Seasons of life: my mum forgot who I was.

This past weekend my dad had appointments in the city and asked if I could look after my mum who has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. No problems, The Bloke and I got there on Friday morn, settled ourselves into the spare room then chugged down in front of the fire with some good tucker and a chance to spend some decent time with Mum.

Apart from some pretty severe short-term memory issues, I’d been under the impression that otherwise all was somewhat OK. Sure, she asks the same questions time after time, but I don’t live with her full time, so it was super easy to cope with the inundation.

It was when she forgot who I was, mid conversation, that floored me.

We were chatting away about all sorts of sundry stuff, and she had an epiphany.

“You know, you look just like my daughter, isn’t it a small world…she looks so much like you”.

“Mum, I AM your daughter, my name’s KAM”.

Nooooo you’re not. Who are you? When did you get here? It’s a small world innit, my goodness, you look just like my daughter.” :frowning:

The term gutted describes pretty well what I felt upon hearing those words. I took myself outside and howled like a baby.

There are certain events in our lives that are milestones, so to speak. Getting our driving license, graduating from university, having a child are probably the big 'uns in our younger lives.

But for me today, having my mum forget me (even momentarily) ranks right up there with the biggest fucking thing to ever happen. It means that the whole universe has shifted slightly. It means that all those immutable truths that I held are no longer valid. It means that nothing stays the same, ever. The personhoods we believe are ‘us’ are only transient too, and in the end…

I grew up this weekend. Holy shit, what a journey. :frowning:

But then I came home and had a bit of a chin-wag with my little grandson. He’s just ten months old now, but full of interesting tid-bits and wonders about the world. Sometimes he’s a bit too vocal for my liking, but I’m an old fart now…like my mum was back then too. By golly, if I ever forget who my kids or grandkids are, I’d seriously like someone to just shoot me. Please.

I’m so sorry.

I dread that part of my future. My great-grandmother lived with us when I was young and we experienced all the stages. Now my grandmother and grandfather are in the early stages, too.

You’re right, the world will never be the same again in some ways. Cherish the time you have left with her.

Sorry that I can offer little comfort, but if you ever need a listening ear, feel free to PM me.

It’s the moment none of us ever want to experience. So sorry, Kam. Just so sorry.

Oh man, I’m sorry - that’s one of both my Mum’s and my secret fears, and I don’t think I’d handle it any better than you. What is it with the Dope today - this and also Bearflag’s news - time to go and hug those we love while we still can! I hope you get to enjoy more happy days with your Mum.

We have been lucky in my family. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s almost 13 years ago, yet she is still only mildly impaired. I’ve gotten kind of used to her level of impairment, and I’m sure a big part of me believes, irrationally, that she’ll stay this way forever.

It will be shattering when the day eventually comes that she doesn’t know who I am. It’s hard for me to even imagine it without a deep sadness and tears.

I am so sorry, kambuckta. I wish you didn’t have to live this.

I understand where you’re coming from - I’m the youngest grandkid on one side of the family who has any working memories of my Grandfather from before he had Alzheimer - and I only remember him calling me by name once or twice. It was devastating for that side of the family - they were a close-knit clan, and my grandmother was a nurse, so she thought she should keep him at home. Bad plan, as he was a wanderer - we finally had to get him into a lock-down facility when he was picked up by the police on the median of the highway (My grandmother had a bit of a cold and had fallen asleep while watching TV).

He was diagnosed when I was about four, and died when I was about twelve, so I don’t really remember him “before” (like I said, I only remember him calling me by name once or twice), but I remember the stress on my family - my aunt and mother went to visit him every Sunday, and took us kids once a month - keeping to that routine was the only way they could handle seeing their once-vibrant father.

Now that my other grandfather has been given a tentative diagnosis, my mother is a source of strength for her siblings-in-law - she has, unfortunately, been down this road before (which makes it both easier and harder), and has been able to tell my aunts and uncles "You’ll see this, and it’ll suck… " which has helped prepare them for what’s to come (and helped them know that they may need to start researching care facilities with a lock down unit). Perhaps you can find someone in your life who can be that sort of strength - I know the care facility my Grandfather was in had a support group for spouses and adult children, perhaps you can talk to his gerontologist or check the local community center or social services for something like that?

So sorry, Kam. I’ve been there myself, and I remember the first time my father didn’t recognize me . . . or my mother . . . then didn’t even know who he was, himself. Then one day he said to me “I love you” (something he NEVER would have said, normally) and I knew he didn’t know what he was saying or who he was saying it to.

And now both of my parents are gone, and I can’t help worrying about my own future.

So sorry to hear this kambuckta. I haven’t had personal experience with this, but can imagine how awful it would feel. Good thoughts headed your way.

That’s so horrifying. Poor you. :frowning:

I’m lucky in that none of my family (my dad’s grandparents, parents, etc., or anybody my mom remembers in her life) have ever had Alzheimer’s, so I’m hoping that trend continues. It is honestly one of the most awful diseases I’ve ever seen first hand.

