It has been a bumpy week in my world of caring for my Mad (only slightly), elderly Mother (MEM). We have been on a programme of scans and visits to a memory clinic, home visits from a psychologist and all to be told, last week at our final appointment, with no pre-warning, very bluntly that MEM has Alzheimer’s disease. Immediately following this revelation we were both asked how we felt and if we had any questions. MEM’s response was very philosophical, “so my bad memory has a name”. Her question was, “will everyone treat me like I am a demented child?” Once outside she said that, even though she gave up smoking over 60 years ago, she really fancied a cigarette now!!
When the psychologist turned to me I could not be too truthful as honestly all I wanted to say was “SHIT” and my question was “how much more time will I have to give up to care for her?” Of course I never said any of this and was a whole lot more sensitive, saying things like I would just take each day as it comes! But my MEM has morphed into a daily chore, like putting on the washing, walking the dogs and now phoning her for a chat, speaking to the carer for an update, at least twice weekly visits, and constantly looking for signs that we are all not coping with and allowing her to live in her own home for as long as possible.
Most recently she has lost a set of house and car keys. My immediate reaction was that she had hidden them as she had been more than a little stroppy about us removing her car, as advised by her doctor, since driving has become out of the question. MEM hates losing her independence and I hate it too, probably for purely selfish reasons! I have spent the past 25 years caring and nurturing my children and just as the last one leaves school, OH starts to slow down with his work and we might have the opportunity to travel a little more, I now have another huge responsibility. I am not alone and so I cannot feel sorry for myself as one in six people over the age of 80 years is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease so I guess that I should be grateful that it has taken until she turned 87 years for it to be diagnosed. Of course there is a certain amount of stigma with any form of dementia – such an awful word….demented? Personally I think ‘a little bit dotty’ is kinder and since my MEM has always been a little that way inclined the description fits.
I was advised to go onto the Alzheimer’s website which is informative but assumes that you will give up everything to be your parent’s carer, obviously sleeping in her home with her as she may eventually become a danger to herself. I cannot imagine my MEM ever going into a care home and with dementia she could only go into one where she is locked in. The nice one, just down the road from me, that is riverside and quite beautiful will not take any old person with dementia though whilst looking around OH seemed to be quite keen to move in there himself (as soon as possible)! However there is another care home in the town but with locks and keys and I am not sure if I could bring myself to put her into that one. She made me promise the other day that she could stay in her own home forever but with no thought for me and how much I would have to give up to nurse her!
I imagine that loads of our readers have stopped reading by now because they are thinking ‘what a selfish cow’ but I have to be honest and say how overwhelmed I have been this past week and yes I have thought about how it is going to effect me and my family – will my OH remain as patient when I am so often over with his mother-in-law and not at home cooking his lunch?!
“Being able to forget may be a blessing but not for those around you.”
Oh well onward and upward, take each days as it comes and hope for the best……and a message for Grace & Ellie – let’s get old together!!