My mother the planner

Last August, my brother, sister and I made the difficult, but correct decision to migrate our mother into an assisted living facility. She was in a Rehab facility after getting a urinary tract infection, becoming dehydrated then falling, not an unusual triumvirate for elderly women. We were  also awaiting test results from a neurologist on Alzheimer’s, a test she had taken a month before.

The advice from several nurses was to move Mom while she could cope with the change. They noted often families wait too long and the parent becomes paranoid . Later, it was confirmed she has a progressive memory disorder, most likely Alzheimer’s. She is doing well, eating better, taking her medicines and staying busy. But, she is definitely in the right place as her memory continues to betray her.

You see, Mom was a teacher. She double majored in Education and Home Economics, so she was quite the planner. She later taught bible study fellowship up
until eighteen months before her hospital stay. And, when the church needed someone to organize meals for funerals or something, they looked to my mother. She had to be very organized to accomplish her duties, work, family and volunteer.

To make ends meet, she would plan her errands and meals. After leaving teaching to raise us (she would later return), she helped my father make ends meet. Since he was paid every two weeks, Mom would buy groceries based on a preset menu following her Home Economics discipline.

Every two weeks, we would eat fried chicken, pork chops, spaghetti, meat loaf, pot roast, etc. and then do it again the next two weeks. She would allow some variation intermixing fried shrimp or salmon  croquettes, and we usually had a treat of take out pizza. Mind you, this was before Pizza Hut, so we had to go get it.

I speak with Mom a few times a week and try to visit once a month from three states away. To see her now, is disheartening, but she is always my mother. She thinks she is in a college dorm room, which is sweet. At times, she talks about her pictures as if they are real. She has been able to mask her memory loss as she is very social, but it is harder now. I visit and call as I don’t want her to forget me. She knows I am on her team, but she has introduced me as her son, grandson, brother and husband.

Alzheimer’s is a hateful illness. If you have a loved one with any memory disorder get prepared for a demise in memory that won’t come back. And, have good conversations before then about how to handle the patient’s affairs.



24 thoughts on “My mother the planner

  1. So many of us baby boomers are dealing with the aging of our parents. It is both a privilege and a challenge. My parents are gone now and I miss them every day. I am so sorry that your mother’s memory is being slowly erased but know that your love for her – and hers for you – will never disappear.

    • Thanks Janis. Your words help. She is our last parent left and we saw my mother-in-law go through this. She still reads wonderfully and understands what she reads, she just won’t remember she read it later in the day. Best regards, Keith

  2. I went through Alzheimer’s with my Dad and it was incredibly hard to deal with. My mom passed before her memory got too bad. But, I miss them a ton. Tonight I was watching a show they both liked a lot and could almost hear their laughter. I hope your mom is able to deal with it in some comfort and peace – and you are too.

    • Thanks so much. You know what it entails. I understand your point about the TV shows we watched as a family. My mother is happy where she is and the staff and other patients like her as she is a gentle soul. Take care.

  3. sounds to me like you and your siblings got her into assisted living at the right time. Definitely a difficult decision. I was in your shoes a couple of years ago and several more states away. Mom will be 93 at the end of the month and she’s barely recognizable any more. It’s heartbreaking to watch the decline. You are a good son to continue communication and visiting her. Good post for others out there contemplating their own situations.

    • Thanks Toby. You knw what it entails. I just do not look forward to the day when she may not recognize me at all. I read somewhere that the sense of smell remains longer and that patients gain comfort from familiar smells, so I try to wear the same after-shave as a result.

  4. My beloved grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease and it is the one thing I fear above all other diseases, I think. I applaud you for keeping in contact. My mother, by the way, was a bit of a flake and we ate things like tripe due to the lack of money! Your menu makes me envious!

    • We were indeed well fed. With your grandmother, you know what this disease entails. In my note to Toby, I just dread the day when she does not recognize me.

  5. I had an aunt and her son had Alzheimer’s. I wasn’t close to them. My experience with Alzheimer’s was through my employment in home care. It is hard on the family and my heart goes out to you. It sounds like your mother is happy in her environment and that is good.

  6. It’s so horrific for beautiful minds to lose that. I will not and cannot understand why this scouge exists, it’s the most awful awful thing and I am so angry that it exists. Your love for your mom Keith, is testament to the power of our enduring affection ♡

    • Candice, thank you so much for your heartfelt words. They mean a great deal. My mother was a crossword afficionado and while she reads well still, she cannot pull those words out for her dear puzzles. Thanks again for your thoughts, Keith

      • It isn’t right. Why do you honestly think it’s on the rise so much?

      • Candice, I don’t know. I speculate it is due to living longer and being diagnosed and treated. It was probably lumped together with senility before. Keith

      • You are right that environmental degradation and toxins play a larger role than we know. Have you ever read Sandra Steingraber’s books “Living Downstream” and “Raising Elijah?”

      • Candice, I hope you enjoy. I saw her speak and she is very well-schooled, experienced and compelling. She is a biologist, ecologist and cancer survivor with her bladder cancer caused by the environment. Keith

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