Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     All is relatively quiet with my mom.  However, I was, again, reminded how frustrating things can be if I let them.  Usually, I try not to let them.  Every week my mom asks me for "things".  Anything from hangers, to toothpaste, to orange juice.  Whatever the item is, there are usually several phone calls asking for these things.  I need to learn not to treat these requests as life or death.  Often, when I do bring the requested item, my mom does not even recall asking for it.  Or, I find she really did not need it as she says...she just could not find what she already had.  An example is that recently I found myself looking all over for Noxema...in a pump.  At first, I could only find it in the regular container.  So, I got that for her.  Then, I found the pump, so I got that too.  These "wild goose chases" can be exhausting.  When she fixates on certain things...like "3 ply" toilet paper....or Noxema "in a pump" or orange juice "light pulp" it can be exhausting.  It is difficult to understand how somebody who does not know what day it is....knows she wants Noxema "in a pump" or not just toilet paper, "3 ply" toilet paper!!??  Although these things aren't necessarily hard to find, they are not always at the store that's convenient for me.  I want to make her anxiety go away by getting these things to her ASAP, but in the process I find myself running from store to store trying to fulfill my mom's requests.  Often times, however, I do know that she already has something and I let her know how to find it. 
     I also think that she is likely driving the housekeeping/laundry people a little nutty.  Her laundry is collected every Wednesday.  As my mom cannot keep this straight, she leaves her laundry by the door almost every day, accuses them of "forgetting" her laundry, not returning her laundry, and a variety of other things.  Trying to set her straight or reassure her can just result in "circle' talk".  It is best to change the subject altogether instead of trying to be a problem solver.  Even if there is some truth to these laundry mix ups, in the scheme of things it is not a "health" concern as I know they are doing her laundry. 
     My frustration increases when my mom's tv is super loud in the background and I am trying to carry on a conversation with her on the phone.  (I don't know why it is so loud, she is not hard of hearing, but I think The Don does wear a hearing aid...). 
     Aside from all of that, my mom was excited to recently receive her new pair of shoes from the foot doctor.  Apparently, Medicare provides one new pair of shoes per calendar year for diabetics.  When I asked to see them, she got them from the linen closet (?) where they were still in the box.  She said she is saving them for winter.  I do not know why.  They are a lighter color and could certainly be worn within her building year round.  The only other shoes she has that fit properly are her tennis shoes.  I suggested she leave the new ones out so that she could wear them occasionally.  They are very good quality orthopedic type shoes that go on easily with velcro.  Next time I visited, they were back in the box....in the linen closet.  Ugh! 

Mom held up her pant legs so we could see her new shoes
 (and then she put them back in the box!)

     As I write all of this and vent my frustrations, I have also become aware that a man named Bob DeMarco is sitting bedside with his own mother who has Alzheimer's Disease.  He runs the Alzheimer's Reading Room which has been an excellent source of information and comfort to me and millions of caregivers out there who have been affected by this disease.  His mom has gone into Hospice care this past week and her son believes the end is near.  He is sharing his story every bit of the way.  Although I do not "know" him, I respect so much what he has done for his mother and what he is doing for others by sharing his knowledge and story. 
     I have "met" a handful of people through Googling and blogs who are caregivers, like me.  Their lives have or eventually will take a turn much like the one Bob is experiencing right now. 
     So, in spite of my frustrations, I am grateful to still have my mom around making her requests for "things", showing us her new shoes and hanging out with The Don because I know that someday I will miss all of these things, and more!!


Heather (GurleeGirrl) said...

You summed it up perfectly. Although you get frustrated with her, you love your mom and will be happy to oblige her requests. I give you so much credit though - raising a family, and caring for your mom. It must be extremely stressful and tiresome at time.

Kerri said...

I can feel your frustration and your love for your mom. I'm glad you have other resources out there for sharing stories and getting support. You're a GREAT daughter Cindy!

Tinky said...

As you know, Cindy, I've been in your shoes! Speaking of shoes, what a great story. They are pretty cute. Let's hopeshe wears them eventually.

Now you're making me want Noxema in a pump!

Tracee said...

Cindy, I feel your frustration. My father has Parkinsons but he has the dementia part of it really bad. I live 1800 miles away so there isn't much I can do. Several years ago, I kept telling my mom something was wrong...I could tell when he would call me. She denied noticing anything as did my brother! Things continued to get bad and she finally got him to some specialists and it took a year, but he was finally diagnosed. He has recently taken a turn for the worse and we are headed to Texas at the first of June. It just breaks my heart to see my Daddy that way. He was an extremely successful businessman and owned his own insurance agency for over 45 years. Now, he cannot find his way to the bathroom in his own house.

I have a 10 year old daughter and my husband asked me today if we needed to talk to her before we go about how her Papa has changed since she saw him last year. I honestly don't know what to do. I don't want to plant seeds and have her worry because she is a worrier. At the same time, I don't want her to be shocked at how different he has become.

Can you give me any advice with how you've handled things with your kids?

Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

Cindy, you are just right. Sometimes I think the weight of caregiving invokes knowing what is coming.

On shoes: I simply place them under Moms dresser. She asks if they are hers and when she's finally done inspecting, she'll wear them, as they've become part of the scene. I wait til that happens before sneakily removing old shoes.

Appreciate today. Especially if you can get a laugh. Tomorrow will take care of itself. You are doing great! :)a