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