I reflect, I look back. I don't know why. To find answers? To see how long this dementia has been causing chaos with my Mother?
The spring of 2007 Mom had her first neuropsychological evaluation. She told us all she "passed with flying colors."
That spring, Mom and I did a lot of painting, planting, and trimming around her house because that summer my son was to be married in her front yard. But as I look back, Mom didn't do any of the painting, planting, or trimming. I did, my family and the workmen did. She always had excuses.
We went to the garden shops together and bought hanging baskets and porch railings planters. We bought coir liners and soil. We bought a kazillion 6-packs of flowers and ivy to plant in the planters. She returned the liners, she didn't like them. She returned the planters, she thought they were ugly. She returned some of the plants, they were the wrong color. Then she watched; she would lean on the porch rail and watch me plant, watch me water, watch me trim, prune, and rake. "I'll just go find my work gloves." and she would wander away. "Let me look in the garage for the other clippers." and I would find her in the kitchen reading the paper. It was more than chore avoidance, it was detachment.
We were going over the to-do list with my son and his fiance. "Yes" my Mom said "I have a friend who has some 8' tables we can borrow." Then month by month, Mom reassured us that she had arranged to borrow these tables. Then two days before the wedding "Of course you can't use them, he's lent them to blah-blah for their annual blah-blah-blah."
This was a little kick in the pants - as we scurried around to rent tables at the last minute. But this was SO not my Mother. She was always such an organized person, someone you could count on to do what she says she'd do. She was always such a leader, not one to watch from the sidelines.
Months after the wedding I learned, that after the wedding guest had left, Mom spent the night crying. Not tear of happiness for the bride and groom, not tears for her long gone husband, but tears of despair for her cat. She couldn't find her cat. This is the cat who hides when ONE other person comes into the house. There were a hundred strangers in his territory and he hid. He was hiding in his usual place in her bedroom closet, a place she never looked. A place I always found him, in the years following, whenever he was "lost".
What signs of dementia do I see now that I didn't see then? I see irrationality, irrational behavior, more than being old and "set in her ways", more than being the elder and being able to "do what ever I want." I see fear and anxiety over things and situations that didn't warrant it. I see a shrinking of her world, limiting her boundaries, a self imposed isolation; more than just not driving on highways or into Boston.