A piece of advise from the current me to the me of the past two plus years (and to anyone miserable with their current situation..)
Let me preface this by saying:I do realize that not everyone is able to change their situation for financial reasons, but some of us are able, but choose not because of guilt.
Dear Karen, you have been tied up like a pretzel for the past six years with your mother. Ever since your wonderful father passed away, mom has been stuck like white on rice to you hasn't she? He was her center of attention and then you were. Maybe he enjoyed that. You, on the other hand, did not! It wasn't fun to have to bring her everywhere with you, since you weren't "allowed" to go to even a movie without her. Since your family is only you, mom and your two children, and mom kept saying she was lonely, you thought a few "hey mom, maybe you could get a smaller apartment. There's a lot of your church friends who live in assisted living. Do you want to visit some of them? I heard they're great" would work? Oh you silly, silly child. Mom said "those places are for people whose family doesn't love them." I know you have those words running through your head, don't you? Oh dear. Thought that was bad, didn't you?Well, it got worse real quick didn't it?
At least she was living in her house and driving then. But, alas, when she first started showing signs of dementia two years ago, your life went into overdrive and you had to do everything from paying the bills, transporting her everywhere (since she had two car accidents within three days), making sure she ate. Kind of ironic how you DIDN'T want to be the center of her attention, but you were kind of forced to make her the center of YOUR attention! Oh, and remember how stressed out and resentful and angry you were at this stage? Everyone said to put her in assisted living, but they didn't know her like you did. They didn't know that you tried and tried and said it six ways to Sunday, but no, your independent and headstrong mother wasn't going. Period.End of conversation.
Again, you thought that was rough. And Karen, it was. But, dementia being dementia, of course it got rougher.
Mom kept falling and then she would stay at your house and then go back to her house. That plan worked out great (hey, remember how guilty you felt when she fell because at least you would get a break when she went to skilled nursing for a couple of months?!!). Oh the joy of those breaks. And then (boo hoo), the day she came back and life went back to...not a life at all.
Six months ago she fell, went to skilled nursing (remember you rushed out the door when she was there and went on vacation without her?!!). OMG, a vacation WITHOUT your mother? Wow!! Never told her that did you? Probably too scared of the guilt trip she would send you on. And that is never a fun vacation to be on, right? When she came back to the house, you thought it would be the same pattern, back to her house in a few days. But sadly that didn't happen.
You looked for the "signs" you always look for, so she can go back to her own house, but they never came. Oh sure, she DID improve physically with PT and OT coming in the house several times a week. She did get stronger, but still, each time she fell, she would never get back to where she started initially would she? Sadly, there is no PT and OT for dementia is there? So each time she fell, went to the hospital and went to skilled nursing and came home, the dementia never improved, it just got worse. Every time.
And so, here you sat for the past four months Karen. And where was mom? Yep, living with you. You never really said "Hey, I think I'll have mom live with me." it just happened. But you knew how difficult it would be with her living here. You knew it was very difficult to keep up with all of the physical demands of dressing, undressing, bathing, doing her laundry, paying her bills, making doctor's appointments, taking her to the hairdresser, keeping an eye on her house, making sure she brushed her teeth. Arguing, or trying not to given the dementia, to get her to brush her teeth, wash her hands after peeing. Wow Karen. And don't even talk to me about the EMOTIONAL toll it took. Why didn't you just stick her in assisted living at this stage?
Because you wanted to do the "right thing" You wanted to honor the promise you made to your mother never to put her there.
And the consequences of unbelievable stress, wishing you were dead, having no life, 54 hours a week spent catering to her every whim, snapping at the kids because of your frustration, feeling EMOTIONALLY STRANGLED TO DEATH.
Yesterday you FINALLY made the right decision. You decided that mom will never ever be happy. She wants your father. Good luck bringing him back form the dead! You decided that at the age of 48, you COULD still be happy...given half the chance.
Today I will go visit my mother in assisted living. I will smile when I walk in. She will probably say "why did you dump me here?" and "I wouldn't do this to you." And when I leave? I will smile even more.
We, the caregivers, all deserve to smile!!