Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alzheimer's Aunt gets a new phone & fails to eat dinner

I'm beginning to think that either we were really LUCKY with my dad (remember, he tried to kill my mom AND a doctor) or (Alzheimer's) Aunt (AA) does not have dementia.
Although I had a meeting scheduled last night, I was basically pulled out of it to go to Verizon to get Alzheimer's Aunt a new cell phone.  Why?  Because she broke the old one in her "frustration" (that word gets thrown around a lot by my cousins) over the voice mail issue.
I'm having a lot of trouble reconstructing the events of yesterday.  Apparently Alzheimer's Aunt tried to use Skype on her computer to call one of her children who is out of state.  She couldn't manage to do it.  Whether that means that she couldn't get Skype to start, or that her child wasn't answering, I don't know.  So "in her frustration" she once again unplugged everything.  WHY does she think that solves ANYTHING?  The landline was disconnected as part of this madness.  Then she panicked when she realized she had no phone and, if I'm understanding correctly, attempted to use the (unplugged) landline phone to Skype her out-of-state child to have him call ME to tell me she has no phone.  That makes absolutely  NO SENSE so I'm guessing either I don't understand the story, or she doesn't even know what she was doing.
Although she had no phone, somehow my cousin found out that AA needed a cell phone immediately (unless the outing was already planned) and I got the call to "drop everything" and go to Verizon. Apparently because I can help my (perfectly cognizant) mom with her cell phone needs, I'm the go-to cell phone person in the family for crazy people.  And I had to prove I'm "helpful" apparently since usually apparently my brand of help is too bossy and horrible and unhelpful.  
So off to Verizon.   On the way, I politely asked Alzheimer's Aunt how she was doing.  She started in with a litany of whining "I'm not having a good week" (it's MONDAY) and I tuned out. Then I found out that she needs a phone jack splitter. I offered to walk over to a department store while they were waiting to be called by Verizon and get one.  I couldn't find one unfortunately--too old school I guess.  I came back and looked at some basic phones (although her daughter insisted that she wanted to get her mom an i-phone, that daughter wasn't there that night and no i-phone was happening for someone who smashes a cheap flip phone "in frustration" over not being able to use it) to see if any had big button or displays or voice dialing but I did NOT point out my choices to AA, only to my cousin.  Alzheimer's Aunt stared blankly at the display of "basic phones" (not smart phones).  She refused to even pick any of them up to see if she liked them or could use them.  She wanted a "stylus" to dial with because her fingers go on the wrong keys (because she's BLIND remember) but somehow she can aim a pointed stick accurately.  She finally settled on a phone that talks when you push the buttons (two-zero-three) and a $50 a month unlimited minutes plan.  Apparently her last cell phone bill went over by $300 because she couldn't figure out how to dial and she'd call random people and TALK TO THEM (oh, those poor people) and also call numbers from old scraps of paper and her call log (remember, she's blind, but somehow she can read when she wants to) to "find out" who they are.  She had the broken phone with her, wanting her pictures.  The guy promised to try.
We were standing by the counter waiting and when I looked over she had the most childish pout on her face, her lip stuck out, her eyes all small.  She didn't want to wait, but she had to have her pictures!  Then she said she was "exhausted" and "faint" and all this was "too much" for her (like we forced her to go there).
Finally the guy came out and said he couldn't get any data off the broken phone, causing more pouting.  She couldn't figure out how to swipe her credit card to pay, she didn't know her PIN (luckily my cousin knows it; I deliberately looked away because I don't want to know it).  She had a new big wallet and was complaining that all her credit cards don't fit.  Half the slots were empty.  We pointed that out.  "That's what my daughter says too," Alzheimer's Aunt whined, "but it's not true.  They don't fit."   Somehow I am the only person who thinks any of this is irrational.
She can barely walk.  She's flat footed and takes baby steps and sways and seems about to topple at any moment.  We finally made it to the car.  It's parked far away because she "lost" the handicapped parking application I filled out for her that needed to go to a doctor to get verified, so she has no parking placard. Probably because it was "bossy" of me to try to get her a handicapped parking pass that she could use in anyone's car so she wouldn't have to walk far.  I'm such a terrible person.
On the way home, she's going through the bag, throwing everything around, all the packaging and receipts and little booklets and cords and things.
"I don't have the phone," she announces.
"you have it," we say.
"No I don't!"  She starts yelling.  "I lost it.  Turn around right now!  I need to buy another one."
"no, you have it."
She throws the bag at me. "Is it in there?  Show it to me."
I verify that the bag is indeed EMPTY because she took everything out and flung it on the floor.  "You have the phone," we say over and over.
"You're gonna be sorry!" she's screaming "you're gonna be sorry when I get home and there's no phone!"
"you have the phone."
"No I don't have it!  I lost it!  We have to go back!"  Then, "oh, is this it?"
"yes, that's the phone"
"oh I thought that was my old phone."
I could go back and read every entry on my dad for the 4 years of his illness and I can't believe I'll find a pattern of behavior anything like this.  The ONLY time is when he lost his bundle of business cards and notes and he blamed my mom and then found them.
The night before the Verizon expedition, Alzheimer's Aunt was supposed to have dinner at my mom's house with one of her kids.  My mom cooked extra, for 2 more people--wouldn't you?  Last minute, Alzheimer's Aunt "didn't sound right on the phone" to my cousin who had to run over there.  She was "having a bad day" and started in on her pity-party poor me victim-mentality and refused to go eat because she's a "burden" on my mom and me, and kept my cousin from going either, demanding a ride in the car instead.  So my poor mom was stuck with all this food.  No apologies issued.  Even before AA was sick, my mom often had her over for meals and holidays.  AA never had her over in return (not that she would in the hoard) or even offered to reciprocate with a restaurant meal.
I am just baffled that my violent abusive dementia dad was easier to handle than Alzheimer's Aunt. I wish someone would bring her to a geriatric doctor and get a formal diagnosis so we'd all know what was really going on.

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