Dementia Challenges: Caring for Mom

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Mom in the late 1950’s.

Living my life with Lymphoma.

My mother had a routine appointment with her Neurologist in February for a recheck.  I was convinced that she would score at the next level of impairment since I’d seen a general decline in memory and cognitive functioning.  She has scored in the mild range since her diagnosis of dementia 3 years prior, and to my amazement, continued to score in the mild range at this appointment.  This tells me that the scoring mechanisms are not very sensitive.  Having her hear that she has “not progressed” is a good thing for her mood and well-being, though.

Since the on-set of my illness at the end of February, and then many months until diagnosis, I’ve seen more decline in my mother, mostly showing up in the evening and at night.  She began sun-downing and displaying general confusion as each day wore on.  There was a period of time when she would ask me every night when we were leaving, how did we get here, who owns this house, and who’s here when we’re not.

One night she didn’t remember that she had a cat, and told me another night that he just showed up.  I asked her if she would at least feed him, and she agreed.  Then she told me that she hadn’t seen the cat, Dreyfus in three days, which isn’t true, and she also wonders how he will find his way home when he’s outside.  He always comes home.  He’s been here for eleven years.

One evening when checking on her, she told me that she had a conversation with two men who encouraged her to put Dreyfus in a parade.  She was upset about this because she thought it was a stupid idea, and hoped she didn’t sign anything or pay any money.  I told her that she most certainly didn’t have to enter him in a parade, and she seemed to settle down.  The next day, I asked her if she remembered this conversation, and she began laughing, saying she knows it sounds silly, but that the conversation with these two men really occurred.  I asked what Dreyfus would’ve been doing in the parade, and she said just running along with the people.  We both laughed.

Mom has Life Line.  My cell number is the first number they will call if she activates the service, so I started bringing my phone to bed with me in case she pushes her button.  One night about 2am, my phone rang.  It was my mother wondering why we left her alone.  She wanted to know where we were.  I said I’ll be right there.   I came down stairs and into her apartment, and reassured her that we were here in the house with her.  I helped her back to bed and sat in her living room for about a half an hour until she fell asleep again.  She called again the next night in the wee hours with the same concerns.  At that point, my friend, Jill, took my cell phone at night for several weeks after so I could get my rest as I wasn’t feeling good.  Mom hasn’t called since those two times.

One night, Mom “ran” out of her bedroom and into our house yelling “Diane!  I don’t know where I am!”  I ran to her and again reassured her that she was home with us and not to worry about a thing.  She finally settled down again in bed and fell asleep.

My mother has been a great support to me since my illness.  She never displays worry over my situation and has said that she is hopeful that I will be OK.  I’ve tried so hard to hide some of the unpleasant aspects of my illness, but she can see most of it as there are things that are difficult to hide, like having surgery or having difficulty with getting my own meals.   Since my treatments began and I’m feeling better, her sun-downing has diminished somewhat.

When I first became ill, my immediate thought was what was going to happen to my mother if something happened to me.  I try not to dwell on that, and have finally decided not to worry about things that haven’t happened.

I will deal with things as they arise.

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One of my favorite photos of my mother, Ann. Someone was having her try on this infinity scarf. Her smile is priceless.

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3 Responses to Dementia Challenges: Caring for Mom

  1. Glynny Schiavoni says:

    What a beautiful, radiant smile ,your Mother has! I recommend having it that photo and hanging it in a prominent place as she declines. It is helpful to remember the former vibrancy of our loved ones.
    As for worrying, the” Book” says, Do not worry about tomorrow, each day has enough trouble of its own! God always seems to give us what we need when the time comes, not before.
    Hope you are feeling strong today.
    Sending lots of love, and praying daily for you, my sweet Diane.
    Love,
    Glynny and John

    • Diane Fiore says:

      What a good idea about the photo, Glynny. I think I will do that. And your wisdom-filled words about not worrying about tomorrow is priceless. It really drags you down worrying about things that haven’t happened. So glad to get the confirmation about not doing that. You’re an Angel. Lots of Love…Diane

  2. Glynny Schiavoni says:

    I meant to say, have the photo enlarged! Sometimes this computer writes things that were not my doing!😝

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