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The joys of being a parent for your parent...

Friday, February 24, 2012

I need to blog about this before I explode and it might be a little lengthy so pardon me. This is something I've been struggling with for a long while but I don't voice it much. What better way to get it off my chest than to speak it outward and hopefully get some feedback from my friends on SP.

You see, I am the youngest of 5 children, where I am 45 years old and my oldest brother is 64 years old. Last September, we lost my brother who age wise is immediately above me, he was 54 years old. My oldest brother lives in Abilene, my other brother lives in Houston, my sister lives in La Serena, Chile and I live in Rowlett (burb of Dallas). As you can see we are all spread out. My mother lives in San Antonio and I am basically the sole care giver or rather the person that makes sure her bills are paid, her meds are ordered, her drs appts are taken care, etc. I try to visit her often and go to some of her appts but my sister-in-law is actually the one who makes sure her pill boxes are filled every 2 weeks and that she is taking her meds the way she's supposed to. She is 84 years old and will be 85 this Sept. She has dementia but she is still functional on a few things. She still makes decisions for herself but mainly she has slight memory issues. For instance, she forgets time or she won't remember where she's put something away. She's not driving any more due to she has gotten lost a couple times. I try really hard to explain to her things she should and shouldn't do herself. My mother is a warrior and stubborn sometimes...hmmmm, wonder where I got that drive from, emoticon but at this stage in her life cycle, she is becoming a bit more timid and even more stubborn about things.

With that said, I am having a bit of a crisis with this situation myself. I try to rationalize this whole deal and try to figure the best way to handle things but sometimes, I honestly don't know what to do. She calls me for all of her issues and I'm glad but it is emotionally draining for me as well. Especially when I get frantic phone calls from her or my sister-in-law that mom has done something bad again. It worries me and being 350 miles away makes it harder. Lately, she is starting to do some things that I'm not so sure about. In fact, there are several things she's doing that completely baffle me but at the same time with all the research I do with this disease, I realize it comes with having dementia. My brothers aren't much help to me as you see, they have their "own" issues to contend with. It's hard for my sister as she is so far away at the moment. She does help me in staying calm and trying to figure out what to do sometimes but that's not enough. Other family members offer their help by suggesting we make what I believe to be a rash decision, and that is to purchase property and move her there with her husband (who I do not think highly of) to be closer to other family members. Mom loves her home, her stuff, her life, or at least that's what she says but we do not think she lives in the best or healthiest of conditions. She refuses to move even if we offer to help her. In my opinion, I think this will be emotionally and physically devastating to her. Besides, any time this subject is brought up to her, she feels like we are taking her independence away from her. She feels like we think she's crazy and stupid and can't take care of herself, mind you, these are her words.

I am blogging today to reach out to any of my SP friends that might be familiar with this disease and any words of advice on what I should do, any websites I should look into, who I should contact or anything that might help me cope or deal with this.

Thanks for listening, just needed to get this off of my chest for today.


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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Well, here goes:
    My mother is in a lockdown Alzheimers ward, not because she is dangerous or mean but she has the tendancy to wander off. I put her there because my dad died and my brother was killed and I am trying to work and raise a family, and the list basically boils down to life in general.
    I pay her bills, buy her meds, sign papers, try to visit with her and privately worry that I will end up the same way (shoot me now). The disease of dementia is cruel and cyclic. They have good days, bad days, and in between days. They go to great lengths to stay independant and say things like you are trying to take my independance. What it really boils down to is safety. The disease is destroying their life, you are not! My mom called me with her problems, originally this was not a big problem, at least until it got to be 200 to 300 calls a day. She would forget her medication, or take it twice. Pay her bills three or four times, give money and information out that she should not, etc.
    I realize that my mother seems much worse than yours and probably is. This process however, does not get easier for her or you. Perhaps when they get to the point that they remember very little, it is easier because you do not remember what you have forgotten.
    That said, there are several things you can do for yourself:
    1. Do NOT feel guilty, because it is not your fault.
    2. Love them for who they are/were, not for whom they will become.
    3. If something must be done, do it! See #'s 1 and 2.
    4. Safety first. Hard to watch someone go through this, but totally unforgiveable if you could have done something and did not.
    5. Moving them is extremely hard. They take a lot of time to adjust, so it is better if possible to keep them close to where they are. There are many agencies that can help, seek them out.

    Finally, take a deep breath, enjoy
    "me" time everyday. Do what you like to do to relax and realize that like it or not, this is something most of us are going to go through. Don't let mom tell you she is doing well when the signs show she is not. Take action, be proactive and know that she will love you anyway!
    I hope and pray it will get easier for you to accept and deal with. Realize that the more you visit and try to talk her into something, the more she will be confused and fight. Having her live close to or with you is not any easier of a solution. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2276 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/1/2012 11:22:38 AM
    I just spent the last four years taking care of my dad who died of dementia and also help in the care of my mother who is 87. There is a great spark team here for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. I'll invite you to the team, so you won't have to search for it. It is very supportive and a great place to vent and get support and advice.

    My heart really goes out to is a tough, tough situation that only gets worse over time. In the end, your mother with need round the clock hands on care, 24 hours a day. Some families use dementia care centers, others (like me) care for their loved one at home. Both methods have their benefits and downsides.

    It's a really draining situation for family members no matter which route you chose and the level of care needed is a moving target as time goes one. I have three brothers. Between the four of us, only two were able to pitch in and help due to other obligations (and geographic distance). I think each family has to figure out what will work best over time. All I can say is the more support you can get, the better.....and just know you are not alone in this struggle.

    R>BTW...I just noticed chaoticmom4's comment...I'll invite her to the team too.
    2278 days ago
    I don't have any advice or experience. Just wanted to let you know that I read your blog and wish I did have some great advice. It is a tough time for both you and your mom.

    2281 days ago
    OMG, going through the same issues with my 88 year old Mom, thankfully (or not) she's much closer geographically. I think a lot of it is the 'powdered butt syndrome' as DR describes "A parent is not going to take the advice from one who they have powdered their butt"

    The last two weeks have been so hard, she had her license revoked and because of the dementia/memory issues she didn't have any idea it was going to happen, although we've been coaching her on it for the last year.

    This week I've been reciting to myself "detach, detach, detach" before every phone call/visit with her. Although I can't help but worry I can't force her to do anything.

    My thoughts are with you Grace, I think we're classified as 'the sandwich generation'. Maybe there's a spark team out there for us?
    2282 days ago
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