Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Sad Path of Dementia

Every day can bring a blessing or many blessings, but then there are days where the shadows of hard things happening make those blessings more difficult to see. This weekend has been like that. My mother fell on Friday morning. At first we hoped she was only bruised, but as the day went on, it was obvious something bad was wrong. She couldn't bear to put weight on one of her legs. Much to her distress, we called the ambulance and brought her to the hospital. She has a fractured hip socket. The only treatment is to keep the weight off that hip socket. So she has to stay in bed and not put any weight on her leg. Easy enough or might be if she remembered breaking her hip. The dementia makes everything more difficult. The pain is not bad as long as she's sitting or lying still so she thinks she's okay. Every few minutes she wants to get up, find her clothes and go home. Every few minutes I have to tell her she has a broken hip and has to stay in the hospital.

Many of you have walked this same sad path with your parents or relatives. There are no easy stops on this dementia path. We can only send up prayers for patience, prayers for pain relief, prayers for courage for her and for us daughters trying to help her. And many friends are praying for her and us. That is so touching - to know that people will take time to pray for us. I believe in the power of prayer and that prayer makes a difference.  

The picture above is of Mom and her only niece a few weeks ago. Linda was the youngest of our cousins and she would come to spend a week with us every summer. She would sit out on the back rock and feed our hens corn until she managed to catch one to stroke its feathers. This is a picture of me and Linda back in her chicken catching days. She has her own pet hens now, she told Mom when she came to visit. Mom enjoyed talking with her about those days. 

Mom always liked her hens too and raising chickens. So many good things she's done. She's always been tough and did whatever had to be done. Now she's been hit with a problem she can't overcome. Not the hip. While that might be difficult, it is possible that it might heal. The dementia is what can't be overcome. And that's sad for all of us.

Thanks for reading. I hope your blessings are bountiful this week and that the sunlight falls on your path and makes every day bright for you. With Mom in the hospital, I haven't had a chance to pick my five winners in my May giveaway, but I will before Wednesday. I appreciate all of you who entered. Thanks a bunch. 

14 comments:

  1. Ann, I am so very sorry to hear of your mother's health issues. I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers. My grandmother, who was a wonderful cook, taught me many things about food and cooking. She taught me so much about so many things. By the time I was 10 years old, Gran was no longer able to cook for our family, so I took over the kitchen. My mother and grandfather worked, and I went to school and did all the cooking for the family. After my grandparents passed away, Mom and I continued to live together, and I was still the cook. I have always set high standards for myself as far as what I had to accomplish in my personal life. I was an "organized perfectionist", determined to meet all the goals I set for myself. I did pretty well at that for many years, and then life began to impose its own needs that had to be met. When my mother's health began its sad deterioration, and I became more an more a caregiver, something had to give. I no longer worked overtime, not all of the daily household chores were done each day, meals became much more simple, personal time was minimalized, and life as it was continued on a more elementary level. I let go of a lot of my own personal expectations...and it didn't kill me. The most important thing was my mother's care, and when I focused more on her needs and less on my own expectations, I could actually relax and give myself a break. In some ways, I felt closer to my mother than I ever had in my whole life. My mother has been gone for a while now, but I have never gone back to being "uber-woman", and I'm glad : ) If you ever need to talk, I am just an email away. Take care!

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  2. Hi, Virginia. Thanks so much for sharing about you and your mother. Taking over the cooking at 10 means you must have been a very mature and capable child. I can't say that I've ever been a perfectionist other than maybe about my writing. Then I try to be as perfect as I can be which always falls short of the mark. None of us are perfect. But we soldier on. That's the way we have to do with situations like Mom's. Just keep taking it one day at a time and be thankful for every blessing and every prayer. It's so kind of you to offer an "ear" to me. I appreciate you.

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  3. Ann, I think about your mom so often and you both have my prayers along with everyone else involved in her care. I know how much time you spend with her yourself. We're going through the same thing with my stepdad and mom. He is falling often and the dementia is progressing. Very sad and painful to watch, much less experience himself.
    Love and prayers,
    Laura

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    1. Thanks, Laura, for your thoughts and prayers. Mom isn't happy right now, but we're doing the best we can as I know you are with your stepdad. One day at a time and sometimes one hour at a time. That's all we can do.

