Friday, April 13, 2007

My mother has dementia. Over the past few years I've been trying to make it go away. I've been in real denial about her condition. I wanted her to continue to take care of her business, , her nutrition, her fitness....I wanted her to continue to prune shrubs, walk, run with boundless energy....I wanted her to stay the same. I wanted her to continue to live her life unencumbered of frailty and mental deterioration.

Friends would gently point out her condition. I would deny it. "No, no it's not really as bad as you think it is." Within myself I've fought the acknowledgement of her condition. I've wailed against it, mentally shook my fists at it, threw mental tantrums, selfishly thought that I was 'put upon'. I tried to fix my mother. "Mother, you can do this".

Today, she looked at me as I earnestly and admittedly with increasing impatience tried to explain a very simple issue concerning money. "Verstehst Du nicht, Mama?". "Don't you understand, mother?" She just sat there smiled then laughed a little and said: "Nein, ich verstehe es nicht". "No, I don't understand". This from the woman who was a math whiz, who could calculate and solve problems in her head.. I could never do that.

And then finally, finally today something within myself shifted. Perhaps it was this conversation that made me fully accept her condition within myself. I'm her caregiver.
The roles have been reversed.

And, really, I've been her caregiver for a while, but acknowledge that fact? I refused to. Yes, I did do the outward care that a caregiver does. But the act of care giving would upset me. Not that I was upset with her. I was upset with the process of her aging. I was scared with how this process of aging was affecting my life and the life of my family. I was mostly scared because in seeing my mother age like this, I felt as if I was looking in a mirror.........I was seeing my potential future reflected back at me.

But today, within myself, I felt a shift. Something internal within my mind and within my heart changed. I've accepted her condition. I've accepted the fact that while I still may be her 'child',
it was time for me to take the next step in growing up....the letting go part of being a child. Because as long as my mother was capable I remained a child. Yes, a child despite my responsibilities of raising my own family, loving one partner for 24 years, working and just doing in general what adults are supposed to do. I always felt that if everything failed, fell apart, I could always run back to mama. I didn't fully admit that, but, yes, she was there...she had 'my back' so to speak. And while she still has 'my back' it is different. She needs to be able to relax and not have to worry about papers, bills and just all that b.s. stuff that makes life just oh so blech at times.

It was time for me to take the next step in caring, really caring, loving and accepting this lovely, aging, "able to laugh herself into an almost hysteric fit over her condition' person. This type of loving is different. And it makes me feel at peace.


kate said...

wow! Wonderful that you got to this place... and that you went through the mental process too. I do think its a process almost like grieving.

I was the caregiver for my Mom during her illness. It was sad to see her fail mentally, but in truth for me it was a blessing... I knew she didnt know what was happening to her. Her body was failing and her mind went with it.

I am not sure how it will be for you and your Mom, but I hope that you still can share beautiful moments with her. Albeit on a different level, but still beautiful.

You have a tough road ahead, but it sounds like you are very grounded about it. Be sure to take time for yourself through this and not lose sight that while you are the caregiver, you are still her child.

SJ said...

I've seen you around at X-Dell's. Thought I would say hi.

I remember my late grandma slowly lose her hearing and health.

Wish you and your mother the best.

foam said...

kate, as a matter of fact, i'm about to take time for myself today. i'm off to visit some friends and to spend the night. i will be driving there with a girlfriend..
can't wait.

hey, sj, welcome to my bloghome. i have, of course, seen you around it seems like forever. have always enjoyed your comments. thanks for dropping by.

X. Dell said...

I'm wondering what her doctors are saying about her condition. My grandmothers both suffered from dementia: one died, one is still around. I realize the demand of the caregivers because of what my parents have gone through, and are currently going through. They've pretty much centered their lives on taking care of Grandma.

It's a very scary thing you're undergoing. It was difficult to see my late grandmother struggling with things, especially this woman who had survived tremendously difficult circumstances primarily because of her brains. It was also easy to be in denial, because every now and then, she would snap into lucidity, and would act exactly as she always would, as if nothing was ever wrong. And certain facets of her intellect remained until death.

But we had about seven years to acclimate ourselves to her decline. With my surviving grandmother (who entered dementia before the deceased one), medicine has prolonged her life, and she actually seems to enjoy life living only in the now, as they say.

I'm wondering if your mother receives any medication for dementia. My mother tells me that new medications might slow the rate of dementia.

Andromeda said...

oh what a difficult journey my friend. i do believe that a part of you will always be her little girl. we never lose that. but yes we do have to accept the realities of...our changing roles. you sound good...and i am happy you are making peace with this. life just keeps going on whether we are ready or not. the only choice we have is to keep adapting.

i wanted to personally thank you for continuing to visit me. i am so grateful. thank you for your friendship.

Infinitesimal said...

i can't tell you what this post means to me

so i will tell you that i am glad that you opened your blog to the public.

i tried coming here before, and it was invitation only.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I think it is great that you have managed to find peace in all this. Having a loved one suffering from dementia is not an easy thing to deal with.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Bless you. That is hard. My mom always feared that. Like Kate, I was my mom's caregiver, but it was cancer. I hope you post more on this.

foam said...,
I'm thinking it is high time to talk to her doctor about her mental decline. she is physically as fit as a horse despite her frailty. no high blood pressure, no high cholesterol, no thyroid problems, her blood work looks good...
physically, she is healtheir than i am.

yes, i know andromeda. really, i'll always be her little girl..
and of course, as long as you choose to blog to will read..

yes, the acceptance has led to some peace and hopefully an abundance of patience and understanding.

i think we all fear loosing our minds to old age.
i don't know how much i'll blog about this. part of me wants to share, connect with other people who might be dealing with similar issues. and the other part of me wants to respect my mother's privacy.

dd said...

She's a great lady, as evidenced by the love and greatness of her daughter. bless you both.

LADY LUXIE said...

One gave me up, another made it clear that I was a total embarrassment. This is as much mothering I got.

I don't know about how it is to be hugged or accepted by a woman...except that now..being that woman myself, I try so hard to sculpt the mold of what mother is....I feel victorious at times I fail I think..but I strive...

Your mother is what I want me to have someone write this way about me would be the greatest reward I can ever hope for...

Oddly, I don't have a daughter...and I'm thinking now..what words both my sons would choose when they speak about the mother...who is me.

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