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My Mother and Dementia

At age ninety-three my mom is showing signs of dementia. She talks about so and so coming to visit and that they want all their books back – when so and so is no longer alive, and the books have never been brought into her home, or placed upon the shelf that she points to. And, well, sometimes she asks why she’s forgetting things and forgets that she asked such a question.

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Most times, my mom can be reminded that someone is no longer around, or that she might be confused, and she’ll respond gently with an ‘Oh, really?’ And, sometimes, when I am visiting, sitting in front of her, conversing, and simply want to soothe her anxiety about visitors and having to entertain, I just go with it, tell her I will be sure to talk with them, that she can rest, not worry about it; and that’s when she falls asleep, peacefully.

And then, on top of that, she has what might be diagnosed as restless legs, where something, a nerve, muscles, blood circulation, whatever it is, irritates her to no end so that she needs to stand and walk, which is hard because her legs aren’t as strong as they used to be, so, instead, she rubs, and scratches her legs, her left one mostly, bruising her tender skin, while quietly screeching that they are bothering her and that she can’t sleep. So much so, that lately, she’s up all night long, stressing out, and getting angry, very uncharacteristically angry, yelling for this and that, demanding someone to help her.

After a visit to the ER, and receiving a few vials of medicine to ease her stress and the pain shooting from her legs, she falls asleep, peacefully, quietly, contently. Several hours later, she wakes, groggy, sleepy, yet calm, and smiling.

She looks at me, stares at me, and grins.

“Do you know him?” she asks, referring, I assume to my brother who cares for her 24/7, who is sitting next to her.

“Um Hm.” I answer, not sure what she’s asking, exactly.

She continues to smile.

“I love him,” she says, reaching toward him, stroking his more that 5 ‘o clock shadow.

I hold her hand. She smiles.

“Mom,” my brother starts, “she’s your daughter. That’s Daphne.”

She looks at me. Smiles sweetly.

And then he begins to list all her children. All eleven of them.

Ironically, she repeats the names of two of my brothers, both dead, one from a car accident, one from a seizure, as if she’s remembering something.

“Isn’t it amazing,” she states suddenly, “that we are all one big family?”

I laugh. Smile at my beautiful mother while I hold back the lump in my throat, the tears in my eyes, realizing that this is the first time she didn’t know who I was.

Read more from Daphne Romero on her blog.

Daphne Romero

Writing brings my thoughts to life. A mostly serene life style intertwined with occasional unexpected disruptions. I am a writer, a reader, and a very good listener. I have been married for 28 years, have 3 children, and teach impressionable 5th graders.

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Jo Heroux

Monday 3rd of February 2014

I am just slightly behind you, Daphne. Momma still lives in her own apartment, but if worry every day that she is alone. She likes being alone. She is forgetting so many things and some of them fairly important things. She is losing strength daily because it's winter and she is basically sitting most of every day. Leg strength, hand strength and upper body are all dwindling so quickly. I can't get her up and moving hardly at all. It's so hard to watch and I'm sure harder to live with. I sincerely wish we could get her to move in with us, but she is not willing and I can't justify "forcing" it yet only to ease my own mind. I know your heart, mine is right beside yours, in love and in sadness and in gratitude to still have a mother.

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