Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I carry around a tote bag full of stuff about Mom: my power of attorney, her list of medications, all her doctors' contact information, her insurance card, the contact information for the people at her assisted living, a list of her girlfriends and neighbors, notes from my support group, her checkbook, keys to her house, the garage door opener, any toiletries or cat food that I've purchased to bring to her. You get the idea.
When Mom was still living alone at home, I thought I might have to include a some more personal items, such as a change of undies and slacks, and moist wipes.

Today I read the book review at for the book In Search of the Alzheimer’s Wanderer by Mark Warner, I had a thought. I should have a photo of Mom in my tote bag.

Friday, May 6, 2011

honor your Mother

Last post I talked about how Mom's dementia has taken me on a path of lying and stealing, squashing the Commandments left and right.

What about honoring my Mother? I do love her, we had a pretty good relationship and some days now are ok. But many days I don't like this new version of my Mother. I procrastinate on my way to visit her, I put off doing her chores, I can't do what she wants. I'm heartsick.

How can I honor my Mother? I can tell you all thank you for the things you have done for her. I can tell you thank you, because she will never be able to do it herself.

Thank you to my care-giver's support group, for being.

Thank you to Mom's friends, friends who still call and write, who visit her, lead the sing-a-longs, hem her pants, or take her out. She may no longer remember your name, but your friendship makes her happy.

Thank you to Mom's neighbors who plowed her driveway, checked in with her when she was alone, who brought her firewood and drinking water during the storms. For being good neighbors.

Thank you to her doctors and their staff. For continuing to treat her with respect.
(To those of you who don't.. plffffbbbb!)

Thank you to the ladies at Mom's bank. Who "get it". Who helped keep Mom's assets secure. Who helped me quietly and correctly take over Mom's finances.

Thank you to the cousins far away, who call, write, email, and send treats to Mom. She loves getting those photos and licorice.

Thank you to the understanding folks who help me enroll Mom in the new health insurance plan. To those who guide me as I have to refill a long list of meds. Who don't roll their eyes or talk condescendingly to me as I wade through the lingo of Medicare, Medicaid, and donuts.

Thank you to my friends and family. For standing with me as we go through this together.

Thank you especially, to ALL the people at the assisted living. For looking after her with kindness and compassion.

Monday, May 2, 2011

lying and stealing

As I have mentioned before, my Mother has been teaching me to lie; well not really, Mom's dementia has been teaching me to lie, and it's been teaching me to steal too.

When Mom was still living in her own house, I would steal the rotten food out of her fridge and the expired food from the pantry. "Why are you throwing that away? It's perfectly good!!" (Note to self: don't let her see me do this next time.)

I stole her car. It's been almost two years and she is still angry about that, which she tells me every time we see a Subaru.

I quietly stole the photos from the big pile on her table. Photos of Dad, the ones she hadn't yet torn in half.

I stole her check book and ledger. For a while, she would let me help her pay her bills, we would do it together, but then it got too much for her. She was loosing bills, she would pay bills twice, or not at all. It got to the point where I had to steal her bills and solicitous junk mail. (Jeesh this sounds really bad doesn't it!) I would go to her mailbox before my visit, and take out the bills, but leave the rest of her mail. Later when I would drive her to do all her errands, we would get the mail, there was always lots of mail. She never really missed her bills.

Then I did the biggest theft of all, I stole her house and all her worldly goods. I packed her up and moved her to an assisted living residence. I am the reaper: disposing of her possessions, her crap, her collections, her stuff, her clothes, her dishes, her house, her home.

Now that Mom is at assisted living, I'm still stealing. I steal the month's worth of old newspapers and the piles of dirty tissues that can't seem to find the trashcan. I steal the boxes of stale Christmas cookies and the Valentine's candy that she wouldn't eat. "Don't take those, someone will eat them." (Someone who??) I steal her dirty clothes and her too small slacks.

This sounds really bad, it sounds like I am a crook and a cheat. These are tasks I didn't want, these are responsibilities that I didn't choose. My Mother made me her power of attorney twelve years ago, something I never thought I'd have to act upon. Just like I never thought I'd have to blow my Mother's nose or tie her shoes.

And I'm still lying to my Mother. "Where are my Indian Head Pennies?"
I don't know Mom, where were they?
"They are in the bottom drawer of my dresser, in my bedroom."
I'll look for them next time I go to the house. Her dresser is right here in front of her, at her new apartment. But it is empty, she doesn't use it, it is just here, being something familiar. She is thinking of her dresser as it was in her bedroom at home. The one that is still "there" in her mind. The pennies are at my house, waiting for me to give them to her grandchildren.

Which other Ten Commandment can I break? How about honoring your Father and Mother... let's not go there today.