Another shopping trip with Mom. New lessons learned every time.
She tries to control everything: the temperature in the car, the volume of my voice, the flow of my thoughts. She is stuck in her own mind by choice, or at 92 is there less and less mind and less and less choice? She looks like the mother I knew and loved, but that person doesn't exist anymore.
Maybe I could share one little experience or thought, I think and I try. She doesn't hear, doesn't want to hear it, criticizes it or me, in general, shuts the door. Bam.
Enter the new me: a shell of myself to pretend having a conversation with the shell of herself. How far are we going? 7 miles of awkwardess seems like an eternity.
At her apartment she forgot the keys somewhere. I use the pair I made for this purpose. It's happening more frequently. Certain things like how we open the car door and bring up the groceries are repeated every time. No lessons are learned from the last time for either of us.
How do I like the portrait she did of her best friend? I think it is as frozen and forced and unreal as we are now. "It's nice." is all I can choke up. I offer a few questions about it but she interrupts and has her own story about why it is the way it is and she is going on to the next portrait anyway. Can't talk about art anymore.
I give her a hug, but there is no response, recognition, or anything warm that is returned. Was mine that cold?
I walk away broken hearted. I bawl as soon as I get in the door.
I go to the bathroom and catch myself in the mirror. I dressed nicely for her. Did she notice? I talk to the mirror:
"Say, I like your hair these days. It was a great idea to grow it longer. And your outfit looks great. Thanks for dressing up for me. Your health does seem to be improving. You are brave to try out diets and improve yourself. Sorry to hear you are struggling with your business. But with your talents and persistence it will turn out alright. I am so proud of you
What a lovely and intelligent daughter I have!"
No. That only makes this worse. There goes the mascara. As the black streaks down my face I wonder, is she feeling this sad too? Or is that gone as well?
Sadly, progressing dementia of any form seems to bring ever more narcissism and hostility in some cases (I choose to believe it is due to my mother's fear from sometimes being able to recognize her declining level of memory and control and not just the continuation of old, longstanding behaviors); it's plus side is she is gradually forgetting about things that used to be 'battlegrounds' for us: e.g., her foolish handling of finances and property, untruths she shared with others about me and my brother and my kids… However you think of your mother (i.e., a shell), odds are she is no longer nor will ever be again the mother you knew and loved. Continuing to care for her may require some mental, emotional and perhaps physical gymnastics on your part. Keep in mind you are the one learning from the "lessons" each encounter, not her.
The shell you have created for yourself is a GOOD thing as a protective, coping mechanism. That doesn't mean it always feels good or keeps the guilt or grief at bay. Those things don't die willingly; they have to be starved to death by feeding them ever less. Having (arrogantly) said that, my own tears and caregiver/daughter angst come less often now but I am not yet able to anticipate they will ever totally disappear. Perhaps it is better said that those emotions will never die but will eventually be stripped of their power to control us/our actions. Your post tells of your advanced wisdom in that already. Talks in the mirror are a tool I also use. Please avail yourself of all possible resources on this potentially long and often difficult journey.
Everyone on this blog sends you their hugs, prayers and/or best wishes and many great suggestions can be found here. Most would agree when I say, "Use it and us!"
Praying for them helps me. Praying for the SIL, the elder parent. Praying that my own attitude will evolve to whatever it is that my soul knows it should be, and knowing that God has no rush. Time is an illusion, actually.
To answer a question: I don't have much going on in my life but I am a videographer and I love that work so much, that is my joy.
It's snowing heavily here and it is a day I can be alone and do what I wish at my desk: work or make muffins.
Say, anyone try the Wheat Belly diet out there?
my husband is a wonderful gentle person, and as fate would have it, often finds himself picking her up off the floor. his voice is soft and sweet, even for three a.m. potty calls.
now my mother says, "i don't know what i would do without you" to him.
are these changes sad? that she has gone from the matriarch, trying to run the entire family, to a woman who can't get herself out of the bed? yes, it is sad. but perhaps in the end good for her soul.
For help, I would say to explore the same resources you would use in the case of an actual death. It's a matter of allowing yourself to go through the stages of grief. Then at some point we have to let go of any expectations of getting something from the dementia patient. Our loved one is gone and we are left to provide compassionate care for a needy stranger. God bless.
you will begin to come to grips with your own eventual demise also to add fuel to the fire.
so, in rambling on, i read a great news story about iron mike last night and he was discussing the biggest battle of his life that is now raging. the intent to act responsibly for the first time in his life. what an interesting and uplifting story it was. perhaps these life changing events like elder care ( or 5 years in prison, lol ) are the catalyst's that force us to mature. loved mikes sincere story tho. hes 47 years old clearly has guts to publicly admit his shortcomings and try to fix them.
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