Chapter 14 – Filled with Gratitude

We have been experiencing Alzheimer’s  for 6 years and we are grateful that it is very slow moving. We can see changes but they are certainly not overwhelming and it is a blessing for us to be allowed the wonderful gift of more time. This disease is terrible and as we watch others around the Long Term Care home changing very quickly we know how blessed our family is. The fear of walking in the door and her not knowing who I am is very real and I am so thankful that we are not at that point yet.

Mom has developed a routine which makes her day to day manageable for her. She has been in the retirement home for almost 4 years and has adjusted well to her life there. This is her home and we have worked at making it a special place for our family as well. That part is not easy. We still take her out for some holiday celebrations but have found the last year that it is easier for her to stay where she has become comfortable. We are not able to offer all the assists that they have in the facility that allows her to have her independence, so the family has adapted to celebrations at the facility. This brings another challenge to deal with but we remind each other that we need to be grateful. Mom feels like she is hosting the family gathering at her home and that makes her happy. We all just work together to transport the meal, gifts, decorations and love, lots of love, to her “home”.

The staff seem to become part of your family as well. When I read the many terrible stories about what happens in Long Term Care Homes I am so thankful that she is in a place where we all feel that she is safe. My brother and I are so grateful and relieved that she is treated with love and respect.  Being involved and being an advocate for the senior in your life is so very important. It is up to the caregiver to keep open lines of communication. Although my physical responsibilities with Mom have changed, I am still involved in every aspect of her care. It is my role as her caregiver/power of care to be the contact person to stay informed. I have become very protective of her and our roles are constantly changing and I feel now that I am the parent. There are still many wonderful moments when she takes my hand and says she is proud of me. Those moments are when I am the child again and my Mom is there and it is so joyful.

We really do learn to take these moments and freeze them in time in our hearts as we struggle with the changes. At the end of the day she is still the amazing, kind wonderful woman that she has always been and we learn in those moments to overlook some of the other difficult challenges of this disease.