Monday, June 06, 2016


Life has been a little rough lately.  Living in "Dementiaville" can be taxing.  Not only did my mother have a brain bleed back in February, but her dementia has greatly increased since then.  I think she might have had another small brain bleed a month or so ago.  Some days I listen to her say the same things 20 times.  Right now her preoccupation is 1) with going home, even if she has to walk the 250 miles to get there, and 2) wondering where her husband is.  No matter how many times I tell her that he died 3 years ago, she can't remember.  She is also obsessed with calling her parents to come get her.  If they were alive today, they would be about 110-115 years old. She is always surprised when
I tell her they died some 30+ years ago.

I have to admit that I often feel burnout.  Her reasoning ability is completely gone.  She can't follow even simple directions.  For example, her cane might be leaning against the wall, and I will say, "Grab your cane so we can go."  She reaches for her coat, "This?"  This exercise usually continues with her reaching for every other item nearby until I come close and point to her cane.

Today I had a flasback to an MRI I had once.  They strapped me in so that I couldn't move my arms.  As I entered the tube like machine, I started to feel a little claustrophobic.  I had to take my mind to a different place.  I had to do two passes that lasted 15 minutes each.  There was nothing I could do but wait it out, and try to think about something else.  Sometimes that's how I feel now.  I feel like I just have to grit my teeth and bear the dementia craziness until things change.  I can try to find distractions for my mind, but I just have to live through it.  And sometimes I remind myself that eventually it will get much worse as things progress.  But like the MRI, I just have to tough it out.

I know it's my mother, but in some ways it's not.  Sometimes I feel more like the parent.  In some ways her personality is still there, but in many ways this is a very different person.  So it's not really like I can enjoy being with my Mom.  This is the scrambled eggs version of her.

So for now I will just try to take my mind to another place the twenty fifth time she asks me how far it is to her home, or scurries over to wash my dishes by rubbing them in her hands under cold water, or puts away the clean dishes in places I would never imagine.  I will continue to make sure her hair gets washed when she showers, and that she brushes her teeth. (After I find where she tucked away her toothbrush). I will make sure she doesn't put back on her dirty clothes after she showers, and I will try to make sure she doesn't fill her cereal bowl with cornchips she finds in a bag on on the counter.  I hope that somehow I'm building Karma, because I will probably follow in her footsteps.


Liz said...

I think you're an amazing person! My grandmother took care of my grandfather during his long years of dementia. At first, she was angry with him that he couldn't do the simplest things but, as time went on, she learned to deal with it, probably in the same way you are. Do you have a support group you can go to?

Inklings said...

I think she needs to come here more often.

MJ said...

I'm so sorry you are going through this. Do you want me to come stay with her so you guys can go on date night? :) I'm only about 45 minutes away, so if you ever need me to come, call me!

Euripides said...

So sorry to hear that. I lost both parents to dementia.

You are right, that dementia robs us of our "real" parents. Remember that when she gets totally annoying, it's the disease talking, not your mother. Even so, it is still exhausting watching parents who cannot function. It was much harder, in my opinion, than raising babies.

Hang in there and heaven bless.

Lindsay Logic said...

She's lucky to have you. I know it must be incredibly hard and frustrating at times. I'm grateful that you are taking care of her while she needs it.

Chuck McConvey said...

Ben there done that D - it took 10 years for my wife to pass from Huntington's Disease and it was very difficult to watch her deteriorate as the dementia grew worse almost daily. You keep placing one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best. She is lucky you are able to be there for her. Hang in there D.

Brig said...

I know how utterly frustrating this can be. three years ago I moved in with my parents to care for my bedridden mother, she also had dementia. It didn't take long for me to realize that I needed to get in a support group so that I could learn how to handle the situation. I found a good one and made that one hour every two weeks a priority. I can't begin to tell you how much help it was, to be given ways to handle all the different challenges that came up. There are many fine articles/videos/books etc. Mother was never an easy care, but she pasted away quietly at home. Now I have dad to care for, but he is sharp as a tack, just becoming less physically able at 92. If I can help in any way to make your path a bit lighter, please contact me. Blessed be.

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