Tag Archives: dementia

Don’t Let Dementia Steal Mother’s Day

Don’t let dementia steal Mother’s Day from your family. That #mother-child bond is sacred, no matter what’s happened in the years since your birth. For the past 11 years, I’ve had to remind myself of this on every #Mother’s Day. Though not fully present, my Mom is still here and I’m grateful for the life she gave me.

Dementia Steal Mother's Day

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
by Lao Tzu

She was always tiny and cute in her whirling skirts and pixie hair cuts. My mom was a good cook but a better dancer. Although she made a mean roast beef, she was happier doing the jitter bug. My parents didn’t always get along, but they found harmony swinging through space on any dance floor. Tall, handsome dad turning pretty little mom on the fulcrum of her high-heeled shoes. Sparkly earrings on a Saturday night with the Dorsey Brothers, Sam Cooke, Doris Day, or Motown. She could dance to it all.

My mother had a lot of rules and her two daughters tried to follow them. A strange authority emanated from her small body. When we made her mad, she cried as she scolded us. The sight of her tears was far worse punishment than an afternoon stuck in our rooms.

Her greatest teachings focused on work ethic. Though she delivered forty weekly hours of effort to her boss, Mom still came home eager to tame an unruly household. Laundry, housecleaning, financial management — she excelled at all of it. Her performance standards were high. My sister and I absorbed that.

Can #Dementia Steal Mother’s day?

I feel that Mom’s efficiency must have cost her something. At what point does #dementia sneak in? How does it find you? Why does it pursue you so slowly, so relentlessly? The disease raises a hundred unanswerable questions. But it’s taught me at least one thing: While dementia may erase their memories, it has no claim on yours. As long as a mother is alive — and well after she’s left this earthly plane — you can commit yourself to cherishing the things you value about them. You can remember who they were and what they did to plant you in this world of boundless possibility.

I have to finish here and cry a while before I go to observe Mother’s Day with my mom. She’s tinier than ever, folded like a paper doll into a giant, deluxe wheelchair. Now I call her my Origami Mommy. She’s cute as ever, nearly silent, yet somehow still aware of the charm she exerts in this world. God bless her and all the mothers silenced by dementia and other grave illnesses. May we all draw solace from the gifts they gave us so long ago.

Caregivers Can’t Control Things

Caregivers can’t control things. We often learn this the hard way. I couldn’t write for a month because of chaos in our household. Now that we’ve overcome recent challenges, I’m grateful that our problems have not been worse.

Caregivers can't control things

We were hit by illness. Our aides had crises in their own families. I had to address economic logjams that made all the other problems harder to solve. When things go wrong, it’s way more difficult to care for a person with #dementia. But as I consider recent events, I realize that we are very, very lucky.

Health Challenges for caregivers

*******  A few weeks ago Mom was in terrible pain. She can’t speak to tell us what’s wrong. To get our attention, she grinds her teeth. It’s excruciating to hear someone grind their teeth for hours. Fortunately, we were able to narrow my mother’s list of possible problems down to  a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). We are LUCKY to have caring, skilled people around who PAY ATTENTION AND UNDERSTAND my mother’s issues.

******* After we figured out what was wrong, our hospice nurse was able to get the presiding physician to prescribe liquid antibiotics for my mom. This was a tremendous help because it’s so difficult to transport Mom to a doctor. She can’t stand or walk. Getting her into a vehicle is really hard. WE ARE ALSO VERY GRATEFUL THAT MOM HAS #HEALTH_INSURANCE, so the cost of her medicine was low.

Logistical problems that derail care

******* While we were dealing with the UTI problem, our refrigerator failed. The fridge was just seven years old, but it was beyond repair. I had to feed my mother small, frequent meals because the antibiotics gave her stomach problems. When stomach pain began, she started grinding her teeth again! Thank goodness I was able to drive to Lowe’s and buy a fridge during their appliance sale. I thought about the people in Puerto Rico who were left for weeks with no electricity. Can you imagine taking care of a sick person while you have no water to drink, no electricity, and no way to get food? I am THANKFUL, THANKFUL, THANKFUL  that our home is not in a hurricane zone.

******* As we stumbled through the fridge crisis, I had to practically beg one of my clients to pay me for work I did last summer. My check was months overdue and I really needed money to pay for that refrigerator! They agreed to write me a check, but I had to drive 100 miles (each way) to pick it up. One of our helpers promised to be here with my mother while I made the trip. Then after I left he called to say that his son had a health crisis and he couldn’t reach our house before the hospice aide had to leave. When I got this message I was 90 miles from home! We are VERY FORTUNATE to have a kind neighbor. She agreed to stay at the house until I could cash my check and race home. The trip was stressful and I drove too fast. But I know we are lucky to have a neighbor who is willing to help.

caregivers live everywhere

Many caregivers face worse problems than I do while looking after loved ones. Residents in Northern California are losing their homes to relentless fires. #Caregivers in Houston, Miami and San Juan are still trying to put their lives back together after devastating storms. People often tell me that taking care of my mom is an act of heroism. But I know better. We’ve been blessed with a lot of resources that help us survive our most serious problems. Wherever you are, I hope you find ways to overcome your worst #caregiver challenges as you deal with the chaos of life.