In celebration of ” Throw Back Thursday” I thought it was time to revisit the past. It’s hard to see how far we’ve come when you think about day by day. The real progress is shown when you look back at the beginning.
In September of 2013, my husband and I decided to move my mother in with us. Back then she was in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease. We put her stuff into storage, gave her our small spare bedroom and watched her plummet drastically.
It was devastating. After three weeks, we just knew that it was not going to end well. We didn’t want to just take care of her, we wanted her to thrive. So we immediately began looking for a bigger house to rent where she could have all of her familiar things around her, but where we could also make a home together.
We found the perfect place and moved immediately. While it had to happen this way we ultimately found out this was not all good for her. You see we had recently moved 400 miles away from the only home we had ever known. To a 77-year-old, with dementia, can you imagine the horror. Then, after settling into your own apartment you are thrust into living with a daughter you hadn’t lived with for 29 years and her husband especially when you had been on your own since your husband died in 1985. Then after three weeks guess what, let’s move once more.
When you are thrust into the job of caregiver without any warning or supervision you make mistakes…BIG ONES. Every day my mom would look at me and say, “I want to go home.” Every day I would walk into my room and cry.
Here I was taking on this job and wanting so bad to be great at it and seemed to be making everything so much worse. My heart was breaking. Those first three months I spent my time saying “No mom you can’t do that, mom you just said that, and mom you forgot again.” We were all miserable.
After the culmination of a terrible week, with me ending up in the hospital. Trying to make sure mom was being taken care of her, frozen water pipes. What else could go wrong? She hid the keys to our house and we spent three hours locked out of our home in the freezing cold.
We were finally able to get into our house and decided to carry on with the rest of our day. We went to the grocery store and that would be the end of one of the worst time in our lives and there have been some doozies!
She got angry in the grocery, which I now know was just bad timing, frustration, confusion and well just being very scared on her part. We came home and my mother looked at me and screamed at me for the first time in my 44 years! Oh, did I mention this was also my birthday?
Well, I lost it, I’ll admit it.
That’s the whole point of this story.
We will ALL make mistakes. I said, “You cannot go home, you can’t even take care of yourself”! She ran to her room crying, I’m at the kitchen table crying and my husband who has silently watched this outburst slips outside with tears in his eyes. We were all miserable and going crazy.
I said, “You cannot go home, you can’t even take care of yourself”! She ran to her room crying, I’m at the kitchen table crying and my husband who has silently watched this outburst slips outside with tears in his eyes. We were all miserable and going crazy.
Well, about fifteen minutes later, she comes back into the kitchen and says in such a small voice “I’m so scared” with her tear stained face. I looked at her and said. “Momma, I’m scared too, but the only way to get through this is together. After that, we settled down and had a nice evening.
That night I went into my room with a heavy heart, my tablet, and sheer determination to find some answers. I found the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. I read an article about communication and the light switch went off for me. I realized I knew absolutely
I realized I knew absolutely NOTHING about what I was doing and the big one I WAS NOT ALL ALONE as I had thought. I read for hours. I decided that when I woke up things were going to change. First, I realized that I had been grieving so hard for all that she and I had been losing, that I had forgotten all the wonderful things she could still do.
First, I realized that I had been grieving so hard for all that she and I had been losing, that I had forgotten all the wonderful things she could still do.
My mom, she’s awesome. She has this remarkable sense of humor that amazes people. She’s kind and compassionate and she has always been there whenever I needed her to be. So I woke up and said “Let’s go for a walk”. We walked and talked and ended walking for a mile. We both felt energized, I was so happy it was absurd!
The day passed without a single correction out of my mouth. I took the advice that I had gotten to heart. The least amount of words I used the better, touch her often, and I tell her I love her constantly.
I feel more confident and happy. Talk about changes! I decided I would track our progress share the laughter and the tears and maybe just pay it forward and help someone else stuck in the dark. I know every day will not be easy ones, but if I can learn to appreciate the good days, laugh at the crazy ones and well just deal with the rest, maybe we’ll be okay. So out of the darkness into the light.