My Mom has pretty advanced Alzheimer’s and is completely terrified when it comes time to get her up, clean her up or put her to bed. I experienced this first hand when I helped the nurse put her to bed. She screamed and screamed totally terrified. By holding her hand and being face to face, in close to her, and calming her with “it’s ok mom, you’re ok, she’s just cleaning you up.” Soon she stopped screaming and was able to cooperate with us in finishing up.

Her nurse is kind, practical and knowledgeable and was grateful for less screaming and the lovely son who helped, but also understandably experiences Mom as a problem and talks about her that way.

I’m left shaken to the core by the helpless terror my Mom experiences, and grateful for my sister who makes sure she is there morning and night. I wish I could do more than the weekly visits… Mom eats VERY slowly and if there was not a family member there with her protecting her eating time and helping her stay focused on her food, she would not eat much at all, despite being interested and hungry.

Dementia is so hard for all of us and at this moment I am particularly aware of how hard nurses have to work with only small allotments of time for each patient. Dementia does not work well with the kind of regimentation necessary to accomplish all care tasks in a shift. But despite how much cognitive function my Mom has lost, she is still there, she still knows me, knows my sister, still enjoys her food and company. And so the journey of giving her enough time at the right times of day continues so that she is doing better than she otherwise might.

Pray for my sister. Pray for all those who are sacrificing so much of themselves for those they love.

Originally written January 7, 2019


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