April 22, 2008

Hannah's Journey - Part 6 (Still hopeful?...not so much...)

This is a journal of events that my mother has been going through since 1989 and leading to her eventual stay in a nursing home. In order to keep each part of the journal I have been keeping over the last half year brief, I will post this journal in parts, as I entered them. All of these postings can be found in the folder in the sidebar called Hannah's Journey.

I realize that these postings are about something that is personal to me and may not necessarily interest many others, with the possible exception of some other baby boomer going through a similar experience and happening upon them. There are other reasons why I feel a need to write about my mother's story of the last events of this past year and possibly the ending events of her life. I chose to include them in my blog that has the theme of Baby Boomers, for that exact reason above.. that someone may find council in the fact that they are not alone or unique in learning about what it's like to get older. No matter what we all think or do or deny, we WILL INDEED go through some kind of experience of getting older and dealing with parents going through these things and finally even we will go through them. What we learn by talking or reading about the experiences of others will effect the course of events of HOW and when we go through the aging process. That is why I include this very brief story of what we have gone through.. and will yet experience, of which we do not have any knowledge or experience in dealing with.

Somehow, it seems that the sum of a person's life should be written down... should be told and read. No matter what kind of a person they were perceived as by others, there were reasons why they made the choices they did throughout their life

----04/01/2008 - This is not the final entry of this journey, but it feels near the end as it did not progress to where we had hoped... It appears that Hannah will not be able to participate in the Community Life program even though she was approved for Medicaid. Because her mind deteriorated quickly and she fell again in her apartment, she is now not able to participate in the orientation program. Because of a couple of weeks of time, my mother's new place to live is Kane nursing home in McKeesport, PA, which is her home town. This is a government run nursing home and it will take her social security and retirement from the Mckeesport Hospital as well as she is now on Medicaid. She is in some later stage of Dementia or Alzheimer's... (nobody seems to really know the difference.. they seem the same to me) and she now needs 24 hour professional care. She has only a small amount of memory left. She does know her immediate family, but may forget our names, but she does recognize us. That will probably only last a few more days or weeks. The less she sees us, the quicker she will forget. Physically, she is in good health and that's what makes this all seem like the worst disease to have. Your are physically here, but your mind is dieing. Eventually, if your body stays healthy, the mind will begin to forget how to keep your organs going and then it ends.. but slowly.

My wife and I visited her this past Sunday and she was in a state of panic. She thought "they" are recording her talking and that she "know" everything... has seen the end and beginning... We don't dismiss her thoughts but just try to reassure her to feel better and we are here for her. We can't even appear to disagree... but we just say, that if anything happens.. we are here. I have to comfort myself somewhat by saying to myself ... "her mind will soon forget her fear... at least for a while and move on to another subject. Even if fear returns, and it will, it is just a revolving state of random thoughts. The environment effects it... TV, people talking, her memories and fears of the unknown. It sounds SOOO AWFUL as I type it! I pray that she has some comfort in her random thoughts. She was not very religious though much of her life, although in the last half year, she does talk and pray often, so hopefully, she finds some comfort there.

The family just cleaned out her apartment at the retirement home she has lived in for the last 8 years or so. That was very sad! We are all taking mementos to have in our houses to think of her and better times. Some of the family, her great grand daughter and family is struggling, so they got much needed bedroom furniture and other things. We can all have our own memories when we look at and use these material things that were mom's.

You can see why this disease is unique in that everything progresses as if the loved one has passed on... but she hasn't... and that makes the sadness seem to drawn out as long as her life does. I keep seeing images of each time I last visit her in my mind and is brings me down.. and I have to snap out of it.. life moves on.

I will continue to add to this journal until the end of Hannah Josephine (Norton) Lindberg. She was and is a strong woman but one of distant and unattached emotions. She always seemed to be angry at life or spending so much time on what she didn't have that she never seemed to appreciate the moment she was in. What a shame and what a lesson that has been to me... I hope!!!


Unknown said...

I'm so glad I found your blog about your mother. My mother is just beginning to lose her memory and it is helpful to read it. To preview what may happen. You seem like a nice person. Thank you. Don't think you are not appreciated. If I were ten years younger.....

David said...

Thank you for the comment and I wish all the best for you and your mother. There just are no good answers or advice for dealing with an aging parent. All we can do is the best the each one of us can in our own way! One thing I can say is to get her to the doctor for a total checkup and if you haven't already, ask the doctor about Aricept for your mother, but then watch her carefully and see if the side effects are worth it. In my mother's case, the drug seemed to maybe help for a few months and then it was causing her to have negative personality traits. In the end, we asked to have the drug stopped as I would rather have her last as long as she could in a normal, happy way than to try to stave off the Alzheimer's and have her feeling terrible and afraid. Her mind is not all gone currently as she still remembers most of us and our names, but other than that she is in a thousand different moments and thoughts at once. It's sad, but it is life and it is her life's path. The hardest thing for all the family to deal with is that it's as if she has died, because she is not around us all the time and isn't the person she used to be...but she hasn't died, so there is no closure with Alzheimer's, until the body finally gives out.

There is a LOT of good information out there on how to deal with Alzheimer's. I have a lot within the posts in my blog.

One more fantastic thing that we found out about, but it ended up not happening for my mother, is day care for aging parents. You can do searches for any in your area. Also, for people with low incomes, they can take care of every need, both medically and otherwise. Basically, they pick them up in the morning, they do things with others of their age and are brought back to your home in the late afternoon.

If you need or have any other questions...ever... don't hesitate to email me directly if you'd like at Dlindberg49@gmail.com

Take care!