Monday, April 1, 2013

Living with a Mom with Alzheimer's

As I write this blog, I'm sitting on the sofa adjacent to my my who has Alzheimer's . My dad passed away a month ago, and he took care of mom, who has had this condition for 10 years. Everyone always said they didn't know how dad did it. And now, I know the inside story.

Dad would visit his friends at nursing homes and assisted living facilities and always left the visit completely depressed. He always said he'd rather go to the grave than a hospital. So despite the extreme challenges of caring for an Alzheimer's patient, he endured the down side every day. Frankly, there are no upsides.

My mom is really not my mom any more. She was always a friendly person and a wonderful homemaker, as well as having various jobs in the workplace. She was a telephone operator and  a City Clerk of the Town Hall for Newman, CA. Now she is trapped in her body, acting out like a terrible 2-year old, throwing objects if she doesn't like a response, and aggressively attacking a person for no reason. Using a kind voice or any sense of reasoning doesn't do any good. The only thing that seems to work, with the help of some calming medications, is to leave the room and "disengage."

I am now a 24-hour caretaker, honoring my dads wishes, and hoping this journey doesn't last long. For now I don't see any upside, except to rise to the call of service. I know for sure I would never be able to serve in the role as a paid caretaker. I admire those who do. It is a thankless job and much more difficult than anyone realizes unless you walk a day in their shoes.

I'm digging down deep for compassion, understanding and a daily dose of optimism. My friends provide support in the form of letters, emails, and phone calls, as I'm 4,000 miles from where I live.
I have suspended my business and put my personal life on hold. I know one day the true reason for this journey will be revealed, and for now, I must use my best Feng shui wisdom and lessons to persevere.

Mom, I know you are "in there" but I haven't seen you in quite awhile. Dad, I know you watch after me from above and you are proud of the daughter you raised. Spirit, please continue to give me the strength to this role, one day at a time.

One day, I will know why this journey came to be. Until then, just breathe.


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