Caring for my parents was not a duty: Part 2 - My Mother

Carers of Alzheimer sufferers are given respite by placing the sufferers  in accommodation like this!
Carers of Alzheimer sufferers are given respite by placing the sufferers in accommodation like this! | Source

Life without my father

A little while (only a couple of months) after my Father passed away, my mother started to forget things, they were minor and a little strange at first but rather rapidly became a huge concern, something was seriously wrong, so we decided there and then to contact her Doctor.
Fortunately as soon as we rang, he would come to our home almost immediately, which was very rare in our area, After long involved discussions with her Doctor several tests were to be organized as soon as possible.

As I was still working part time in my Personal Care position, I could not take her to the appointments that were necessary for a true and accurate diagnosis. Fortunately for me my partner took her to all of these appointments.
I do realize how very lucky I was to have a partner who loved me and was prepared to share the load, my Mothers health was also his top priority, and by doing all that without thinking twice, he took over a huge part of the responsibility which should have been mine, as he also did for my Father, He knows what that meant to me.

After two very long weeks the results were back.

Body and mind Alzheimer's has erased all of those years!
Body and mind Alzheimer's has erased all of those years! | Source

The diagnosise we all dread!

" Alzheimer's disease "
Although I had been looking after folks with this disease in my job, this doctor was telling me that MY MOTHER had it.

After the severity of this illness sunk in, there was no time for anger or tears, we just sucked it up and got on with it, the best possible way we knew how to make her happy.
This account is my personal journey, And I do realize that others looking after their Parents or any other relatives with this illness that their experience may be entirely different.


Symptoms


As with my father there was still no help from my brother, sadly my sister was not there to help, she  had passed away .
Some of the things my mother did was so not her, purely the result of this illness, some put a smile on my face now, but at the time they were so very frightening, also some of the things she did still bring tears to my eyes.
There are a lot too many really so will mention only two or three, maybe you are having a similar experience. Firstly though anything and everything she did unless it was harmful to her was treated as normal by us, that way she did not get upset, angry or whatever, she was not in the present, but way back in her past, something we had to be very aware of.

Warning sign when mum burnt a pot on the stove!
Warning sign when mum burnt a pot on the stove! | Source

Alarm bells started to ring

The first and most dangerous was when she put a saucepan on the stove, nothing in it and turned the dial to 'High', thus burning the bottom out of it That was a huge concern, thinking all the time, what if that saucepan exploded and she caused herself a serious injury. It was a frightening time. We immediately realized that all electrical and gas appliances had to be disconnected and removed, which I found so very hard to do, it felt like I was taking her life away from her. Another was she had photo's of my dad, her brothers and sisters which she would arrange on the spare bed in her room, she would proceed to cut holes in their mouths, tell me she was having guests over for a meal and would I prepare something? Sure no problem. Then she would push the food through the holes she had made in their mouths. That got to me and brought tears to my eyes every time it happened, more than anything else, but it made her happy.

Royal District Nurses have been around for 150 years and they were a great help with my mum.
Royal District Nurses have been around for 150 years and they were a great help with my mum. | Source

From bad to worse

 Her condition deteriorated to a point where she had to be watched  twenty four hours a day, 7 days a week and it was getting a little harder to handle, as I  was still working part time we were able to get as much help from our local council as we needed, which was Personal Care, Home Care and respite, they all came in on a weekly basis, on different days, which was great, as it gave her  more company from the outside world, but it did take her a long time to trust these new folks in her life.  She would not let me shower her or do anything personal, as we never had a mother/daughter relationship it had always been a little strained to say the least.

Respite

After several years our doctor advised us, that we needed a holiday, so he booked my mother in a beautiful respite facility, which was actually directly across the road from our home, I have never been a sneaky person but in this instance I had to learn to be, the reason being you could see our home from the relaxation room in the respite accommodation, so we packed all she would need plus some, told her she was going to stay with her brothers and sisters, as she was back with them in her mind at this stage.

We then proceeded to drive her all around our suburb for about one hour, trying to convince her that she had traveled a long distance, and took her to the back entrance of the Respite facility, she was very happy to be there with all her brothers and sisters, she had 3 brothers and 4 sisters Phew! what a huge relief to us.