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  4. Ann, I've thought of you often this weekend knowing your struggle with your sweet mom. How I wish she could just put those clothes on and head home healed! I've prayed for your patience as you try and explain over and over. My father suffers from dementia as well, but lives in FL in a wonderful facility. When I visit him, I never know how much we will share. What a cruel disease and one that robs us all. I know the Lord will strengthen you as you walk with her through this - moment by moment.

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    1. It is the worst thief as it steals what matters most to us and causes anger and suspicions. I know that many of my reading friends have walked the same dark path with loved ones. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

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  5. I accidently deleted Laura's comment. Those little phones have too small print and my fingers are too big. I must have hit delete instead of publish. Oh well! So I copied it and put it here for her. Just read today's blog and I so am praying for you and your family. I am a nurse and I have seen this in some many of my patients...Its hard for sure and just lifting you up and praying for your sweet mama...May he give you a special blessing today.

    I appreciate Laura's encouragement. Nurses are special people!

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  6. Thank you, Ann. I have thought about you all afternoon. Sometimes there are no words to say but just know that so many are praying for you and your family.....

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    1. Thanks, Laura. Just hearing from my friends here has been a special blessing and then I got my new Shaker book in the mail so your prayers must have been answered.

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  7. Dear Ann,

    My mother had Alzheimer's Disease and she lived with my family and me for the last 5 years of her life. God's grace took her in 2009 before the full effects of the disease had robbed us of her. She died from a massive stroke. Her mother lived with Alzheimer's disease until she was in her late 90's and for more than 15 years did not know anyone. My mother did not want to live out her life that way and I know she prayed often. I will be praying for you and your mother.

    In addition, if your mother likes music from her youth, let her enjoy it as often as possible. It will help. It did with my mom.

    Marilyn

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    1. Thanks, Marilyn for sharing about your mother and grandmother. Dementia is a robber disease. Sounds as if your mother was a special person with much love to give. I tried music with Mom but she just thought it was tiresome noise. But I hadn't thought to try the 1930s music. I appreciate the suggestion and your prayers.

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  8. Ann,
    I wish you and your mother all the best. As I have mentioned before my mother also suffered from dementia in the last years of her life, and I know how hard it is. A couple of things I learned that helped me cope was first to realise that she didnt want to be like this anymore then we did. I recall in the early stages how frustrated and upsetting it was for her. The other thing was to be gentle, for everytime she repeated something or asked about something it was "new" to her. This was especially helpful when she asked about my father or her parents, who had already passed away. We were warned that to "blurt it out" would be for her like hearing of their passing for the first time. So we tried to be gentle, and reminded her that it was only the dementia had made her forget. She could always accept that because, as strange as it sounds, she never forgot she had dementia. As far as the music suggestion, I think thats a great one. My mother tremendously enjoyed listening to big band music! She could even often remember the words!

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    1. Thanks, Kevin, for sharing from your experience. I'm not sure Mom realizes she has dementia. I think she thinks we're the ones who can't think straight. She does ask why her husband hasn't been around and she often wants to call her mother or go visit her parents. For a while you can avoid answering, but sometimes she gets so upset that they aren't here or coming or we're not taking her to them, that you have to let her know that's not possible. When that happens now, I've been telling her that her mama is watching over her from heaven. That seems to be an answer that's not upsetting her. I'll have to hunt up some Hank Williams. Mom used to really like listening to him when I was a kid.

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  9. Those little words on my iPhone messed me up again and instead of hitting publish, I must have hit delete since now the blog site says the message no long exists. So sorry, Belinda, but I do appreciate your comment and here it is: "It is such a stuggle when a parent is so unaware. I do believe that somewhere tucked deep inside of them, they are aware and are grateful for what you're doing for them. This is a tough journey that your family is facing and with the help of the Lord, you will make it thru. Many prayers are being said on your families behalf, and I hope that you are gaining strength from that. You must remember to take care of yourself during this time, and keep up your strength so that your able to take care of "Mom". Thinking of you and your family." All great advice, Belinda, and I do so appreciate the prayers being offered on behalf of my mom and us, her daughters. Helping somebody with dementia is truly a one day at a time journey.

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Thanks for joining the conversation. I like hearing what you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.