First of all, I want to share this wonderful post from the blog, Hands Free Mama, by Rachel Stafford.
It is interesting and in a peculiar way reminds me of my mom and her struggles with losing her memories and feeling lost in an environment (mental and physical) that feels foreign to her.
Today I am pausing to consider a few things.One, I had a queasy feeling when I learned mom was telling and retelling me the story about one of her great-grandchildren who was airlifted to Buffalo, after getting hit by a car -- but she said it turned out he fell down, that he wasn't hit and wasn't injured, except for a scratch on his leg. Every time she quotes what she says he told her -- that he tried to tell everyone the car didn't hit him.
Actually he was hit by a truck and did have injuries. He was airlifted to Buffalo for treatment. Fortunately, the young boy did not sustain serious injuries.
I began to wonder about other things she's said. I have knowledge about most of the stories she's shared with me. I don't want to start correcting her on details because I am afraid it would confuse her. I've encouraged her to talk. I am giving her my time and attention. Her biggest complaint is not having some who will listen. Who will just let her talk. So, my correcting her may turn into discouraging her. Even if things are twisted in her head and she doesn't know at this point if what she is saying is right or wrong, I need to be patient and listen. I can always fact-check later.
Mom told me, keeps repeatedly telling me she has dementia. I am not in contact with anyone else in the family who would know exactly what stage she is in and whether she has Alzheimer Disease. Been reading up on it and know dementia is a list of symptoms while Alzheimer is a disease. I feel uncomfortable asking if she's been diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease, because that is what dad had and I know she watched him suffer.
I am trying to find more information, like is there a chance to stave off the memory loss part with memory drills we've been doing. I know there is no reversing with the kind of dementia I expect she is suffering from, but what about slowing the process?
Right now I feel that if I can get her to remember something happy that happened, a day, a moment that she's lost, for just one minute. One of those times where she laughs, says oh yes and Leslie did this or my mother was there. If she is able to relive a memory just one more time, she and I have succeeded.
Since we started this recent round of phone call conversations I haven't witnessed severe mood swings or temper tirades, but I believe she has them. She was angry with someone when I first called her one day and used language I've never heard from her. She calmed down, but I expect she isn't fun to be around when she is in a bad mood. Actually, I never wanted to be around her when she was angry. I remember when she would say some pretty harsh things. Now, she talks about getting herself in trouble with loved ones and says she has no control and doesn't remember what she said. I believe that, but I wonder if mood swings and angry reactions intensifies for some personalities. For instance, a healthy person who "speaks their mind" when they are angry, may react with more vitriol, with dementia.
I respect the feelings and views of other family members who have experienced a different relationship with her, than me. I am doing this memory exercise for her sake and writing these posts for mine.
She wants to go south for the winter, but apparently said some mean things and she says she's not invited back where she had stayed. I don't know or want to know the content. I haven't heard her offering any apology for what she said. Well, she has made an off-handed one. I would think most people would apologize and feel a little contrite, even if they didn't remember the incident or what was said. It seems like she'a sorry for saying what's on her mind to the wrong person, which isn't an apology for what she said.
On the one hand I thought mom wanted to be a saint,when we were involved in each others' lives. She was always helping someone, making food for a family friend. She had the mi casa su casa attitude. Mom was the mother duck when it came to loving her grandchildren. She'd spread her wings around them, bake them cookies and take their side, occasionally against their parents. But she was judgmental. If you were the reason for her dissatisfaction, it was hurtful. So, for me, it came down to you stay and accept the good and the bad or you get as far away from it as possible.
Now, in her frailty of mind and body, she wants to remember the good times -- maybe even put lipstick on some of those memories. I don't see the harm in letting her pick and choose the parts of memories she wants to remember. Maybe I am doing the same thing.