I never thought I would be writing about dementia on It’s Just Life.
But it is my reality now.
My mom who lives in Ohio way too far away from me has been on the dementia train for a while now and folks, let me tell you, it is tough. Really tough.
The part that seems to be the most difficult for me to handle is that my mom is living in two different worlds. On the one hand she has days when she is more aware of what is going on and hates “being in this place”. “This place” being the rehab part of the Copeland Oaks Retirement Community where she has lived for almost 19 years. At other times she is totally in a world that does not exist and she tells stories of sleeping by the water with animals. In that world she does not know who I am and she is cantankerous and grumpy. So totally not my mom.
The hard thing is that these two worlds can actually collide within minutes of one another so a visit can quickly turn from a nice calm conversation to a conversation that is completely false and imagined. And yet I have to play along and agree and not argue because that is not a solution for someone with dementia.
Each day is a new day and I am learning a lot about what not to say and what not to do so I guess that is good. Sometimes I look at my mom and wonder if there is any bit of her still in there that is the mother that I used to know. Then she says something that tells me that she is. Sometimes it is just a memory that pops up but the most encouraging thing is when she hugs me when I leave and tells me that she loves me and is proud of me. THAT is what gets to my core and reassures me that my mom is still my mom.
One of my new friends introduced me to the Dementia Society of America when she did a fundraiser for her birthday to honor her mom. I checked them out and found that they offer a lot of great information and resources. They have an amazing Aware & Share Card that I sent away for and am happy to share with my readers. To get your own simply click here and you can request your own.
I think these cards are genius. They are a physical thing that you can leave with your loved one to give others a heads up on how to respond in a situation where they may not know how to respond. It is all basic things that I have learned over time.
We are all on a journey in this world and sometimes our journeys take a little unexpected turn. I know my mom never thought this would be the journey she would take. As a fiercely independent woman it is so difficult for her to accept that she can no longer do what she used to do and has to rely on others. While most of this is for safety concerns she does not understand that and even though we repeatedly remind her that it is only so she stays safe she gets upset. The journey at this point is bumpy but I know that she will make it. The challenge for me is to just figure out how to accompany her on this journey and be helpful.
If you have a loved one on a similar journey please feel free to connect with me. I find that we are stronger when we support one another. I am here for you.