Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mother-in-law update

Ben has just left for New Jersey for a few days to meet with his mother, the care manager and the therapist to see what can be done. Everyone agrees that she needs to go into assisted living, but he has gotten all sorts of advice on how to accomplish this, including tricking her into thinking she's visiting a friend there just for the weekend, or even drugging her, but he can't bring himself to do that sort of thing. The good news is that there is an assisted living place near her that has an opening in its Alzheimer's unit, and another place in Boston that has one as well. Here's hoping he can somehow get her to agree to at least visit one or both of these places and not get herself thrown into state care by dialing 911 at all hours.

Another unexpected thing about G. and the Alzheimer's is that her irrational behavior is not consistent but seems to come in spurts (though the memory loss is of course always present). Yesterday she sent Ben two e-mails, one of them somewhat rambling and the other mostly coherent though duplicating a frequent refrain of hers, but there was no mention of the previous evening's events or even any discussion about her car. This has happened before -- she'll scream at Ben on the phone, he'll call her back in trepidation the next day, and both the memory of the argument plus the memory of what upset her in the first place has faded away. But sometimes the trigger comes back even when the memory of having discussed it over and over doesn't. So she calls and has the same conversation again again again.

Meanwhile, back at the fort... the kids are terrific. Sarah is so articulate (well, so is Becky, come to think of it), and both of them are very affectionate. This morning Becky kept trying to come up with more "until" phrases, as in "I'll love you until your head pops off" or "I'll love you until my belly button is filled with jelly!" There are just no words for when I go to pick them up, they catch sight of me from the other side of the playground, squeal with joy and come barreling into my arms. I know this is a very temporary thing and I can already feel my nostalgia machine going into overdrive.

Speaking of nostalgia, I'm scheduled to get together with some friends this weekend in which one of the attendees is someone the rest of us haven't seen since college. I'm bracing myself for that odd moment when you remember someone's face very clearly and then lay eyes on them again after about 25 years of not seeing them -- the shock of recognition together with "Wow, you've gotten older, OK, so I have too, but I don't notice it so much." This happens to me a lot in Leafy Suburb where I grew up and where we're moving in about six weeks. Should be inneresting...

1 comment:

Rickrufus said...

Hello Yak
I am in Australia and going through the Alzheimers route with my mother. My 13 year old son and I shifted in with her so she did not have to leave her home but it is getting unbearably difficult at times with, as you mentioned, continuous bad memory and spurts of irrational behaviour.
I would love to get up in the morning to find just the sugar in the same place and not all the vegetables and fruit in the freezer.
This has been an education in itself. No-one can know until they have lived it as to the feeling of watching a once vibrant woman (superb in business) slowly lose her mind. There is no rhyme nor reason to anything. Broaching the subject of assisted living seems a million miles away as you are dancing with a lucid person one minute and a deranged person the next, but she is still your mum.
My next problem is to make sure my son does not bear the brunt of this because at the moment he is her whipping boy. What a quandary! But my first priority must go to my son and I can see what is coming up and do not look forward to it under any circumstances. I do understand your husband's predicament.
I hope all goes well for you and your husband.


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