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Caring for Your Parents

Chapter 9: Maria and Thelma [4:51]

"State of mind."

Maria's mood swings grow. Thelma, like many caregivers, has become an expert on her mother's medical condition.

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Transcript 

Chapter 9: Maria & Thelma “State of mind.”

THELMA  

Mom's state of mind has changed a little bit in the past few weeks, her mood swings.  Like I had the wheel chair in there and she said, "You gotta get the wheel chair outta here, because the wheel chair is bothering me". I said, "Okay", so I took it out.  

The other day she says to me -- she says, "The TV has a lot to do with my legs". I said, "It does?" She goes, "Yeah, you need to get it out of here." So I have to take the TV off the table put it under the table, like behind it, 'til she got outta that mood, and then a couple of hours later she asked me if she could watch the massÉokay? 

She's saying something in there... 

Mom, are you okay? 

THELMA (SUBTITLE) (CONT'D):

What's wrong? 

MARIA (SUBTITLE):

There are so many things. I am so close to death I don't need too much. 

THELMA:

No you're not.  She says she's going to die soon.

THELMA (SUBTITLE) (CONT'D):

No. You have too strong a heart to die now. 

MARIA:  

(Speaking in Portuguese) 

THELMA:  

See what I mean about her state of mind? 

LINDA:  

Good Morning. 

THELMA:  

Good morning Linda. How are you?  The day's only a few hours old but I've already been working since 5:30.

LINDA:  

Hi Prince... 

THELMA:  

Prince is like, "what's going on this morning?"

LINDA:  

Buon dia Donna Maria... 

NARRATOR:

THE STATE PAYS FOR THE VISITING NURSES...THERE'S MEDICAID...MARIA'S  SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK. THELMA MAKES UP THE DIFFERENCE. IT'S PRECARIOUS...

BUT TODAY SOMETHING ELSE IS ON THELMA'S MIND... 

THELMA:  

Her way of thinking has gone from, like, sensible to non-sensible.  It's really weird.  I was talking to the doctor about it and she said it just the progress of the disease.  And some days she's the sweetest lady in the world, and in some moments she turned into this.

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

Hello. Hi, how are you? 

LINDA:  

Good, and you? 

NARRATOR:

MARIA'S DOCTOR AND A RESIDENT HAVE COME TO TAKE A LOOK AT MOM...AND TALK TO THELMA... 

RESIDENT (SUBTITLE):

How do you feel, Maria? How do you feel, Maria? 

MARIA:

(Speaking in Portuguese) 

THELMA:  

Just the shingles side, she's still complains every so often. 

NARRATOR:

IN MANY WAYS THELMA HAS BECOME AN EXPERT ON HER MOTHERS MEDICAL CONDITION... 

RESIDENT:  

But she wasn't using the Nurontine anymore, right? 

THELMA:  

Right.  Not anymore because....

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

Thelma was saying that her behavior has been escalating a little bit so...

THELMA:  

We were thinking maybe about Tresidone. Maybe do the 25 so I could split them up. 

RESIDENT:  

You're not using 50 right? 

THELMA:  

We're doing one 50. 

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

At bedtime, right? 

THELMA:  

At bedtime.  Maybe we could do a 25 in the morning and 50 at night to carry on through the day because her mood swings are getting a little escalated.  

DR. MICHAEL FINE:

I don't see how anybody helps an elderly parent without, you know, lots of education. It's sort of masters level education, just in order to keep track of all this stuff, scheduling that's involved, you know, figuring out what the medicines are, keeping track of the medicines, getting the medicines administered on-time, finding out whether the parent has taken the medicines, dealing with diet. You know, all of this is very twitchy stuff. 

THELMA:  

Yesterday she was actually in a better mood than she was this morning... 

NARRATOR:

BUT IT'S COVERAGE OF THOSE THREE HOURS WHEN THELMA IS AT WORK, WHEN THE COMMUNITY NURSES AREN'T HERE...AND HER OWN CHILDREN ARE AT SCHOOL THAT HAS THELMA MOST CONCERNED.  HOW WILL SHE FIND COVERAGE...?

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

For one thing we can try to see if any of the service, we might be able to get a volunteer in just to sit with... 

THELMA:  

Maybe, yeah, yeah... 

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

...maybe if you had another relative...  

THELMA:  

Exactly.  

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

...or an extended family member... 

THELMA:  

 Yes.

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

...that might be able to... 

THELMA:  

...Come and visit her, yeah... 

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

...right during that period of time so that she's, or sometimes even people from the church... 

THELMA:  

Yeah, they come. Yeah.. 

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

They could come over, they have volunteers... 

THELMA:  

That's an option.  I've thought about all that, too.

I never wanted to do that because I'm very private with my life and I don't want people to, not that I care what people think 'cause people will think whatever they think but the thing is they're all strangers, they don't need to know, it's my life, it's my business.  I'll take care of it the way I want to take care of it.  And I handle it, I do, maybe I'll have a glass of wine (crying).  But I do handle it.

MARIA'S DOCTOR:

Okay, we'll see you later.  

MARIA:  

Thank you, bye. 

THELMA:  

Very good.  Thanks guys.  See you next month.  If anything happens I will call you.