Imagine this...on this lovely first day of spring evening, while standing outside in my front yard watering our little apple trees,
listening to the the birds chirping in the trees...
"Oh Pam, where are you? Can you come here?"
"I soiled my underpants! Do you want me to just throw them away, or what can we do with them?"
By this time I am not sure whether to laugh or cry or scream...because this is only the second full day of our 9 day "nanny-sitting" while her other caregivers (son & family) have taken their children off for a spring break vacation to the mountains...and the "interesting moments" of living with a dear mother in law with dementia are just getting better and better. (FYI: We normally share the care-giving duties by caring for her Friday-Monday morning, and they have her Monday afternoon-Friday morning).
One case in point prior to the undie issue, she had been told to be sure and pack enough clothes for 9 days. Her idea of clothes for 9 days included 4 pairs of slacks, a few pairs of undies, (and NO, she will NOT wear DEPENDS, even though the Doctor told her she needs to, and we have pleaded with her, but she says it feels like a mattress between her legs, so you know what I had to do with the white thing she was waving at me? Yes, wash it.) and one blouse...the one she was wearing. When I asked her if she had packed any other tops to wear, she said,
"Oh, this white one matches all my different colors of pants, and I didn't have any other ones." Me, looking at the food stains already on the white top said, "Well, maybe I can loan you another top so I can wash that one for you." She: "But, do you have one that matches all my pants? That last one you loaned me was a little large." Me: "Well, it will have to do because I've already given you all of my smaller shirts that fit you and they are in your closet at B...'s house somewhere."So, the one white top was washed yesterday, along with her favorite white sweater that she never takes off unless you can talk her into the fact that it really is dirty and needs to be washed so she will look clean and neat for company. She wore my too-large white top while hers was being washed, and I convinced her to keep mine on until this morning so she would have a nice clean top to wear to our neighborhood church service here in our home.
This morning also happened to be the Sunday we celebrated the Lord's Supper, and wouldn't you know, as soon as she sipped her little cup of grape juice, she called to me from across the living room to show me that she'd dripped purple grape juice on her nice clean white shirt that I'd just washed? So, as soon as the service was over, off came the white top, back into the bleach water, washed and dried and hung back up for tomorrow. Yes, she is wearing my, thankfully, old white top again in the meantime. I'm not going to bother washing it every time it gets a spot on it...I mean, enough is enough...
Now, please don't judge me or tell me how fortunate I am to have her here with me. I KNOW that beyond a shadow of a doubt....I sincerely LOVE my mother in law. I truly do not mind caring for her. She has been a wonderful mother in law, grandmother, and mother, and I feel honored to have been her daughter in law for going on 47 years! We've been through a lot together over the years, and I feel I owe it to her to honor her in her old age and care for her the best I can. So I am sharing these things not to complain, but to let off a little steam and hopefully give you a chuckle at the same time.
(Click on the purple links above to read previous stories about this topic).
The other "fun" thing we deal with on a regular basis is her fixation with time. I suppose when you are almost 93 years old, time becomes very precious to you. It must be, because every five minutes she gives us a report of the current time. It usually starts in the morning with the taking of her first pill of the day just prior to getting out of bed. If I don't deliver it to her by 7:00 a.m., she comes running out of her room and asking us "Is something wrong?" "Where is everyone?" From there it would seem that the whole day revolves around her pill schedule. After her morning pills following breakfast we start hearing about her afternoon pills. They are scheduled to be taken around 3:30 p.m. Usually around noon she asks us every five minutes if it is time for her pills yet. This afternoon I was dozing in my recliner. At precisely 2:45 p.m. she loudly calls my name and says, "Are you sleeping?" I said no, I was just "resting my eyes". She says, "It's a quarter to three. It's almost time for my pills!" I said, "I know what time it is. I won't forget your pills." She keeps agitating every five minutes and says that she hardly ever waits until 3:30 to take her pills. I know this. We usually give in and give her the pills around 3:15 because that last half hour is not worth the constant five minute reminders.
Since I've been typing this for the past however long, she has been sitting here next to me in her recliner. She has a little analog clock in front of her that she looks at every couple of minutes and then gives us the time report. She can no longer decipher a digital clock. She says the digital alarm clock in her room is all crazy numbers. She cannot figure out that 6:55 is five minutes before 7:00. I am now shopping for an analog style alarm clock that lights up to put next to her bed so she won't get out of bed early and come looking for us because she can't read the clock. (Yes, she has done that.)
Yes, caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely challenging. I remind myself that I will probably be like this someday and I hope someone will either take such good loving care of me or else just shoot me. (well, maybe not quite that extreme, please?) No one wants to be put in a nursing home. Take a look at one anywhere and you will see why. But sometimes there are simply no other alternatives. We pray that we won't ever have to make that decision for our dear one. That is why we take our turns and do our best to keep her safe and happy. However, it has been taking a toll on our families, both in health, energy, stress, and emotional frustrations. I am happy that my brother in law and his family are able to take a vacation for spring break with their children. My hubby and I plan to get away for a few days after they get back as well.
Thank you for allowing me this little opportunity to vent and let go of some pent up steam. You've been good therapy for me tonight. Now it is TIME for a certain little white haired lady to head for her bed. And then it will be time for a certain not so little used to be red-headed lady to head for HER bed.
Oh, she just said to me, as she does EVERY night when she goes to bed, "Are you gonna wake me up and give me that little pill at 7:00 o'clock in the morning?" And I said, "Now what do you think? Don't I do that EVERY morning?" And she grinned and said "Okay. I love you. I'll see you in the morning." And I said, "Okay. I love you too. See you in the morning."
|Here she is, enjoying a wonderful lunch with her family! You gotta love this dear woman. |
Yes, I surrender. I do!
"Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16