Our mom was a wonderful mom. She came from humble beginnings growing up during the depression, her dad died when she was only three. She learned early on the value of hard work and the value of a dollar.
She was a happy person, easy to please and fun to be around. She was married to our dad for over 30 years before she made the painful decision to legally divorce him.The beginning of that part of her life was scary as she had been a stay at home mom for most of her married life. She found a job as a waitress which was hard work for little money but she was happy to have a job and over time she found her calling working for a big company in Silicon Valley. As she aged she seemed to get younger. She participated in activities with friends from work and in her neighborhood. She became an independent single lady who was always busy enjoying life.
Then her life changed in an instant. Shortly after she turned 80 she suffered a stroke. Overall she recovered very well. She had weakness on her left side and needed a cane but for the most part her physical recovery was truly wonderful. Her new life meant our family was much more attentive to her daily needs and initially she was never without a family member staying at her home.
Over time she recovered so well that she was able to stay alone again most days and maintain much of her original independence. However, when a person has a stoke the doctor sends a report to the DMV and you must pass a driving test before you are able to resume driving. Unfortunately Mom was no longer a good candidate for driving. This was extremely hard for her. Now she had to rely on other people to get to appointments or just to get out of the house for anything more than a short walk. This was the most difficult thing Mom dealt with after her stroke. One of our family stayed with Mom one or more nights a week to tend to shopping, appointments or just visiting.
This worked out well for several years. Then we began to notice small changes i.e.: not being able to work the television, mistaking the telephone for TV remote, finding notes that indicated to us that she was struggling with her thought processes.We hired part time care givers in addition to our family care and took her to Adult Day Care so she could still be at home and we could maintain our own lives.
When it became clear that her dementia was progressing we took her into our own homes, again making use of Adult Day Care so we could continue to work.Eventually it was no longer possible to care for her at home and we sadly decided that she needed the 24/7 care available in a memory care facility.Although it was hard on all of us, it was the best solution, as well.We placed Mom in three different facilities before we found the right fit.
Mom slipped further into dementia these last 2 years and eventually didn't recognize us any longer. She passed away after a total of 2 years in facility care.We learned so much from this time with Mom.
We learned that patience is a MUST. Understanding is a MUST. It is not easy on the person with dementia, it is not easy on the family of a person with dementia. You learn to deal step by step as life changes day by day.
You come to learn you are stronger than you think you are.You also come to learn you can't do it all.
We were blessed to having a loving mom who cared for us during difficult times in our young lives and we were blessed to be able to care for her during the difficult times in her older years.Living with Alzheimer's and Dementia is a family affair. It is true that what affects one person, affects others. This is probably true of most ailments but when a person's cognitive abilities fail them there are special challenges involved.