Well, as I think I indicated before, when I telephone my mom lately the calls have been going something like this:
Me: Hi, Mom
Mom: Oh, hello. Don's here.
Me: Oh, well, that's ok I was just checking in on you.
Mom: Are the kids ok.
Me: Yes, they're fine.
Mom: Good good. Ok, love you.
Me: Love you too, bye!
NOW, when my mom calls me it often goes something like this:
Me: Hi, Mom.
Mom: When is my dr. appt.?
Me: Do you remember that he cancelled it and we rescheduled it in 3 weeks.
Mom: He did?
Mom: Well, let me write that down.
Me: OK, but you wrote it down when I told you a couple of days ago.
Mom: I did?
Me: Yes, it's March 30th.
Mom: Wait, let me write that down. OK, when is it?
Me: It's March 30th.
Mom: OK, let me write that down, when did you say it was?
Me: March 30th, but I will give you plenty of notice like I always
do since it's 3 weeks away.
Mom: OK, let me write that down.
Me: March 30th, I will pick you up around 9:30 am.
Mom: OK, you will pick me up at what time?
Me: Around 9:30 am.
Mom: OK, good, let me see if I wrote that down.....
Me: Mom, try not to worry about it, I will remind you when it gets closer.
Mom: OK, but I just want to write that down........
(repeat above 1-10 times)
My patience has increased substantially. I have to keep my words simple. Using the word "remember" as I did at the beginning of that conversation, not the best idea. It has taken a long time to learn. I used to think my mom was asking these questions as a way of trying to keep me on the phone longer, for company. Now I know it was not that. When she calls me after 4 pm or so, it is almost certain that she will be extra confused and agitated (as in the above conversation). Two good things, she remembered recent talk of a doctor appointment and she is still able to telephone me (although I do think there are often misdials).
So you see, even though she is in a good place, and I am happy that she is being taken care of, there are still these constant reminders of how much things have changed. I try to imagine what it must be like to be in her situation.
When I visit again in the next day or so, rest assured, I will find numerous notes in a handwriting that isn't as nice as it once was. They will say "Dr." or "March" or "9:30", but they will be largely illegible to most, including her. I will still know that it was my mom, desperately trying to manage her own schedule and give herself some sense of control over her own days. I will gather the notes and throw them out once the appointment has passed, so as not to add to the confusion...and then we will do it all again for her upcoming dental appointment, if she remembers it.
And so it goes in this convoluted little world of Alzheimer's Disease...where there is no cure. This is just a small five minute conversation. However, it gives you some insight into what our/her world is like. And, I am not the only one. There are millions of family caregivers all over the world dealing with many of the same things. It goes way beyond a conversation where there is talking in circles. Imagine trying to take care of yourself when your mind is failing you.
Don't get me wrong, I remain happy that my mom is loving where she is living, and the "friends" she is making along the way. She is probably as happy as she can be despite her declining health. Yet there are these constant reminders that her mind is crumbling and all I can do is give my love and support along the way...