I have had the bad experience of watching my mother travel down the very bad dark road of Alzheimer’s. We love remembering our parents younger and in control.
The last time I saw my mother where I thought she was okay, was when my husband was dying of lung cancer. She was visiting to help me take care of him. I remember him calling me to the bed and saying “watch your mother, there is something wrong. I was so busy dealing with his condition and life, I couldn’t see what he could. While my mother was visiting me my husband died. After a month she flew back home.
My mother was staying alone at the time, she lived about 1 mile from my sister in South Carolina. After about 2 years my sister called telling me that my mom was very forgetful. I told her, she’s 84, that’s why she forgets things. Things got worse, so the following year my sister and I decided to send her back to me for a few months. When I went to the airport, and saw my mother, she was not as I remembered her. My mother had a terrible look on her face. Her face looked strained as if she was afraid to forget where she was.
Of course when we got home and rested, the conversation went. How is Jason? I would say, O he is fine, mama. Her: How is Jason? Me: I just said, he is fine mama. This could go on for about 3 minutes. I found myself arguing with her. I even heard her voice change while she was talking to my dog as if she was this little girl. I became frightened.
So what was I to do?
The next morning, I had some FOCUS factor and gave it to her. It recommended 4, which seemed to help her a little. But after a couple of days, I decided to give her 4, three times a day. Which helped quite a bite for a little while.
To get her back home we needed to have the airlines provide her with an assistant. My sister continued my regimen with my mother, until she noticed her slipping again. My mother hates doctors, but I told my sister, it is time to take her to the doctor, we need to know what we a dealing with. Never thought it could be Alzheimer’s, Senile maybe but not Alzheimer’s.
So did she have Alzheimer?
Well we were informed that my mother had had Alzheimer’s disease for at-least 5 years. In the meantime the doctor prescribed a medication which she started taking. Fearing the worse, my mother wanted to go to Sea World she wanted to see Shamu. The trip went fine. When they returned my sister and my mother were discussing the fun they had and how much she enjoyed the trip. She gets out the car to get her luggage and she is standing, not moving. She asked my sister, why am I standing here? My sister replied: We just got back from Florida, you went to see Shamu. My mother replied. I didn’t see Shamu, I would remember if I had seen Shamu! My sister showed her the pictures of them in Florida at Sea World. She remembered non of it! She was taken back to the Doctor only to discover that the medication she was taking, had wiped her memory clean.
My sister called her doctor and he recommended taking her off the medication and trying something else. My sister called me and we decided to take her off all those medications, and informed the doctor of our actions and why. He understood. We told him we would go the natural route, but would bring her in to see him, to see if we were doing the right thing. Her Doctor became our partner, we got down into the trenches with him to discover what was right for my mother. Of course we were reminded you cannot cure Alzheimer.
When I finally understood what my mother was going through….
When I would go to see her, she would be always frowning. Once when she had come to see me after she left, I was cleaning up the room she stayed in and I found after she left a note. She had written a note to herself. It said, you are at your daughter’s house. She lives in Denton, Texas. I sat on the bed and cried, it was the first time I even remotely understood what she was going through. She had put it on the pillow so she could see it every morning. Even with that reminder, she would ask me where I lived. It was so sad, such a dark road.
Once, while living alone, she left a pot on the stove, and the fire department had to be called. She was still driving and eventually I told my sister we had to take her car. I feared she would leave her house and not know how to return. My sister couldn’t take the car, thought it was too humiliating. I had to tell her, she is not dealing with my mother but with Alzheimer’s. I thought I was going to have to fly to SC to take the car. Thankfully my sister took my mother to the doctor and he told her she could no longer drive. My mother was furious. I told my sister just don’t say anything and take the keys. Hopefully she would forget. That didn’t happen. She was always looking for her keys, even when my sister told her she had them. Then there would ensue a disheartening conversation. A very dark road.
The road gets darker.