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As most of you know, my mom is now living with my sister. Mom is 84 and has Alzheimer's. Since mom's been at my sister's, I have been trying to help out by spending as much time as I can with mom on the weekends, since I am still working full time.

I picked my mom up today and took her back to my home and then we took her out to dinner, something she has always loved to do. Everything went fine. While driving her home tonite, she began talking about her "memory problem". She is not aware she has Alzheimer's; she was told by her doctor, but she's forgotten and just thinks she has problems with her memory. In any case, tonite, she starts talking about her memory problem and how much it bothers her to not be able to remember, and how empty her head is. She's brought this up many times before and I never really know how to handle it; how to respond. What I've been doing is letting her talk and then just saying "Mom, I know you have problems with your memory, but look at how well you are doing physically" and I try to get her off the subject of her memory. I'm wondering how others handle this? It always makes me so uncomfortable and I end up leaving her feeling so depressed. Tonight, especially so, because besides saying the usual about her "empty head", she went on to tell me how she has noticed how much worse her confusion is at night. She then said "but then everything is better when I go to bed. When I'm in bed, I don't have to think and I feel wonderful."
I just makes me feel so helpless and so sad to hear her say that, not to mention, it is also confusing the heck out of me....how can someone who literally cannot remember something that was said, or what she ate, or what she did, or who she talked to, just two minutes previously, be able to express how she's feeling and have an understanding of when she is more confused? Talk about confusing!!

I guess I'm on a roll here, so I might as well continue... I've also noticed when I'm out with mom, how people stare at her and I'm not sure what it is that is "catching" their eye? When I take her out, she is in a wheelchair because her balance is very poor and it is just easier for her and me. I don't know if people are just staring because of the wheelchair or is it the lack of expression on her face? My husband said something to me tonight, and I'm wondering if I just don't want to see it, or what. I realize that she is losing her ability to show facial expressions...could it be that other people notice that too?

I would love to get a thread going with some of you, just to share your thoughts and experiences...blessings to you all,
Mimi

[This message has been edited by MIMI427 (edited 04-08-2006).]
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Hi Mimi:

I believe that the mental deterioration that comes with age in various degrees has got to be the most difficult part of our journey. And it is so nearly impossible to emotionally separate ourselves from the pain that goes along with it all. I know that I have to tell myself daily that there is nothing that I can do to change the fact that dad is getting older but to enjoy and accept the good moments that we have together.

Mimi, it is wonderful that your mother shares how she is feeling with you about the aging process. I know it is hard on you but it has given you such an understanding of what she is going throught that you have been an immense help to the rest of us... I think it is because she senses how much you care and also a strength in you that gives her the freedom to express herself to you.

Sometimes I think it is less important what is in one's head as what is in one's heart. As you know, I am sure, my dad lost his ability to communicate to a large degree after his last TIA. It breaks my heart every day and I have felt incredible guilt over it all... But I do realize that it is not my fault - I just wish I had come into this position with more knowledge instead of learning the hard way... One thing I do know is that when all is said and done, we will have much more knowledge, compassion and understanding. But, even so, there are some things that we will never completely understand.

And that brings me to "why do people stare?" There is one that I don't understand for sure. I will say that when dad and I go out, we attract a certain amount of attention. I think that they are wondering (in our case) if he is going to make it across the room and why isn't she helping him more??? I have held my breath on many occasions because of his "weak" knee. He refuses to use a wheelchair and I have to respect that... We do use a knee brace and that worked so well last time that I had to make him slow down before he fell over forward on me.

Perhap, with regards to the staring issue, it may be enlightening if you strike up a conversation when you notice someone staring at your mother. Just say something like "isn't my mother beautiful?" and see what they say or "she loves to go out to dinner..." Just see if you can find out what is on thier minds. It may be that they see their own future vulnerabilities or their elderly loved ones are in some nursing home where they never see them and they are feeling some remorse?

These are just some wild guesses on my part... Hopefully others have experiences that will enlighten the rest of us. Meanwhile, Mimi, keep on doing the wonderful things for your mother that you do.

Love and Hugs from Glenda
Mimi, I know this post is pretty old, but I just want to say that I think it is so wonderful that you are there for your mom, take her out to dinner, etc. It sounds like your mom is pretty special in that she seems to have an unusual understanding of her own condition and I believe that is quite rare. I don't know about the staring thing, except that people can be jerks. Please, please don't let it make you uncomfortable; it's definitely their problem, not yours. Take care.

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