Mom had an appointment today with her geriatric nurse practitioner. We meet with her every 4 to 6 weeks to tweak her medications and discuss her overall health and mental decline.
The visit went much as it always does; mom shocked and confused when we talked about her meds. Horrified and suspicious when we talked about her Alzheimer’s.
“I’m petrified of that disease,” she said, and it's true. For years, she would badger our general practitioner in Boston about her fear of getting Alzheimer’s. He would answer, “Don’t worry, you won’t know it if you do.” She laughed and recited that line for decades.
It was evident my mother had gotten worse in the six weeks since her last visit; her hands were wringing and twisting, she was less animated, and she was seeking out the no-no drugs like Ativan and Xanax.
Then, the standard questions' test:
“What day is it?”
Mom looked over at me, hoping for the answer. She wasn’t getting anything here.
“It’s Thursday. What year is it?”
“It’s 2009. What season are we in?”
“Yes! Very good. How old are you?”
“That’s easy, 82.”
“Ma,” I asked, “how old am I?”
“What? Thanks a lot!”
I described in detail the changes I’ve noticed and how she’s been functioning at home. My mother’s eyes turned into tiny cracks as she regarded me with suspicion. Since she has no recollection of anything, everything I say is a lie.
I asked the NP if she thought my mother was between Stages 5 and 6 and she said yes. Seems I was right on the money.
As we waited for the elevator after the appointment, I asked my mother if she was ok.
“Yeah, just tired.”
I took her arm and weaved it through mine. I could tell she was confused and embarrassed again. She kept looking down at the rug, as if in deep concentration. What she was thinking only she knew, but I wasn't worried - if they were plaguing thoughts, they'd be lost to her within moments.