Not Reacting to Reactions

At first it was a gloomy rainy morning. I picked up my mother, took her to the hair salon, then we took a ride to the other side of the city to look at an apartment. By then the rain left the atmosphere, and the sun came out. We weren’t able to see the apartment, but were able to get something for lunch. My mother more than once said how much she was enjoying riding in the car and seeing the sights she hadn’t seen in a while.

Lunch was tasty. She appreciated me picking up the tab (including the ice cream for desert). She gave me $5 for the tip, but I charged the meal, took the cash, and added it to the bill, along with my $5 for the tip; so the waitress got $10 in all. While we were waiting to pay for the meal, I decided to offer a solution about living together. Since my lease was up in August (and I had lived with her in her apartment for at least two weeks during the winter), that I would let my lease run out and move in with her.

The day suddenly got very weird.

“Where is the $5 I just gave you?”  Answer: “I’m using my card and added yours and my $5 for the tip.” Response: “You need to tell me what you going to do with the $5. You need to keep me informed!”

Regarding the moving in with her:

“You need to slow down! I just can’t take it! You go too fast! I may have wanted to do something different, but you been thinking about this a long time!”

“I have not! I just thought of this!”

More arguing then I respond:

Response: “As long as God knows I am telling the truth, that’s all that matters.”

“Oh, Now you’re putting God in this.”  Response: “He always has been in it and will continue to be.”

After going back and forth, literally throwing food at each other (actually it was already in carry out containers, but anyway), my inner thermometer went through the roof of my chest. Then I said, “Why do you do this? You always want to argue about everything!” By this point I was feeling the demon of distrust coming from her, and I must admit, I was sick of it. We yelled at each other some more, and when she said she did not want my help with getting her up from her bench, her bellowing out a loud “NO!” I left the restaurant and waited in the car.

The trip home was silent.  The next task was my going to the store to do her grocery shopping, telling her as she got out the car that I needed her to give me money to go shopping. When I got to her apartment, she gave me the money and said she wanted her change (like I have never done that before). I talked over her saying she would get her change and the receipt.

I do not know if she forgot what happened minutes ago or not,  but when I returned (making sure I had her receipt, and telling her she owed me money), the tension seemed to have dissipated…however,

I know this is the disease of dementia talking and reacting, nevertheless for the caregiver it is a challenging part of the process to not react to her reactions to what I consider to be simple solutions to a problem. I told her I would talk to the rental office about my decision, and as is always the case (because of the distrust she has in me) she stated she wanted to be there when I talked to them. So be it, no problem. ” Cause I don’t want you to do something sneaky that they don’t know about.” What she doesn’t understand is I talked to the property when I moved in with her before, and he completely understood, particularly since he was noticing similar issues with his father.

So whether it is the doctors not knowing what they are doing as their goal is to have her spend more money, or regardless of what I do that is loaded with (in her mind) trying to get over in whatever I do, I must continue being her caregiver, no matter what. That will mean being more determined than ever not to react when my mother is the reactor.

God help me…please.



The Time Has Come to Consider

Decision: a determination arrived at after consideration

It has been a while since I wrote in the blog. I suppose it’s due to the busyness of being a caregiver. From the past months I have learned the meaning of observation, which is a skill I am cultivating regarding what to say and how to say it to my mother. This also involves acknowledging the sheer fear my mother is experiencing in losing herself.

She knows she is “losing it” regarding the functioning of her mind. She also is frustrated by the fact that the medical doctors and staff tend to refer to me for decision-making, which leaves her out the loop, so to speak. She responds to this by saying something like “they think I’m crazy; the doctor said call the daughter”. This happened today regarding a doctor appointment. She did not tell me but the when I called the office, I was told she called five times, either cancelling the appointment or calling to schedule one.

If I were to tell her this, she would say they were lying, a response she often gives when she has done something that puts her in a bad light.  I, however would believe the staff person I spoke to, as my mother called me at least ten times this morning about a matter, saying the same thing over and over.

I had hoped I would have more time before making a rather firm decision  regarding my mother. I wanted time to get my life matters in order before fully attending to hers. But now that I am noticing she is mentally deteriorating, deep consideration concluding to a big decision on my part needs to be made… and soon.

Should I leave my employment, as I have read many adult children do to care for their parents? Assisted living with a memory care element is too expensive for our combined pocketbooks, and while we started to look for those type of places, why look if is not affordable?  That leave us with moving in together, the more viable and reasonable solution. While that is a perfect solution for her, it would leave me completely engaged in her life, which would mean I would not have one. All my time would be sacrificed, even with the possible help of someone coming a few days a week and caring for her. I have to determine what to do.

This is a situation I have never experienced, with role-reversals from being the daughter to being the mother, and my mother being the child. I have no solution, but…

 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.  Psalm 32:8

What instruction and guidance I need right now.

Last night before midnight I was awakened by severe pain in my stomach. As I stumbled to the bathroom, the pain became worse, and the result was it ‘coming out of both ends’, if you know what I mean. Was it something I ate that caused this, I wondered. When I told a friend, she said it could very well be stress. I must acknowledge I have a lot of stressors right now, but…

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Psalm 18:1 & 6

Even as I felt there was a world war going on in my stomach, God heard my cries for help, and eventually the cold sweats ceased, and the rest of me calmed down, so I could go back to bed for some much-needed sleep.

I wish I could formulate an answer, but right now that is not possible. I have to go to the One who knows what is the solution, the best decision for both my mother and I.