Friday, October 21, 2016

Connections: March 30, 2016

Mom is lonely.

 Maintaining connections is nearly impossible with Alzheimer's.

Mom wants, and I'm sure all DSLO want, human connections. She calls people, forgets that she has called them, and calls them again, and again. She forgets who she is talking to and calls people by the wrong name. She gets angry if corrected, and sometimes angry if she isn't corrected and realizes it. Talking to her is like being in a canoe, with a hole in it, in a rainstorm, with a toddler. It takes constant attention to multiple things to keep afloat.

 People get exhausted by it. They stop answering her calls. Or they call me to tell me about mom.
The second thing is that she is afraid of being found out. As much as mom wants connection, she lives in a world of her own creation. That world is constantly under reconstruction to adapt to new information and most information is new.

So, she's fake Betty, who tries to sort out what her response should be when you say "didn't we have fun last time we were together?" She doesn't know. She doesn't know who you are, where you were together, when you were together and if you had fun or if you are being facetious.

I spend hours with mom every day. She sometimes remembers me as me and sometimes doesn't. Sometimes she tells me her daughter lives next door. Sometimes she hugs me and says she is glad I live next door. Sometimes she asks me how long we are staying at this hotel. Sometimes she hugs me and cries and says its so long since we've seen each other.

Mom's family is having a big reunion this Saturday. I am not taking mom. She wants to go--when someone tells her about it. They all want her to come. I want to take her--but I took her last year. It was a 2 hour drive to get there. She was overwhelmed by the number of people and we were both exhausted---her by the pretense of knowing people and me by the vigilance that mom in a crowd requires. When we got home and I got her settled with her feet up and a cup of coffee, she said "you know what we should do? We should organize a family reunion. I miss seeing everybody." She had no recollection of having just been at a reunion and that was a year ago.

If maintaining connections is hard, forging new ones is even harder. I've been taking mom to the Sr days at the local Rec center. She has been going for 3 months. She never recognizes the building, or any of the people she has met---even though they eat lunch together once a week. She has no social skill anymore--she never asks questions about another person, she never compliments, and though she stops talking when someone else is talking--she isn't listening and her response is usually unconnected to what was said.

As much as I notice mom's isolation, I also am noticing mine. I spend large chunks of time away from my family, so there are gaps in my interactions with Kevin and the kids. I often don't know about events or jokes the three of them have shared. I am not up on what my kids are reading or listening to or watching. Mostly now, I am the person that rushes in the back door, loads the dishwasher, cooks dinner and fires off lists of things to be done before I bolt out the door to grandma's. The kids don't come to grandma's as often as they did---her mood changes make them uncomfortable. I can usually get them to go with for walks, but once grandma starts asking who their mom is--they go home.

I don't regret having mom next door. I am grateful to have a husband willing to support caring for my mom, and kids who get that everyone has to sacrifice for family. I am grateful for friends that listen when all I can talk about is mom, and siblings who shoulder the work with me. Mostly, though, I am grateful for those brief moments of connection, when mom is not a DSLO, but mom. Elusive golden moments when she hugs me hard, says my name, and says, "I love you girl" just like she always has done. For those moments, all the rest is carried.

No comments:

Post a Comment