Alzheimer's disease · Caregiver · Caregiving

One step forward, two steps back / June 9, 2006

Several entries ago I was patting myself on the back over my handling of my mother’s refusal to let the homemaker into the house one day.   Lesson number two: be prepared to reinvent the wheel every day, or, laurels are only decorative–they aren’t meant to be rested on.

My mother refused to let the homemaker in again today.  I could see this coming, but I thought I had successfully tapped her maternal instinct the last time we talked about letting the homemaker in.  But I got a call at work–first from my mother: I didn’t mean to call you, she said when I answered the phone, I was going to cancel her.  I reminded her of our conversation and asked: Can’t you do this for me?

Okay, she said reluctantly, and then forgot to hang up the telephone.  I tried to call her for nearly an hour and got the busy signal again and again.  Then I got another call, this time from the agency.  Your mother refused the homemaker again.  We can’t keep sending her if she’s not going to get in.

Is this what’s called “pushing the envelope”?  After running interference between my mother and sister–who was stressing seriously–I tried to get my work done, hoping to calm down some.  Again, I got the fantasy out of the way: where I’d return home, pack up my things, and relocate back to my house, leaving her alone to realize her mistake.   First you have to face your mother’s dementia, then you have to secure all the anger and fear you feel as a result of it.  I don’t know if there’s a way you can will this–I usually have to keep my mouth shut and let some time pass.  The emotions settle enough to clarify the situation.  This didn’t happen for awhile.  I got home and still felt about to implode, so I immediately went to my bedroom and lay down.

I was between the rock and the hard place.  Which was worse: facing my mother and running the risk of saying something I’d feel sorry for, or withdrawing, breaking the ritual and aggravating her confusion?   I stayed in my room until I heard her call my name.  When I responded, she said: You’re not Debbie. At that point I knew I’d have to get up and interact as calmly as I could.  It took me awhile.  She asked me if I’d been upset and I didn’ t lie to her, but I just couldn’t have a discussion about it this time.  I told her that I was discouraged and didn’t know what to do.  About what? she asked.  Everything, I said and she didn’t reply.

I’ve got to create some kind of rite for myself, a symbolic way of shaking off the disappointed expectations.  Maybe a little fetish (the symbolic kind) that I can take out and put away as I need to.  Actually, this writing is my way of giving it all a shape that I can deal with–I was going to say “control” but I’m thinking of removing that word from my vocabulary.

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