Every July, Jenny, her husband, and their three children would head to the family lake house to spend time with family, enjoying the lake, food, and laughter by the fire. A big part of this summer visit was to spend time with her grandparents, Evelyn (Mimi) and John (Papa).
As they pulled in, Jenny’s cousin, Tammy, came out to the car to talk with her. “Jenny, something is not quite right with Mimi. She is having trouble remembering words and is struggling with recipes in the kitchen.” Jenny acknowledged Tammy’s worry and said that she would go straight into the kitchen to see Mimi, with Tammy.
As they approached Mimi, Jenny could tell that she had lost weight and even looked a bit gaunt. They embraced and Jenny noticed that it wasn’t the same strength that it usually was. Mimi knew who Jenny was and seemed oriented to the time and place. She was working on a pie crust, and it looked like how Mimi always made her pies. Jenny set her bags down in the living room and went back to the kitchen. Mimi and Tammy were having a spirited conversation about the ingredients for the pie. “But, Mimi, that is flour, and it calls for sugar,” said Tammy. Mimi let her help get the sugar out of the pantry and make sure they were using the correct ingredient.
Papa said, “She has been that way since she came home from the hospital, and I just don’t know what is going on with her.”
Jenny knew that the cousins would need to meet to discuss the situation. Their parents all had complicated relationships with Mimi and Papa and most of the care fell to their grandchildren.
That evening after Mimi and Papa had retired to their bedroom, the cousins talked around the fire. They discussed their concerns and Jenny made a list on her phone. There were instances of forgetfulness, trouble forming sentences, dropping items, and other concerning events. They talked about how they would approach the situation and it was determined that they would all have a heartfelt conversation with Mimi and Papa and see if they could determine better what was happeng. Cousin Susie mentioned she had read an article that sometimes a Urinary Tract Infection could mimic symptoms of cognitive decline and Mimi had been in the hospital with a severe UTI/Kidney infection. They agreed to start with Mimi’s primary care physician to discuss concerns and go from there. When asked, Mimi agreed because she had noticed some concerns herself.
Cousin Mark mentioned that his parents had partnered with an Aging Life/Geriatric Care Manager for help with his mom’s parents and it was very helpful as they were able to guide questions and decisions to find the best care for that grandmother. Everyone agreed to have Jenny follow up since she lived closest, but they all vowed to support her and help as they could.
About two weeks later, our phone rang, and Jenny described the situation. We knew exactly where to start to help this cousin group find the right options for their grandparents. If you are facing a similar situation, please give us a call at 317-300-5454 or email us at Shannon@AgingLifeCareConsultants.com. We’ll be happy to assist!