Spontaneous . . .
(Mom and me in Las Vegas June 2009)
Everything about Alzheimer's breaks my heart.
This picture doesn't exactly speak to the festive holiday season of Christmas, but it is a picture of Mom and me and I like it. It was June 09 and we were in Las Vegas. We had flown to Las Vegas in May to spend Memorial Day with all the girls. Mom had a stroke on the flight over and we ended up staying for 6 weeks until she was able to safely fly back to Seattle. Thankfully Phil flew out to Las Vegas and flew home with us, so I didn't have to take Mom alone. I remember being so scared she would have another stroke on the plane. She made it home safe and sound and hasn't flown since.
Mom not being able to fly has put a crimp in our travel freedom. Phil and I like to travel and we're used to packing up and going whenever we want to. We simply pack up Mom and drop her somewhere, along the way, at the home of a relative That stopped with the stroke on the plane to Las Vegas. Mom can no longer fly. This means Phil and I don't travel as much as we once did or that we like to. We miss being able to take off for a weekend whenever we want to go. We miss even being able to go out to dinner and a movie once in a blue moon alone, without Mom tagging along.
I think of all the things we've given up since having Mom live with us is being able to be spontaneous. Spontaneity and Alzheimer's don't mix. Mom needs a set schedule. She needs to see the same face of her caregiver every day. Disruption in the routine leads to even more confusion, and this leads to agitation and aggression, which I term as Mom throwing a temper tantrum. Mom throwing a temper tantrum is not easy to process. It's as if mom and I both feed off her anger and we both end up very upset. I've learned through the last few years to avoid these outbursts of negative behavior. In the long run they aren't worth it. I try to get better at turning the other way and walking away, but there are too many times I'm in the throes of an outburst when I realize I don't want to be.
Alzheimer's not only changes the patient, it changes the family member carrying for the patient. So many people, in our real life, comment to us all the time on what a great thing we are doing taking care of Mom. Yes, we are taking care of Mom. Yes, we want her home with us. We don't want to put her in a nursing home. The fact is we are not saints. Keeping Mom home is hard. Keeping her home is not all that fun, and more and more the "fun" is fading and the work is growing harder an more tiresome. Phil and I struggle to have a marriage of sorts. The truth is there are three of us living in this marriage.
Phil and I have no personal space or privacy in our home. Mom's bedroom is right next to ours so that we can hear her if she gets up at night. She is often times up and in our bedroom before we've even had the chance to get up to see what she is up for. There she stands, in our room, pulling at my covers, tapping at my feet, calling my name. I get up and usher her back to her room and tuck her back into bed. She didn't want or need anything she was simply making sure that she wasn't alone. She wasn't alone.
The same is true of the bathroom. Phil can't remember the last time he stepped into the bathroom and came out not having been interrupted. A closed door to Mom is an invitation to bother someone. Knocking is not a part of her Alzheimer's world. She opens the door and walks right in looking all around to see who is in there and what they are doing. What about locking the door you say? That aggravates Mom and she then pounds on the door until it is opened for her. In a lot of ways mom is the 3 year old toddler living in the body of a 92 year old. It breaks my heart.
Everything about Alzheimer's breaks my heart.
I am married to the saint. I don't think a lot of men would tolerate a mother-in-law with Alzheimer's living in their home. I am blessed with my love. My bestest friend. My Phil.
Thank you for reading my blog about my life taking care of my Mom who suffers from Alzheimer's. It's not a fun life, but it is my life and it is filled with lots of love. I am fairly new to the blogging world and I would so appreciate your thoughts on my blog. Your thoughts on my story. Your thoughts in general will be appreciated. Thank you again for stopping by and sharing a bit of my life.
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