Friday, February 03, 2017

Wishful Thinking

Well, as it sadly turns out, my family's assessment of my mother's restored cognitive skills was indeed wishful thinking. Yes, she has had some lucid moments, but at this point my mother has moved quickly into vascular dementia and Alzheimer's. We are all quite devastated by this turn of events. My brother Michael and sister Lynn are, as I type this, looking at residential care facilities to place her. She was released from the hospital on Wednesday and is staying at my sister's. My siblings decided to skip the interim step of a nursing home because they knew it would confuse her even more, and nursing homes are simply not the nicest places for safe and loving care.

I have only spoken with her once in the past few days. She has a wispy voice now, full of uncertainty. It does not quite sound like her. She doesn't know where she is. She doesn't know the date. She called a water bottle a shirt. She is surrounded completely by love and compassion, and the only thing that makes any of this bearable is that she is not agitated or anxious or fearful. She is calm and in the land of the unknown.

We went for a walk on Wednesday to breathe the clear air and try to mend a bit of our broken hearts. It was a warm and beautiful day, a break between storms. The clouds were beautiful in that awesome way with reflections that made us feel like we're really just spinning in the big universe. We did see a birder who was photographing some dabbling ducks. We asked him what he was seeing, and he told us it was an uncommon visitor to the United States, a Eurasian Wigeon. We were glad to see that too.

Life is going to be about balancing the sad with as much beauty as we can find.

We thank you for your kind good wishes, friends. It truly helps so much.

PS-- My siblings found a wonderful residential care facility for my mom. It's a six-bedroom home with 24/7 care. It's also a hospice home, which means she will never have to move again. We'll keep you posted. Big sigh of relief.

73 comments:

  1. So sorry about your mom. Hard for everyone involved, including her. It must be scary for her.

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    1. Pat-- It is so hard. She took a path none of us ever expected.

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  2. Sending you heartfelt sympathy...

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    1. isabelita-- Thank you. This is quite a journey.

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  3. Just keep taking each day as it comes, Robin. Don't give up and think that constant decline is inevitable but be prepared for an up and down ride. I hope that all goes well in your mother's new home.

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    1. John-- I appreciate your insights and thoughts so much. It is so important to share this journey with others on the same path. Thank you thank you.

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  4. Thank you for the update on your Mom. I was so happy to read that she is calm and not frightened. So glad you were able to get outside and reconnect with Nature. The care facility sounds like the perfect place for your Mom. You are in my thoughts.

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    1. Cat Lover-- That really is the only thing that makes any of this bearable is that she is calm and not frightened. She sounds like a little kid making up the new world she suddenly sees. She moves into the new facility on Monday. We are hopeful. Thank you.

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  5. So sorry. It is difficult in those last years and hard on family for decisions that must be made. The only light in this, as I see it, is it explains how it went at your home. It was early stages and not a rejection of you or your loving care of her.

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    1. Rain-- Yes! I'm planning on doing a post about all the signs that we absolutely missed. She had been moving in this direction for a while, and we just attributed her forgetfulness and behaviors on a million different things.

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  6. Robin, my heart goes out to you.
    Life has some hard lessons for us. Cherish all your memories as you accept your mother as she is now. Much love.

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    1. Sabine-- Thank you. We are all reeling a bit from this sudden decline. Before my mother was as gone as she is now, I showed her the translation you did of her old photo of her aunt, uncle and cousins. She was so grateful for that. She knew your name, Sabine.

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  7. Keeping good thoughts for your mother and for all who love her. For those of us fortunate to have had our mothers this long it is a trying time.

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    1. Harold-- Thank you for those good thoughts. We are unprepared in many ways for these trying times with our elderly.

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  8. Sending love. A true home can make all the difference, balancing the sad with the beauty. A relief to know that your mother is in good hands in a peaceful loving home and that hospice is part of this home where she will not have to be moved again. Such a beautiful reflective photo.

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    1. am-- Thank you. The new home my mom is going to is a real home with a safe backyard and a garden. All doors and windows locked. 24/7 care. We're so hopeful this place will feel like home to her. Really glad you liked the photo.

