Everyone Loved Dolly
My name is Barb and this is my story about how I became a caregiver to my mom, what I learned, and what I wish I did differently. My mom’s name was Florence, though she went by Flo Flo or Dolly. Everyone liked Dolly. She never had any enemies in this world. I think her gift was complimenting people. She had nice things to say to everyone she talked with. She was my best friend and we hung out everyday. Dolly literally helped me raise my four children. She was always there for me, giving me advice and support whenever I needed it.
The Beginning Of Alzheimer's
In Dolly’s early eighties the Alzheimer’s set in. The phone calls were less and less and she started repeating herself a lot. That was just the beginning. We used to laugh at it at first. When my birthday came around and I didn’t even get a happy birthday I realized it was becoming more of a problem.
It wasn’t Her Any More
It really hurt when I cam to grips with it, but I eventually as Alzheimer's disease was progressing further, I began to realize that it wasn’t her anymore. Her personality started to changed drastically. She started blaming us for things and accusing us of taking her belongings. She would argue a lot over silly things. She would say our home was hers and even our dog was hers. It made my youngest daughter angry. I learned right away that she was not able to rationalize between what was true or false. It did no good to argue with her because her mind was becoming illogical. My best friend was no longer able to know what was real and what was not.
She stopped using the telephone. She would neither call nor answer calls. That was scary because I didn’t know if she was all right. I made many daily trips to her home to check on her. She had become very stubborn. I made large signs with our names and phone numbers on it and posted it all over her house. I made signs for front door saying “DO NOT OPEN FOR ANYONE”. I even made a sign showing which way to turn the knob to lock the door. I made signs for medicine. And every night I’d ask her, “Did you take your medicine?” She would say, “YES, positively, I’m not a child”. When I checked her medication dispenser her pills where still there.
When I finally knew I had make a decision to take her in with me was when she opened the door for a man that told her she needed her gutters cleaned. He had charged her 200 dollars, did nothing, and he even filled the check out himself in a way that his name was not legible. If that wasn’t scary enough; a few weeks later he came back and forced her to write him another check. She told me he made her write it. What kind of horrible person would pry on a helpless old woman? I had to take her checkbook away from her. She threw a fit. I realized the rolls were horribly reversed and the time had come that I knew she could no longer stay in her home alone.
Becoming A Caregiver: Dolly Moves In
I made the difficult decision to make my mom moved in with us and build a mother in-law suite. What an adjustment! My life was so full. Our daughters both had gotten engaged and married that same year my mom joined us. They were all having fun and I was stuck babysitting. I felt my life was being taken from me. If I needed to go to the grocery store I had to get a sitter. She needed care 24/7. I had to cook for her, bath her, cut her hair, brush her teeth, take her to potty, and dress her in the morning and undress at night. I finally got someone to come and help me two days a week, so I could still work. It just got harder and harder, I felt trapped. I loved her but didn’t like her anymore. Now that I look back on it I wish I had handled it differently.
Yes, I took care of my mom but with an attitude. I had two brothers who I love dearly, but who were busy with their own lives and struggles, and were unable to help very much. So I felt like I was all alone in this. I say all this to make the point that if you choose to become the caregiver, do it with all the love you have in your heart. Always remember that she is your mom still and she did it all for you. After all, it is only temporary. There is a time for everything in your life. And this is the time to care for your loved one. I regret that death is so final. I wish she were here now so I could hug her, kiss her, and tell her I love her.