Something you should know about dementia is that nothing is what it seems. When my mother ended up in the hospital last February, she came home not remembering how to eat on her own, barely walking and pretty much resigned to death.
When she landed in the hospital six weeks later, we decided to send her to a rehab facility after five days in the hospital. She came home a new woman. Not only could she feed herself, walk more and do more, she was in much better spirits. Based on the previous experience, I was seriously considering putting her in a facility. When she came out of rehab, I knew I could take care of her at home for a while.
The truth is that we don’t know anything. What do we really know about Alzheimer’s? Every week it seems, a new study comes out pointing at a new possibility. Everyone is looking for answers but they cannot answer the simplest questions.
For a computer nerd like me, I received an explanation that compared my mother’s brain to a hard disc. Alzheimer’s is like a scratch that takes a part of that hard disk that you will never recover. The rest of the disk is fine. Supposedly, the more recent memories leave as soon as they are made. So can somebody explain to me, why she remembers her room every time we mention the drawing of the Eifel Tower (it is a stick on we put in her room to make it more inviting seven months ago) or that she is supposed to get out of bed a certain way (because she fractured ribs six and eight last week)?
Nobody seems to know anything. Every time I read a book on the topic, I have to remind myself that just like the Bible, these are guidelines, not the end all be all book that will answer all my questions. We need common sense, patience and a lot of practice to be the best caretaker possible.
I am juggling a lot of balls in the air: husband, daughter, mom, personal business, bills (mine and my mother’s) and life. That is not including that every person has many layers of challenges as well. It is a never-ending set of challenges.
What do we really know? Much like the Spanish writer, we only know that we know nothing. This journey is a lot more interesting, challenging, frustrating, funny, miserable, sad, happy and intense than anyone knows. How is your journey? Leave your comment below and share if you know someone who needs to feel less alone during their journey of taking care of a loved one.