Straight Paths

Recently, my mom’s Dementia took a pretty bad turn. Two Fridays ago, I came home to discover that my mom was in a foul mood and was accusing the neighbor kid from next door of lying to her. Really, it came down to his answering her question truthfully, but his answer did not align with what she thought he would say; therefore, she thought he was lying to her. When I explained the misunderstanding, she said he was “getting smart” with her. Then she said she “wanted to go home”.

I had read that people with Dementia will often say this especially if they have been moved somewhere. My mom came to live with me five months ago after a heart attack because she couldn’t live on her own anymore. The manager of her independent senior apartment complex said she had been struggling, and from the stack of unopened mail on her end table, the loads of laundry in the washer, dryer, or stacked on the dryer, as well as the funny smell in her apartment and rotting food in the fridge, I could see his point. She was relieved and happy when my husband and I asked her to move in with us, but now she has forgotten about the heart attack and how difficult things had become.

“I want to go home!” she repeated the next morning. I had hoped she’d forgotten being upset, but she had not. I told her that she could not go home because her health problems would not allow her to live on her own anymore, and they would not allow her to move back because of her poor health. She said she didn’t want to live with us anymore. When I told her that we could move her into a place nearby (I didn’t use the term assisted living facility or nursing home knowing she would freak out), she asked how much they cost, and because she can’t seem to remember that she has plenty of money in savings and a decent income each month, she, of course, freaked out. That Saturday was awful with her yelling and my crying off and on all day.

The next morning, I woke up barely able to move. I loaded up on Prednisone and went back to bed only to lie there feeling horrible for the next half hour. I then got up. I could hardly raise my arms, so my husband helped me wash and fix my hair. I recently started Cyclosporine, but I haven’t noticed a difference yet. My husband and I went to church, and I silently cried off and on throughout the service. And when I got home, my mom asked to go home again. I told her, “This is your home now. Why do you want to leave?” She said, “I don’t know. I just know that I got upset.” I asked her, “Do you know why you got upset? She responded, “No, I just know that I was.” Less than 48 hours had passed but she had already forgotten why she had been angry and thrown a huge fit. I couldn’t believe this was the same Italian mother I grew up with who had held grudges for decades!

I reminded my mom why she’d been upset but assured her that the neighbor boy wouldn’t be coming over anymore. (We had discussed mom’s condition with him outside and let him know that, while we would still be happy to ride our bikes with him or walk our dogs with him, he could not come into our home anymore.) Mom seem placated and she’s been doing pretty well though there was a debacle last week over my replacing her “new” bras because they were falling apart and the hooks on them were rusting.

On Mother’s Day, I kept thinking, Oh, God. What’s going to happen? How is this thing going to play out? Are we going to have to have her hauled out of here one day by the police to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation and have her taken to a memory care facility from there?  I became completely overwhelmed by fear, and that’s not something I should do as a Christian. Fear leads to despair and a loss of hope, and I’m determined not to let that happen. So what if my husband lost his job, I lost my health, and my mother lost her mind? I will put my trust in God, confident that good will eventually come out of all this.

trust in the Lord

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