A New Year of Alzheimer’s

More on the continuing progress (regress?) of Alzheimer’s into my Mom’s brain, and her being. Previous posts are here and here.

mom photo

Father, forgive me for I have sinned. This was the first trip to my Mom’s since Christmas Day. There are no excuses- she only lives two miles away- except one: it feels to me like more and more of a chore to go see her.

And it is.

Once she recognizes me when I come through the door, she is glad to see me. But there is no conversation possible anymore. The three events which she can hold in her mind at a time, are simply repeated over and over. (Did I already tell you about….? Yes, you did. But then she tells me about ‘it’ again anyway.) Each of the three events “happened” yesterday, no matter when they happened. Here, for your edification and enlightenment are the very shortened versions of those events:

* A woman with whom Mom eats, eats very slowly. The ‘young girls’ who work in the dining room want the woman to hurry, so they can go home and go their parties. Yesterday, they made the slow-eating woman cry.

*They– the “they” with no faces, no names, and no visibility- are taking the yogurt I bring to Mom from her refrigerator. Mom makes signs for the refrigerator door: “No More Freebies.” I tear them up and tell her to stop it. But, yesterday, they were at it again, so up went another sign.

*Her hearing aid doesn’t work- “Can’t we get a different one?” She needs new glasses- “I can’t see anything anymore.” I remind her, with pictures that I took, that we have been to audiologist and an ophthalmologist. She can’t see the pictures or hear what I’m saying.

In fact, she is voicing what is the god-damnedest problem about Alzheimer’s that I hadn’t known about, and which is, in fact, horrible. Just as her brain has less and less capacity to remember, her brain also has less and less capacity to make sense of what she is hearing and seeing (and tasting, feeling, and smelling). She can see and hear, but what she sees and hears is not being translated by her brain into anything coherent or understandable. So she thinks she is simply not hearing and not seeing, and those maladies, to her, should be fixable.

One of her relatives in Ohio called the home administrator to make sure my wife and I were telling the relatives the truth about Mom’s condition. These relatives are well-meaning, of course: they love the woman Mom was, too. But the woman Mom was, is not the woman Mom is! 90% of the time, that woman they knew is gone! One of them tells me they will be praying for a healing from God for Mom. My increasing bitterness over the disease actually tempted me to point out that out of the 30 million prayers for the healing of Alzheimer’s patients prayed so far, not a single one has been answered. It actually makes me want to wrench what hope may exist in another person’s heart, out of that heart! And that worries me, about myself!

I’m open for suggestions. I’ve looked around some of the Alzheimer discussion boards and I find no real hope for any better tomorrows. Worse, I find some of the same cliches that I used to get tired of hearing in AA meetings: “One day at a Time” and “Let Go, Let God.”

I can’t even cry anymore. And while I might sound angry, I’m not. I’ve just become passive to Mom, almost neutral in my feelings toward her.

And I’d rather be crying, or angry. I hate what this disease is doing to Mom. But I don’t like what it is doing to me, either.

4 thoughts on “A New Year of Alzheimer’s

  1. For a time, and maybe still, I felt terrible about becoming indifferent towards my grandmother once she began slipping away a few years ago. I wasn’t grieving. I wasn’t angry. I just stopped hoping and protesting and being sad. I just stopped feeling.

    I still went to visit. I tried to have conversations on whatever level she was on until no more conversations were possible. Then I kept going to the nursing home for the appropriate occassions, but always when my grandfather would be there to be a buffer/interpreter for the silence and distance. For the last year I think I went twice.

    Several times I passed by on business trips, but didn’t stop. I reasoned with myself that she wouldn’t even know I came. There was nothing that I could do. I stayed in touch and communication with my grandfather, offering whatever help and comfort I could, but gave up almost altogether where she was concerned.

    She was taken care of… by my grandfather, by the staff, by one of her children (emphasis 1 of 4). I knew of nothing that I could do except be there for my grandfather.

    That’s where our situations are different. She’s your mom. You have to go. Someone has to make sure she’s being taken care of. Many others may walk away. It’s their choice, and although incomprehensible to some, strangely understandable. My aunt never darkened the door of the nursing home to see her mother after she moved there. I would like to think I wouldn’t do that if it were my mother rather than my grandmother, but I don’t know because I haven’t been there.

    Your place is not my place, and I’m not qualified to dispense advice.. only to share my story. Thank you for sharing yours.

  2. All I know is, detachment is not necessarliy a bad thing. It brings clarity. And it can bring peace. The other thing I know for sure is, your mother is still held firmly in the palm of God. Her soul, her God-created essence, remains intact. It exists even when the personality breaks apart. She is not lost in the most important sense, even if she feels lost to you. She remains precious and of utmost importance to her Maker. Her soul is attended to in every moment, confused or not.

    And so is yours, grief-stricken or not.

  3. Pingback: Update- A New Year of Alzheimer’s « The First Morning

  4. Lyndon and Graciel: Your voices were echoed by several people nearby..together, your voices caused me to rethink how I was visiting Mom. Was I visiting her,now? Or was a visiting her, then?

    It made a difference..

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