Andrew Kane’s mom had dementia. He wrote this FB post on the group Being Patient: Brain Talks which I read from time to time. It helps me a lot reading how others handle what they are going through or how the caregiver describes life with a dementia patient. My personal dementia journey has included so many ups and downs, so much frustration, and sadness watching what was me leave over time. I do want to share more with ya’ll but I can’t seem to sit down and share. I will though, soon.
Andrew obviously loved his mom. I love her nickname “Gooch” and hope this will help educate someone, give comfort to someone or a better understanding of the awful disease called dementia..
Here we go “Gooch of the Day”
“Gooch Of The Day”… (as seen on my instagram) … unfortunately this will be the last “Gooch Of The Day” as my mom, “Gooch” (my dad’s nickname for her and her grandkids called her) passed away last night from complications caused by Alzheimer’s and old age.
LET ME FIRST PREFACE THIS by explaining I am posting this to assist others with family members affected by Alzheimer’s to explain some of the things that my family experienced.
My family was one of the lucky ones as Gooch was still as happy as ever. I can’t imagine if she became mean as many people with Alzheimer’s do.
She became a little girl again and would laugh and joke and even pee in her pants from laughing so much! She was always happy and still very proper and polite always thanking everyone or helping other people. She even offered her wheelchair (stroke related) to a physically fine stranger that was standing next to her as there weren’t any more chairs in the room.
She lost her filter as age often does and always said what was on her mind. We would just say “shhhh Mom”.
Her recent and short term memory deteriorated over the past 3 years relatively rapidly but she could remember so much from the past. Just recently I asked her what our phone number was on Barberry Lane where my sisters and I grew up. Sure enough sh,e blurted out the number with area code …(315) 637-3___… amazing… no hesitation!
So back up 3 – 4 years in Connecticut, she was found wandering around her assisted living facility several times not knowing where she was and even going outside looking for her car which she did not have for several years. They could not assist a resident needing memory care. It was time for her to move back to Syracuse.
That reminds me that every move made things worse so if you need to move your family member try to decorate the new place as close to identically as possible which is tough as usually you are down sizing as we were. Change always causes problems… “where am I”, “let’s go home”…”this is your home, mom. See the painting of…” I would reply.
As she became “younger” she would talk about the past more and more and think she was living in the past. She thought the Nottingham Health Center was her high school, Nottingham High School.
You had to learn to tell her “therapeutic fibs” so that she would not think about her failing memory and then get upset…. “Dad’s out golfing mom… probably having a beer with the boys afterwards” and she would huff and puff and then forget it. If you said “dad’s dead mom” that would just cause anxiety.
One of the most negative things that really affected her was anxiety. Anxiety that she didn’t know where she was, anxiety about where Dad was, anxiety about losing her memory.
The busier you kept her with activities the less anxiety… but for the times that nothing was going on and family was not with her the Savior was “Kiffy”, a Hasbro mechanical cat that meows, purrs, lifts it paw, wiggles it ears and opens & closes its eyes. All you had to do was give Mom Kiffy and she would settle down. You see Gooch had cats while we were growing up and most recently had the real Kiffy which unfortunately she could not care for and was given to a niece. In comes “Kiffy” to save our Mom. My family and I thank Hasbro for manufacturing moms’ mechanical cat (they also have mechanical dogs and babies). Find the thing that calms your loved one.
We were also “lucky” as mom didn’t forget any of her kids when we came to visit. She had trouble with me as she often thought I was her brother. But at least knew I was family. But my three sisters were normally recognized immediately. Often this is not the case and I am sure she would have forgotten us eventually if she had lived longer but who knows.
Be patient more than anything. Realize it is not their fault and they have no control. I originally was not patient with her continually asking me the same question over and over. I would say things like “Mom you just asked me that”. I fed the beast that was within her and she would get anxious and upset.
Not until she moved back to Syracuse did I learn to be patient as her primary care giver. You have to just answer as if it was the first time she asked you and then attempt to get her focused on something else… that is why keeping her busy is so important. It hurt so much seeing what was happening to her but we always felt comfort that she was a happy person overall.
Mom (“Gooch”) passed away due to Pneumonia/fluid in the lung, fluid around the heart which was caused by asphyxiating on food and liquids & medicine required to bring her temperature down as high blood pressure, irregular heart beat and low oxygen levels had to be regulated. The inability to walk to get rid of the fluid in the lungs and heart was a huge detriment as well.
I sincerely hope that this helps others that find themselves in a similar situation.
And thank you Being Patient: Brain Talks as your members educated me and in turn I hope to educate others!
Roy and I just had our family Thanksgiving gathering with our two sons and their families. We are worn out but very happy!
My precious granddaughter Madisyn brought to me her twin baby dolls, Madison and Mason. I’ve loved them and she is letting me have them for when the time comes in my dementia journey that they may give me a calming comfort. I’ll share photos and more about them in a future blog post!
I hope each and every one of ya’ll has a very very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
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