|Photo by Jeff Norris
The other day, as we were leaving a friends house, I noticed Mom could not walk down the stairs. She just could not figure out how to move her feet. I mentioned this to Dad that night. The next day, when they were walking downstairs to going into the basement, Mom herself told Dad she had forgotten how to walk down the stairs.
Mom started a new medicine a few weeks ago, and that could be what is causing the increased dementia. She has stopped taking that medication and we will see if she gets any better. We are going through what I posted about a while ago, the Medicine Dance.
But who knows if it really is just the medicine. None of what Mom is experiencing is unlikely for people with dementia. It is part of the disease. I guess I did not expect these changes to happen so quickly though.
Dad and I were remembering that it was only four years ago when Mom was diagnosed with minimal cognitive impairment. She was still driving, traveling a bit, cooking, her posture was straight, she had a sparkle in her eye, she could follow a conversation, dress herself, and play games with the grandkids.
Now, so much has changed. Mom can no longer take care of herself, cook, or travel. Her eyes have lost their sparkle and they have a distant foggy stare. All these changes are not easy to handle. It is humbling to dress your own mother. It is a shock every time you see, with blinding clarity, another thing your loved one is loosing. When you stand with them and realize they can not figure out how to pick up their foot to walk forward.
There are many horrible diseases out there in the world. Personally, watching Mom’s combination of dementia and Parkinson’s, which is probably Lewy Body Dementia, I think this disease is fairly scary and traumatizing. It is like your whole life with someone just ends. Everything we have goes away. All the memories, all the fun, even all the hard times; just gone. And it is not only the loss of mind. Along with losing her memories, Mom is losing her ability to walk, dress herself, read, and even hold a fork.
I know there are still many things we can do together and many ways in which our life is wonderful. Sometimes though, the changes get overwhelming and a bit scary. In those times, it helps to talk about it with other people. We need to name what is scary, name the reality of a situation. It seems far less scary when you say it out loud. Naming it helps us deal with it better. In the end, there is no cure, and all we can do is deal with the situation the way it is.