I have been visiting Mom rather than visiting with her – I just noticed the difference this week. I have had trouble dealing with not understanding what she says and curbing my urge to ask what she means or to repeat it. My close friend Char told me recently she had visited her Mom and didn’t understand a word she said. So she asked her Mom “Does that make sense to you?” Her Mom’s answer was “No”. I thought I would try it with Mom, though Mom’s answer was “Yes, it makes sense”. Mom is operating under a different form. What is interesting is that although the words are gibberish to me, Mom says it in a very conversational way – she knows what she is saying, I am the one who doesn’t understand.
Two things she definitely understands are chocolate and cookies. I bring some with me every time I visit and she is delighted to have them. I have learned not to ask her if she enjoyed the chocolate or cookies after she has eaten them because she doesn’t remember she ate them. I have been nervous about what to say to Mom, but I am finding it a bit easier now because I realize I don’t have to know exactly what she is saying.
I have been reading Candy’s new book to Mom recently, first time I have read it as well. I know Judy has told me Mom takes in things she hears and I am noticing that reading this book. Friday she made several comments as I read and at one point talked for a bit – not sure what she said, just asked “Is that so?’ and Mom agreed. So it wasn’t necessary to know what she said, just to acknowledge and validate it. I can sometimes tell when she thinks something isn’t a good thing, mostly my her tone and sometimes a “shouldn’t or no that’s not good” comes across.
Last Tuesday I took my iPad to play some of the songs she likes – except it once again gave me fits. Some days it works well and other days it looks so different and I am not quite sure what to do. I have begun to make a playlist for her so I will have the songs she likes, though I haven’t done too well with Bing Crosby so far. What will play on my desktop isn’t always available on the iPad. Now I have to figure out how to start the playlist.
It’s an interesting process and I think I am more comfortable now – there are times when I feel at a loss, but I am doing my best. I haven’t told her about Barrie dying, don’t think it will really register and there isn’t anything she can do about it. I also haven’t said anything about our next door neighbor, he is having difficulty and two of the sons are there right now. We had gone to bed Wednesday night and I heard this thrum and flash of lights – the fire truck was there and I saw a fireman in their kitchen. Shortly after an ambulance came in, so I figured it was bad enough to take him to the hospital. He was back home the next morning bit they may have to have someone there for a while. I’m sure Mom would be worried if she knew.
I will admit I still have days when I don’t want to go visit Mom, so I make sure I have somewhere to go and do something entirely different after the visit. Plus, I don’t want Mom to feel she has been abandoned. When I come and she is very sleepy or having a nap because she had a bad night, I am almost glad we won’t have a visit. I think she is more aware of things than I realize, but I couldn’t say in what way. I think she still knows who I am at times, I am better at not taking it personally because it is part of dementia. Some of what is happening has to do with getting older, some from dementia – I am so grateful to Judy for helping me understand what’s happening with the things I don’t quite understand.
It has been quite a learning experience for me and for Mom – I may never know how it is for her, but as a daughter and a woman, I have learned a lot over the past 2 or 3 years. I have learned about myself, my Mom and dementia – strangely, there have been gifts in it I am still understanding.
I also wonder who will be there for me if I am in this position.