Living with someone suffering from dementia is never boring. Tragic, frustrating, absurd, funny — yes. Never boring.
Mom has suffered from dementia for 14 or 15 years. It’s not a condition that gets better. It’s a slow, downhill slide. It became noticeable when she had surgery in 2001 or 2002. The anesthesia and the beta blockers she was given really altered her and my mom never really came back to herself.
Several years ago, she had a heart attack. That mentally alters just about everyone. She slid further. Last year she suffered another one and once again she slipped further away.
Over the years, she has suffered the loss of a husband and the loss of a son. Again, that’s something known to cause stress and affect memory.
Lately, mom is afraid to stay alone. She is also afraid to have anyone she doesn’t know come to the house. Going out of the house causes problems. When she comes home to our small condo, she doesn’t remember anything — like the condo is laid out in a circle. She can get to her room by going in any direction, but she doesn’t remember that. When she gets to her room, it doesn’t look familiar.
Every day before I go to work, she asks where I work. She calls about an hour before I leave to ask where “everyone” is. I’m everyone. I can’t go anywhere or she’s calling and crying hysterically, asking when I’ll be home. Even if I have called her a few minutes before to tell her where I’m going , she won’t remember and I get the call. That is one tight leash.
So when I called this morning to tell her I forgot my lunch; please put it in the fridge, I knew it was a crap shoot.
I got home and went to get her dinner started. There was no lunch bag in the refrigerator. Ok, maybe the freezer. Nope, not in the freezer. I started looking around on the counters, in the stove, in the cabinets. Nope.
I looked at the washing machine. Oh, please. Surely not. Yep, I opened the front-loader door and there it was, alone with several pair of underwear. Considering I did laundry last evening, my lunch being in the washer was disturbing on several levels.
When faced with a choice of laughing or crying, I laughed. Mom came to see what I was laughing about. Of course, she didn’t remember putting it in there. She didn’t remember that I called. She didn’t remember that the thing we were standing next to was a washer.
I figured there wasn’t really any food or beverage that would be hurt by sitting at room temperature all day, but when I said that out loud, mom was quick to chime in and give her opinion. The fact that she was agreeing with me notwithstanding, I’m supposed to take her word when most of the time she can’t remember her name???
I didn’t say that. You learn to pick your battle. And laugh.