Patience Grasshopper Patience

Living with dementia is often like taking an unexpected trip to a place you weren’t expecting to go and would never pick—given a choice.

When the Doctor declared Mom as having dementia (big surprise!) he said she would benefit by attending group activities. He stated people with dementia tend to push themselves to behave in a more ‘normal’ manner when in a group. I remembered telling him that the stress on her, being a loner, would far outweigh any benefits. I don`t think he believed me.

Yesterday I proved I was right. Mom’s day began like usual and she managed her usual routine without much help. Then midmorning I had a visitor and the entire time my visitor was around I was impressed that Mom seemed content to sit in her chair, working on her crossword book and re-reading the newspaper instead of spending the time in her bedroom. I did notice she was quieter than usual after the visitor left but all seemed ‘normal’ until after dinner. That’s when Mom looked over at Man-wonder and  myself and said, ever so calmly, “I think I’ll go home tomorrow. I don`t want to leave my house empty for more than a couple of nights.”

Mom has been living with us for eight years.

That single statement showed just how stressful she found acting ‘normal’. Memory cells were jumping off her at the same speed fleas leave a dying bird. Here Man-wonder and I were thinking how well she’d handled the day. . . and all the while she’d been leap-frogging downwards.

So I admit—if there is one thing about dementia I know – it’s that I don’t know anything about dementia.

And our lives have truly become one day, one step, one moment at a time now.

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6 Comments »

  1. When people have dementia they go into another time zone. They are in an earlier time, probably when they were between 18-22. Home can be home, then. It can also be symbolic of wanting to go to “be with God.”

    If you can play music or have her watch movies from that time zone when she was a teenager, it may reach her.

    It brought my mother a great deal of joy to watch the movies from her era.

    Celebrate you and Wonder man’s caring for your Mother. You are a blessing to her. You know how it confuses you. Imagine what it’s like for your Mother. I will pray for you and your husband and your Mother.

    Enjoy being you!

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

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    • Thank you for your kind words Joan.

      I do count each day as a blessing though sometimes not so much a particular moment! I wished televison or music worked but Mom has severe hearing loss and limited vision so most often television leads to confused questions. I find sitting with her, having the same conversations over and over often the most soothing. (For her, not so much me.)

      Life truly can be like a box of chocolates without the masterlist. . . 🙂

      Cathie

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      • Dear Cathie,
        How about pictures then from that era? Old magazines? Pictures of family? It’s truly a gift you’re giving your Mother by patiently sitting and listening to her and talking with her.
        Sometimes they get confused with television and think it’s in the room with them. I understand what you’re saying.
        I’ll pray for you, your Mother, and your whole family!

        Never Give Up
        Joan Y. Edwards

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      • Ah Joan
        You know, at first, reading your suggestion I was shaking my head and thinking no, no, no. Mom is partially aware of her memory losses and it naturally causes fear; at other times she becomes sad. She often compares the way she is now to how she was growing up (memory-wise) so I hesitate to offer anything that might produce more negative emotions.
        But, as I was about to reply my no’s to you, it hit me that maybe taking her away from her present thoughts more often might not be a bad thing. Plus when my brother and sister visit they could share in those photos with her too.

        Funny how old expressions still hold true. Like — sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. . .:(

        Thank you Joan, you’ve tripped a switch in my brain. And that’s always a smoking good idea! 🙂
        Cathie

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      • Dear Cathie,
        You are a good steward of caring for your Mother. I like to brainstorm ideas that might work. Helping her realize that you love her just as she is will calm her. Things don’t connect like they used to. When you joggle the memory cells, old memories come back. They may get mixed up, but sometimes it is fun for them. Painting, doing art of different kinds can be fun. You will find what works with your Mother. And if it doesn’t work, don’t down yourself. Remember the fear you have is even more with her and she can’t express it.
        I’m glad you’re open to trying new things. When you’re open to new things, she’ll be open to new things. She feeds a lot from you and your emotions.
        Go around singing a song of joy. God is so very happy with you, your Mother, and Wonder Man. Celebrate being you!
        Never Give Up
        Joan Y. Edwards

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      • *snort* Me singing may cause more anxiety than joy—trust me.But happy humming—that I can do!

        Thank you, bless you and have a wonderful holiday season.

        Cathie

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