Caregiving Dilemma: dehydration, over medication or what?

As a caregiver to my mom, I am forced with a huge dilemma right now.  A week ago, I went to visit my mom at Sunrises Assisted Living.  She was still in bed at 10 am.  Recently, she has been wanting to sleep.  She was excited to see me when I woke her up, so I helped her with her shower, and then helped her get dressed.  I was shocked to see how much she deteriorated in her abilities to manage on her own and it puzzled me.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

How could my mom be experiencing such huge changes in her physcial and mental abilities so quickly and what could I do about it.  I decided to spend a few hours with her to see how she was managing her daily activities.

I took her to the dinning room and asked the chef to prepare scrambled eggs, toast, OJ and coffee.  When it came out, not only was it delicious, but I was thrilled too see my mom devour every last bite.  She had no problem managing her breakfast independently and we had a great time together.

Next, I invited her to play rummy and she was thrilled.  We started playing in the bistro, and soon we had a full table of other players.  Mom played quite well.  The only issue was that I had to remind here when it was her turn.

One week later, last Saturday evening, I stopped over to say goodnight and to my horror, my mother was in here wheel chair, looking off into space with a dazed look.  She did not recognize me, and could not speak or move her legs.  What was going on?  I pulled out one of her photo albums, and began to show her pictures asking her who these people were.  When I showed her a picture of herself, she replied, “Mum-ma”, like a talking doll.  When I asked her to identify her recently deceased husband — my stepfather –she  replied, “Pa-pa”.

I called the attendants in to help my mom to bed…and left in tears.  What was going on?  One thing I noticed is that my mother seemed very dehydrated, so I called the nurse and requested that they monitor her food andn water intake and make sure she is given water regularly with a straw as if she was in a hospital.

I noticed that she even had a problem swallowing the water and pills that night…and I was told that she has lost interest in eating.

What does a daughter do at this point?  What do you do when a loved one is unable or unwilling to feed themselves and begins to refuses food?

Please share your stories and experiences with me for my upcoming book with co-author and Legacy Expert, Meredith Bromfield called, The Designated Daughter:  Caregiving and Legacy Planning.   Thank you.

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