I did not know it has been so long I had written a post on this blog! Perhaps it was because I was busy working a parttime job, having a book published, or just wondering what to do next. But after visiting my mother today, I felt it best to write a piece to get some thoughts out of my head that have been building for a while.
Since 2015 we have been dealing with dementia, so we are in year seven, and my mother had her 88th birthday this past May. We continue to live with the disease together, and what you read about its symptoms are what we experience:
- Her memory is waning. I try to keep in contact with her friends and called one so they could talk. Unfortunately, my mother did not remember her; very unfortunate. But the friend took it in stride and continued with the conversation. And speaking of conversation, a lot of what we talk about isn’t much, because I know she will not remember literally moments after I tell her something.
- Good news: her appetite continues to be strong. I try to bring her favorite foods of the planet: fried chicken and Mr. Good Bars candy. Her weight is not going up or down, and her nutritionist is pleased with that. Not so good news: There is difficulty in grasping anything, particularly food. Today when I visited her, it was like she was wearing her fruit salad, it was all across her chest, like not much made it in her mouth, and the rest of it was sprawled out on the floor next to her bed. Since she was in a deep sleep, I cleaned her up and got the fruit salad off the floor.
- It is hard to know the best time to visit her, because she is in such a deep sleep, like today I didn’t bother her, just dropped off her candy and left. I have tried different times from before lunch to mid to late afternoon, and all but once she has not been awake. Then I feel bad when I wake her up, though she is happy to see me.
- She has been combative with the staff. She is not that way with me, but I have gotten calls about it. Because she is so determined to do things herself, she falls a lot. The good thing is she does not seem to be injuring herself, though she may be sore in some areas because of it.
Because of the above, I wonder how long I have left with her. But if I am honest, I feel like I do today: like she has been gone for a few years, and I am visiting the living dead. I am grateful she still remembers me, her grandson and some of our relatives and her pastors, but there just doesn’t seem to be much left of my mother. And because of that I feel like I am visiting an empty shell of a person I knew so well. And that is what I miss. I can’t talk to her about anything, really. I ask the usual questions of how she is feeling, and her answer I am not sure is real, as she doesn’t want me to worry about her. She deals with depression a lot, and now she is no longer walking around or being in the hall in her wheelchair. Now she is just in the bed, oftentimes asleep.
There is nothing I can do at this point but pray for her. Pray she sleeps through the night (many times she stays awake), pray she isn’t combative with the staff, and pray that if that time comes when God calls her home, that I will be able to handle it, if in fact I am still here on planet earth.