Leola is my 90 year old mother. She has Alzheimer’s with dementia. She lives in a group home now after living with me for many years.
I couldn’t get anything done anymore, so I needed to find help. Her day to day stuff is now being done with caregivers at the home but doctor’s appointments, driving, scheduling, procuring meds, correspondence, maintaining her former home, bills, calls struggling with medical billing, medicare…Shall I continue?
We weren’t particularly close when I was growing up but we are closer now that she is dependent on me. She doesn’t like when she is left alone and wants to come with me wherever I go. She can still walk with her walker and the other day I left her in the car for a few minutes to run into a store. She tried to get out of the car to follow me in. Her walker was in the trunk so she didn’t get far.
Leola always dressed nicely so I like to keep that up for her. She has such nice things. She was a sorority girl so in that milieu they encouraged each other to always look pretty. I try to keep up her standards. I do her hair before every 5th Dementia rehearsal and concert. (Leola is a singer in The 5th Dementia band with Music Mends Minds.) I am reassured when others compliment her. It’s gratifying to know I’m doing a good job. It makes her smile so I know she’s happy. That’s the most important thing to me is that she’s happy.
I’m new at this. I didn’t know about old people or people with dementia. At the beginning I felt adrift and lost. There is a tendency for people to mis-lead you. There is a huge difference between what is promised and what is delivered. Like used car sales. You expect concern and tender-heartedness but receive mendacity. I’ve learned to be her advocate. That is the greatest disadvantage to me. The time it takes to be her advocate. We spent 8 hours in the ER last week. I brought a radio and memory stick with her songs that she likes. She sat and sang the whole time. That’s how we get through it.
She doesn’t cry or get sad. When my brother and I were young, she always found a way for us to take advantage of opportunities that were offered to us. She managed to get me a trip to Europe. If she thought her kids would benefit, she would fight for us. Now it’s my turn. If there’s anything I can do to help her, I have to do it. As long as it puts a smile on her face.