Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Mind...

In April of 2011, my parents moved in with us. Along with my siblings we knew it was time for some sort of needed hands on involvement in their day to day lives.
My oldest sister started seeing Dad's lack of care in paying bills anymore, simple day to day tasks such as shaving, hygiene, proper nutrition were falling by the wayside.
Several times I was being called to run to the South side to fix one or both of their televisions At one point Dad was ready to buy a new set but as it turns out he accidentally changed the input on the remote (a mistake that can fluster sane people).
With the growing list of concerns, Kim and myself had been talking a long time about them moving in with us. Everyone pitched in to help purge the apartment of un needed "stuff", my sister preferred a different description and get them settled here.

Mom's mind was slipping very fast, Dad was functional but did things that just made you look at him like the RCA dog. The need for adult diapers was recognized very quickly and soon just threw away all of Mom's under ware, knowing she could not wear them anymore. On the humorus side of things, when she does wet one she will sometimes try and wash them in the sink or shower. Those bad boys can hold a few pounds of water before they just explode leaving the insides on the shower floor. Dad has control of his bathroom functions for the most part so that's not an issue yet.
Kim is pretty amazing in this area, she will often sit on the bathroom floor and guide Mom on how to clean herself "no, Jo, still need to clean yourself some more" very patient. Joanne doesn't live here or so her mind leads her to believe. We had to install locks on the kitchen door and a upscaled baby gate at the top of the stairs to try and thwart her attempts of her trying to get to her Mothers's house just a few houses down and to the right. Throw logic out the door, it does no good to reason with her on most anything. Even the time you think you make a break through, not more than 30 seconds after the conversation she's right back to her previous train of thought.
Donna taught Kim and myself a word,

Perseverate
1. Psychology
a. Uncontrollable repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.
b. The tendency to continue or repeat an act or activity after the cessation of the original stimulus.

Mom will zone in on the fact she has to leave the house for hours and hours at a time.
She's very concerned about leaving her Mother alone. Now I tried to come at it from a logical stand point and explain how old she is and that if her mother were still alive she'd be like 243 or something only to be met with Mom patting my leg and looking at me reassuringly with the comment "you just don't understand". Kim will then step in and boldly say "Jo, your Mom is with your sister" and that will usually calm Mom down and she'll relax for a bit, sometimes a few hours but lately 10 minutes. I tried to lie to her in the same fashion but just started giggling for fear of being busted. Kim once again shows her strength.

Let's talk about food.
The parental units are beyond preparing meals for themselves.
We take care of all meals unless they are being taken out. Dad's minset has reverted to a very selfish "ME" attitude that I have to say confuses me. He will get something for himself and ignore Mom standing right there. "Dad, are you going to get a snack for Mom too?" "No, she doesn't want anything" and walk away. He will use a knife to slice open anything in the fridge he wants and just leave it. We keep finding dried out cheese, meats, basically anything he thinks is his to eat. Frustrating enough that we are going to have to put a lock on the fridge just to keep him from ruining things. You can't offer suggestions to him, they are just met with "okay, you're right" and them proceed to go all jungle machete on the closest cheese package. Dad would eat Honey Nut Cheerios for every meal if we let him. He's a grazer... he just wants to eat all day then not eat a meal you put in front of him. Trust me we supply him with snacks, nuts, V8, diet root beer, coffee, sugar free candy and yet he'll still search the kitchen for something else. His latest "thing" is to finish a meal and then not more than 15 minutes later be pouring himself another bowl of cereal. After going through a gallon of milk every two days and box of cereal every three, we started taking the box away after breakfast and guide him to other things to eat. His obsession with Shrimp is amusing to some and annoying to others. Johnson's Door County Fish has a Shrimp cocktail he likes and Greek Isles has a tomato shrimp dish he craves. If we go out, it has to be one of those two places. Kim's not a big fan of either place so she misses out on the meals out....hmmm pretty smart girl.

I'm not sure if what I would do if Kim weren't around here. The level of care she gives Mom is beyond my capabilities. Kim had a high school reunion a little while ago and I was on solo parent duty for a few days. I found that if I call her Joanne and not Mom I can get her under ware on her much easier. I thanked Kim for coming home several times.

Dad is slipping fast, he will do odd things like be watching a television program where it is snowing and then look outside truly confused because it should be snowing there as well. Dad's issues are a whole different post.

So the mind...What? Why? Why are so many people afflicted with dementia?
Is it to ease our pain in getting ready to say our Earthly goodbyes, helping us to let go? Is it to test our resolve in taking care of each other? I'm not really sure why this is all happening but I'd like to know why.










3 comments:

Steve said...

Wow. You're going through a lot, and having to learn a lot. You're doing better than I would probably do.

I liked the phrase "going all jungle machete" - though if he gets a bigger knife, that may not be so humorous.

As far as "why dementia?", I think that the beginnings of it have been there all along - it's just that people usually died before the symptoms got real severe. These days, the medical folks are doing a much better job at keeping our bodies going, and we live longer. The slower-acting diseases have a chance to pop up more than if we had died younger. And they aren't sure what causes Alzheimer's. There's a possible tie to aluminum, and also indications that keeping mentally active will delay or diminish the effects.

But what is the real reason for it? Sin. Not a person's sin, but Adam and Eve's sin that allowed evil into the world. They were banished from the Garden of Eden, and it's been down-hill ever since. Ain't no cure for it, either, not in this life.

But we sure got something to look forward to!

Donna said...

I've been going through an anger period, not so much at Mom - she's gone. But at Dad. I think his dementia might be avoidable if he were exercising and trying to be interested in something. But then again, maybe this is how he is preparing - for no time soon, I fear - to leave this earth. It's beyond frustration, and I can't believe that you and Kim continue to perservere without losing your marbles.

You've so nicely captured in a nutshell what's happened with Mom and Dad.

Al says he's going to give a swipe at the whole VA thing to see about a monthly stipend, especially now that you are shaving Dad. As long as Dad's money (another 2 years or so) and your mental health (to be determined) hold out, we are okay-ish.

But certainly know that Paula and I are there to make alternative arrangements...

James Vaugh said...

very touching...
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