This morning while Grandma was walking from her bedroom to the bathroom after getting up, she fell. Her morning caregiver was there but wasn’t able to keep her from falling. Grandma has to consciously think to pick up her left foot as she walks, and this time she didn’t get it up high enough and her toe caught throwing her off balance leading to the fall. Grandma refused to go to the hospital, but the caregiver did the right thing in activating Grandma’s life alert and requesting an ambulance. My parents also came and were there when the ambulance crew got Grandma up off the floor and checked her out. She has a large bump with bruising on the top of her head, and I’m concerned that she may have a brain bleed. We’ll be monitoring her closely for the next few days to see if there are any indicators.
Grandma had only been out of the hospital since Saturday morning. Still this is her first fall since April, so that’s a good thing.
Last Wednesday night Grandma yelled for me from the other room. I went out and she said she wasn’t feeling well. She was very pale and was about to pass out. She had what appeared to be an absence seizure to me where she wasn’t responding to me at all. I called my mom and told her to come over, and we then called the ambulance to take her to the hospital.
Three days later Grandma is back home but there’s no real diagnosis or reason for what happened. She had a similar episode a year ago where she fully passed out. The theory is that it was another vasovagal episode, which is plausible. I had considered food poisoning, but she never vomited this time and it resolved pretty quickly. Plus I had eaten the same food and had no symptoms.
I’m glad that my plans had changed for the evening or Grandma would have been home alone during this episode.
One of the challenges my Grandmother faces regularly is swallowing. Things have to be of a certain consistency for her to be able to easily swallow them. Mashed potatoes can make her choke. The same with pasta.
Grandma has this concept that she has to drink milk daily to get her protein and calcium. She drinks it for breakfast, lunch and dinner; a cup each time.
Lately Grandma has been coughing up a lot of phlegm. It’s getting to the point where she has to stop eating her dinner for breaks because she just can’t get the food past the phlegm. I finally said to her one Thursday night over dinner, that milk is a phlegm producer and she should consider switching back to soy milk. She played down the suggestion and said she was fine.
When I returned home the following week (as I work out of town Friday through Monday) I discovered that all the cow milk in the fridge was gone and it was replaced with soy milk. I guess she actually did listen to me. (Of course soy milk reacts differently when boiling so the tomato soup I made that night boiled over.)
My Grandmother’s birthday was this past Thursday. My parents left town for a trip that day, so we actually had her birthday dinner the night before. Both of Grandma’s children were there with their spouses, but I was the only grandchild that attended as the other living grandchild apparently had something better to do than to celebrate his grandmother turning 89.
On her actual birthday, a bunch of her friends came together and brought a cake over and helped make the day special for her. That was a nice surprise for her since I was the only family around on her actual birthday.
So last week when I put Grandma to bed, she started to take off her hose but only got them partway off. She then told me I had to finish taking them off. I did and asked her if she was going to work on getting them off herself again. She snapped at me and said she pays people to do that for her. I don’t get paid, but I didn’t go there. I explained that before she went into the nursing home she was doing this herself, so I just wondered if she was going to get back to doing it or not. I told my mom about it.
This week when I went to put Grandma to bed she took her hose off herself. When I commented on it, she said that I had ordered her to do it. I asked her to explain and she told me that Mom had told her that I had said she can do it herself. That is what I had said, but not in the tone that Grandma and Mom apparently construed. I meant that Grandma is capable of doing it herself, not that she had to do it herself.
At the start of the week, we weren’t sure it was going to happen. We had tentatively scheduled Wednesday as the day Grandma would come home, but she hadn’t found her caregivers yet. She was holding out for one person, but that person finally got back to her on Tuesday that she wasn’t going to be able to do it. So that meant we had to push it back until Thursday.
On Wednesday we brought her home for the afternoon and tried to come up with ideas of who she could get. We had the morning shifts covered, and Friday and Monday nights but still needed Saturday and Sunday nights. Grandma wasn’t happy with any names I threw out. Finally mom suggested someone that Grandma liked. We made the calls and finally settled on things on Thursday.
So Friday Grandma came home. She’s excited. I made her boiled cabbage for her lunch which is what she had requested.
We brought Grandma home for an overnight stay this week. She had no problem getting up and down from the toilet, or her chair, or the bed. She did admit to being apprehensive with my mom alone helping her. She’s going to have to get over that because she can’t afford to pay two caregivers, and I’m not going to quit my jobs to take care of her full-time.
She wants to come home for good this coming Wednesday, but she hasn’t arranged her caregivers yet. She is putting her faith in God to make it happen. I would be more proactive because you can’t expect to talk to someone on Saturday and have them start on Friday.
We added a 3.5” riser beneath the toilet. It’s very high now, maybe too high. Grandma was able to get herself up on it, but her feet dangled then. She complained that she wasn’t able to wipe with it this high. But she was able to stand up on her own with some effort after a few failed attempts. She felt very uneasy and unstable. Mom was thrilled by it and doesn’t want to change a thing. Grandma wants to try switching to a lower toilet seat. Mom is going to have her try using a riser under her feet after she gets on the toilet, that we’ll remove when she’s ready to get up.
Next attempt will be Tuesday. Grandma is supposed to start contacting her caregivers to see when they are available to come work for her because we can’t have her come home until she has her caregivers lined up.
We brought Grandma home again yesterday for a visit. The riser for the toilet has arrived, but our construction guy didn’t have a chance to come install it. He’s going to do it on Friday or Monday so that next week she’ll be able to try getting off a higher toilet.
Grandma’s fear was really setting in yesterday. She was so afraid when I was trying to assist her off the toilet. She knows she’s afraid and that her fear is holding her in place. I finally told her that I couldn’t keep stopping. I was going to lift her up regardless of her objections because she couldn’t sit on the toilet forever. Once I had her on her feet and she gained her balance she was much happier.
Mom and I talked while Grandma washed her hands and I told Mom not to let Grandma go sit back in her wheelchair. Grandma of course wanted to go back to the wheelchair instead of her chair. Mom was able to convince her to walk back to the other room.
If the raised toilet doesn’t work, I’m not sure what our options will be.
Mom brought Grandma home today so that she could relax, have lunch and enjoy the house before she had to attempt the toilet again. Mom fixed her a bunch of things out of the garden that she likes including creamed peas and red potatoes, beets, and some cantaloup and blueberries.
After I got home, Grandma was ready to try getting off the toilet again. We changed the angle on the bar from what it had been, thinking that would take care of it. It didn’t. With the new angle, Grandma was basically pushing herself down on her one side instead of up. We should have raised the height of the bar where she grips it in addition to changing the angle. Grandma didn’t agree with me, but she couldn’t see what she was doing like I could.
We’ve decided to put a riser under the toilet and raise the bar to see if she can do it then. Grandma in her moment of fear and frustration said “I can’t live here.” Mom and I did not acknowledge it. After we had her back in the wheelchair we told her how great she did, and that we’re happy with her progress. We understand her frustration, but we’re going to keep making changes until she can do it.
Next attempt will be a week from today.