Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dementia Makes Me Sad

I visited my mother today. She hasn't been feeling well and I was sure my visit would perk her up. It seemed to help a little but not as much as I had hoped so I suggested that I take my mother, her friend May, and my mother's caregiver for a drive.

May rarely gets out because her conservator lives so far away. She loved the warmth of the sun on her face. She couldn't believe how many buildings had been built on what used to be the Ballona Wetlands. She loved seeing the funky houses in Venice (CA), the boats at the marina, the color of the ocean. She loved the camaraderie. She doesn't have children of her own and she was so grateful to be included.

May's enthusiasm almost overshadowed my mother's ennui. I tried to maintain my enthusiasm but it took a lot of effort. I have always loved and admired my mother's joi de vivre. I can't imagine it's gone forever. Perhaps it's just hiding beneath her dementia.

I've got to figure out what to do about it. Her "new" doctor can't help me because he doesn't know her as she was. Last week I had intended to take her to her "old" doctor so that I could seek his opinion and advice. But then my sister intervened and once again spoiled my plans.

I still think that seeing my mother's old doctor may be the best solution. After all, how can someone who doesn't know my mother tell me whether her behavior is a result of dementia or the medication she is currently taking?

What saddened me so was that my mother who has always had this sparkle in her eyes is becoming increasingly difficult to be with--both physically and emotionally. It was almost impossible to get her into my car because she's not helping at all.

When we returned to her assisted living facility, I couldn't bear the thought of struggling for the second time to get her from the car to the wheelchair so I decided to let her caregiver and two assistants handle this and I wheeled May inside.

As I was leaving, my mother was angry at me rather than happy that I had tried so hard to make her day something special. The mother I have known and loved my entire life would have kissed me goodbye and said, "Honey, I love you. Thank you for all you've done for me today."

The mother who was there yelled at me and said something unkind. I knew it was the dementia speaking, not my mom. Still, as I drove away, tears streamed down my face.


Marie said...

Susan, I am sorry you are having to deal with this. Dementia is not an easy thing to live with.

The reason your mom was angry had nothing to do with you. It is a stage of the illness. I know that is no comfort when it comes to the people who we love.

My thoughts are with you.

Daily Dose said...

It truly is sad to watch a loved one go through that. My Grandmother had Dementia due to her Mental Illness and her alcohol consumption.

It was hard for my Mom to see her Mom go through walk in and visit your mom only to find they don't remember you.

I cannot imagine going through it with my own mom...I don't know if I could handle it given the fact that with me having Bipolar - I am already emotionally sensitive and cannot deal with change or stress.

I wish you and your mother well :)



Working many years as a caregiver in an Alzheimer unit, I found that the most difficult task was/is dealing with family. I had the dubious fortune of relating to residents as is rather than as was.

marja said...

I'm really sorry, Susan. That must be so difficult and sad. I agree with Marie. Her anger had nothing to do with you, I'm sure. I hope you'll be able to come to look on this as her dementia - not her. And I'm sure it's her suffering that makes her react that way.