Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Some Days You Just Have to Cry

I am incredibly grateful for social media today.  There are SO many people who have walked this walk with their aging parents, and the supportive comments are so helpful. 
  • It is hard, Bev. It is unfortunate to go through, but the alternative is worse. Try to laugh with these moments as there will be a day you will wish for them back. Smile You are an amazing daughter to be doing all this.
  • My mom's adjustment broke my heart, but the reality was that she grieved losing her independence, which she had actually lost, even at home. It broke my heart, but in assisted living, I knew she had help close by, AND she was much closer to where I live.
  • It's a hard road we travel, despite it being out of love. Know that there are others who have walked and are walking similar paths, and you will make it through this transition, even with some bruises and scars. Hang in there.
  • I remember the frustration and anger (mine) wondering why my mother couldn't see clearly what I was seeing. Why she wouldn't do what we thought she should do. Sometimes we thought she was pretending. It is very difficult, especially when you are without siblings to assist with the decisions.
  • I read your tale of mother's move and settling in and I have to admit, my thoughts were "I'm glad my mother went so suddenly, and while she was still enjoying life and had all her faculties." Then I had a twinge. My adoptive mother spent her last few years in a nursing home with Alzheimers. My sister lived there and dealt with her and all the details. I just saw her once after she got moved there. She had no idea who I was. I think.... I don't know... I guess I was lucky to be so far away and not be in on all the details. Maybe I understand my sister's bitterness and anger a little more now. In any event, for what it's worth, know you have my respect!
  • I am feeling for you so much right now. We dealt with my mom's dementia for nearly 11 years. It was often like dealing with a termperamental toddler. So hard to make that reversal from the parent-child relationship.
As I become my mother's mother and she becomes her daughter's daughter, it is so painful for us both.  I miss the mother I once had, she misses her independence. It frustrates her when she can't remember things, and angers her when she can't do what she wants to do.  But she is not aware of 90% of what she can't remember.  She just asks over and over again and while I am more than willing to answer each question as if she hasn't already asked 20 times before in the last 10 minutes, I do realize how emotional draining it is for me.

In the years that we hosted foreign students, I developed a "foreign student" way of speaking, where I slowed down my speech and used very simple English, so that it all sounded conversational but yet was easy for the students to understand.  I have noticed that I am using "foreign student speech" with my mother now.  My conversation is slower, my grammar is more simple, and I automatically repeat vital information during the sentence I'm saying so she hears it twice instead of once.  Sometimes this helps, other times she turns around and asks me the thing I've just told her twice.

But you really can't be impatient with her.  It's certainly not her fault that she can't remember, and I know that it embarrasses her when she can't.  I try to find ways to remind her without letting her know that she has forgotten. I also try to make it a big funny joke when it is ME who gets something wrong and when I forget something.

I've decided that I really need to have breakfast with her every morning for the next week or so.  In addition to the fact that the breakfasts are really good! and that they aren't charging me for them right now, I never know what I'm going to find in the morning.  The first morning she was disoriented and scared.   The second morning she was asleep and when she woke up and saw me everything was fine.  Today she was dressed, but didn't know if she should go to the lobby for coffee or not and was so happy to see me.  I reminded her she could have made coffee and she said she didn't have any ground coffee, but I reminded her of where the bag from Peet's was and that she did, indeed, have coffee.

But today she was insistent and angry.  She wanted to return to Terra Linda TODAY.  She has THINGS TO DO and important things she needs to bring back to Davis.  When I asked her what they were she said "I don't remember, but I know they are important." I asked what was so important that couldn't wait a few days and she just insisted that she needed to do it NOW.  

She decided she would go home with Ed when he stops by to see her this afternoon.  She'll spend a few days there.  I reminded her that she won't have a car and that her chair will be in Davis and there will be no place for her to sit to rest her back when it starts hurting.  She'd find some place, she insisted, but there were THINGS she needed to do RIGHT NOW.

I finally got her to agree to wait until Friday when I said we could call and make a hair appointment with her hair dresser, whom she usually sees on Friday.   We called Hannah and rescheduled her appointment from 9 2 p.m.  That seemed to settle her down a bit.  I also left a message for Ed warning him that she was going to ask him to drive her to Terra Linda.  He assures me he won't do it.

We had a lovely breakfast and then I again steered her to the puzzle table where we worked for 10-15 minutes.  She does love puzzles and I figure if we do this after breakfast every morning she will get that activity imprinted in her head and that will give her something to do out of her apartment. Right now she's afraid of getting lost if she leaves her apartment.

She did answer her cell phone (with which she has been trying to turn off the TV) when I called to let her know I had ordered her AT&T service.  That was a big step forward! Her new phone should be working by the time we get home from Terra Linda on Friday.

She also wants to go to the local CVS store and assures me that she can walk by herself, but (a) she has no clue where it is and (b) there are no benches on which she can rest when her back hurts.  I told her I would take her the first time so she knew where she was going.  She said she had to make a list of "all the things" she needed to buy.  She's been saying that for 3 days now and I keep offering to drive her to CVS, but that seems to be too much for her and she gets frustrated because she can't remember what she needs to buy, but she will make a list.   So far she has not started one.

I'm thinking that if she decides she must walk to CVS herself, I will follow her in the car so I can pick her up when the back pain gets to be too much.   Hopefully we can forestall that for awhile.  Heck, she still isn't sure which way to turn going out of her apartment to get to the dining room; I don't know how she thinks she's going to be able to find CVS by herself.

I came home last night and went to sleep at 9:30, waking only briefly at 1 and then sleeping until 6 a.m.  Everything comes with its perks and this situation is making me so exhausted I'm actually getting SLEEP.

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