Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     I don't even know where to begin.  This past week my mom was more agitated than usual.  I attribute 50 percent of that being due to her tv "not working".  Not working simply means I have to go over there and push one or two buttons and "fix" it.  When she doesn't have a tv to watch she does not know what to do with herself when she is in her apartment.  "The Don's" daughter also called me at 10 pm one night to tell me my mom was not answering her phone so they had to have the Medical Team go and get their dad from my mom's apartment.  Ugh!  I can sympathize with her frustration, but was it really necessary to call me late at night to tell me that!?  I had just been there earlier in the day to "fix" the tv.  I knew I was going back on Friday to take my mom to a dr.'s appointment.  Later I realized her phone was probably not working as I was not able to reach her for a day or two.  On Friday, I did discover that the "ringer" was turned off on her phone.  The good news, I knew she was in a safe place, with a medical alert bracelet and people who check on her on a regular basis for medications, meals and personal care so her not having a phone is not as critical to me as it once was.  She was still able to make calls, just not receive them.
     On Friday morning I found my mom just leaving the dining room from breakfast and talking to "The Don".  She had a hat on.  An old blue jean hat she sometimes wore in the sun.  Immediately I knew this was not good.  I asked her why she was wearing a hat.  She said because she made a big mistake and cut her bangs way too short.  I asked to see her hair....she hesitated...it was not good!!  I was shocked!  I told her we had a doctor appointment and we headed to the elevator.  I could see the other residents shaking their heads at me and my mom.  All I could say is, "mom, mom, mom, mom, mom..."
      We went to her apartment and gathered her things to go to the doctor.  She insisted on wearing the hat, which to me just called more attention to her.  Honestly, it made her look like she had no hair.  She repeatedly said, I will never do it again.  Take my scissors.  Did you take my scissors?  I will never do it again.....  The more I looked at her hair, the more mortified I was. 
     I was planning on getting her hair done before Easter...  In fact, I had just decided to have the hair salon in her building do her hair for the first time.  Not anymore...at least not for awhile. 
     It was hard to focus on the doctor's appointment.  It was relatively uneventful.  My mom was embarrassed and upset at herself.  Her doctor was nice about it.  We all tried to make light of it.  I knew I had to quickly shift from being appalled to being sympathetic to my mom and getting her confidence back.  It wasn't easy.
     I made an appointment at Fantastic Sams from the doctor's office.  Since she cut all of the color out of her hair, I at least wanted to get the grey colored and maybe shape up her hair somehow...  I know, they are beauticians....and I needed a magician.  I can't believe it cost $65 (plus tip) for this...
     It was the first day in awhile that I lost my patience with my mom.  Her repetition, her promises, her questions of where we were going, what color we were going to color her hair, what doctor we were going to, did I take the scissors, more promises that she can't even keep if she wanted to...  My mom looked like she had, without warning, gone to chemotherapy and lost much of her hair.  I was not prepared for it.  I have already lost my mom on a personal emotional level, but this caught me off guard.  It is a scary disease.  There is no rhyme or reason.  Nothing is predictable.  It made me very sad for her (and for me).  I was hoping to have a nice visit or another lunch after her appointment.  Instead, we were sidetracked...  Once we got back to her apartment, I took decided to take the hat and would not let her wear it.  I didn't want her to "hide" under a hat for a month.  It was hard to do, but I felt it was best.  She was upset and wanted the hat, but I told her she looked fine and that it is a nice summer style (ha!).  I put some makeup on her to make her feel better. 
     I checked on her several times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday by telephone.  I was afraid she would hide in her apartment.  I made sure she went to dinner.  I made sure she went to breakfast, and I called and reminded her to go listen to the piano player in the lobby on Saturday.  I have talked to her six times since Friday.  She has not once mentioned her hair.....  For that, I am grateful!!!  I was and am afraid it could make her lose her confidence and retreat to her apartment.  So far, so good. 
     It appears she may have forgotten the whole thing and moved on...I wish I could do the same!!
Before...Waiting for the Beautician/Magician
Waiting for the doctor...yikes!
Well, her hair isn't grey anymore!??


Heather (GurleeGirrl) said...

First, you are doing a fantastic job at dealing with all the punches my friend. I give you alot of credit.

Has she ever done the hair cutting before?

Sarah White said...

Yikes. That is tough. Is there anyway to get her a remote that won't allow her to do anything but turn it off and on and change the channel and volume? Some kind of senior remote?
At least Fantastic Sams could have spiked it for her or something. Make it look more like a pixie cut than an man's comb over!

Jennifer said...

It doesn't look that bad! I was expecting worse?? And as for The Don's kids calling you, they annoy me. They should get The Don a cell phone. It's not your fault her phone was off??

Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

Awww, sweet lady! My eyes get tears and my heart goes out to you. Sometimes it is SO hard to be patient! As awful as this disease is, your sweet Mom is able to communicate with you. Today might be her best day - and you are so right... It's a really difficult disease. Your Mommas hair is adorable in the very short state! It might prove to be easy for her ....and you. So sorry it was a shock and a rough week. I have a friend who gave me permission to step outside and yell at this horrible disease. I have done so several times and think I'm a tad more patient afterwards.... I so agree that "the Dons" daughters do not need to be calling you. If your Mom was amiss, you'd go on over. Oh, wait, you did. You aren't his daughter, and you've got a lot going on. Just because your Mom wasn't answering, doesn't mean that he was there; since he is their responsibility, they need to take initiative.... Not you.
Take a deep breath, take a glass of wine... Hug your daughters , yell a little and know that we think the world of you. You are doing a fantastic job. :)

Kerri said...

I agree w/ Jennifer...I was expecting worse...it doesn't look that bad. And, Don's kids calling you at that time is a little ridiculous to me. What can you do at 10pm? It's almost like "tattling" to me. Anyway...
your post got me a little teary. It's so well written Cindy...I can feel your frustration and sadness. I can't imagine the different emotions you must feel going through this. You are doing a wonderful job. I was thinking it would pretty neat if you compiled all of your "Monday's with Mom" and had your letters printed in a blurb book. I still believe your letters could be useful somehow to others who are going through or will go through what you are. Just my thought!