When I worked in long term care, I cared for a woman who was dead convinced I was her daughter and she would sob and sob and wonder why I was so mad at her and why I left and couldn’t I just come back home? It’s very sad.

Some of my inlaws were over today for a get-together/cookout.

My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s, and I’m pretty sure it’s gone past moderate level. A previous time we talked, she asked how the move into the new apartment had gone. We’ve lived in this house for around 10 years. Today, I spent maybe 2-3 minutes scooping olives out of a container (draining off the juice; I didn’t have a slotted spoon handy), and she remarked to me 4 different times, using about the same phrasing about how it was fortunate we had such nice weather out. In how I responded, I treated each instance as if it was the first time she’d remarked on it. I’m pretty sure she still knows who I am, as she didn’t introduce herself at all, but perhaps she’s old-fashioned enough to expect that the younger person will introduce themselves to the older without being prompted.

Oh dear, Kambuckta. Horrible for you. I WISH I could say it gets better, but … :frowning:

However it was sometimes amusing when my Alzheimery mother decided that she did recognise me and asked nicely what I did at school that day. (Most other times, I might be one or other of her sisters, even a dead one.) In fact, now Mum is in an Alzheimer care home, and generally does know me when I visit. There’s just no guessing what reaction you’ll get, sometimes.

Actually, it’s possible that, if your father’s absence on his appointments was an unusual occurrence, that in itself may have rendered your mother a bit more distracted that day.

It’s one bloody nasty disease, though, and I’m sorry for what you’re going through.

Yes, that’s fun isn’t it? One feels as though one must not reply always in the same words lest it sounds rude, so one varies" oh yes, it IS, isn’t it?" with “Yes, we are lucky with the weather this year” and so on. Despite knowing, really, that the Alzheimer relative isn’t exactly taking in these utterances word for world. :slight_smile:

Of course we had some deliciously funny experiences, like the repetitive questions as mentioned above! She’d get a bee in her bonnet about something for a couple of hours at a time, but thankfully her tack would change and then there’d be a new thing to ask…every two or three minutes

Mum has also taken to hiding things, and ‘cleaning things up’ so we didn’t think it too weird when our overnight bags went missing from the guest-bedroom…a quick scout in her wardrobe found them stuffed behind some bags of shoes! :smiley:

She was also in a very generous mood, gifting me a whole lot of crappy beads and a couple of old vinyl handbags. I had left them on a chair outside when she saw them and decided that she’d better NOT give them away because she might need them some time! :stuck_out_tongue:

I know the path ahead is going to be most difficult for my dad, he loves her to bits and is most reluctant to place her in care. But she’s had a few falls lately, and I’m thinking the time for admission to a high-dependency unit is not too far away. Of course, he is ageing too and not quite as sharp as previously either…the combination could prove to be really dangerous for both of them.

But it’s a fucker of a disease, and I’m guessing my time will come around soon enough too. TIme to make contingency plans.

Oh yes, the hiding of things. :smiley: The hiding of the television remote control was a favourite. Hiding away post-prandial biscuits etc (to keep them safe from the (non-existent) dog…hiding my spectacles was a favourite too… Prizewinner was hiding a granddaughter’s shoes, and since the child seems to like wandering around barefoot, this didn’t become obvious until it was time for my brother and the child to go home. If they had brought a car with them it would have been ok, but as they needed a few changes of trains and buses, the result was a quick dash to buy new shoes, so I suppose the kid was fairly pleased really…

You’re going to have fun, if you can ever send her out of the house to be busy one day, so that you can try tidying up her wardrobes, finding a mad amount of old dresses and crazy handbags and shoes, oh yes!

Yes, and if not physically dangerous, very VERY wearing for your Dad.

Fucker of a disease is about right. :frowning:

Iam so sorry for your loss Kam…yes, although she is still alive, the mother you knew won’t be around for more than a few minutes at a time now.

I am a nurse on a specialized Alzheimer’s and Dementia psych ward. I am also the grand daughter of two good people lost to AD. (Mom’s dad, and Dad’s mom. We Lost Grandma forever almost 2 years ago —like I have any chance of forgetting the exact day…September 11th)

There are gifts with the losses. Its hard to see that, but without dementia I would never have found out some things in my family history (like she faked a fainting spell to catch my Grandpa’s eye ) and had much franker conversations than she and I ever would.

Nancy Regan called Alzheimer’s Disease “the very long goodbye”, but it has its funny moments too. Enjoy what you can, and next time maybe see what your mother has to say about this daughter you look so much like. Maybe she is proud of her for raising a fine family, or she always liked her singing voice. Its never enough, but it is something.

For the record, in my grandmother’s family several sisters had dementia. For about 15years now I have known when it gets really bad. Eventually one of them comments that my name is beautiful, it was her mother’s name. Yes, I was named for her. First great grand child and everyone was so pleased. I had the surreal experience of being at a family party sitting between two aunties and having this conversation all afternoon. I started to dread hearing my own name, the one auntie would always cry, then mention her mother had died (twenty five years earlier at the ripe and with it age of 94)