Rosemary at Margaret and George's house.

Rosemary Hunt Rosemary Hunt Dementia

First post: Sep 21, 2020 Latest post: Feb 13, 2021
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Most of you know our mother, Rosemary, as someone who is caring, intelligent, friendly and funny, who has been a lifelong Vikings fan and passionate Democrat. What you probably don't know is that she is an alcoholic and that she has been drinking to excess for at least the past 13 years.

Several weeks ago, my brother, Greg, who lives with her, began to notice that she wasn’t eating much and that she was behaving strangely, talking to people who weren’t there or about things that had happened years ago as if they were occurring in the moment.

Around August 27th or so, he called to tell me that he had taken Mom up to the Emergency Department at Sanford Hospital in Jackson. He said that the ED nurse found that Mom was dehydrated and confused, and that she had low potassium and magnesium levels, so they were giving her IV fluids. (This has been an issue on and off for the past 10 years, and could be caused by her thyroid condition or by her drinking). The nurse also noted that Mom also had a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs are notorious for causing hallucinations and confusion in older folks. Greg brought her home a few hours later with prescriptions for potassium and antibiotics. He said she was better the next day and that she had promised to take her medications.

I called her on Saturday, the 29th, to see how she was doing. I am very aware that my speech is soft and slow because of my Parkinson’s disease, but I was using a headset with a microphone but she wasn’t able to hear most of what I was trying to say. I did hear her say that she had seen my son Alex somewhere and how good he looked. (I knew that this was impossible, because Alex lives two hours east of Jackson and has no spare time to drive there). I told her I’d call her the following week.

Monday morning, August 31, Greg called to say that at about 7:30 a.m., a neighbor had discovered Mom outside in the rain, lying at the bottom of the front steps and wearing only a t-shirt and shorts. She didn’t know why she was outside and she was talking nonsense again. He took her back up to the Jackson hospital, where the staff determined her body temperature was 90.6 degrees, so obviously, she’d been outside for quite awhile. 

The Jackson medical staff did CT scans of her neck and her hip to make sure that she hadn’t broken anything when she fell. She had not, which was good news. Her potassium and magnesium levels were fine. Their plan was to keep her overnight, just to be safe, but they didn’t seem to be worried. I disagreed and suggested that I would feel better if she were to go to   Sioux Falls, given the complexities of her medical history (kidney disease, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, emphysema, macular degeneration and glaucoma, to name a few). So she was sent by ambulance on the 31st.

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