All the staff at the nursing home where my beautiful aging mother lived were convinced Mom was losing her mind. After all, she was 87 years old, and hadn’t they seen so many elderly residents suffer from some version of dementia? It became their natural assumption that whenever one of their residents experienced anything unusual, it must be dementia.
Mom was seeing bugs in her food. At first, she hid this horrible occurrence because she didn’t want to be seen as crazy. Eventually, she was so convinced the bugs were there that she boldly proclaimed their existence, to the point of convincing the ER providers that the nursing home actually did have bugs in their food!
After many appointments to specialists, including psychiatrists, ophthalmologists, neurologists and more, she was placed on anti-psychotic drugs and we were told this was a part of aging…..but it was not. We knew Mom was rational and sane and this didn’t make any sense. Mom began to develop side effects from all the unnecessary drugs and she began to lose weight because she simply could not eat the bugs. My sister and I were beside ourselves.
It was finally my dear sister who found the true cause. She simply googled what was happening to Mom, also listing Mom’s medical condition of macular degeneration. Google popped up several articles that got her attention. When she sent me her discovery, I was absolutely convinced this was Mom’s problem. Interestingly, when Mom went to see her eye specialist, she never mentioned seeing the bugs, so they could not properly diagnose her.
After months of suffering, we were able to confirm Mom had a condition called “Charles Bonnet Syndrome.” Because of her macular degeneration, she truly was seeing the bugs, but she was NOT crazy. Thankfully, we were able to get her off all the psych drugs and the side effects all subsided. I was able to explain to Mom, and all the staff, what her condition was. Now, as she looks at her food and sees the bugs, with humor she adds, “Yummy. Look at all that extra protein!”
The takeaway from our experience is, NEVER GIVE UP! ALWAYS CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR LOVED ONES. When everyone around Mom was convinced that she was losing it, we knew she was sane and something wasn’t right. I am forever grateful for my sister searching for the cause and finding out why! I am also very thankful for my dear mother’s humorous approach to her medical condition, and her ability to power through her reality of eating bugs.