When you first start to realize it’s really happening you try NOT to make a big deal of it,
“She forgets?, so what, we all do” or “she’s just tired” or “she is bound to forget some things , she’s getting old” and my favorite “ oh please, she has forgotten more than you will ever know”.
When do we need to open our eyes and realize that it has become or will soon become a problem with all the forgetting?
I don’t think there is a right answer.
Each individual’s memory behaves quite differently.
What is the solution? I don’t believe there is one or any real solution as of yet.
…. but safety should play a role.
She started forgetting names, dates, events, how to balance her checkbook, forgot PIN numbers ( don’t we all) could not figure out crochet patterns anymore (she always crochet), and it got progressively worse from there. She started forgetting where she was going, how to drive to a spot she had been going to for years, she forgot the kettle was on, forgot to eat, and how to use the can opener.
Now her safety was compromised.
I would try to help and I would explain things a few times and a few more times and instead of things getting better they were getting progressively worse. I always encouraged her to write things down or make a list. Often times she would get angry and angry at me.
That is how I noticed her frustrations but after a while ( a year or more) she just seemed confused and a little depressed.
Her doctor finally said to me,
” the real problem starts when she does not realize that she is forgetting”
we are way past that.
This is a very sad realization for those around her, since she doesn’t realize how bad it has become.
I kept trying to figure out why some things she remembered and some things she would forget. The biggest lesson I have learned and numerous people ( doctors, nurses, support groups, articles) have told me this “DO NOT try to figure it out” . That took me years to learn and to accept. I don’t want her to forget me, ever. I know, quite selfish of me. I don’t though, I can’t help thinking that what her and I have shared I can’t share with anyone else and the memory then becomes mine alone.
I take out pictures old and new
and she looks and we chat about them.
There are some differences with all elderly people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Is one better than another?
I am sure I have not lived through the worst, Mom knows who we all are, she knows where we are, mostly. When I say “we” I mean her children and grandchildren, great grandchildren and most nieces and nephews and there are a lot. She has survived my dad, her three siblings and their spouses, my dads siblings and spouses, and most friends.
I have three brothers, my youngest brother Scott, lives in Florida with his wife. Out of the three brothers Scot calls most regularly, at least once or twice a week and if he doesn’t call Mom will say “well we haven’t heard from Scott in a while”. How does that stick i her head and how does she know how long it’s been since he has called. So many other situations she doesn’t recall time. My guess, is routine.
When Megan’s husband is away on business Mom knows and asks everyday if he is home yet, once he is home she stops asking. How does she remember that and forget how to crochet a basic dishcloth? That was routine for her, she’s made hundreds of them.
Her long term memory is great, well no, not really great, but it is good, and she will often share stories when something sparks a memory. I always loved to hear those stories;
When she was little living on the farm and her family would invite the neighbor family, the Manters to come for dinner and dinner, was platters of corn on the cob. Her memory of that time is sweet, obviously is was enjoyed by all of them.
She remembers running down to the train tracks to watch the train go by with men returning from WWII. They waved to them and welcomed them all home.
That darn Bobby Bumford use to “pick on” her so she would walk way out of her way to avoid going anywhere near his house.
The first house mom and dad bought in Acton, it was a foundation capped over and dad was going to build the house , which he did, many stories come from that time. Just one I have to share right now; dad had hired some guy with a backhoe to move some dirt and rocks in the yard and Mom wanted this very large rock placed in the yard so she could make a rock garden. So she had the backhoe driver going all over the place try to find the best spot until daddy finally said “ will you make up your mind, we are paying this guy by the hour”!
And if you ask her about those times she will tell you and tell you in detail too.
But her short term memory is just so bad.
My newest grandchild was born a little over two months ago. When I got the call that Megan was in labor I went to Rob and Megan’s house to watch their first child , Paxton, while they went to the hospital. After baby Remy arrived, I went home and picked up mom to bring her to the hospital as we had done with all of my other grandchildren.
For the last two months every time she would hear us talk about Remy or when she saw Megan holding a baby, Mom would say, “how come I didn’t know about this baby” “when was she born?”, why didn’t someone tell me”?
I finally set Remy’s birth announcement in front of moms spot at the table so she can see it every day, and I do believe it has made a difference – she knows Remy is here and where she belongs. She will pick up the announcement photo and say “she looks just like Paxton”.
So although mom’s memories are jumbled and she can’t remember from one second to the next , routine and repetition will get some things to stay in her memory a little longer.
But only sometimes.
My memories of her strength and humor and devotion are what help me to help her get through our days.