain.
Tomorrow is try number 3 with a doctor located a mere 5 minute drive from our house. In fact, we might even walk. Let’s wish me luck in getting Mom up, dressed, out the door and fully delivered to her appointment.