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Walking the Path to Losing
We are having a care conference for my mother next week. She is 58. has been diagnosed for almost two years. Unfortunately, before the formal diagnosis, the disease had been setting in for years. I have been her caregiver since I was 15 and my parents divorced. Caring for her has been my life normal. When she was diagnosed she was able to move into assisted living, which reduced a lot of my stress and allowed me to see the toll her memory loss had been taking on me. Now, we are on to a new step, and I am scared.
At 25 I will be deciding if it is time to move my mom into a memory care unit. She's been falling more, unable to tell us or the nurses what happened. Her tracking abilities are failing her. The other day her nurse found her trapped in an elevator, not sure where she was going or why she wasn't moving. Her short term memory is becoming shorter and shorter everyday. She tells me quite often that, when the time comes, she will understand. But how can I do this? I know it will be better for her. I know she will be safer, well cared for, but she loves her freedom. She is an incredibly social, cheerful, loving woman who needs people. I know she could benefit from the care, but am I locking her away? Taking away her freedom?
The other thought is the scariest, am I losing my mother? She is my best friend. There is no one else in my life who understands everything I feel. What will I do without her? I've already begun watching her disappear, this is just one more step to losing her. I don't want to continue this path, but there's no stopping it.
I'm looking for advice, support, kindness from people who understand. Thank you very much.
Hello Anastashamarie, and a warm welcome to you. You are a very good and caring daughter; I know by your writing that this is not easy for you and that there is much heartache involved.
You are a very good advocate and are looking out for your mother's safety, security and care. It seems she is not safe nor secure at her present level of care. Sometimes our Loved Ones (LOs) are far more declined than we realize. The top priority is to have her be in a safe environment that can meet her needs now and as the dementia evolves further. I found with my own dear mother that it was very hard to do this and part of the dynamics was that such a change was a concrete sign that could not hide the knowledge that my dear mother was declining and moving farther and farther away. Grief is often part of this process and we who have been there understand.
Since your mother has enjoyed being active and remains social, it may be a good idea to speak to the Activities Director for the Memory Care Unit and see what can be accommodated. As it is, she may settle in better than you are presently thinking. It is true that when such changes come about, we carers also have an adaptation period in which we must adjust.
You are not abandoning her or doing anything TO her; you are doing something FOR her in ensuring her safety and care needs.
The Alzheimer's Assn. has a 24 Hour Helpline at (800) 272-3900. This is an excellent resource for gaining input and support. If you call, please ask to be transferred to a Care Consultant. There are no fees for this service. Consultants are highly educated Social Workers who specialize in dementia and family dynamics. They are great listeners when we need an ear to hear us; they are supportive, have good information and can also assist us with our problem solving. The Helpline is open 365 days a year.
Please continue to visit us; I know that doing so for me helped keep my head above water when I was going through the worst of times.
Let us know how you are, we truly do care.
So sorry you must be here. Your mother is so young and so are you. So sad...but it sounds like your mother's well being is getting considerable consideration and I know you'll make the best decision based on her safety.
MC is more expensive then Al, so perhaps you can take an intermediate step of hiring a "companion sitter" for her during the day while she is still in the AL and hold off on MC for awhile? A private pay sitter can often be found for around $13 an hour in my town.
As for losing your mother-my mother went through all stages of dementia-she forgot who I was-she could not talk-but I never, ever thought I had lost her. She was still my beloved mother even if she could no longer communicate or remember me. It not about the brain/words, or mind/memories, or body-but love is all about the soul and my mother never lost that. I knew she loved me because she always had, and I loved her because I always did. That's what mothers and daughters share and will never be taken away.
Take care and enjoy every minute you can with your mother-the good and the bad-because all these moments will matter.