Familiar Verbalism

Last year when my mother was in a rehab facility, her words changed to match her actions, which had turned to confusion, and putting me down. It was like her brain suddenly and surprisingly changed to that of being hurtful and hateful. At the time, I did not know what was going on, and did not know how to react, or what to say.

But that was last year.

A few days ago, my mother was falling a lot: twice on Monday and again the next day. When I got to her door and heard her yelling for help I found her on the floor. She was very much in pain. Eventually I called 911 who took her to the hospital. She was confused, asking me the same thing over and over and over,  and as the week continued on, she became agitated and combative, saying I set all this up to get her out of my life and take her money, and “God was going to get me for doing this”; the very same words she said last year. She also called me pitiful, and should have known I would do this to her. My brain immediately took me back to October 6th of last year, when she went verbally ballistic. But this time when she called me pitiful, I told her I was not, for God was with me and who can be against me. She said she did not want to hear that and started la-la-la singing. It got to the point I left, knowing she would soon be transported to the skilled nursing facility. After yelling at me and calling me names, I came home and she called me, pretty much asking me the same thing. This time it seemed a piece of her personality returned, and we could communicate a little better, though I kept answering the same questions over and over again. I had heard this familiar verbiage before, but this time my reaction was different, and in my opinion better.

Dementia came by for a visit, but this time I would not be weak, and I stood up to it.

To caregivers everywhere,

  • Do not take what is being said to you personally. Friends who have experienced this with a their parents have told me that.
    • Here’s the reason: it is not them talking, but the dementia.
  • Here’s something else they told me: Continue to love them, and care for them. If you have to get out of the situation, do it, which is what I did today. Both of us needed space, and I believe it helped.
  • I know I did not “set up” anything: the medical staff set up where she was go next. I know I am doing all I can to help my mother. As long as you know that, you know you are doing right by your loved one.

This year God has been involved. I asked Him to intervene. When you give the invitation, it is not all on you. Casting your care to God allows you to be able to breathe, enabling you to continue on. I am concerned, of course, but I am not worried. There is such a difference between being worried and being concerned. Being concerned acknowledges there is a problem, but at the same time give it over to God and move on. Being worried means you take the whole load and attempt to solve the problem, losing sleep, getting headaches and other bodily pain in the process.

I invite you to invite Him in the process. You will see the difference, like I have.

Perspective

Yesterday I drove my mother to her church for Sunday morning service.  Knowing from before that she has trouble getting on the sidewalk, I drove to the corner, where the walk is very low, for the disabled and those in wheelchairs to go on.  To get in the church is a ramp, but that is half way down the block. Remembering what happened in the past, and also what happened earlier that morning (trying to get her out of a chair, and viewing her legs were weak), these were the reasons why I drove her to the corner. She was not happy with that, so I drove around to the spot she wanted to get out of, and while it took a while for her to get her foot up on the sidewalk, with some help, she  began to walk, and got to the ramp and into the church building.

It wasn’t until today I found out she was angry about that to the point she could not really enjoy the church service. As for me, I did not notice there was a problem, so for me I went on my merry way after she got on the sidewalk, to go to my church for service. Today’s conversation started with my mother giving me a compliment:  she said she could learn from me as I don’t hold a grudge, and if I do, I don’t hold it for long. Not knowing what she was talking about, she continued to tell me her perspective on what happened yesterday morning; I told her I had no clue she was even upset with what I did, and I explained my side of the story: of why I drove to the corner thinking I was doing what was in her best interest. After much talking, she admitted now that she knew my perspective, she even more realized that holding a grudge was a dumb thing to do on her part.

After all of that, it was agreed I would let her out on the corner when taking her to church. Once perspective is known, it is quite interesting how far apart two perspective can be.

I learned something too that perhaps can be a help to caregivers:

  • when deciding on what needs to be done regarding your loved one, make sure they understand why you are doing what you are doing. They may have one way of doing something, and if you don’t explain (preferably before doing it) why that decision was made, they will not understand. Though I tried to explain, I suppose it was too late, and result was a little tiff between us; one was angry about it, and the other let it go, thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal.
  • Giving explanations beforehand (and particularly with someone who has very little short-term memory) may be a help that will keep those disagreements to a minimum. Give your perspective.