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  9. Such a difficult time. I'm so glad that you were able to find a good home place for your mom.

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    1. bev-- It really is such a challenging time. Interestingly, even being as far away as we are and my siblings doing all the work, our hearts respond like we're right there. We're hopeful about the new place.

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  10. So sorry about your mom. My siblings and I went through the same thing with our mom several years ago. The type a home that you have are in now will be best for her. Her mom was in that type of Home. She was around others her same age and condition, but only a few not many as in a hospital. Unfortunately we lost her mom a couple years ago but on the brighter side she had a wonderful life. We miss her so .

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    1. Dave-- Thank you. One of the best things about the social internet is the sharing of these stories. We learn so much from each other as we watch our parents age.

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  11. I hope she likes her new home. It's good that she has a loving family around her. Obviously you all love her a great deal, and I am sure she can feel that even with her dementia.

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    1. Jim-- Thank you. She moves in on Monday. We're hopeful that this will work for her. She is a very much-loved mother, and we hope she can feel it.

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  12. Sending much love for you all. Having been down this path with my Grandmother, and her mother before her, I know how hard and indeed scary that path can feel. I am glad she is not scared, or worse, angry. I am so happy to hear that you found such a good home for her. That is a huge blessing!! Focus on the beauty ...your ability to capture and share it will save us all. xoxo

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    1. Kate-- Thank you. It is such a hard and scary path, and truly we were unprepared for such a direction. She is very mellow right now, and we're hoping that the new home will keep her safe and secure. (We also think that it was no coincidence that she took this precipitous decline the day after the inauguration. Seriously, the idea of Trump as president rattled her so much. It added to her distress.)

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  13. Robin, my own beloved father slipped into dementia and it is devastating. I mourned him long before his death. I only say this, not to make it about me, but to tell you I do know what you are experiencing and how hard it is. I send you, Roger, and your siblings so much love. Know that those dinners with conversation and laughter that you shared are her last memories of you, and how lovely they are. I'm sorry.

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    1. Yankee T-- I thank you for sharing the story of your dad. It's how we learn to cope and grieve together. Roger and I think about those dinners and conversations all the time. We miss her. We wish we knew that part of her distress at the time was this-- dementia. Sigh.

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  14. Oh, Robin -- so sorry to hear the news about your mom's decline. Glad they have found a good home for her! Sending love to everybody. xoxo

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    1. kathy a-- Thank you. We're hopeful about the home. It does sound like a perfect choice.

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  15. I'm so sad for you as you begin this final chapter. For your mother, I hope that she remains calm, blissfully unaware, pain-free and surrounded by compassionate and caring people. It's not the worst way. Such a long life but also how it flies- seems odd to feel both perspectives. Sending you and the family lots of love.

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    1. vicki-- Yes, your wishes for calm, blissfully unaware, pain-free and compassion... are our wishes for her as well. Now it all unfolds before us.

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  16. I am so deeply sorry--but also feel your relief that she has found a good living situation. may we all be so blessed. I didn't realize decline could occur so quickly. I suppose this sheds light upon her deciding to leave your house? At any rate, you and your mom and family are in my thoughts. sending love and peace/

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    1. Maryanne-- There were several signs over the years that she was experiencing dementia. We just dismissed them as old age and normal forgetfulness. It wasn't. A few precipitating events -- confusion from a UTI and a minor stroke was as the neurologist said, "the straw the broke the camel's back." Yes, we think that her dementia was part of her discomfort here and her decision to leave. We wish we had known. Thank you for you peace and love.

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  17. My heart breaks that you, your family, your mom...everyone impacted directly...must face this turn of events. The fact that she's found a place to settle and be comfortable, though, is good and I hope gives all of you a sense of peace.

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    1. JS-- Thank you for your kind words and good wishes. All is still in the planning stages, but moving forward.

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  18. Calm in the land of the unknown. Poignant,beautiful and heartbreaking. There go I self says.....love to you...xxxooo

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    1. MandT-- It's the only thing that cuts this pain, that she is calm and not anxious or agitated. Yes, there go I self says.

