Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Caring for Your Mom at Home

A woman from my hometown recently sent me an email with this question:

My mom is now living with us and someone said you might be able to tell me the names of some books to read.  She is having trouble remembering things, things that happened just a day ago. It is not just once in a while, it is all the time. She can't remember her grandson's names...it is killing me to see her this way.  Everyone tells me to just agree with her and don't tell her any different....but you know me, I need to tell her the right thing. Like if she says....he gave me the two pairs of slippers....I will say, No, Mom, he gave you the blue ones and the pink ones are from me. I want her to try and remember and by telling her, she says oh, yes, I remember. Am I wrong?

So, your mom is living with you now. That is quite an adjustment, but I'm glad she's in a loving home with family. Sounds like she is having some short-term memory problems, or dementia, and this could be caused by a lot of different things. To learn more about dementia, I recommend the 36 Hour Day. It's a great book for families facing dementia for the first time.

Most folks in the elder care world do suggest "meeting a person where he/she is," in other words, just go along with them and with whatever they believe as long as they are not harming themselves or others. Since your mom will likely not be able to recover the ability to remember events or people, correcting her will only make her feel bad and ashamed, or get agitated. So, you just smile and nod when she says that the cows are in the front yard eating blue hay. This can be difficult and very trying for family members, especially when you are living with it 24/7, so I recommend getting support from others. The Alzheimer's Association has some great recommendations on their website www.alz.org including a list of support groups that meet monthly. I strongly recommend connecting with others that are going through this; their insight and experience will be invaluable.

The other book I would recommend is the AARP's Caring for Your Parents.  And here is a blog that I really enjoy http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/

I hope some of this helps.  Caring for a loved one at home can be difficult. Finding support from others will be helpful as you make this journey. 

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