Mum loved her Garden. Especially Roses.
Mum loved her Garden. Especially Roses. | Source

Finally at peace!

Her condition deteriorated more, how are we going to cope? I had made up my mind that while I was alive, under no circumstances would she be put in a nursing home.

She did not know who I,my husband or my children were, only referred to us as her,you or that one. It was so very hard, but learned to accept after a while that sadly it was this horrid decease not my mother

My fathers words still haunted me, and the guilt is still there, it has faded only a little.


I was able to keep that commitment to myself and to her. She passed away peacefully 5 days after being admitted to hospital.
My brother wanted her buried on my birthday, for once I stood my ground and she was buried the day before my birthday with my father!
I had promised my father on his death-bed that I would look after mum until she passed on, which made him happy to know. With the help of of my partner I had kept my promise!
I would do it all over again as they were my parents and I loved them unconditionally. :)

Strength and Solidarity required

The above is how we handled a delicate situation that a lot of people are confronted with! I understand that what worked for us may not work for other families and every case should be treated on it's own merits under the guidance of Professional help.


For all the folks out there caring for someone with this illness all you really need is
Love Devotion, Commitment and Strength and last but certainly not least a Sense of Humor.
These got us through !

It will get you where ever you want to be. :) :) (hug)

More by this Author


Comments 44 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi oliversmum,

My mother just passed away and we lived together the last 3 1/2 years. She also had dementia which was progressively getting worse. Fortunately for us, since we DID live together, she gave up attempting to cook...so worrying about the gas stove was not an issue. She was used to an electric stove and was a little afraid of gas which helped. My husband loved her as though he were her son and his sense of humor was an immense help as we lived through each day.

Her death was a result of a medical emergency...ruptured bowel...emergency surgery...and she simply did not recover from the trauma to her body. Had nothing to do with Alzheimer's...and my biggest consolation is that she does not have to travel further down that path towards forgetting more and more of what truly matters.

It is a terrible disease! Like you, I had promised my mother that she would never have to reside in a nursing home...and I am happy that never happened.

Bless you for your efforts! And bless everyone confronted with that disease process that robs people of their memories.


Candie V profile image

Candie V 6 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Hi OM! (Shoot.. 'hot off the press' and Peggy beat me here!

What a wonderful story, and a hard one to share I'm sure. You are blessed to have someone share the load, there are so many for whom the sole care lands on their shoulders alone. You drove for an hour? What a hoot! Thank you for these hubs, it's an ever increasing diagnosis and people need to know they aren't alone in their battles! Hugs!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Hi Oliversmum.

I just read Caring for my parents : Part 2 - My Mother.

My mum died of Parkinsons disease and had dementia as well in the last couple of years.It was heartbreaking. You have written yet another wonderful hub full of kindness and great courage.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

My condolences to you. Alzheimer disease is a horrible disease. I am glad you stood your ground the burial date. I know this has been a difficult time for you. Now will be a time of healing. Thanks for sharing this time in your life.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia

Oliversmum, I do understand the mental turmoil and struggle you had to overcome to write this Hub :-)

Having read the finished article and reliving it all again has brought tears to my eyes. And 'yes' for you I would do it all again. ((( hugs )))


rwelton profile image

rwelton 6 years ago from Sacramento CA

Oliversmum-

My mom had been the main caregiver for my dad (alzheimers) and I bought a home a half-mile away to be close. When my mom passed away, we tried having a caregiver come to the house everyday, but my dad would just walk away and forget how to get home. We placed him in a good care home for his safety. Soon, he forgot who I was and we just settled on me being the program director. There were group meetings we could attend to talk to others with parents suffering from this dreaded disease.

