I had never thought much about Alzheimer’s or dementia until I recognized the symptoms in my mom. Early on, I took her to the doctor about her declining memory. She grew very upset with me for accusing her of not remembering. Though it hurt my feelings that she thought I was being mean to her, I knew in my heart something needed to be done, but I had to wait until she realized the decline herself.
A few years later, mom commented her best friend started taking medicine to help her memory, and she wanted to get some. She never referred to it as Alzheimer’s medication. It was just a memory pill.
Mom saw visions of people walking on rooftops, imaginary people roaming her house, sitting at her kitchen table, and a man who wouldn’t leave. That man was my dad. They’d been married for over sixty years. She insisted emphatically he was not her husband, but he could leave the room and walk back in, and she’d want to know where he’d been. There was no reasoning with her.
She escaped the house one morning and walked the streets of their retirement village barefooted and in her nightgown in thirty-degree weather. She failed to notice the difference between cold and hot temperatures. Dad became so stressed; he had a nervous breakdown. At this point, we had to care for him and mom while we searched for a facility that would accept an Alzheimer’s patient. Another story for another day. Placement of an Alzheimer’s patient was extremely stressful and difficult for us.
To enjoy quality time with mom, we had to agree with everything she said, bring her sweet treats, try to distract her by changing the subject, singing children’s songs, or pampering her and telling her how beautiful she was.
I manicured and painted her fingernails. She never liked fingernail polish, but she noticed mine and wanted hers painted too. She loved having pink or red nails. When I finished, I massaged her hands and forearms with lotion. She’d giggle and hold out her hands for all to see.
The uncertainty of her moods and behaviors shifted like an on/off switch as time passed. Mom developed sundowner’s syndrome. It’s an actual condition that affects Alzheimer’s and dementia patients negatively. The best time to visit her was before lunch. Otherwise, you’d receive the brunt of her irritation and disgruntled demeanor. She’d say hurtful things and tell you to go away. Doctors put her on more medication that helped calm her down and made her sleep.
Caregiving for mom was very challenging. She’d always been a happy, smiling, people person who talked to everyone. It ripped at my heart when she’d scream and cry to go home with me from the facility. Only, at that point, she didn’t know who I was. I can still see her standing at the window, crying.
Caregiving those we love is the most beautiful gift we can give them, yet the most painful. Don’t ever negate the importance of caring for others.
Your comments are welcome . . .
Award-winning author Loretta Eidson loves writing romantic suspense. Her first novel, Pursued in the Wilderness released in September 2022. Blue Ridge Mountain Escape releases in June 2023, and The Marine’s Deadly Reunion releases in December 2023. Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency represents her.
Loretta is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), ACFW local chapter, AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association), and is an AWSA Certified Coach. She is a member of Faith, Hope, Love Christian Writers, Heart of America Christian Writers, and is on the executive board of the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. She is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC) and is one of eight members of the Suspense Squad, where suspense authors interview authors on YouTube.
Loretta believes in the power of prayer and enjoys putting her characters in situations where they must trust God to pull them through.
Pursued in the Wilderness, released September 2022.
Blue Ridge Mountain Escape releases June 2023
Check them out on Amazon.
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Tracy Crump knows from experience the burdens caregivers shoulder after caring for both her parents and her 100-year-old mother-in-law. A former ICU nurse, Tracy dispenses hope in her award-winning book, Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness Twenty-two of her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she has published hundreds of devotions, articles, and short stories in diverse publications such as Guideposts books, Focus on the Family, Woman’s World, and Ideals.