Telltale Signs

Over the next week or so, mom’s behavior became very concerning. It was such a sudden onset, that we thought for sure she had a stroke. She was forgetting names of people she knew her whole life. This in and of itself was not a determining factor. She never was good with names. Many times, she would go through roll call when trying to call my name. “Russell…Harvey…Zachary…Perry, whatever your name is”, was how she would address me. Since she had been doing this most of her life, it was not a deciding factor. But was worse than ever, and one of other many small things that were adding up.

One night I got a call from her at 11pm. She was so frustrated because she couldn’t change the channel on the TV. I drove over to her house to fix it. I am officially her Tech Support 24 call service. When I got there, she showed me how she was operating the remote control. I discovered the problem very quickly. She was trying to change the channel with the telephone handset. It’s an honest mistake.

The Car Is Another Thing

The next day, she called me to tell me she couldn’t back her car out of the parking space at her apartment. She told me the wheels were turned sideways, and she couldn’t figure out how to turn them back. When I checked it out, I saw she had the wheels slightly turned to the left. All she had to do was start the engine, and straighten them out. Now I was concerned. Forgetting names and how to operate the TV were certainly indications something was wrong. But they were harmless. The TV could never hurt anyone. The car was a totally different thing.

If she was not able to remember how to back her car out of a parking space, what else was she not capable of doing with it? The thought of her driving was very scary. Just a few weeks earlier, she drove me home from the car repair shop. It was not a pleasant experience. When she heard a siren, she froze. I saw it was coming from behind and told her to move to the right side as quickly as possible. I might as well have told her to levitate the car. She had no idea why I was telling her to move. She just stayed frozen until the ambulance passed us. Not Good!

Her primary care doctor was concerned enough to refer us to a specialist. After the car episode, I knew I needed to act fast, if for no other reason, I needed to get her out from behind the wheel. I told her to stop driving until we saw the doctor. As you can expect, this made her very unhappy. She didn’t speak to us for a whole day. In my mom’s world, not talking to someone for a day is an eternity. She has a very short attention span.