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Mom Wasn’t Missing, but the Pills Were

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As I described in my last blog, Mom and I left the neurologist’s office with an order for a brain scan and a ten-day sample pill pack of the drug called Aricept. Aricept is very commonly prescribed for MCI or the beginning stage of Alzheimer’s. The pills were each in a plastic bubble labeled with the name of the day it was to be taken.  Simple.

Nope.

I drove Mom home that day and put the pill pack right next to her bottle of Thyroxine.  She took her thyroid pill daily for the last 35 or 40 years. I explained to her that she should take one Aricept at the same time she took her thyroid pill.

At least at that point in time, I was more aware that seemingly simple instructions were getting more difficult for her. I was only partially confident that my instructions were going to be followed, but I didn’t know what else to do.

I arrived at her home the next morning to visit and see how she was doing. I went immediately to the Aricept pill pack and couldn’t believe my eyes. Each bubble was popped and there were no pills left.

“Mom, where are the pills??” Her answer? “I took them!”

“You WHAT?” I took a deep breath. I was starting to learn that when someone’s brain is failing, there is no reasoning with them. You end up in a heated conversation over something that shouldn’t be a problem. What I did know, was that I had a serious problem to solve.

In a slight panic, I called the doctor. I asked if I should run her to the emergency room of the local hospital. He said no, but that she might not feel well for a few days. That was good news, I guess.

The Aricept dosing was going to have to wait. The only solution I could think of was to get some help. Someone was going to have to come to the house daily to help with things like medications. The next hurdle was to figure out how to do that.  She still drove her car. She still cooked her meals. She was still in charge of her life, and I had to tell her that she needed a person to come over to give her medications? It made no sense to her and in many ways, it made no sense to me either.

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Suggestion: You might have to consider some part time home care earlier than I did, if your loved one is living alone.   I can tell you what didn’t work for us regarding medication administration. The plastic boxes labeled with the day of the week that you can buy at the pharmacy may seem like a good solution, but for Mom they were confusing.  Even knowing the day of the week was difficult for her and it was a question that Mom asked daily, over and over, for a very long time.

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I had a nine year journey with my Mom who suffered with Alzheimer's disease. I wish to share what I learned about caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's and also provide a website with information and helpful resources.

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