Delores Peich
(909) 931-2822

Senior Living Placement, Referral, & Advisory Services Completely Free.

 

NEWS SENIOR CARE

A Personal Story…My Journey with My Mom

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I try to make my weekly blogs come from personal experience and my family is completely okay with me doing this.  I wanted to share a little about the journey I’ve taken with my Mother’s 17 year journey with Dementia.

Life with Myra (my Mom) was a fun adventure.  She was educated, kind, compassionate and well traveled.  I hadn’t been aware of her childhood, as I believe she was trying to save me knowing the pain she had gone through in her early years, and I thank her for sparing me having to carry that burden until I was ready.  Myra was the best Grandmother to my kids anyone could ever wish for.  Every ‘outing’ with my kids was an adventure and an experience the kids would carry with them, and to this day, they talk about the fun they always had with her.  She taught them to love books at an early age, taught them the simple enjoyment of a picnic in the park, and was my ‘go to’ babysitter in the early days of my marriage.  What a gift!

 

When the time came that we, as a family came to realize she needed more care than we were able to provide, I made the arrangements to move her to a secured Memory Care Community.  This was the hardest day of my life.  Here I was, on my 40th birthday, alone, leaving my mother in a new and unfamiliar place.  Within several weeks, the adjustment period was over, and she began to settle in.  For about 8 years, she slowly traveled back in time.  Dementia eliminates short term memory first, then slowly the memories go back in time, so some days when I would visit, she would believe she was in college.  Some days, she would believe she was in a train station waiting to board. Some days, later on, she believed she was a 7 year old child.  The toughest thing for me to learn was to join her journey, and not try to correct her or tell her where she actually was and who her grandchildren were.  Jumping into her world and current state was peaceful for her, even though it was emotionally straining to me at times.  The first time I became aware of my Mother’s upbringing was on a visit when she was in her 7 year old mindset.  She called me Mommy, and began to explain to “Mommy” how scared she was when her mother left her home alone.  She cried.  She said she was lonely and didn’t know what to do.  She asked me why “I” would do this and where I had gone.  I had to become ‘Mommy” in that instant.  I snuggled her and told her how much Mommy loved her, how proud of her I was, and apologized for leaving her alone so often.  When I asked my older family members what this was all about, I was told that my Maternal Grandmother was a single mother, and an alcoholic.  This absolutely wrecked me.  How scared must my mother have felt as a small child, to come home from school to an empty house, scared, to sometimes find “Mommy” passed out on the floor.  I was sad beyond belief but this forced me to understand where she came from, what she overcame, what a self sufficient adult she turned out to be, what an amazing Grandmother (and Mother) she had become, and allowed me inside her memories. Although those times were difficult for me, they were healing for her, because I was able to apologize for what my Grandmother did to her as a child.  I feel happiness knowing I was able to join in her journey and allow her some peace when she was living in her past.  Placing Mom in a  dementia care community was the best decision I could have made for my Mom.  She was loved, cared for, calm, peaceful and more than anything, safe.  This gave me peace of mind and helped to eliminate some of the guilt I felt having to do this.

During the last week of her life, she hadn’t been able to say my name in over a month.  Her disease had progressed to the point that she knew I was someone special and loving, but her mind couldn’t form the words to know my name.  Two days before she died, she told me about a visit she had ‘from them’.  She explained to me that ‘they’ had come to her and told her it was time to go.  She described in detail how they ‘felt’ when they visited, how her next stop looked (and she described this in amazing detail), and told them she couldn’t go because LAURA wasn’t ready.  Talk about blowing your mind!  At the end of her life, she was concerned with me, and had found a way to remember my name.  I think I cried all day, but felt so happy at the same time.

Finding an  assisted living community to accommodate Mom’s cognitive care needs while also ‘teaching’ our family more about the disease and helping us understand how to behave and what to expect was invaluable to us.  I KNOW how emotional and hard this decision is, but if you have a loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s one of the best decisions you can make.  Trust me!  My Mom’s journey became our journey, and she was able to live out the rest of her days happy and content.

If you have a family member whose dementia is progressing, remember that correcting their behaviors and confusion will only lead to more confusion.  It’s important to join their journey and be sure to be in touch with the emotions that are coming through their behavior at that moment. We can help with this.  At Assisted Transition we can help you to understand the journey and guide you to make the decisions that are best for your family.

Thank you for reading, and know you can always call me…anytime!

Laura

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