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  19. Take care of yourself. Watching my mother live with dementia was one of the toughest times I had in my life.

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    1. Loren-- We are learning this new path. Sadly she is now 700 miles from us. The siblings that live out of the area are going to take turns giving my sister, who lives there, a break. We go in March and are now watching long distance. Sad and tough.

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  20. I have no words. Watched sadly as it happened to my mom. It is heartbreaking . All my love to you and the family.

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    1. Larry-- Thank you. This turn of events has our heads spinning and our hearts broken. Unbelievably sad.

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  21. one of the most heartbreaking of diseases. They're gone before they're gone. At least she is not anxious, a blessing. Sending all my love to you, Roger, and your family. And especially to Bea, who I have been quite fond of for some time now. I wish her peace and comfort.

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    1. Tara-- It really caught us off guard. I can't believe how much has happened in such a short time. Thank you for your loving good wishes.

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  22. I am sad to read this, Robin. I know how heartbreaking these turn of events can be. I am happy she has a loving family, and it sounds like your family is doing well by her. I'm sending loving thoughts your way.

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    1. Colette-- Thank you so much for your loving thoughts. I know you know how much it means to have such kindness sent our way.

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  23. Oh Robin. This is a sadly familiar story and of course you are mourning the turn her life has taken. But take heart. Hold on to the joy and laughter --there will still be lots of those moments, I can almost promise you that.

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    1. Mary-- The very best part of the internet is sharing stories with people who are already on this journey with their parents. I thank you for reminding us of the joy and laughter still to come.

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  24. Robin, I am so sorry that all that wonderful hope you were enjoying was dashed. What a roller coaster ride. It seems like your family has found a solution that will cause her the least amount of distress. What a thoughtful solution. Hope you will be able to visit her there to set your own mind at ease. Sending only good thoughts.

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    1. Patti-- I was going to call it a roller coaster ride, you definitely nailed that perfectly! We're hoping that this move will be good for her. We're planning a trip down in March for a week. Thank you for your good thoughts.

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  25. Robin, I am so sorry to read this and know first hand the effects this disease has on the entire family. It can be a cruel disease. Such a blessing she is going to be in a safe and nurturing place. It is very helpful that the family can be around daily to notice daily activities and the quality of care. Those with daily visitors seem to get better care since facilities of all types know they are being observed. Both my parents had dementia in their latter years; both responded differently to the disease. Both my parents knew my sis and me throughout, even though they remembered very little about their lives as adults as it progressed. I'm sending you and your family love and many wishes for this to be a peaceful and caring environment for your mom, one where she will be comfortable and safe. <3

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    1. Sky-- We're hopeful about the new place. She moves in on Monday. My sister is pretty close by and will keep in eye on things. My mom has forgotten my brother many times. It was really one of the first clues a few years ago that we never really took seriously. Now we learn the way.

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  26. Robin,
    I wish I lived just down the road from you. I'd come over right now and give you a big hug! Though I've not been in touch as regularly as I was during the months before and after my retirement, I still hold you and Roger in my heart. You are very, very special folks to me. I knew it from the moment I read your poem, a crones age upon me.
    Your friend from NC who loves you,
    aubrey

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  27. Aubrey-- Thank you so much for your kind words. When I saw, "crone's age upon me" I thought...mmm...where have I heard that before? Thank you for remembering those decades full of dreams. We are deeply moved by heartfelt words.

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  28. I am so, so sorry to read this. The call she made to you is all the more a miracle, a precious moment of connection. I know that wispy uncertain voice you describe so well from my mother. As others have said, it's a gift that she isn't anxious or, especially, angry. And a six-bedroom home is great. She should get much better care than in a larger facility.
    This is the hard part of love, the losing, be it fast or slow. It tears the heart. It's a blessing that you know to find healing in nature.
    Sending my love to you.

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    1. CCorax-- It is so interesting that your mother's voice became that wispy uncertain one as well. I talked to my mom today, and she sounded a bit more lucid, but still very wispy. Just not the same at all. We're hopeful about the new Residential Care facility and think it will be much better for her than where she had been living. We are learning this new journey, one step at a time. Thank you for your love and good thoughts.

