Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Long Goodbye: When do you get help?

Last night I explored the unthinkable. That sentence might sound dramatic to you, but I assure you adding "drama" to my life is the last thing on my mind. Four years ago my dad and I visited a support group for family members of Alzheimer patients. It seemed silly for us to go; my mom was not like any of the people they described. I went to two meetings and decided that my emotional well-being was being greatly jeopardized. My take away from those meetings was something that would continue to haunt my thoughts- "You will know when you can't take care of them anymore. It is then that you must get help." And so, it is with every passing day, days when she seems worse, when she can't remember how to hold and eat a sandwich or put her arms through her bra straps, that I think, "Is it time to get help?"

I remember telling my dad at dinner after one of the meetings that we would not ever need help. He agreed. I was empowered by the unconditional love I had for my mom and assured myself that we would do it on our own. The reality that has struck in the past month, is that we are all to angry to do it alone. We have reached a breaking point. My mom is becoming more like the disease and less like herself, making my dad quickly frustrated, not at her but at what it has done to his beloved mate. And so, I know the time is drawing near.

I sat at my computer last night and researched in-home care options. I was tired of my dad denying that we needed help- that it is in our family's best interest that we not try this on our own any longer. I filled out a questionnaire about the progression of my mom's disease. Every single question about her ability was answered as "Dependent on Others." It wasn't until that moment I realized it truly was time. It was no longer assisting with finding shoes, turning on the TV, or brushing her hair. She had reached the point of needing help for every activity but walking, sitting, and standing. My beautiful, self-sufficient, loving, thoughtful, articulate, socially active mom had become "Dependent." It was one of the hardest realizations I will have on this journey.

With all options researched, I have also realized my dad's hesitation to bring someone from the outside into our home. Knowing the options feels like a relief and a defeat. How can we just leave her, even if it is only for a little while? Will this new person learn to love her as much as we do? Will my mom be scared? Can a new situation like this make her worse?

All are questions that won't be answered in one day, though a quick fix is what I want. Now is where prayer must become our outlet. It is without prayer that this situation may certainly fail. I ask you to please pray for knowledge and wisdom to be imparted to us over the next few weeks as we seek-out help. And, if you now of anyone that can work with Alzheimer patients we are open to recommendations. This is a continual learning process and I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.

With love and gratitude,



Anonymous said...

Sweet Mare,

How my heart breaks for you! I know you will find someone wonderful to help your Dad just as we found you.

Linds said...

Mare I love you so much and think of your family often. I really think you should call Mrs. Parkinson-- I am sure she will know or know someone who will know good options in Little Rock. Call me and I can give you her phone numbers. I need to call you soon anyway... I'll try to call you this weekend since you go on vacation soon!

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