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My mother is dead, and yet, she is still alive! She has the disease, Senile Dementia!

Updated on June 10, 2012
Aging isn't always golden..
Aging isn't always golden.. | Source

I have the misfortune of being able to study at a close range what happens to a person who suffer from senile dementia. And I also know how the relatives and family feel when this illness strike a family member.

There are many different kinds of senile dementia, but this isn’t an article about the medical issues of the illness. This article is about the transformation of the person who has the illness and how it affect people around that person.

My mother is suffering from senile dementia which slowly closes down her mental ability. It has now gone two years since we for the first time understood that there was something wrong with her mind. But now when I look back, I suspect that the illness had begun longer back than that.

My mother has always been a strong and stubborn woman. Since her life has been rather difficult she can’t be described as a happy and cheerful person. That is probably why I didn’t recognize her first depression until it had developed into a psychosis. At that time she heard voices in her head and she didn’t trust any member in the family. We couldn’t get her to go to hospital voluntary, and therefore she had to be forced to hospital with the aid of two strong policemen. That was the first horrible moment and it was also totally inconceivably. I couldn't believe that I had to do this to my mother who I respect so much.

From that point she has not recovered fully, instead, in small, small steps her mind has changed completely and she is now a totally different person mentally, but she still looks the same on the outside. That is the scary part. She looks the same, but her eyes have changed and keep on changing. The person I know as my mother isn't there anymore. Instead, another person has taken her place and it is a person that I have no relation with and I can not reach her anymore. During some periods she is angry and she can also get pretty violent, and I can also see in her eyes that she is very suspicious towards me and that she doesn’t know me nor trust me. Other periods her eyes are more or less dead and she is lost in her own mind with something that goes on in her head. Other times she is happy and just smiles all the time. I don’t know what to say about the constant smiling either, because it is rather far away from her personality as well.

Now she is living in her home supervised and with the help of her present husband. He looks after her and does a great job, and for this I am very grateful. My mother loves her home and her garden and it is wonderful that she can live at home even if it means that she has to take medications. Without medications she would be to much for her husband to cope with. She can manage some minor practical things but not much. But at least now I think that she has come to a point where she doesn’t know that there is something wrong with her. And I guess that is why she now is smiling constantly.

One bulb at the time...
One bulb at the time... | Source

One of the worst things about this disease is that you don’t get the chance to say goodbye. Because you don’t know when that last moment is! In the beginning the changes in the brain are small and it is hard to know when she is “there” or when she is not. Afterwards, I can remember the last moment that I felt she was present, when she behaved like before, and I could talk to her. That is the last time I felt my mother was here. That moment is a very special memory to me. The clear moments are still there now and then, and sometimes her old self is flickering by, but you can’t be sure and you never know what’s going on in her head.

Every time I see her there is as one more bulb has gone out in her mind. And yet, she is still there, her body is working, she walk and move in the same way as before. I will never get used to this, I still think it is scary, she is here and at the same time she is not! My mother as I know her is gone for more than two years now, and yet I can’t grieve her properly, since she is still here. It is like an extended goodbye, and still it is too late to say goodbye! This is an illness that is very difficult for the relatives and I am not proud of it, but sometimes I wish it will end, for all our sakes.

I try to remember her like she was, when she still was my mother who always showed her love for her children and grandchildren. Now, I don't know if she still recognizes us, but her feelings are gone. She look at her grandchildren with an empty stare and that is so far from her personality as it could.

So I grieve for her a little bit at a time and comfort myself by thinking that she at least seem to be quite happy in her own world just now.

Make sure to tell your parents that you love them as often as you can! You will never know if you get another chance.


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    • thougtforce profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Lornemark 

      5 years ago from Sweden

      Thanks dementiacaregiver, it doesn't get any easier with time. I appreciate the comment and the prayers,


    • dementiacaregiver profile image


      5 years ago

      I feel the sadness and understand. I was a caregiver to both father and grandfather, and my trying to hold on to a past relationship when he didn't even know I existed just rips you apart. My prayers are with you each day.

    • thougtforce profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Lornemark 

      5 years ago from Sweden

      Frogfish, I am so thankful for the sympathy and for the understanding comment. There was no other way to write about this and it is so sad. This disease is sad for everyone, both the person who are sick and the relatives. It becomes so clear that a personality is in the brain even if we many times talk about a humans heart. Thank you so much for your kind comment I appreciate it very much


    • frogyfish profile image


      5 years ago from Central United States of America

      The sadness and loss you feel cannot outweigh the love you have for the real Mother who nurtured you when she could. Perhaps those good memories will become much more precious when her dying is over. Your gentle spirit and respect for your Mother is touching. Please accept the small sympathies I can give during this stressful time.

