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An Alzheimer’s Story by Sandra Savell

By July 10, 2020September 15th, 2020No Comments
I took my mother to our family dentist every six months when she came to live with us. His grandmother had Alzheimer’s and so he was familiar with the challenges facing dental procedures with a patient suffering from the disease. My Mom loved him (he was good looking and my mother was always a flirt). After Mom went into a memory care unit, it became a challenge to take her to the dentist as she became very agitated when she left the facility. However, a dental check up at our regular dentist uncovered the fact that my mother had seven broken teeth – mostly molars (that is why I had no clue about them) – and they needed removed. Knowing the problem with her agitation, our dentist suggested we do it all at once and I agreed.  It was planned that she would be taken to the dentist and I would fill her prescriptions and have them at the facility when she returned from the dentist. I was informed that she would immediately need to be given her medication and a milkshake when she returned from the dentist. I met with the director of the memory care unit and was assured that all would go well. I then picked up the prescriptions and the written directions and put them into the director’s hands. A few hours later I received a panicked phone call from my mother’s p/t caregiver that she picked Mom up from the dentist, brought her back to the facility and the director was not there and nobody knew what the plan was. My mother had nothing to eat for almost 18 hours by then, was in terrible pain and agitated. I arrived and discovered that, although the staff was concerned, they had no intention of contacting the director to find the meds and receive instructions. That is when my slow burn became a bit of a wild fire. I do not remember my exact verbage – but within 15 minutes her bag of meds magically appeared as well as her milkshake was brought out of the fridge. I was informed that I was NOT ALLOWED to give my mother her medication and my reply was “Try to stop me!” I gave her the pain meds and antibiotics she needed along with her milkshake and stayed until she fell asleep. We decided that my mother’s caregiver would spend the night and I would be there first thing in the morning. By the time I arrived home, my phone was ringing and the director of the facility was furious. She informed me that I had broken a number of laws and rules and was going to contact the main office of the memory care unit about how it should be handled and that it might be a possibility that I would have to move my mother. I replied that if that happened, literally everyone I knew would know about how the facility dropped the ball and then threatened us with her removal. Then I hung up the phone. I received a call the next morning from the director apologizing for the situation. She had investigated and found out that the ball was dropped from the very beginning, starting with herself and then the situation just gathered volume as other employees were given directions for Mom’s care.  I can’t communicate how grateful I would have been for a dentist who would come right into the facility to care for Mom. I could not take her to appointments anymore because she didn’t know me and would actually try to jump out of my car! I was a bit tearful when I went into your blog and saw how you cared for the community you service. You are a blessing to so many!
By: Sandra Savell. Speaker, Author, Humorist, and Crusader for Caregivers.
Author of  Dear Clueless: A Daughter’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s Caregiving  which can be found here