Geriatric Delinquent

“I was so proud of myself” Mom beamed as she recalled defending herself from the conspirators with a butter knife. Safe, calm and cheerful in her bed at the Chilton ER, her home away from home, she rambled amiably about the adventure that led to the police removing her from the rehab center that Sunday.

We had visited Mom at the rehab center on Friday of Memorial Day weekend. She was now using an “ambi-walker,” which afforded her the ability to walk with wheeled support and sit when she got unsteady or tired. She’d been receiving physical therapy. She had been bathed, her hair washed and combed. “I love this ship! It’s amazing.”

Saturday I’d been called to approve the use of a bracelet on Mom that would prevent the elevator from moving when she got on it. Now ambulatory, Mom was ambulating and looking for adventure. Mostly, she wanted a cab to take her home, wherever that was.

Seemingly happy and improving physically, Bob and I left her Friday afternoon to enjoy the rest of the long weekend. On Saturday, we lunched at Greenwood Lake, went over to our sailboat, did some clean up and prepped for sailing the next day. Saturday night, we had reservations at the Blue Note in Manhattan to see Stanley Clarke. Traveling into town on the holiday weekend was a breeze. I even found street parking less than two blocks from the club. We enjoyed the show immensely and had a lovely evening.

Sunday, our niece arrived with her boyfriend. We took them out on the boat and had a really nice time. The weather was beautiful; hot, sunny and breezy. We had a little trouble with our jib (the sail at the front of the boat) and couldn’t get the furler to retract it. I worked on it for a good long while and finally we had to drop the sail. We made it back to the marina, and just as we were tying up, my phone rang. “Your mother is threatening staff and other residents with cutlery. Can you please come here and try to calm her down?”

We finished closing the boat, dropped some stuff off at the house and headed to the rehab center. On the way, my phone rang again. “We had to call the police. They’re bringing her to Chilton ER.”

Huh boy. We headed over to the hospital where the staff was just starting on her. We waited outside her room while they changed her into hospital garb and ran a few tests.

“Okay, Slash. What happened?”

Mom reported calmly that they were all in cahoots. They were going to steal the boat and she was going to tell on them. That one who was her best friend turned out to be the ring leader. But she showed her. They came after her with a sword, but she grabbed up all the knives and defended herself. She giggled as she recalled the incident. She defended herself! She wasn’t going to let them marry her off to that defective guy!

A nice young doctor came in and asked Mom why she was there. She tried but couldn’t tell him. I gave him the broad strokes. He smiled and thanked me. We spoke outside.

He told me they’d repeat some of the tests to clear her medically and then she’d probably be transferred to Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital. The rehab center wouldn’t take her back until she had 48 hours of psychiatric observation. She would be seen by a social worker who was on the way.

Bob took the kids back to the house; they were sweet about visiting Mom, but they didn’t need to be subjected to all of this. He got the grill and the hot tub going for them. He called me and said he’d come back and leave them to enjoy our little oasis on their own.

Meanwhile, the social worker came and talked to Mom and me. I filled in what Mom couldn’t quite articulate and she agreed that Ramapo Ridge was the next stop. But I would have to sign papers to have her admitted and they’d need the hard copies of my power of attorney and health care proxy. Could I come back with them tomorrow morning? Say 8 am?

We headed home around 9 pm, knowing Mom was in good hands. I dropped into the tub and spent time with the kids. I would have loved to have gotten hammered, but aside from the calories, getting up early with a hangover seemed like a lousy idea.

I got up at 8 and made coffee, ate breakfast, tended to the cats and my morning work items. I left for Chilton at 9 with the legal documents.

At Chilton, the gal I was supposed to see was on the phone. I went to see Mom. She was cozy in her bed watching TV. She couldn’t see it though, because she didn’t have her glasses. She said something about them being smashed. I called the rehab center and they had them, and they were intact. I could pick them up any time.

The social worker came by and greeted me. She took the legal documents and sent them to Ramapo Ridge. She brought back forms for me to sign. I had to describe why Mom needed to go there and essentially commit her.

I helped Mom go to the bathroom a bunch of times and was impressed by how much better she was doing physically. She climbed in and out of bed deftly and was pretty steady on her feet. Recollections of her butter knife fight made her giddy.

By noon, we were still waiting to transfer Mom, so I asked if I could go and come back when they needed me. No problem. I got home in time to say goodbye to the kids. I had some lunch, did some work and waited for the call.

Around 2:45, it came. “The doctor needs to talk to you.” Uh oh.

On the way back to the hospital, we stopped at rehab for Mom’s glasses and I grabbed a clean pair of jeans, a blouse, bra and panties.

Back at the ER, I saw Mom’s nurse. “I’m sorry. These insurance problems are tough.”


The social worker and the psychiatrist came to see me. They were ready to transfer her to Ramapo Ridge when they learned that they were out of network for Mom’s insurance. Oh crap, what now?

Holy Name in Teaneck is in network. Twice the distance, but that’ll work.

Next problem: Holy Name needs Wanaque to sign a form that says they’ll take her back after 48 hours. It’s a holiday, so there’s no administrator to sign off.

I called the rehab center, told them it was an emergency and got the big boss, who just happened to be visiting, on the phone. She said she’d be happy to sign off. Hooray!

Two hours of phone tag and misplaced faxes later, it was time to get an ambulance. They’d be there in 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I asked the nurse if during the nearly 24 hours Mom had been there she’d gotten any of her meds. Uhhh…

Nope. She hadn’t. I went through the list with her, told her what she should have gotten when and she ordered the pills and got her up to date for the day. And she sent the information on to Holy Name so they’d be ready for her.

After more confusion (this time, EMTs, not Mom), the ambulance finally arrived. Mom greeted the EMTs warmly, certain she knew them.

They put her on the gurney, and we followed them out to the waiting vehicle with Mom’s personal effects.

We waved goodbye as they loaded her on the ambulance and closed the doors. The Memorial Day weekend was ending and we were finally heading home. And Mom was off to the psychiatric hospital. Do we know how to party or what?


About traceysl

Digital Artist, creative technologist, problem-solving lover of life. Having cared for my mother, who died on April 14, 2015 after a long fight with dementia, I have refocused professionally to helping others through my experience. I have started a company called Grand Family Planning to provide unique Family Support Services. In this way, I share my knowledge and give meaning to the tragic turn of my parents' journey through the misery of dementia.
This entry was posted in aging, caregiving, delusions, dementia, Family, life changes, psychosis. Bookmark the permalink.

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