Ailing Parent Hallucinating

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IsabellaLinton
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13 May 2024, 8:35 am

My mother is in hospital drugged up on IV Morphine with an unfixed broken hip. She's supposed to have surgery sometime in the next 12 hours-ish but they haven't given a time. They have to wait for her blood thinners to get out of her system so she won't bleed out. She's 85 with cancer and her shoulders don't work. Now her hip.

She's got a bit of dementia to begin with but she's also most likely on the spectrum. She's having sensory meltdowns about the lights, the beeping sounds, the feel of the blanket etc., but now with the Morphine she's hallucinating and going hysterical. She rang me screaming out loud that she needs an electrician. She told me to climb the flagpole to get into her window and that they're monitoring her calls. Apparently they disconnect her phone when she tries to ring my brother. She's decided she needs to stand up and walk out of there on her broken hip with her IV, so she can find the electrician.

She says the surgery is cancelled (it's not), and if they do it she won't be able to talk to the doctor during the procedure because her mouth is too dry. I told her she'll be asleep and she said no, electricians can't put people to sleep.

Oh, she also tried to call an ambulance for herself from her hospital room.

I don't know what I'm looking for here but it's so hard being the only person to sit there with her. I wish they could just dope her up a little more so she can rest or sleep but I guess they have to be careful at her age for liability?

She can't eat or even have water because she's pre-surgical. Her room is too hot and she's throwing her covers off.

I don't know if this is normal drug / pain / panic hallucinations or if she's starting to transition out of this life. I remember my dad doing the same, thinking he was on a cruise ship.

Anyway, just sending props out there for anyone who is a nurse or works in geriatrics.

Also good vibes that she'll survive this operation which is high risk at her age.


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DuckHairback
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13 May 2024, 8:46 am

God Issy that sounds hellish. I'm so sorry.

Can they not give her anything to calm her down a bit if the surgery isn't very imminent? I think pain meds at high dosages causing hallucinations isn't uncommon but it can't be good for her to be getting so confused and distressed about what is happening to her.

To me, the fact she's screaming and trying to get up with a broken hip suggests she's got some fight in her and isn't transitioning out, as you put it.

Hopefully they can get her into surgery asap and anaesthetize her.


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bee33
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13 May 2024, 9:00 am

I don't know if it's helpful but it might help to remember that hip surgery for people her age is quite common. My mother had surgery for a broken hip at 88 and she came through with flying colors. I'm sorry about how stressful her hallucinations are and I'm sorry the hospital is not more helpful in dealing with them. Usually they would give haloperidol (Haldol) for that? At least that's what they gave my father when he was near the end (not that your mother is) and was hallucinating. Although he didn't have dementia, which could be a factor in choosing meds for her.



IsabellaLinton
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13 May 2024, 9:07 am

It would be lovely if someone else in my family could help. The men are useless (sorry guys) because they say they can't handle it and they don't know anything about healthcare. I guess I'm the defacto doctor in the group so I get to do this all myself. My daughter has to work and also sprained her ankle. My sister-in-law who is a geriatric nurse is telling us not to do the surgery because she'll either die, or survive in a wheelchair and the government will take her house.

As usual, it's all on me to deal. I will also get the joy of dealing with her post-surgical care / hysteria. When she had her shoulder replaced a few years ago I had to live with her, listen to her berate the admittedly bad home-care nurses, and drive her to physio twice a week for almost a year. The shoulder replacement was a waste of time and never did work.

I can't talk to the doctor. I've yet to meet him. In fact my mother hasn't even met him. It was an "associate" at the weekend and I didn't even meet that person, because you know how they swoop in via the flagpole the second the family goes home.

The nurses just keep asking me if she's crazy.


@bee33 -- Thank you so much for that. I needed some reassurance. I'm relieved that your mother did so well.

The concern with her is that she's riddled with Osteoporosis as well as cancer, she could barely move to begin with, and she has a heart condition. She's also tiny and frail at about 100 lbs soaking wet. She has a very low tolerance for painkillers and normally can't / won't even take Tylenol 3 for surgical pain. I'm the same way. We don't metabolise meds properly.

She says if they put her in a wheelchair she'll kill herself (how, without use of her arms, I don't know).


I know Duck likely has some good jokes about electricians. Save them up for me because I'll need a good laugh at some point.


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IsabellaLinton
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15 May 2024, 11:28 am

She's just been diagnosed with Delirium which is like Dementia, but a result of taking surgical Morphine while also having DTs from alcohol withdrawal and the absence of her Benzos. They say it will be temporary and she has a "Delirium OT" specifically for her thinking, but it's still really daunting.

I'm still doing this alone. My partner was here briefly when she was in surgery but she won't see him because she feels ashamed of herself (messy hair etc.) My brother has Salmonella and has been very sick all week. The kids can't handle it.

The surgical recovery is one thing but the psychiatric and emotional part is overwhelming.

Has anyone ever dealt with cognitive decline like this in a family member, whether permanent or not?
I'm curious about alcoholics in particular who have needed to DT.


