Friday, January 21, 2011

Keeping Mom Happy - my mom has dementia

Sweater, n.:  garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. 
~Ambrose Bierce

Haide and Bob, ~1944

Haide, 2006
The big news is that my mother really does have dementia, and it happened within the last 4 months.  I last saw her 8 months ago, 5 months before her 86th birthday, and she was just fine. 

I live 1,000 miles from my mother.  Fortunately, my sister and her family, along with one brother, live near her.  I am thankful that I have been able to visit just about every year for the past 20 years.  My father died in 1998, and she has continued to be a vigorous and independent woman.  Then, just 4 months ago, she experienced a sudden unexpected brain seizure.  This necessitated a hospital stay, medical testing and lots of forced bed rest.  This was followed by two falls while being under medical care.  The falls required two surgeries, and more bed rest.  She had never had surgery before, and never had broken any bones.  But during all of this, her mind quickly went from alert to disoriented.  Like others who have experienced this, it is a shock.  There was no warning. 

After 4 months, my mother was finally released to my sister's home.  My sister bears the burden of care for my mother, though my mother has the benefit of full-time CNA's (until the money runs out...).  This creates a strain on her and her family.  There are also other money issues that have just been discovered, relating to other family members.  I never thought any of this would happen in our family.  Honestly, the medical issues are more easy to deal with than the disappointment over the money issues.  I pray that my sister and her husband have the strength and emotional and financial support that they need to shoulder this burden. 

This is when I wish didn't live so far away. 

I am currently visiting, trying to get some time in with my mother and ease my sister's burden for just a few minutes.  We are lucky that our mother DOES know who we are, even if she doesn't know where she is or what year it is (or what reality it is!).

"In search of my mother's garden, I found my own." ~Alice Walker

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