Thanks for the post-

Bob/Calif.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Peggy W. Hi. I am so sorry that you have lost your Mum who also has a similar illness as mine,my parents had lived with us for approx. 15 years and I had prepared their meals for several of the latter, your Husband must be a very special person, as mine is, you are right the further along the path of this illness, the harder it is for you and her, maybe it was a blessing in one way but so very hard in another, you kept your promise as I did and that is so very important, to know that you have done all that you can possible do . I thank you for sharing your loss with me, and your most beautiful comment. :) :)


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Candie V. Hi. Yes she did, never mind. for some unknown reason it was much harder than my father,s, and yes fortunately he was here with moral support plus, when I was writing about my mum, too often it all falls on one person, which makes it a lot harder on them, yes an hour, that really makes me laugh now, I hope that one day soon they will come up with a cure,Thank you so very much for your lovely comment. :) :) (hug)

p.s. have just read this hub again and believe I need to push the "edit" key.?. :)


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

earnestshub. Hi. That must have been so very,very hard to cope with, two very debilitating illnesses together, mum actually died of stomach cancer, which was not detected until her last five days in hospital, due to the Alzheimers she could not tell us that she was in pain. Thank you so very much for your wonderful comment. :) :) (hug)


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Pamela99. Hi. Thank you, It is a disease that robs you of your whole being in a way, yes it felt good, something that I had never done with him before, it has, but now that I have written it down, it feels like the healing has begun, you are welcome and thank you again for your beautiful comment it does mean a lot. ;) :)


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Agvulpes. Hi.Yes I know that only too well, I hope it brought back more good memories than bad and also that it didn,t make you too sad, and I now know for sure that you would, Thank you for being you. :) :) (hug)


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

rwelton. Hi. That must have been extremely hard for your mother, but with you buying a home so close,would have eased the load a lot,that really was a wonderful thing to do. As for wandering away and not knowing how to get back home is very frightening for all concerned,You did what was best for him and that is what is most important. It is so hard to accept that they no longer have any recollection of you, that hurts, Group meetings are wonderful, I believe they help A lot, I am sorry that your mum is no longer with you. Thank you heaps for your wonderful comment. :) :)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

I can only imagine how hard it must have been to watch your mother go through this...and to relive it now through this hub. I'm sure it's an inspiration to others in the same situation! :)


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Feline prophet. Hi I sincerely thank you, no its wasn't easy then, nor writing it down now, but we chose that path, and wouldn't have wanted it any other way, and I also hope that other folks out there, who are in a similar situation realise that help is available and that they are not alone . Thank you again. :) :)


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Brings back memories,as my Mom also had Alzeihmer's. It was very heartbreaking to watch a once eloquent woman, struggle to say two words as she lost the ability to form complete sentences when speaking. Unlike you, we had to put Mom in a nursing home, as we couldn't handle the 24 hour care needed and for her safety; this to me was worse than her passing; but she lasted only three years in the nursing home and passed away from natural causes in a local hospital. She was very lucky that one of the caretakers by coincidence happened to be a relative of Mom's childhood friend, so looked out for her.

Your articles are an inspiration and comfort for those who are experiencing this situation with their parents!


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

VioletSun.Hi.I hope the memories are not too sad, it does break your heart to see such a vibrant person go down this horrible road, due to Alzheimers, it seems to strip them of all their dignity, putting her in a nursing home, is what you had to do, and I know how very hard that must have been, having a friend look out for her would also have been a great comfort to you. I hope this story really helps others going through a similar situation. Thank you for your heart warming comment. :) :)


JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa

God Bless All Of You

You will be rewarded when your time comes to the final resting place.

The experience requires

love and patience for your

parent or friend who has given much of the same.

Family values at work!


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Jon Ewall. Hi. Its wonderful that family pull together in these situations, if you do not have love and compassion, looking after someone with Alzheimers, I guess it would be just that little bit harder. Thank you so much for your comment. :) :)


AntoineAllen profile image

AntoineAllen 6 years ago from New York City

Amazing Hub. wow


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

AntoineAllen. Hi. Thank you for reading my hub, and leaving A comment. :) :)


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

What a lovely daughter you were, Oliversmum, a wonderful story


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

katyzzz. Hi. I do believe a lot of Sons and Daughters would look after their Parents, depending on their circumstances of course. Thank you for your nice comment. :) :)


Michael Jay profile image

Michael Jay 6 years ago

I do admire people with great love for their parents. This is a very inspiring hub,oliversmum! Thank you very much for sharing this.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Michael Jay. Hi. After writing this hub about my Mother and then reading all of the comments.

