Long Time Friends Have Passed On, Family Is All She Has

When I think about mom being alone in the dementia care home it makes my heart sad.  Her friends are all gone…..except one……I just messaged my brother to see if we can get her one friend over to have a Thanksgiving dinner with mom.  That would be soooo fun for both of them.

Anyway, I continue to talk out my thoughts and feelings with the dementia care facility director.  It has been helpful.  If you think about it you can see that all of these people who live in the care facility wander or walk around a good part of the day, nowhere to go and no best friend to go do things with.  The best friends have either died or are living in a home as well.

They have nobody left that has been a long time part of their life; friendships, companions and partners in crime are gone.  They are alone.

The problem is that most of these folks are actually alone so much of the time that they feel like they are alone all of the time.  While I have been visiting these last 4 weeks I am realizing that leaving and then returning everyday a couple of times a day has helped mom to know that I will come back and now she doesn’t seem so desperate or sad.

It seems that she has gotten into better routine through family visits along with the arriving, leaving and returning that is happening every day.   I am afraid though that if she doesn’t spend a good amount of time with family everyday that she will slip back into sleeping all day and become depressed again.   Some in our family are in the great situation of retirement and living close by so that makes it easy to visit often enough to give her piece of mind.  From what I have seen, a lot of her depression has lifted because she has recognized that we always come back and she is not always alone among very nice strangers.

Her mornings are mostly happy.  She is, however, in bed every morning when I arrive.    She is laying there usually awake.  She smiles at me when I sit down on the bed.  She keeps her eyes closed and says “I love you.”   She knows it’s me and then we usually just talk for 30 minutes or an hour before she actually gets herself up for the day.  I have to say though that if each of my visits were only a short time, she would head right back to bed.

The thing is, mom lives in a ‘home’ now.  I have gone back and forth with my acceptance of that.  I continue to learn and to make changes in my thinking about her situation.   I know that this is where she will receive the best care.  No member of my family would be able to care for her properly but at the same time, every member of my family should do what ever it is they can to participate in mom’s life.  She loves her family.

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4 responses to “Long Time Friends Have Passed On, Family Is All She Has

  1. One thing on this dementia journey I have been a little disappointed with is MIL’s long-standing friends of forty odd years (practically family) lack of support. They are very good about including her in most events of the “circle” still, but on a day to day basis don’t offer any practical support or just drop in for a cup of tea with her etc etc… Part of me grates a bit that they have known her way longer than I’ve even been alive, and yet I – their junior by thirty years and who barely knew the woman before the dementia diagnosis – get stuck with the care… 😦

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    • I feel ya. It’s not a good feeling to see how friends react to this but then I also wonder if they stay away because they don’t know how to act with your MIL so they feel self conscious and therefore just don’t come around. I am learning that my step dad actually needs to be taught along the way how to interact with mom. He doesn’t like the suggestions I tell him but he does then respond appropriately. Several days ago he was there visiting and he motioned to me that he was going to leave. He never tells mom he is going to leave, he just leaves. So I told him he needs to tell her he is taking the dog out and that he will see her later, tell her you love her and give her a kiss. Well, he thought that was a bad idea but then yesterday while I was there that is pretty much what he did when he left. Later when mom asked where Charlie was I told her I’m not sure but he said he was taking the dog out and that he would see you later and he gave you a kiss. She absolutely beamed about the kiss part. So it was a good thing and def a better thing than the past. It seems that we need to not only be the care givers but the teachers as well. I can see how it would be more difficult in your circumstance because she is not actually even your mom. But good on you for being the one who has stepped in. Do you mind if I ask? Does she have any other children?

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      • They are pretty good when face to face with her, so not sure I could even say that – it’s my husband who has had to be taught to get over his frustration, accept her limitations, and learn “compassionate communication”…. Perhaps we just do such a good job of pretending we have everything in hand that it doesn’t cross their minds that a helping hand might be appreciated at times!

        Yes, he is an only child – which is good and bad I suppose!

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        • Oh, yes, I guess I didn’t think about the part that we pretend we have everything in hand. I can def see that I do that too. My mom has lots of kids and so far since we moved her into this facility the kids that come around more often now are her own blood children. Only one of her 4 step children comes to see her and that step sister has only been there twice in the last 4 weeks. I guess we will be glad for the progress she made and I can say, OMG, what a complete turn around it has been. Grateful!

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