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?
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.
You are doing the best you can. Sadly, so is she. Do you have other things in your life that ARE rewarding? Because it sounds like this will never be.
Although some people do get sweet when they are in the later stages.
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.
Life and the aging process, makes people different and it does affect, the loved ones. Try to remember, this is your Mom and the changes, which are heartbreaking, are beyond her control, so do try and be patient.
I once asked my Mom, when she was "acting up", are you my Mother, which she repied, " you should have appreciated me, when I was nice." She made me smile, for I loved my Mother with all my heart.
I learned to cope with some of her changes, by thinking: I would rather deal with some hurt, than have her die, and lose her completely. Believe me....thinking that thought, REALLY helped me
Now that my dearest Mother is gone, I have no regrets, and I miss her terribly.
I would put up with all her quirks and all her issues, just to have her back again.
I connect and share with my friends who are journeying with me or have gone before me. We are hope and strength for each other. I talk, I have learned to be honest with my feelings and not ashamed on how I feel about my mom, her life, my needs. It is freeing.
I've cried, still do sometimes when I leave mom or hang up the phone. I allow myself the luxury to cry, scream, grieve -- because it is a grieving process...but I can tell you, it gets better, the tears are less, the understanding greater, the acceptance growing. I have to help mom and myself journey through this new and final chapter. I don't know how it will end but I will be at peace and pray that for her too.
I just have to say that when your parent becomes ill, especially with a disease like dementia or Alzheimer's you become the parent or caretaker and you have to grow up really fast and realize that all the niceties that may have filled your previous days or visits have changed. She isn't the same person she use to be, but it isn't her fault, she has a disease or illness just like cancer only this one has robbed her of her mental faculties.
My sister had 3 broken vertebrae that she had to undergo surgery on twice to have cement injected into them. We spent all day at Kaiser doing this on two occasions. When we got home Mom was a bit upset that we had been gone all day long and left her alone (she wasn't my daughter was here) but even though we tried to explain how serious and time consuming this entire procedure was, it meant nothing to her. There was no concern, no sympathy, no love. I felt horrible for my sister. I work my butt off in her house every single day as I am the unpaid 24/7 caregiver. By evening all I can do is waddle to the bed and fall asleep as my head hits the pillow. Mom however will go into a yelling tirade at times and scream at me that "I never do anything around here!" I am crushed as "I am the only person who lifts a finger in this house, inside and out!" What makes it worse is that I suffer with many medical problems myself including horrible arthritis and I am on disability, does she care? NO she doesn't care, she can't remember anything for more than 10-15 minutes, so she wakes up in a new world four times an hour!
You will have pangs of hurt and anguish over how your mother will change and become a different person but you have to accept her where she is because her actions will change as time goes on. Remember she is not doing this to purposely hurt you, it is her disease talking, but it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
It sounds like you both use to have a wonderful time together and I would still try to do that, but you MUST lower your expectations and just accept her for who she is each day you go see her.
If you have not already done so or your Mom, I would suggest you make sure that Mom has a trust set up and has you or another sibling as her DPOA for finances and healthcare. If you wait too long, your Mom can become too ill and the attorney cannot give DPOA to you, you will then have to seek guardianship which is costly and long and involved. You will need this as Mom becomes more ill and cannot make decisions for herself.
Your Mom may be a different person, but I am sure she still loves you and enjoys your time together! Enjoy her as much as possible now!