My mom has had Alzheimer’s disease for probably the last five to seven years. It’s hard to actually know when the disease got a hold of her. There were certainly things that my mom said and did that stared me right in my face that I seemed to have ignored. Or should I say I wanted to ignore, at the time.
I should have known the signs—but since there is no prevention or cure—did it really matter? I remember one Thanksgiving my mom came to visit from Florida and brought her summer clothes. Since my mom is always cold, I should have sensed that something was wrong. Now I believe that I was in denial.
Today I am one of my mom’s caretakers. Despite living in a different state I speak to my mom on the phone daily, and when I do visit, her—which is every several month—I get to see the true effects the disease has had on my mom.
I remember 3 years ago when I took my mom into her bathroom and asked her to comb her hair, my mom picked up her toothbrush and started to brush her hair. There were signs that my brother had hung on bathrooms walls saying, “FLUSH TOILET” and “BRUSH TEETH”— that my mom only ignored. It was pretty upsetting to see my mom in this state.
My role as my mom’s caretaker is challenging, even if it is long distance. I have been able to giggle with her, sing with her and practice her spelling on the telephone on most days. I try to keep her mind stimulated and keep humor going, as laughter is great for both of us. There are days when I call my mom and I can hear immediately in her voice that she is having a tougher day. On these days, our phone calls are cut short.
Usually when I call my mom’s caregiver, who is with my mom 8 hours a day, she fills me in on how my mom is doing. Up until six months ago my mom was still able to share her words of wisdom with me. But her life with Alzheimer’s has been changing, and now as each day goes by, I seem to lose my mom a little more.
Her disappearance into her own world is starting to worsen. She has no memory, and the second I hang up the phone or visit she cannot recollect our visit
I am presently looking to place my mom in a nursing home and bring her back to her hometown, New York… I want her to be near to me so that I can visit her often and take care of her—the way she did when I was a young child.
As a caretaker for someone who has Alzheimer’s, roles seem to reverse. My mom has become the child and I the adult. I hold on to what my mom and I still share and try to stay upbeat. No she’s not the same mom, but she still fills my heart with much love and joy. I do not know how long my mom will live, or even know me. So every day I have left with her, I view as a gift.
Lisa is a popular blogger on My Mom My Hero.