Triggers – the things that seem to change Ma

After experiencing several days of ‘normalcy’ things were bound to go belly up.  I try not to take the period of Ma being Ma for granted any more.  I try to pay close attention to any changes in her behaviour that may indicate that she is about to experience a change or as I call them, a regression.

A few days a go, when Ma was constipated, I noticed a regression as soon as her bowels started opening.  It took her two days to get back to being Ma once more.  Yesterday, she had an absolute melt down while I was at work.  The nurse who dresses her leg ulcer rang me to say that Ma had undone the front door and fly screen and wouldn’t return to her bedroom as she was convinced she was in somebody else’s house.  Luckily my sister arrived and guarded the front door until I came home.  Ma apparently wanted to go across the road to ‘her house’ and was demanding my sister let her go.  She yelled and stamped her foot and got highly agitated. My sister was finally able to coax her back to her room.  By the time I got home she was docile although still ‘off the planet’.  I then noticed her yawning her head off and slumping forward where she was sitting.  Turns out she hadn’t slept much the night before.  She was out like a light by the time I showered her and got her into bed.  I left a sleeping pill with her in case she had trouble sleeping (she hasn’t taken a sleeping pill in a couple of months) and she took it around 11 and slept like a baby for the rest of the night. Every time I checked on her she was snoring her head off.

She was back to ‘Ma’ in the morning.  The hallucinatory crew of Percy and Gertrude and now Ian were still hanging round, but they never seem to leave.  She was great all day and didn’t mention the ‘other house’ or ‘other owners’.  It seems she is grounded once more.  Not that I’m taking that for granted!

So what I’m thinking, and I could be wrong… is that any stressor that Ma experiences, impacts on her mental well-being.  I’ve noticed changes in behaviour when:

  • she is tired
  • she is constipated
  • she has a ‘stressed’ bowel movement
  • somebody upsets her eg. argues with her
  • she is in a lot of pain
  • she is left too long by herself with no mental stimulation.

Any of these triggers seem to increase her hallucinations, cause disorientation and make her confused. If I can get her to rest and drink something she seems to improve.  I could be totally wrong of course… but it’s still something I’ll take notice of in the future; which probably means tomorrow…


  • I wish there were some!  See if you can recognise a pattern.  Is there a trigger? 
  • Try to ground them.  I try to bring her attention back to the things around her.  The radio, her books and the cats.  The cats work a treat in grounding her.  I’ll also sit down with her and talk.
  • Make sure you consult their doctor to rule out health problems such as a urinary tract infection.

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