A month ago, I sent a text to my best friend that said, “Today we had to commit Mom.” Those are words a daughter never expects to type about her mother, but it happened.
It started again, The Cycle, over a month ago, and this time yet again, we as her family, determined to get her help, stepped in and advocated for her. We formed a formidable union, my four brothers, my dad, and myself, and we chose to have her committed.
My dad stood and watched as two police officers kindly and gently convinced my fragile and afraid elderly mother to get into the back of an ambulance to take her to a “Behavioral Health” hospital. He called me after she left, trying to hold back his tears and told me how grateful he was for the kindness of the two police officers and how afraid he was for my mother who was so outside of her mind that she had no idea where she was going.
She spent a little over three weeks there. I joined my four brothers and my father for a family meeting where they basically told us that they had no idea what is wrong with my mother. They believe that what is going on is physical, and since they are a psychiatric hospital, she needs further medical testing. They released her a week later. That was a week ago.
Monday, the day she was released, she called and assaulted me with a myriad of grievances dating all the way back to my birth. I listened patiently and lovingly all the while shaking my head from behind my phone at the fact that any hospital would release her. Clearly, she wasn’t/isn’t well.
Later in the week, per the instructions of the hospital that released her, my father took my mother to her primary care doctor. During that visit, the doctor determined that my mother was both a danger to herself and to my father and that she needed to be sent immediately to the ER and then taken to a different psychiatric hospital that specializes in geriatrics.
He followed yet another police escort to the emergency room where he learned that he could not see her, that she needed to be on a 24 hour watch without any outside influence. They told him to go home.
He called me from outside of the ER, beside himself with guilt and frustration and unbelievable heartache. He hated that he couldn’t explain to her what was happening, and he hurt for her once again because she didn’t know why she was there.
He followed their instructions and went home. A few hours later, the psych assessor from the hospital called and told my dad that she did not see a reason for my mother to be kept at the hospital, that my mother’s “agitation” was not a good enough cause to keep her in there. My father, confused because a few hours earlier my mother’s doctor said otherwise, asked, “Well then, should I come and get her?”
She responded, and I quote: “Either that, or I’ll put her out on the street.”
Either that, or I’ll put her out on the street?
My 72 year old mother who is suffering from what we think is dementia? In what realm of reality is this appropriate? Is this how we care for our elderly patients? Am I just being sensitive because she was speaking of my mother?
I called the ER, I asked to speak with her. She conveniently had left for the night. I asked to speak to her supervisor. They basically told me that she didn’t have one. I spoke to the charge nurse, and he told me that his hands were tied, that because my father agreed to take my mother home, they did nothing wrong.
Because my father’s options were to pick up his elderly, confused, frustrated, and scared wife rather than have her “put out on the street,” their hands are tied.
Three years, countless doctors, countless hospitals, numerous medications, and still no answers.
I have had enough. We have had enough. She has had enough.
We need answers. I need answers. She needs answers.
The behavioral hospital told us that she needed to seek medical care for something physical. She met with her primary care doctor who said she needed further medical testing. She went to a renown hospital to get the medical testing. She was sent home because they are not a psychiatric facility. And round and round the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel.
What is wrong with our healthcare system? We, as her family, are trying to get her help, and she keeps slipping through the cracks, and someone could get hurt. It could be my mother. It could be my father. It could be any random person. She is not well. She needs help, and nobody will help us. Instead, they want to “put her out on the street.”
Have any of you been through something like this with a loved one? Do you have any advice for me? Am I just being sensitive about the lack of professionalism and care shown to my family?