Perspective is important for both the caregiver and the one being cared for, as communication is key; at least try to keep frustration down  as much as possible on both sides of the spectrum…

Reflections

As I sit at my dining room table this evening, I begin to go into deep thought. I thought of what happened on Sunday evening, October 4, 2015 that caused my life to change as my mother’s life did the same. Diagnosed with advanced stages of dementia at the hospital, being told she was mentally lost forever, being advised to put her in a nursing home, and coming ever so close to signing her life away, but fighting for her to be reviewed by a mental health professional who said she did not have that after all. This caused me to bring her home, where she has been ever since.

There have been times when it seems she is her normal self, the mother I am used to interacting with. Then there are those times when her frustration sets in, hinging and latching onto me, and causing me to be reactive rather than proactive. It has been difficult to get used to the changes in her that cause reactions in me to come out, at times to the point of wanting to explode in anger and frustration.

Needless to say, I had to pray.

But there were times when I honestly did not know how. I would sit on my bed staring into the utter darkness of the room and say to God, “I just don’t know what to do. Please show me what needs to be done, because I have absolutely have no clue.” For me, a metamorphosis of being bolder with my words unfolded, the prayers became deeper, interwoven with God’s promises, praise erupted, replacing what felt like a bottomless pit of despair; praising God caused me to become lighter and hopeful. At least it got me to settle down and sleep, if only for a few hours.

One thing difficulty will do for the believer: when there is nowhere else to turn, there is no one to go to but God. He promises to listen to what we need to say, and will allow His presence to infiltrate the atmosphere, letting you know all is not lost, and He is not only available, but willing to be involved, if only we ask for Him to step in. It may take a while, but I can say that God keeps me stable and steady through it all.

I realized about a month ago, that I was very much on empty. It just seemed nothing was going right. I was beyond frustration about everything. After visiting with a therapist, it was suggested that I desperately needed to get away and get some rest for a couple of weeks. I did not know how I was going to do that. What if something happened to my mother while I was away? I am so behind at work that going away would only put me back even more. How was I to pay for going away, and frankly, where was I going to go? Regardless of my concerns I decided to take up that suggestion, and get away from everything. So, I went to a city by the shore a couple of hours away, a place I had never been to, and after doing some research online, I picked out the hotel, made my reservation, told my mother I really needed to get away, and she told me she knew I needed to do that, which was comforting. After her asking me some zillion times where I was going, when I was going, and when I was coming back, I finally loaded up the car and started on my journey. Not particularly sure how to get to the town, I made it there safely, called my mother to tell her I was in my hotel room, and started making the attempt to relax. My room was lovely, and as I entered the room I stopped and stared out the window at the beautiful view of the ocean, with its waves rolling to and fro, causing my mouth to turn into a smile. It was a lovely week of doing absolutely nothing. I must say I did not know how much I needed to get away until I did it. Caregivers are so busy caring for others, the thought of caring for themselves never enters their brainwaves.

Once I returned home, I noticed a change: patience had returned in caring for my mother. I smiled more and I felt rested. The second week I was home, but I still felt peaceful. Spending time with God was great, asking for forgiveness while asking for help. Giving things I could not change over to Him to handle, and relinquishing my control. Wanting to know more about Him while thanking him for this process of learning, and asking Him to tell me what He wants me to know to help others.

I did not want to go back to work, but it had to happen, and I got a surprise. I no longer was tense about getting things done. I asked God to help me be productive, and He has helped me with that. What doesn’t get done I no longer worry about it. I still have my issues with my mother, but there is a change there too; my patience with her is better. Even more, my patience with me is better.

So, to caregivers everywhere, I know I have said this in other writings, but please take time out for you. Take care of you and get away to somewhere quiet, and enjoy the waves and the atmosphere. You may be amazed at knowing how much you need to just get away.