Mom & Alzheimer’s, One Day at a Time

“How many years have I worn this hearing aid, and this is the first time I’ve lost it?”

In truth, it is the hundredth time this year. It is one of my pitiful hobbies now- finding Mom’s hearing aid almost every time I go to her little 3 room apartment. I rarely am able to find it, either, despite turning over pillows, stripping down her bed, going through every pocket in the place, and even checking wastebaskets and Kleenex boxes. The next day, though, for awhile- maybe a day or two, it will somehow, somewhere reappear and be in her ear again. On those days, I must listen to her pleas to go the eye doctor, where we’ve been twice in the last 8 months, because her glasses (she thinks) need to be changed (they don’t).

Some days, I can sit and accept and agree and respond to her with a semblance of measured civility and concern. I do so by lying, by telling her the doctor’s appointment is next week, that I’ll be back a little later today, or that her sisters are coming for a visit. She’ll forget everything I say within an hour of my leaving anyway. She can’t turn the TV on or change channels, for diversion’s sake. I’ve tried to read to her, but even when she can hear me she is only able to comprehend 30-35% of the words. She’ll listen for a minute and then be off onto the usual, almost daily list of questions:

Is my Mom still alive? (She died 18 years ago)

How did Ike (her husband, my dad) die?

Are they going to close this place? (An assisted living home- a nice place which she enjoys, and about a three minute drive from my own home)

The same questions are asked during every visit and, usually, several more times within each visit. I write the answers down sometimes, because she can’t hear them, remember them, or understand them. Today when she started on “the list” I told her I was going to look for her hearing aid in my car, and I instead just drove away. And I feel no guilt, no shame, no regret whatsoever for doing so. I am nice to the woman in that room, and biologically- yes- she is my mother. But Mom is gone, gone.

I’m writing this all down (again) because it is, for me, like having to vomit in the middle of the night. Once it’s done, it’s usually possible to go back to sleep. I do it because a support group (which someone always recommends) provides even worse stories than these, that I can then be anticipating. And I do so because there is no greater open sore in my psyche upon which the temporary brown bliss of Jim Beam begs to be poured, than this one.

So, I’m dumping on you, whoever might read this. Thanks for listening, glad to be here, yada yada yada…

9 thoughts on “Mom & Alzheimer’s, One Day at a Time

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you. This is so difficult to go through. I am watching my own mother slip gently towards this place. May you be strengthened by people who love you and can encourage you.

  2. Barry, my mom is 96 and lives in another state where my brother gets the brunt of the kinds of things you describe. Two years ago when I went for one visit, she sat pleasantly enough as the three of us (I thought) reminisced about family memories…. and then when I was out of the room she took my brother by the sleeve and asked him who in the world this other fellow was. Other times she’s been more lucid, but one never knows.

    What I’m trying to say is…. I think I kind of understand.

  3. Hey, I ran across your website today and I know exactly where you are. After 16 years, my mother passed away from Alzheimer’s last month.

    Oh, how I remember those days where we’d be forever hunting for her glasses, purse, wallet…you name it. A continuous cycle of “it’s lost, it’s found, it’s lost…”. My mom also wanted to go to the eye doctor quite often because her glasses weren’t right (according to her). We never really understood this until recently when I read an article that said Alzheimer’s affects the person’s sight and space perception.

    Write more & I’ll read more.

  4. And that’s all any of us can do with this disease, I think: kind of understand..I do appreciate yours and all of these comments I’ve received.

    Today was the first time that she didn’t recognize me at all. I didn’t not feel shock, only further resignation. Her body is in good health- this could go on for years. I still can’t decide if I am wrong in saying, though- hopefully, it won’t.

  5. Barry, thank you for your comments on my blog. It’s always so comforting (still, even after the fact) to know that others are dealing with the same things.

    The first time my mom didn’t know who I was occurred when she was still living at home (with me). We had just returned from church and I was making us lunch. She came into the kitchen and said “you’re very nice…how do I know you again?” It gutted me to hear these words.

    I said: I’m your daughter
    Mom: My daughter? I have children?!
    Me: Yes, there’s me and 2 others (named them)
    Mom: Was I married?? (looking around with scandal in her eyes)
    Me: Yes, you were married to Dad (named him)
    Mom: Oh… I don’t remember him.

    At this point, she began to feel sad and I felt like I was going to vomit. I set out lunch and put on the tv and she quickly forgot about it. I still think about this scene till this day.

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