Dealing with Dementia

Sherry Shepherd's picture

Recently my heart has been so heavy. I haven’t been blogging because I just didn’t have it in me to write. Too much has been going on—a sprained ankle, crutches, a sick and dying elderly dog, and aging parents, just to name a few. But the hardest thing I have had to handle is what happened on Easter.  

 

A couple weeks ago, I had a bad migraine. My sweet mom decided she wanted to bring me dinner since I couldn’t join them for Easter dinner. On her way driving to my apartment, (just five minutes away), she got lost.

 

Thankfully, my 12-year-old niece was riding with her and was able to pin their location so we could find them. 

Dementia, oxygen deprivation, Alzheimer's all stink. My mom has congestive heart failure and the beginnings of Alzheimer’s. Only weeks earlier she had a heart episode that landed her in the ER. We thought we were going to lose her. A rapid trip to meet her and my dad at the emergency room took a toll on me emotionally. You are never EVER prepared for that call.  

 

However, in God’s grace, He has given us more time with her. And I am so thankful for that. But, because of oxygen deprivation and the dementia, we have been losing my mom little by little. It sucks. To see someone you love struggle and suffer is hard. Watching them realize they are forgetting is heart wrenching. Because of the forgetfulness and heart issues, my mom doesn’t drive. But on Easter Sunday for whatever reason, she felt she could do it and left to come see me. Thankfully, she was okay.  

My sister went and got her and brought her to my apartment while my older niece took my parent’s car back to their home.  When my mom walked in to see me, she said, “Well this has been a terribly demoralizing and degrading day.” She kept her head down and didn’t even want to make eye contact. My heart fractured.

 

I hugged her and said, “Mom, you got turned around huh? It’s okay, it happens. We care about you and just want you to be safe. We love you. You have taken such good care of us and now we want to do that for you.”

  

She was so sad. It made me sick to my stomach to see her like that. Because she knew that she wasn’t okay. It hurts and it is so hard. While we have seen signs for a while of her forgetfulness and the retelling of stories etc., it wasn’t until that moment that all the conversations we had and the doctor appointments about the forgetfulness suddenly became reality. My mom couldn’t find my home.

  

It made me realize that even though I tell her how much I love her and appreciate her... I can and will tell her more now. I will treasure every single moment I have left with her. I will laugh and remember and joke more. I will not take even one second for granted.  

When she told me with tears over the phone the next day, “I am sad because I am forgetting.” I told her, “But we will remember for you mom.” 

 

As believers, God calls us to honor our fathers and mothers. Exodus 20:12 says,  

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”  

I believe we should treat our aging parents with kindness, love and respect. God tells us to do so. I don’t know where you are in your life, or what your relationship is with your mother, but I would urge you to treasure her, love her, and appreciate her, because no one knows us or loves us like our mom. Happy Mother’s Day! 

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