Dementia/Alzheimer's Diseases Are Horrible Diseases!

Dementia/Alzheimer's Diseases Are Horrible Diseases!
My Mother, The Most Go-Along-To-Get-Along Person In the Universe! Esther Pattison, nee Fuchs RIP

I am a victim of the disease. No, I do not have it, and I do not want your sympathy, but it makes victims out of everyone who is around the person that does. I am not saying this to make you feel sorry for me, or get anything, except awareness that the people who have the disease, be it Alzheimer's or Dementia, suffer, absolutely, but the children, relatives, and caregivers also suffer when they see the amazing, vibrant person who they knew and loved dearly, aren't in the body of that person anymore. Yes they are still there, but, the person's memories are full of holes, especially the short-term memory. The reality is that it can change the person's personality, outlook on life, and make them fretful, worried, even totally belligerent.

My Grandmother, on Mom's side, pictured above, developed what they called "hardening of the arteries" in the 1970's. It was very difficult for Mom, Grandma had a tough time, also, hallucinating, and other things I cannot remember well as I was young, but Mom dealt with it as best as she could, and she was tougher than I ever was. Grandma died with the disease, she was 82, if my memory is right, I was only about 12 or 14.

I know, when my Mother, who was the most "go-along-to-get-along" person in the world, changed. She worried about money constantly, concerned that she could not afford to live in the "assisted living memory care facility" that she had chosen.

One of the biggest things that hurt her cognition, was when she broke her hip. (Always a bad thing for seniors especially with these diseases). In the hospital after her surgery to replace the hip, they gave her opiates for the pain. BAD, BAD, BAD. The opiates totally blew out her circuits.... It totally made her the exact opposite person that her normal, lovely personality was. She got irritated at a hospital orderly, threw a tissue box at him, and actually spit her dentures at him! This was not my mild mannered, easy going, sweet Mother. This opiate problem happened twice, as she broke both hips, one then the other a couple of years later. Both times, the opiates hit her very hard and it was hard for her to "come back" from the hole they dug in her personality and memory.

I knew that it was inevitable, and she would not get better. It hurt. A lot. There were a lot of good times that we had, but trying to reminisce about the past was difficult, but in the beginning she would remember the older things, just not what had happened in the last 6 months to 2 years. Near the end of her life, she would ask me, "I know we are related somehow, but how?" I would tell her, "Well, I call you Mom all the time, does that sound familiar?" She would reply, "Not really" It broke my heart that she did not "remember" who I was. I was her son, for over 50 years! She would call me Ben, my Dad's name, Walter, a cousin, and Dick, her brother. To be fair, with her failing eyesight, I was built and looked just like my Day, Uncle Dick and Cousin Walter. The saving grace, was that every time I walked into the room to see her, she lit up with a smile that would melt an iceberg. I never let her know it bothered me. (What would that gain?)

My Mom would try to refuse her medication, and at 92 years old with Dementia, we tried to make sure she got the important, life saving items, but when she accused me of trying to poison her with her Glaucoma eye drops, it really hurt me, and I told the Drs., and caregivers, what's the point of giving it to her, she just got very upset over them. They gave her the blood pressure, and other more important meds via crushing them up in applesauce. (That worked).

I hated to have to fool her, or to not even give the medications, but we were told she was nearing the end and I just couldn't upset her more.

There was one time I got angry with her, and my patience was at the jagged edge. She was in a physical therapy, rehab facility, after the second broken hip. She would not eat. I cajoled, begged, bargained, changed the meal, etc., and she would not eat. I couldn't stand it, lost my cool, and walked out. My wife stayed, and after about 10 minutes came out after me, sitting on the car's bumper, sobbing, I was so guilty! I felt like I had given up on Mom, given in to my anger over the disease, not Mom, but I took it out on her. I still have problems with how I talked to her that day, even though she did not remember it for 30 minutes, I do. Trying to get over that is still a problem for me, even though Mom has been gone for 8 years. I have tried to see therapists, with no avail. However, time heals, ever so slowly.

I am not sure how to end this article. I haven't gotten any answers on how to cure the diseases, I don't know how to deal with it any better, except that I know what to do now, more clearly, but who knows how I will deal with it if another loved one succumbs to it? What happens if I end up like my Mother and Grandmother (Mom's Mom)? Will I know how to deal with it, or will my memory be wiped out and I end up being a problem for my wife and kids... (Oh, God, please no!) That would really be awful. I am not sure if I could bear that, if I understood it.

Just know that I am still dealing with what happened to Mom and Grandma, it still hurts, even 8 years later. I miss her, and Grandma, I pray to God that they were made whole, in Heaven, and know that I loved them, as Mom would say, "To The Moon and Back." So if any of you are in the midst of this or something similar, you can always email me, and I will answer.

Not wanting to pander, but if you found this article helpful, please share it, if it helps you understand or helps you.

Dean Benson, "The Dean of Rock & Roll" Middays on

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