Alzheimer's Can Be a Selfish Disease Alzheimer’s can be a selfish disease.   That doesn’t mean your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s is a selfish person, at least not intentionally.   But it affects the lives of those around them in selfish ways. When Dad passed away, we were unable to notify some of our relatives in another state about his funeral.   Prior to his death, Mom had delusions that he was seeing certain female family members behind her back even though it was impossible unless he had a time machine.   So my sisters and I had to make the difficult decision not to notify them about the funeral, not even his death, until after the fact.   We wanted Dad’s funeral to be dignified.   We didn’t want this difficult day to be tainted by Mom’s rants, false accusations and malicious glares.   We took the easy way out. What made it even more difficult was that afterwards we couldn’t even tell them the reason they were excluded.   We were afraid they might not unde
Win / Win . Last week I received a phone call from hospice that began..."Kristy, this is never an easy call to make but..."  My heart sank because even though I thought I was prepared to let Mom go, I wasn't really.  She continued..."but Flo is doing so well that we have to take her off of hospice." Wow.  That’s great news, right?   Mom had been on hospice for two years because her weight was too  low.   Now her weight was stable so she no longer qualified for their services.   But on the flip side, Mom would really miss her cheerful hospice visitors. The next morning one of Mom's regular hospice workers came by with the contract to end Mom's care.  "Don't worry about Flo.   I still plan to visit twice a week on my own time.   I love her," she assured me.   What a comfort that is. Two days later, another hospice worker e-mailed me to say she had no intention of stopping her visits with Mom because she
Turning the Impossible Into the Possible           Maybe if I ignore it, it will go away.   That’s how I coped with my mother’s issues as I was growing up and through my adulthood.   I didn’t label her.   I never used the words dementia or Alzheimer’s to explain her behavior.   Yes, she had paranoid tendencies.    She accused my dad of bizarre indiscretions.   She heard strangers talking about her in the post office line.   But she wasn’t my problem.   She had my father to deal with her, so it was easier for me to ignore her symptoms.               Then Dad died.   Now she was my problem.   Things were far worse than I had realized.   When I helped her pay the bills she could barely sign her name on checks.   When I visited she had tied elaborate rope knots around her door knobs to keep the neighbors out.   I ran into the same quandary as Dad had confided to me in the past.   She needed professional help but convincing a paranoid person that they need help is an impossible task
Replacing Worry with Peace Sometimes it’s hard not to worry about getting Alzheimer’s when both my grandmother and mother have had it.   When I walk into a room and forget what I came in for I worry.   If I can’t remember the name of the actor in a movie, I’m briefly concerned.   When I wash my hair and can't remember if I put the conditioner on or not.   When I lose my reading glasses I am relieved to find them on the nightstand, not in the freezer or the trash can. My doctor knows my family history and so she tests my memory annually.   She gives me three words to remember and repeat back several moments later.   She has me draw a clock and put the numbers and hands on it.   She tests me on the season, year, month and day.   My recent test went well until the final question. “What day of the week is it?” “Monday, I mean Tuesday, because yesterday was Labor Day, no it was Memorial Day,” I stammered.   I nervously waited for a reaction from her.   Was th
Turning Sorrow into Joy Around the same time that my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my toddler grandson moved in with us for awhile.      I rejoiced as Tyler learned to speak and increased his vocabulary.   But I was saddened when my mother struggled to remember words and names.   As Tyler advanced from baby mobiles to building blocks, my mother could no longer figure out how to dial a telephone.   Tyler loved to pretend that he was driving our car.   Mom was turning over the keys to us, knowing she would never drive again.   My husband and I would shop for educational but fun items that would challenge Tyler and stimulate his brain as he grew.   At the same time we would shop for Mom, trying to find items that would simplify her life, such as remotes and telephones with the fewest number of buttons possible.   Having Tyler with us at this difficult time was a Godsend.   It helped me come to terms with the fact that although I was facing a progres
Any Special Requests? Just an FYI:   When performing for a roomful of Alzheimer’s patients, it may not be wise to ask for song requests from the audience.   Not unless you want to hear the same song over and over!   A well-known local band visited Mom's memory care facility as a special treat.   As soon as they played one re quested song another member of the audience would ask for the same song again!  And each time, all the residents would nod their head approvingly at the suggestion!  As though they hadn't just heard the song over and over!  I was pleasantly s urprised that Margaritaville and Hotel California were the two requested tunes.  But now I cannot get either of them out of my head.
Every Meal Should Be a Happy Meal! When I was little, Mom and Dad always made me eat my peas and carrots before I could have desert.   I hated peas.   Sometimes Dad would hide them in my mashed potatoes but all that did was make me hate mashed potatoes.   I became a magician of sorts, making them disappear under my sleeve or in my napkin. Our dog was my accomplice and would gobble up any that I ‘accidentally’ dropped on the floor. Now on the days I visit Mom at lunch, I have the power to choose her menu.   At first I fed her vegetables and meat and then ended the meal with desert.   But during the last few years, she began losing her appetite and consequently losing weight.   She showed little interest in food.   So I’ve decided to throw the rules out the window!   She’s eighty five years old so why should she have to eat her peas?   Whether she eats her meal or not, I treat her to a large bowl of vanilla ice cream smothered in both chocolate and caramel sauce.   She will