    • thougtforce profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Lornemark 

      6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Kellyward, and thank you for your sympathy and for your kind and warm comment! It feels good to know that people understand all these mixed feelings, even though some thoughts are almost forbidden to even think about.

      I appreciate it very much.

      Best wishes


    • thougtforce profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Lornemark 

      6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Docmo! You are so right, the off and on nature of this illness is both difficult and frustrating. I am so pleased to hear that you and your team got a commendation for good care! That must mean a lot, to know that you make such a difference for a family during difficult times and I only wish that you worked here instead! As a relative to a person with dementia I know how important it is to get support from professionals. It makes all the difference and a person can remain in their home longer with good support and care. The way you describe your work sounds so obvious and a very good way to help families in these situations. Thank you so much for your heartwarming comment! It feels so good to know that you are there and I send many, many hugs in return to you Mohan! Your kindness means very much to me.


    • thougtforce profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Lornemark 

      6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Jools! It was and still is very hard. The hardest part was during the time when I wrote the hub, when she still had some clear moments. As for now, she may have some clear moments but I can't really tell anymore. It is a horrible disease and the worst part is that it changes the person into someone else, a complete stranger, but a stranger who still looks as my mother. I will never get used to it. I love my mother, but I don't know the person she is now.

      Thanks you so much for your sympathy, I appreciate it and it makes it a bit more easy to know that others understand.


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's difficult battle. Thanks for sharing your raw emotions about this trying time. Praying for you and her! Take care, Kelley

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      6 years ago from UK

      Warmest hugs: Dementia is a terrible thing to cope with - both for the patient and for the close family. The frustratingly 'on-off' nature of early dementia makes it difficult handle and often not knowing how to to react to the forgetful spells and the resultant bursts of frustration can take its toll. As Yvonne said your poignant title sums the situation so well. My heart goes out to your mom, you and your family, Christina. I have some experience in looking after both the patient and the family- Me and my team were humbled as one of our patients daughter nominated us for best 'care giver' award by National Dementia society her in UK and we got a commendation that we were proud of. Early detection, ongoing care delivery, empathetic engagement with family in order to facilitate the tough decisions of home care and nursing home care all are vital to the journey. I am here, shout if there is anyway I can help. Love- Mohan.

    • Jools99 profile image


      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Tina, so sorry to hear about your mam's health and you are obviously doing your best to cope with it - I can't even imagine what you must be going through. Take care.

      You were brave to write this hub at a time when it must all feel so raw but this honest account is of more value to people that what a doctor might tell us happens to people with dementia.

    • thougtforce profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      6hotfingers3, Sorry to hear about your dad. That is so difficult, when they know, and yet they cant understand what is happening. It i such a sad illness! Thank you, for your nice words and your compassion!I appreciate it!

    • 6hotfingers3 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Hub!!! I experienced the same thing with my my dad. The sad thing about his dementia is he knew something was wrong with him but he could not comprehend what we'd say to him about his illness. He felt abandoned by family and he was always trying to go home while he was at home. I felt the sadness in your Hub and your strength at the same time. Thanks for sharing your with us.

    • thougtforce profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      Tranquilheart, Hi, thank you so much for your prayers and your hugs! I appriciate it!

      Scribinet, Hugs are always comforting, like someone who cares! Thanks! It warms me!

      kashmir56,nice to see you!I am sorry for both you and your mom! Yes, something that keeps them occupied and is familiar is probably good for those who have this diesese, I am sure it helpt your mom. My mom likes her home and her garden, there she feels safe, and still knows qiute well what to do. Thanks for your understanding and sympathy!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      I can understand what you are going through my mom had the same thing. One thing i did for her was try to keep her mind always active,my mom always loved music so i got her a Zune mp3 player and loaded it up with her favorite music and let her listen to it daily and the Zune has fm radio so sometimes she would listen to that to. I think it helped my mom a lot.

    • Scribenet profile image


      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My sympathies, it is so devastating for the family. There are no words to comfort; I send my hugs as well!

    • Tranquilheart profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      I'm so sorry to hear this. Sending prayers your way.

      {{{ WARM HUGS }}}


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