Mom has been homebound for a few years, since a stroke left her with very limited mobility. At first, she was so active that you could almost forget that she was ill. She did crossword puzzles, made wisecracks while watching her favorite TV programs and dispensed advice (and even got bossy) whenever we came to visit.
But gradually, I started to notice that she wasn’t quite herself. Mom had much less energy and kept falling asleep at odd times – including while her grandchildren were telling her about their day. She started losing weight and I had trouble tempting her even with her favorite foods. My brother brought over his world-famous (OK, I exaggerate…) chicken pot pie and she barely took two bites.
One day, I asked Mom if she wanted pink or white flowers to decorate her table and she talk so long to make the decision and changed her mind so many times that I started to really worry. I consulted with her caregiver, Sofia, and she suggested that Mom might be depressed.
Her doctor did in fact diagnose her with depression, after ruling out physical problems. He prescribed medication and also suggested she get more social interaction. My brother and I take turns visiting more often than we used to, and we bring our kids with us as often as we can.
Sofia takes more time to entertain Mom and we hired household help so she can concentrate exclusively on being with Mom. Mom is now served small well-balanced meals six times a day to keep her energy levels up. Sofia has her on a routine that includes a good night’s sleep and a nap or two during the day.
The results have been pretty amazing. It took some time, but slowly Mom has gotten back her mojo. She’s back to cackling at the TV and sometimes even picks up the crossword puzzle. The other day, she started telling me how to do my laundry, and instead of getting annoyed, I took this is as a positive sign that she’s doing much better. It’s heartwarming to see how excited Mom is now when the kids come to see her and how interested she is in what we are all doing.
If any of this sounds familiar, I encourage you to take your parent to the doctor to check whether they are suffering from depression or another mental health issue.