A Personal Moment

Rarely do I take two week vacations, but my adult daughters have begun their own lives, very separate from mine. This was the last chance to take one together so my husband and I indulged. Tickets were bought last September. My mother, at 84, was doing well enough though she showed signs of some memory loss.

As her memory loss became more apparent, we decided it was time for a retirement community. I began the process and as luck would have it, my vacation fell smack in the middle of planning her move, trying to sell her condo and all the attendant details involved in that. She fell apart.

Weeks before I left she began calling me five to twelve times a day. She couldn’t remember decisions we’d already made. She changed her mind a million times. Finally, I flew away for the first week of my break leaving my husband in charge of dealing with her for the first week. He did well but there was no one to help during the next week when all four members of the family were in another country.

So two weeks later, I return to find this horribly diminished individual. She looked like she had lost weight and she repeated herself over and over and over until it was all one can do to keep from screaming “STOP”. I seriously thought that we needed to change from a retirement home to an assisted living facility. Then the oddest thing happened. Thursday night the real estate agent called. She had a buyer for my mom’s condo. I gave a verbal OK, then cringed at the reality of convincing my mother. The next morning my husband and daughter went to oversee my mother’s signing of the papers. She did it, then my husband spent the day with her, feeding her twice. On Saturday I spent the evening with her and she accompanied me while I helped my daughter unload boxes into her apartment. While my mom couldn’t do that, she sat next to the car while three of us shlepped the boxes which really helped get the unloading done faster. Then she came into the kitchen and unwrapped dishes. When she returned home my daughter called to thank her for helping. I fed her again. On Sunday I returned to help her with some financial questions regarding the move. This time she looked at me and said “You know I’m starting to think this move is a good idea. I’m even looking forward to it a little. By the way, I called people multiple times while you were gone, didn’t I? I have no memory of that. It’s like I’ve been in a fog. I think I went a little kooky. Could I have had a stroke? You’ve been working very hard for me, come on and I’ll buy you dinner.” 

I was amazed. Suddenly she was remembering stuff she did five and ten minutes before. She had insight. What happened?? How was it that I had my mother back? She still has trouble remembering but she’s not the diminished lost woman I came home to. Was it just eating properly? I know she hasn’t been eating during these stressful weeks and we had fed her well for an entire weekend. Was it the socialization? She’d been interacting with people all weekend. Was it honestly being helpful to someone? I have no idea. What I do know is that pseudodementia is complicating an underlying mild dementia that she refuses to take medication to treat.  

At any rate, my belief it that moving her to an environment with exercise and social stimulation will improve her mentation. Maybe she’ll have quite a few years in her new home where socialization, activities and getting to know your neighbor is the norm. 

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