It is clear that a huge number of Children and Grandchildren

are caring for relatives in one way or another, in their own homes, for as long as it is humanly possible, and that makes me very happy. Thank you for reading my hub and leaving such a beautiful comment. :) :)


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain

Another wonderful hub, my father became too much for my mum to handle through this awful condition, sometimes he didn't know who we were. Some things he did were just funny but some were potential dangerous both to him and to others. He one time put the plastic electric kettle on the gas stove to boil, luckily mum smelt the burning before he set the kitchen on fire.

We were fortunate that dad was not distressed by being in a nursing home, he seemed quite happy, I used to visit two or three times a week and take him out for a walk round the city centre and then out for lunch. We both enjoyed this time spent together he enjoyed the change of scenery and I enjoyed his company.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

maggs224. Hi. Thank you. Your mum must be a lovely lady, To have cared for your dad, who had this terrible illness for a long time, the strain on her must have been huge.

With him not knowing you at times, that can be hard to accept.

I can also relate to the Kettle and other things that were dangerous to him plus others. Unfortunately they really do not know what they are doing.

You were very lucky that your dad was happy to go into a nursing home, that was not how it was with my dad. Also going to visit him and take him for walks and lunch and having one on one time with him must have been very special to you both. Thank you again so very much for your beautiful comment. :) :)


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

oliversmum, when I say how many people have gone through, are going through, or will go through caring for parents; it's not intended to come across as saying "it's common". Instead, it's intended to remind you and others in that situation that you're not alone. It can be feel so isolating to either be the one person, or one of only a few, who are going through the struggles and sadness of caring for/losing that one and only person who is your, individual, loved one/parent.

This is a lovely Hub, and I know from experience that there's a kind of comfort that comes with having been able to care for a parent, ourself.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Lisa HW. Hi. Please accept my apology for not answering your comment earlier. I do understand what you are saying. I do know that folks who do look after their parents or relatives are really not alone, It just feels like that at times, and they do it out of love. Thank you for your lovely comment, it is very much appreciated. :) :)


valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

Very sad, but positive in the sense of caring for your parents. I related to much of this; fortunately, my siblings were all involved in the care of our parents.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

valeriebelew. Hi. Yes it is sad, but on the other hand knowing in my heart that this is what I wanted to do, made it a lot easier. As you have been in a similar situation, I hope that this makes sense. You were fortunate that you had siblings to help you, that must have been great. thank you ever so much for your comment, it is very much appreciated. :) :)


PAPA-BEAR profile image

PAPA-BEAR 6 years ago from London England UK

The challenge is so emoitional, you really want to give in and shed tears till there are no more, but the reality is right there so you go with your love with your heart. You never forget, tears remind you as well as joys. Thank you


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Papa-Bear. Hi. Yes it can be very emotional at times,I shed a lot of tears behind closed doors, but every day tried to do the best that I could, and make my Mothers life a little happier, As I know so many other folks are trying to do at this very moment. Thank you so very much for your lovely comment. :) :)


Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

such a beautiful child you are,

all grown and mature,

all caring and compassionate

taking on such an adventure.

the greatest adventure of all..

the one that says I care,

i am here to the end.

I care, love you and will be true,

I am here to the end just for you..

Because I love you!

aloha blessings to you, super job thank you for sharing the best part of your life with us :)


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Sa'ge. Hi. Oh my goodness, the tears are still rolling down my face, while I am trying to type (two fingers)

The words in your poem completely blew me away.

Caring for my Parents, with the help of my husband, and my career of caring for the Elderly. ( apart from my children and husband). were the happiest and most rewarding years that I could have ever wished for, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

I loved my parents dearly and I loved my Ladies and Gentleman to bits as well.

