It seems those are the words, I’m saying everyday to my mom. It used to be easy to explain, answer or give direction in a few words and it was understood. Not anymore. Sometimes when we’re getting ready to go out, she’ll ask what should she do and I’ll say, put your shoes on. She’ll go off only to return with another shirt in her hand or on her body. Or she’ll keep her slippers on thinking they’re for outside and then doesn’t understand why she can’t wear them.
Reasoning and understanding go so quickly. There are times she’ll have her slippers and sneakers in hand before we go out and I’ll say put the white ones on, thinking if I go with a color she’ll understand that better, as opposed to saying sneakers, but that’s not always understood. Navigating on what will work and not work with a person who has Alzheimer’s is a daily job. Codes or words that work one day may not and often will not work on another.
More importantly for me is working on my patience. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and sometimes a question or mom getting upset because I’m not taking an extra minute to help her, can be the last straw. In the midst of the storm I try to tell myself to speak calmly, knowing my agitation only makes the situation more agitated. You don’t know how many times I want to scream, “Why can’t you understand!! I NEED you to understand! Please mommy understand.”
So those days when a sneaker is – or isn’t recognized, when she wants to know where to put something and my telling her only leads to it being put some place else and I’m saying “not there, here” or when colors are just colors, I turn to music and laughter. It tunes me out, chills me out and calms me down enough to bring me back to 1, to that calm center.
Caregivers, never leave home without your iPod and always have a funny movie or good friend or two on hand to bring laughter to your soul and to help you remember this too shall pass.