Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mother Love

My mother has Alzheimer’s disease.

She is still capable of being present – in the moment – as the mother I have always known and whose love is felt.

There are times she is not.  And during some of these times, her frustration, depression and rage erupt.  She becomes verbally abusive.  Her venom, language and anger are staggering.  This person is a stranger to me but still my mother.

As an adult, I know her hurtful words are a symptom of the disease.  But the child in me is often reduced to tears by this verbal abuse.  It is painful to be the object of such anger and, yes, hate.

I have learned that attempting to stem this tide of venom is futile.  I stay with her and listen for as long as I can endure it but eventually have to leave.  I believe it is often my presence (and that of my sisters) which prompts the rage.  We are the ones who placed her in the nursing home.  As she sees it, we took away her life. 

There are other moments when my increasingly frail mother is simply very, very sad.  During these times, she is very much aware – knows she has this disease, what it is doing to her and what is to come.  She fights it.  Doing so exhausts her.  I admire her courage, strength and determination but her struggling efforts break my heart.

There is always a next stage with Alzheimer’s and it is always worse.  You cannot anticipate when that stage will come or what it will be like.  But when it comes, you do your best to deal with it.  My best isn’t good enough.  I can’t make anything right – I can’t fix things for my mother.  She lives with the nightmare of this disease – my sisters and I live with guilt, frustration and despair.  And tears.

For those of you experiencing a similar tragedy, my heartfelt sympathy.

For those of you who someday might, I have no words of wisdom or advice.


My mother was determined to attend my son’s wedding.  She managed to make it through the ceremony but then became confused, disoriented and exhausted.  She had to leave.

We took her out for her birthday dinner last night.  She was very quiet but was able to read her birthday cards aloud and blessed us with her smiles.  When we took her back to the nursing home she didn’t remember having had dinner.

She is already anxious as to coming here for Thanksgiving dinner but when the time comes she will rally and want to be with us.  Surrounded by loved ones, she will still experience moments of feeling lost and overwhelmed.  We will all take turns sitting quietly beside her.


oreneta said...

The man's mother went through similar bouts of venomous rage, and it was very hard on everyone. Part of what was happening with her was the deterioration of the frontal cortex which moderates and regulates emotions, not just in the social sense of what we say and don't to be polite, but also in keeping the emotions from blowing WAY out of proportion to the incident. Part of why very small children have difficulties with this same issue is due to the immaturity of this part of their neural symptoms. I can remember being in the grasp of emotions that are running away from me where irritation blossoms into anger and then mushrooms into rage.....we were told that while she was angry, the emotion that she was expressing was beyond what would have been intended, if that helps at all. The up side is that as the memory loss continues they don't need to remember the horrid things they have said to their loved ones, things they would never have wished to say, hurt they would never have wished to cause.

Chin up, it isn't fun.



Beth said...

Thank you so much. Your comment was both helpful and a comfort. And, oh, lordy, it made me tearful, too!
(I'm going to show it to my sisters.)

Zhu said...

I'm sorry to hear that and I can imagine how frustrating it must be for you to see your mother's health deteriorating.

The fact that you are close and spend time with her probably helps a lot.

Sherry Smyth said...

My heart goes out to all of you. It is a situation we never anticipate being in and as with many of our live situations, there is no "manual" for how things will go or how we are to respond and cope. We just do the best we can.

Oreneta's words are comfort indeed and I hope they help you as you come to terms, one day at a time with all the change this disease creates.

A wonderful photograph of the 4 of you by the way. One to remember happy times. ♥

Beth said...

It does help - it also makes it harder. But still, I'm glad we can spend time with her.

Beth said...

No manuals in life - just words of comfort and encouragement & people who listen when you need them. :)

Cid said...

It seems that all too often Alzheimer's patients save their rage for those closest to them much like children act out far more when at home. I think it must be because as the rage and frustration becomes overwhelming they take it out on their loved ones. I hope you can bring her home for Thanksgiving to, as you say, enjoy a quiet time with a few members of her obviously very loving family.

Trish said...

Oh Beth, what a horrible thing for all of you to go through. My dad's condition went into this territory but doesn't sound like it was quite as severe as your mom's. But now that he is gone, it's not the hurtful things I remember, but the holidays and visits we were still able to have. It's horrible seeing a once loving and articulate parent deteriorate like this. Hang in there. I don't think there is an easy way to get through it.


Anonymous said...

I see this every day at work. Hopefully your mother is in a caring environment where the staff love their work.

Talk to her carers, they are trained to provide comfort to the families as well as their patients.

Do you think your mother would be a suitable candidate for doll therapy? We've had a lot of success with it here

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

I can not imagine how hard it must be to witness that, especially if you were particularly close with your mother. I have heard that rage and anger is a part of a sort of personality that takes over from time to time. I will send you healing thoughts to help you inch your way through this.

Gorilla Bananas said...

This is terribly sad, Beth. I hope you mother will find peace and serenity before she passes away.

Travis Erwin said...

My heart goes out to you. MY great grandmother whom I was very close to struggled with Alzheimer's the last years of her life.

laughingwolf said...

i know much of what you're going through, alzheimer's took my mom some years back... it's hell being locked up in a mind the body does not respond to, and vice versa :(

Barrie said...

Oh, Beth, how very tough this is. Thinking of you and your sisters and, of course, your mom. xo
p.s. I love the photo.
p.p.s. I hope Thanksgiving goes well.

JR's Thumbprints said...

She'll always be your mother and I'm sure you and your sisters have shared some pleasant moments and memories. I can only wish you the best. Have a good holiday.

Lainey-Paney said...

I can only imagine how hard this disease must be for each of you.

Attila The Mom said...

Oh man, I'm so sorry this is happening to all of you. Hang in there! said...

Alzheimer's is so heartbreaking to witness. Hang in there, Beth. My thoughts are with you.
I hope it's a Thanksgiving full of loving, peaceful moments.