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bee33
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15 May 2024, 11:26 pm

I'm so sorry you're going through all of this. {{hugs}}



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16 May 2024, 11:08 am

Oh goodness, I am so sorry about all of this. I can understand how completely overwhelming this is for you. I wish I could come up there and help you.

I have a family member who also has delusions and sometimes I find that it helps calm him if I just kind of answer him in creative ways even if it makes no actual sense. I also took care of a Parkinson's patient who sometimes said delusional things and I found that that same creative response technique worked for him as well. For example, if she asks for an electrician, I might tell her that the electrician will come shortly and then tell her later that he came while she was sleeping. I might even go so far as to ask a nurse or an orderly if they could even come in for a minute with a clipboard and pretend to be the electrician and pretend to take notes on the things to fix. Sometimes, in a desperate situation, playing to the illusion helps because the person will calm down.

My aged father was also in the hospital for emergency surgery, he just came home yesterday after being there for three weeks. When I was visiting him at the hospital two weeks ago, he also had an hallucination. He told me about it and I just asked him if the person he saw was someone he knew. He said it wasn't. I would never deny that his experience was real nor would I challenge it in any way because whether it was real or not, in that moment, it was very real to him. I just told him that perhaps it was the spirit of an ancestor who had come by to see him. I believe that that sort of thing can absolutely happen. But the point is that even when my friend with Parkinson's was having his big delusions, I did not fight him about them and that seemed to really calm him. Maybe if your mom feels like whatever she is seeing is being validated, maybe it will calm her. It's worth try.

I am sending you lots of love and thoughts of strength and courage. Make sure you get as much rest and good nutirition as you can. Great big hug. :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart:


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16 May 2024, 11:30 am

Sorry Isabella ...having to deal with an aging parent , under those circumstances can be very tough .
Hope you might source a caregiver respite business, or social service ? Hang in there .Please :heart:


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IsabellaLinton
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19 May 2024, 8:16 pm

Thanks everyone.

She's not doing so great right now. She developed a fever and chest cough so they put her in Isolation in a new room. They did a Covid test but results won't be back for 24-48 hours and in the meantime they aren't starting antibiotics. They won't even do an xray to look for possible pneumonia until the Covid test is back.

They keep checking for UTI so I don't think that's the cause of the fever (or Delirium).


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IsabellaLinton
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20 May 2024, 10:09 am

It's Covid. :(

We're going to have to pay a full-time nurse to stay with her in full PPE, in hospital.
I'm not allowed in anymore and she's still hallucinating.


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Raleigh
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20 May 2024, 10:43 am

Oh my.
Sorry you have to deal with all this, Isa.

My brother is also a geriatric nurse.
He's spoken about the 'creative response' as skibum said.

Can't believe what you and your mother are going through.


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IsabellaLinton
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20 May 2024, 10:51 am

We got our money's worth with her, that's for sure.

I'm starting to feel sick myself and we have Les Mis tickets this week.

Last time I had Covid it was Elton John.

Her TV doesn't work in the private room.

She has absolutely nothing.

They admitted she'll be the least / last cared for patient because of contagion.

They won't even change her diaper more than once a day.


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DuckHairback
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20 May 2024, 10:56 am

Raleigh wrote:
Can't believe what you and your mother are going through.


x2. It's rough as hell for you both and I frankly don't know how you're holding it together but clearly the Linton women have some serious capacity for that.


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IsabellaLinton
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20 May 2024, 1:11 pm

Raleigh wrote:
My brother is also a geriatric nurse.
He's spoken about the 'creative response' as skibum said.



I'm sure that's good advice in some cases, but my mother's most troublesome delusion is that my brother was shot and killed in her hospital room on Monday night last week. I can't go along with that. She's yet to see him as a visitor but she talked to him on the phone which helped only a little. Then she forgets and gets flashbacks again, perceives bullet holes in her wall, and thinks we're keeping it a secret.


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Raleigh
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20 May 2024, 3:45 pm

Wasn't he wearing his bullet proof vest though?
So he's perfectly fine, just helping police with enquiries and lying low.


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IsabellaLinton
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22 May 2024, 7:51 pm

Enter gaslighting, right on cue.

My mother's sister in California broke her hip about six weeks before my mother. I've started getting a litany of text messages about the fact her NT / married daughter with a supportive husband and no kids in the house, has taken her in for the past month to care for her 24/7 and drive her to all of her appointments. I was reminded what a loving daughter she has and how it's cruel to even consider home care by a stranger if and when my mother ever goes home from hospital. She also pointed out her daughter has no stairs in her home so it's perfect, because she's not allowed to use stairs yet. Well duh, my mother and I both have several flights of stairs so I don't know what that was supposed to prove. Must be nice to have a built-in son-in-law who will cook the meals, cut the grass, bring home the bacon, and do whatever my cousin needs while she's busy helping her mother.

She closed by reminding me how much the family loves my mother and how she deserves the best possible care by her own family, just like she's getting from hers. She's ten years younger and doesn't have cancer or delirium. She doesn't have Covid and neither does her daughter, but whatever ...


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