Your new loved one?
Why do I call your relative your, new loved one. I call them your new loved one, because you have to get to learn them all over again. Some people who were very nice after the disease become mean and some people who were mean became very nice. Why I believe this is important is because this takes a lot of stress off the caregiver if they know what to expect. Sometimes a person may act very differently and feel it is time to run to the doctor. When in actuality, it is normal and might be a non life threatening part of the disease.
For instance, I remember before I started studying Alzheimer’s disease and my mother would ask me the same question over and over again I would get so frustrated. But, when I started studying Alzheimer’s disease and learned that they keep asking the same questions over and over again, I was much less frustrated. I would constantly be saying, mama you don’t remember that? Why do you keep asking me that. Mama I just told you that. I wouldn’t be yelling at my mom, I respect her too much for that, but I thought for awhile that I was in the twilight zone. I was stressed out because I didn’t have any idea what, I was dealing with. My mother would get frustrated too. You can’t break through to them with logic. The information center is not connecting. The faster that is understood the better everything else is.
My sister-in-law who is a nurse and worked in an elderly facility told me of a couple who lived there and both had Alzheimer’s, they were quite old. Their personalities reversed. The husband was very nice and the wife was very mean before they got Alzheimer’s. Their children would be shocked on how mean their father was to their mother and how nice the mother was to the father. Exact opposites. Eventually the husband became so violent that they had to separate them from each other.
It is good to study the person’s stages, it helped me tremendously. I have learned that Alzheimer sufferers can’t build new memories, they remember things in the past. So when I would be with my mother we stayed in the past. I was amazed about the things she would remember and the details. She was happier there and I was too, because I am not constantly saying, you remember. No they don’t. And remember Alzheimer’s is a journey, it changes as time goes. They get worse and worse. So in the earlier stages when you keep saying or asking them, don’t you remember? they get even more frustrated, too because they don’t understand you saying, didn’t you just ask me that?
Rather than discussing all the different stages of Alzheimer’s, I would rather just tell you what we experienced with my mother. My mother by nature is a very clean woman, but doing the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease, she became super clean. My mother was 77 when my husband die, and in one of my articles my husband noticed that something was wrong because she was always washing dishes. If she wasn’t washing dishes, she was organizing the pots and pans. I didn’t think about it until now, but she must have been driving my husband crazy. Can you imagine laying in the bed and hearing pots and pans clanging all the time. I was so busy taking care of my husband that I didn’t noticed that. It wasn’t until after my husband died, that I began to think about our conversations about my mom, and could start remembering the changes in her personality.
But, before I was aware of what we were dealing with my mother, I didn’t understand the changes that started happening. Like my mother use to love to fly. Now she is very afraid of it. She use to be very adventurous now she’s afraid of going too far away from home. You could be talking to her, and she would all at once get up and leave without saying a word. I would be talking and she is off on whatever her mind is on. Then she would ask about someone who had been dead for 50 years. Some people died before I was born. Scary.
I remember once hearing my mother talking to my dog and she sounded like a little girl. It was as if she not only was remembering the past, but was becoming the person in the past. You might notice a person not keeping up with their hygienes when they were very clean and aware of themselves. You will even notice that their faces start to change, from the standpoint of them being concerned if they are forgetting something, or trying to remember.
I didn’t even think Alzheimer’s was in our family, how we found out it was. My grandfather, who was my mother’s father had a living brother we knew nothing about. What happened he had been in the army and when he got so bad with Alzheimer’s that he couldn’t live alone, the army assigned him a person to take over his business. Then they started looking for his family. Well, this was in the 1990’s. We thought he was dead more than 30 years, he just disappeared. When we discovered his existence, we went to see him. When he first saw me, he called me Aunt Pink. Why this shocked me was because in our old family grave site, there was an Aunt Pink who was born in the late 1800’s and had been dead since the early 1900’a. I eventually looked just like her. Alzheimer’s sufferers brain remember the past very well.
Yearly we have had to meet the new person that Alzheimer’s change my mother into. The once meek mother we knew was sometimes not meek. Or some Alzheimer’s patients become children. I remember once, before my sister moved from her apartment, she forgot she was cooking, and went visiting a friend. When she got back the fire department was there, thankfully it was only the blackened pot on the stove. But my mother pleaded with my sister not to tell me, as if I were her mother. That is not the mother that raised us. So we constantly had to meet and adjust ourselves to the new person. And it is wonderful, when we get her back.
But keep meeting your new loved one and every now and then there is that light in their eyes, where they do remember everything. Enjoy those moments.