There are many things about this illness I thought I knew, but I’m finding new things to learn every time I visit with mom.
Mom has plugged the toilet in her room three different times. Obviously, that’s not okay, so the care facility have tried a number of remedies. First, they asked us not to bring potted plants anymore. Mom was scraping the dirt and the vermiculite into the toilet. Those combined with copious quantities of TP resulted in overflowing toilets and a big mess. Then we realized that she was using a whole roll of TP a day. Sometimes two!
So the facility and I agreed that she could have 2 ‘strands’ of TP, each having 8 pieces of paper. They promised to check on her every hour, to be sure she always had a supply. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not so much with these patients. Mom decided she couldn’t manage without a roll of TP in her bathroom, so she started ‘liberating’ the ones in the public bathrooms. Yes, my mother, the good Catholic woman, has become a thief of toilet paper. Go figure.
Today she called me to tell me the staff was stealing the ‘white stuff’ I bring for her and she was very upset. Who would have guessed that toilet paper would become an important part of mom’d life, even if she can’t remember what it’s called.
Paranoia is normal for mom. She puts things away and forgets where she’s put them, so becomes certain that the staff are stealing her things. It’s very sad to see this level of frustration in her. She can’t see why anyone would steal her stuff. And of course, because her cognitive skills are declining, we can’t explain to her that she’s wrong, or imagining things. We can only listen and try to ease her reactions.
Lastly, for today, another very big surprise is the depth of the emotions still present in the mid to late stages of Alzheimers, although for mom, the range of emotions is very limited.
[tweetthis]Another very big surprise is the depth of the emotions still present in the mid to late stages of Alzheimers, although for mom, the range of emotions is very limited.[/tweetthis]
I have to say, mom doesn’t have an abundance of happy feelings. She’s either neutral or sad, anxious, afraid or paranoid. She always assumes the worst of people, so it is easy for her to fall deeply into her emotions. It’s painful for her to believe the staff are stealing her things but she can’t explain things any other way. She can’t understand why people would steal her stuff, but is convinced they do. It pains her. And yet in almost the same breath, she’s grateful for the good care she gets and how happy she is living there.
Alzheimer’s is a terrible illness and as my mother travels down the road to its inevitable end, I’m finding there are many lessons for me to learn. They aren’t pleasant but they’re necessary for me to survive walking the journey beside her.
Image: By Tommy2010 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons