Thursday, February 9, 2012
Blog 11: Living In A House Where Alzheimer's Ruled
I moved in with Mom a few months after her diagnosis with Alzheimer’s. My sisters and I agreed that I should live with Mom after I sold my house. My move to another state was still months away, and at this point Mom needed a full-time caregiver, and I was the only one able to provide that care. Mom certainly didn’t think she needed any help. She could not understand why I was staying with her because in her eyes she was perfectly fine. I was often yelled at and told to leave.
I set up appointments with visiting nurses to come to the house and after a couple of visits Mom was often rude to them when they arrived. I think she felt like they were invading her privacy, and it’s almost like she felt like they were on to her. She tried to fool them into thinking she was taking good care of herself. When they asked when she took a shower last, Mom would say, just this morning. She would tell them that she knows when to take her medicine and she takes it on her own. Once in awhile someone would come and she would be courteous. One of the nurses managed to get on Mom’s good side. However, if Mom was having a bad day, this particular nurse would get the brunt of it.
Mom even called the police on me a few times. Boy, was that embarrassing! The police would show up in their squad cars, and Mom would tell them that she wanted me out of her house. She said that I have my own house. She said that I was mooching off her and eating all of her food and costing her money. She said some other really mean things about me. Things I can’t even bear to repeat. I would try to hold it together, and each time the police came, I would pull one of the officers aside, as I choked back the tears, and tell him/her that she has Alzheimer’s. Just telling others she had that horrible disease made it seem so real. How could she sound so hateful towards me and my sisters? For strangers to hear my mom talk in such a bad way about her daughters hurt so badly. I didn’t want them to think she was a bad mom, or that we were bad daughters. I only hoped they really understood that she was taken over by a vicious disease, that robbed her of her warm, affectionate personality. Each time the police came, I told them that she is a wonderful and caring Mom, and she doesn’t know what she is saying. Even though it appeared that she did.
Mom told the neighbors some of the same things she told the police. She told her friends on the phone those same bad things. Of course, they all understood the circumstances and that Mom was ill. I knew that she wasn’t herself and she would never say those things if she were of her right mind. It was those ugly demons that Alzheimer’s brings with it. They took over my mom’s body and mind and gave her a personality of it’s own kind. I knew she didn’t really mean it, but it still hurt. And Mom would have just died on the spot if she knew what she was saying.
My mom was such a private person and never discussed family matters with her neighbors. She didn’t want them to know her business. Yet when she became ill, she told the neighbors she had money hidden in her house. My sisters and I worried about her safety, and ours. What if someone tried to break in and steal her money and hurt her in the process? It was very difficult controlling what Mom said to people. She was still able to dial up phone numbers and sometimes she would be talking away on the phone while I was doing laundry or preparing supper. It was always scary when she got on the phone after she and I had a particularly bad afternoon.
There was so much that happened during that period of time when I lived with my mom. There were those constant complaints from her to drive her car, and the time she found a hidden set of car keys and I had to literally pull the keys from the ignition as she was pulling out of her driveway, the nights I slept in my car in the dead of winter because she threw me out, the day I was scared out of my wits because she locked me out of the house in a terrible thunder storm, and wouldn’t let me back in the house, and the time I ‘lost my marbles’ and threw a glass of water in her face. Many of our bad days ended with me sitting on her bed before she went to sleep, holding her hand, and praying with her. Mom turned into an angel then. She was my mom again, loving and kind. Those prayers are what saved me.
I don’t mean to paint an ugly picture. I’m telling it as it was, from my perspective. My Mom had her own perspective, too. It was all mumble-jumbled, but she was feeling many emotions and lots of frustrations, too. It wasn’t just me and my sisters feeling tormented. Mom was going through hell inside of her head. I tried to look at things from her viewpoint because that’s the only way I could try to understand what she was thinking and feeling. For every feeling I had, my mom had feelings, too. It’s important to realize that when you are dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s.
In my next blog I will describe in greater detail some of these memorable moments I mentioned above…the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thanks for reading, and I hope you will continue to follow along, as I really feel it’s important for my readers to know this part of our journey with Alzheimer’s, before I move on to the next chapter. I truly feel that what I’m about to tell you will be something others may learn from. Because I had no idea what was in store for me when I moved into a house where Alzheimer’s lived. I had to get a grip, and I had to do it fast.