and, Cordelia, while i love your kind words to me -- how shall i say this? -- you simply might just NOT be the best person to be her caregiver. here's why. most family members are stuck in the past and can't get unstuck. they can't move into Mom-time which moves like the ocean anyway -- today maybe, yesterday for sure, who knows when or where.
see, that happens to be one of the many things i love about the people i care for -- you never know which time zone they're living in, although it's very likely to be at least five decades or more ago. now if it were my own Mom, i wouldn't be so happy. because i want to be the daughter of my Mom, not long-dead Auntie Violet who I never knew. i'd probably feel, "If my Mom really loved me, she'd remember me," instead of being able to say she's not living in today's time zone. our dear Moms and Dads become people who go all over the time zone, and we can't.
we're always here and now, wanting them back here in District Brain Sensible. and that's like wanting a cripple to run. and that's very natural. we depend upon that for happiness -- except, dear dear Cordelia, actually we too are more fluid, more inventive and more able than that.
may i make a suggestion? don't fight her memory wandering -- because you can't. she can wander, while you stay right there with her in this moment of time. try to get to know this new annoying saddening and yet, to me, vastly intriguing person who seems to be doing timer travel. hang out together and follow her leadership. when she talks about Grandma (your Great-Grandma who maybe you never met) ask questions. Really, what was she like? and maybe she'll tell you.
she's doing the work of memory that needs to be done. almost no-one seems to understand this. all people approaching the years of dying do the Great Life Review, with dementia AND with out dementia. They all do it. It's the great Soul journey, available to those with dementia and those without. people with out dementia, very often write their life story. at least, they'll tell you stories. People with dementia take you to the actual times they lived in. Wow! I always think that's so amazing.
don't think you've failed her because you aren't doing all the caring yourself. Think instead, you're sharing it with those good folks doing their job and caring for Mom. They get the least of the job -- the down and dirty details of everyday life necessary but not magnificent. believe me, here, Cordelia, I know, I do it.
You get to do the magnificent side with your Mom -- the remembering, her childhood, Mama and Daddy, the little brother who drowned. You get to wipe the tears from her eyes. You get to be the perfect mother your mother needs when you're with her.
Life is more a circle than a straight line. every babe one day, in fortunate times, becomes the mother of her mother. that's the whole of life, a circle of caring that crosses back and forth through the decades.
We've become such big ole babies about all this. i think we grow up when we take an old woman or an old man in our arms and hold them as the best mother in the world would have done.
the trouble is with all those books is that everyone behaves as if nothing happens in dementia; it's just all illness and confusion; no one is home; and therefore nothing we do can mean anything.
those lies were made up by people too darned scaredy-cat to do the job of walking with someone to the gates of death and listening with the heart. dont hold back so much.
we all (well,not me, as you can tell)behave as if mentioning the illness or condition (whatever you want to call it) was too painful to do. well, no, sweetie,what's too painful is the thought that it's all useless. well, it isn't useless but you'll only find that if you walk the walk.
i promise you, if you stop feeling guilty about not doing every single little care task for your Mom (most of which don't matter to her a bit: face it, when did you ever say "that was a lovely shower i had this morning?" see my point?). instead, by gosh, give her your quality time. bring in some old pix of byegone people, some cookies and your big arm to wrap around her shoulder and just keep breathing calmly and be right there with her wherever she goes i time -- not only will it be all right, it may become magnificent.
i have a new book out which is on amazon.com its title is "Alzheimer's 911" and it's all about the real communication under the confusions caused by the fact that straight thinking is derailed by physical brain obstacles. it's not the only book on dementia communication but i happen to think of it as one of the best, because i've been working with people with dementia for 21 years now and i never saw anyone empty, gone away or totally lost to me.
days of showers and clean clothes mean nothing. a timeless moment spend lovingly together means everything. and i'm not talking ooshy-gooshy-bunches of roses love (though that's nice, especially with chocolates). i'm talking the firm determined love that takes to the side of a wandering old lady and listening with all your heart and understanding with all your mind and knwoing that there is no greater thing than having the courage to walk with someone to the Great Gates.
After all, darling Cordelia, wouldn't we all love to be loved for who we are and not rejected for who we aren't. so be that example for your Mom and go when you can give quality time which is not time-measured but love-flowing. one minute of that can fill a human heart and heal all its ills from birth to 92 -- now, I know you know that, Cordelia.
Happy Valentine's Day to all imperfect wondering and lostly wandering caregivers -- bless us all, darlings, bless us all!!