Alzheimer's disease · Caregiver · Caregiving

What matters / May 4, 2006

I took a vacation day from work today and realized how much the idea of “vacation” has changed. I can’t really go anywhere too far away, or for too long a time, without some preparation. First I have to decide what I can tell my mother–not because I want to deceive her but because there IS such a thing as “too much information” when I’m explaining something to her. I love details, but I think that my mother has trouble winnowing stories down to the basics and the details just complicate a situation beyond reason.

Last weekend I volunteered with a group from work who were refurbishing a small building used by a local school. I’ve just simplified the story quite a bit here, but I had to pare it down even more when I told my mother that I would be out of the house on Saturday morning. It ended up sounding like I was doing extra time at work, which she didn’t really understand. But I had to tell her SOMETHING, I had to find that nice middle path between her worrying about me because she had no idea of where I went, and her trying to understand what kind of a school it was and what I’d be doing and with whom. Those conversations just don’t end.

We went to a wake a few nights ago, and the decisions involved in getting my mother ready to go out can also be endless. Do I need a jacket? What shoes to wear? I’m at the point where I will grab the nearest suitable item and give it to her. My sister had an array of shoeboxes out while my mother languished over a decision that she would probably never be able to make. Just pick out a pair, any pair, I finally snapped, getting us all off on the right foot. It won’t matter once we get out of the house, and getting out of the house is the point. Sometimes I make decisions much too quickly but if I’m learning anything, it’s how to cut to the chase. How to recognize what matters.

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