Friday, February 06, 2015

Life With Mom

I've been in kind of a funk lately.  I can't quite seem to get my life on track.  I think it's because so much is out of my control.  My mother is living with us, and I'm with her pretty much 24/7.  That goes against my "loner" personality.  I've been realizing lately that I have to make time to be alone so that I don't go crazy.  :)

I'm also having difficulty figuring out what to do with my time.  I know I am the master of my own time, but now I have to think of it as two of us, so it's not really just my time.  I can leave my mother for short periods of time, and she is fine.  But usually I only leave her if someone else is home with her.  I don't think she would be in any real danger if I left her alone, but she starts to get confused and gets a little paranoid.  She has dementia, although it isn't very progressed at present.

There are some sort of amusing sides to the dementia.  Well, maybe it's just amusing to me, but I guess if I don't laugh about it I could get depressed.  But there are things that make me chuckle.  For example, my Mom has gotten kind of suspicious.  She keeps an eagle eye out for everything going on, and then "tattles" if she is suspicious of anything.  When we first moved in, my husband burned out our food processor.  He was going to throw it away, but I thought that we might be able to use the container with a new one.  When I wasn't looking, my husband carted it secretly out to the garbage.  My mother got wind of this and has never forgotten it.  So every time my husband takes something out to the trash, she gets suspicious.  The other day she said, "Your husband was sneaking something out to the trash."  I said, "Um yes Mom, that was the garbage from the house."  Quite often she will come to me and say, "I saw your son sneaking some food downstairs to his room."  I try to explain to her that I don't care if my kids get food when they are hungry, but it goes against her way of thinking.  (Although she didn't control my snacking when I was young.)  Today my oldest son came upstairs and got some food, then went back downstairs.  He happened to look back as he went.  I didn't see him, but my Mom did.  Suddenly I heard her kind of sigh exasperatedly.  I said, "What's the matter?"  She said, "I don't want to tell you."  I said "What's wrong?"  She said, "Someone just came and snuck around the corner, and when they saw you here, they quickly ran back down stairs."  Later I learned that my son came up to get some food.  But in her mind, there was something sinister about it.

Another thing that is happening is that she keeps hearing noises in the night, and imagines all kinds of things.  This kind of thing happened when she lived with my sister last year.  She is always telling me that she is hearing the front door, or back door open.  She often thinks she is hearing voices.  She is convinced that my sons are sneaking out in the night.  What she doesn't realize is that I live here too, and I'm not hearing any of this.  I explained to her that my one son is almost 22 years old, and legally he can do whatever he wants.  But he is also a kind of a couch potato, and I know he isn't sneaking out every night.  Not that he would have to sneak.

We do have one standing argument.  My mother is convinced that she was present when something happened when we lived in China 20 years ago.  My oldest son was about 4 years old at the time, and he kept doing dangerous things.  My Mom is convinced that she was present when these things happened.  I logically showed her how she could not have been present.  She was serving a mission in South Africa when these things happened, and couldn't have been there.  She and my father did come visit me on their way home, but that was long after these things happened.  I explained to her that I did show her the places that they happened, and she did meet the babysitter I had, but that it had happened a full year before she came to our apartment.  .  I explained that sometimes when someone tells you something, you picture it in your mind, and before long, it seems like a memory that really happened.  I proved it again by calling her on several points of dispute in the story that she claims she was witness to.  But you can't deal logically with dementia, so I think she still believes she was present.  And I just have to laugh.

My Mom really wants to go back to her own home to live. I have tried to give her reasons that she shouldn't, but she insists she will be going to live alone.  The other day I told her that she will miss our dog.  I really think she would.  She even hinted that maybe we could give him to her.  But considering the fact that she only weighs about 15 pounds more than him, I don't think that would be a good idea.  :)

The other thing that occupies my mother's mind is that she would like to adopt a baby.  I explained to her that given the fact that she is almost 90 years old, and wouldn't live to raise the baby, they won't let her adopt one.  She said she would just leave it for me to finish raising.......   She is so baby hungry.  Everywhere we go, she is drawn to babies.  And she gets SO upset when she sees kids that aren't dressed properly for the cold weather.  Surprisingly, many parents do not dress their kids very warmly.  We often see babies without jackets or shoes.  The parents are usually dressed in coats and warm clothing.  I don't know what they are thinking.  My Mom about blows a gasket every time she sees it.

The last thing is probably the most embarrassing, but then again, all I can do is laugh about it.  When I was young, whenever we went to play outside, my Mom would come out the door and whistle for us when it was time to go home.  She can whistle VERY loudly.  Now that she is aging, she uses her whistle whenever she needs to get someone's attention.  So, for example, when I call the boys to come upstairs for dinner, if they don't respond quickly, she goes to the top of the stairs and whistles for them.  I tried to explain to her that they don't know what that means, having not grown up with is, but she keeps trying.  That I don't mind so much, but awhile back we were at a store and needed a sales clerk to help us.  We saw a guy not far away, so my Mom proceeded to whistle at him.....  I wanted to crawl in to a hole and pretend I wasn't there!  lol  Sound embarrassing?  Well, the other day in church........I raised my hand to make a comment, but the teacher didn't see me.  You guessed it, my Mom whistled......   Luckily, it was a very short whistle, and strangely, the teacher didn't even hear it.  I told her the other day that it was pretty embarrassing, so I'm hoping she will stop whistling in church.  lol

Well, at least it's good fodder for my autobiography...  ;)


Looney said...

Parents are the greatest.

Confucius most have had very well behaved parents.

Euripides said...

I feel for your dilemma. My mom had dementia in her final years. The dementia amplified all of her worst personality traits which drove me nuts all my life. It was difficult, but not impossible, to separate the desire to care for her from her amplified personality.

Hang in there and do be sure to find resources that will allow you to take time off for yourself. There are community programs and volunteers who can help.

Rummuser said...

In my case, it was a double whammy as I had to care for my late wife and almost immediately after her death, my late father. You are at the beginning stages of a long process of care-giving which takes a lot out of the caregiver. There are online support groups that offer help and advice and I for one benefited a great deal being part of two such groups. I made friends with some wonderful caregivers who like me got relief only when the care receiver/s died.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi D,

I agree with Looney: parents are the greatest.

You do well to laugh it off, because there's nothing else you can do; and let's face it: some situations are funny (including the whistling part ;)...).
May G-d Bless you for taking care of your elderly.