Do you mind if I copy and frame your poem and place it above my bed.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your absolutely beautiful comment. :) :) (hugs)


Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

oh my i am sorry for not getting back to you sooner wasill and just now going over past hugs comments. yes, you pay copy the poem i wrote it for you . anyone caring for their parents or others as you do is very special. again sorry for such lateness on my part. ~aloha~


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

Sa'ge. Hi. I do appreciate your concern on not answering your comments due to being ill, but your health is way more important, and I hope you are feeling much better.

Thank you again for writing that poem for me and allowing me to take a copy of it, your generosity is priceless.

Also your lovely comment on my Mothers hub is very much appreciated. :) :)


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

I can't put into words my feelings for what you did for your parents, it brought tears to my eyes. I am going to use your example when and if the time comes with my own mother. All I can say is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia Author

fastfreta. Hi. Thank you so much.

I hope reading about my Mum didn,t upset you too much.

It was written to try and help folks understand that caring for your Parents is a wonderful thing to do.

It can be very sad and at times upsetting, but for us there was never going to be any other way,putting them in a special care facility (Nursing Home) was not an option for us, until it was taken out of our hands for my Dad, That was so hard to accept,but the best thing for him.

I hope if or when you are ever in a similar situation to ours that some of our experiences work for you.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful comment.:) :)


marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC

Thanks OLIVERSMUM. Your hub is a story that touches those of us with aging parents and relatives and friends. And we are all aging ourselves.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 5 years ago from australia Author

marshacanada. Hi. Yes you are right, there are a lot of folks around the world taking care of their elderly at home,rather than putting them in aged care facilities, and I do understand that some do not have a choice for one reason or another.

You do what is in your heart and what is best for the persons involved.

Age is just a number,but our number seems to be clicking over at a fast rate.

Thanks so very much for your wonderful comment, it is very much appreciated. :) :)


billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas

It is a pity that there are not more like you who see caring for aging parents as what my mother called a simple 'labor of love' - my parents have been gone a long time now but they are always in my thoughts - my father was able to take care of my mother, as she became increasingly dependent, until she died and then my father came to us and I stayed with him as he slipped into a coma and then left us - we should all take advantage of every opportunity we have to spend time with the people we love - B.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 4 years ago from australia Author

billips Hi. Thank you.

I believe that there are a lot of people that look after their elderly relatives,I hope so anyway.

Your mum is right,it is a labor of love,just get in there and do it and make their lives as happy and comfortable as you can.

Your mum was lucky to have your dad and your dad was lucky to have you.

We all try to do the best we can for them, and when it comes from the heart, it's a lot easier.

Yes we should spend as much time as we can with our elderly,they are our teachers and have guided us throughout our lives.

Thank you again for your lovely comment,it is very much appreciated.:):)


shampa sadhya profile image

shampa sadhya 4 years ago from NEW DELHI, INDIA

Voted up and beautiful!

The situation was painful but your unconditional love was undoubtedly beautiful. I can relate myself with your life to an extent. My mother too suffered due to this dreaded disease and she developed it after my father's death. She is no more but her sufferings are still in the minds of the whole family. We all suffered along with her especially when she could not recognize her children. The doctor used to say that she was cared well at home and that's why she was alive which was not expected of her health condition. One satisfaction I and my siblings have that we did not neglect our mother.We failed to reduce her disease but at least we constantly took care of her.

A painful experience indeed. You reminded me about that tragic experience.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 4 years ago from australia Author

shampa sadhya Hi.

Yes it was painful,emotional and upsetting,but we did have a lot of happy and fun times.

I have been thinking about it, and as long as we remembered to adjust to where my mother was in her life at any given time and not try and correct her,as she was back in her late teens early twenties,that was a time that we knew nothing about, we were not even in her memory at that time,doing that, everything seemed to be on a more even keel. It made her happy and the situation much easier for all concerned.

It,s strange don,t you think how the one parent contracts this disease,soon after the other dies,it happens a lot.

Your mother was very lucky to have her loving family take such wonderful care of her.

You had no control over this horrible disease and did what was in your heart, which was, your very best to make her comfortable and happy. You can't ask for any more than that.:)

Thank you so very much for your lovely comment and votes, they are very much appreciated. :):)

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