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  29. This is disappointing for you. It is good though, that she has some lucid moments. Watch for them; treasure them; your mother is still there, just more asleep than awake most of the time.

    Maybe one of my best memories might show what I mean. My mom's Alzheimer's was slow developing, and for years we watched her decline, two steps down, one up, over and over. For the last six months or so, she never said my name; I wasn't sure if she knew who I was any more. Then one night, I left her with the nurse who was preparing her for bed. I said goodnight, but there was no answer, as usual by then. Then just as I reached the door, Mom turned and called out, "Goodnight, Susie!" (A name she hadn't called me since I was a kid in pigtails.)

    She fell out of bed that night, broke her hip, had surgery, and never fully recovered consciousness. But that, "Goodnight, Susie!" tied together all the years, and gave me my old Mom back. I've treasured it ever since.

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    1. Susannah-- Thank you so much for sharing this story. I'm going to share it with my family. It is so touching, and it so beautifully conveys this journey. "Goodnight, Susie!" are the words spoken straight from the heart.

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  30. I'm sorry to hear this turn of events, but it must be a bit easier for you, your family and your mother that she isn't agitated of fearful. I hope this new home will be a caring and loving place for her.

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    1. Sharon-- We are hoping that she will settle into the new home and find safety and comfort there. She gets to keep her own bedroom set and various other things to make it feel like home.

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  31. You have such a grounded and healthy approach to this devastating news. That, and dear Roger will help to ease the pain of seeing your mother's decline. And I'm sure the genuine love and concern that comes from your blogging buddies helps as well. Still sending those positive vibes. And thinking kind thoughts.

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    1. NCmountainwoman-- It's so interesting how my mom's calmness right now helps to ease the pain. I think if she were agitated and fearful, we would all be flipping out. I went back and read old emails when Roger's mother was in decline. Her agitated mental state really helped shape the conversation. Thank you for your positive vibes and kind thoughts.

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  32. Robin,

    I'm so sorry to hear this. I know your mom and you love music .. that will help. I know of 3 homes from clients and from my mother in law. I have no recommendations but I know the families were happy with these: Centennial in Pacific Grove; Sunshine Villa in Santa Cruz (some rooms have ocean views); and a place in Santa Rosa. If Santa Rosa interests you, let me know and I'll research it better.

    Sending lots of love! Martha

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    1. Martha-- We are on the same wavelength about music. I just wrote my brother the other day and asked him to play her some Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller! My mom is in Ventura County near my sister. The new home is in Thousand Oaks. It's a long journey for us, but we plan to make it a couple of times a year. Thank you for your love and support.

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  33. So sorry about your mother. You must be thankful that she is getting good care and you have done all you can do.

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    1. Nora-- Thank you. She moves into the 24/7 residential care facility on Monday. We're hoping it will help stabilize her for a while. She is back in the hospital for her second stay in 13 days.

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  34. I am so sorry about your Mother, Robin Andrea. I hope that your Mom likes her new home.
    I am sending much Love to you and to your Mom from miles and miles away.

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  35. Anne-- Thank you.

    kathy a-- Thank you.

    sonia-- Thank you. I love that my mom is getting love all the way from Brazil.

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  36. We were sorry to hear about your mother's decline. Like so many others, we went through it. Leah's father spent a couple of years declining like this. He had surgery at an advanced age and never quite recovered from the anesthesia. My mother also had some symptoms just prior to her death. It's such a cruel way to end a life. As you know, one of the hardest things is not being able to really do much about the condition. As other's have mentioned, it's a blessing that your mother seems calm through this. As you probably also know, it's not always that way.

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    1. Mark-- It's so heartbreaking. My mom went back into the hospital on Saturday after passing out at my sister's house. She has been mostly in a confused state ever since. And sadly, she has become agitated and restless. We're still hoping that she will make it into the new 24/7 care facility today (Tuesday), but not sure at this point. Thank you for thinking of us.

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  37. Robin, I have been following the comments and I am so sorry to read this now. I have been thinking of you and send you lots of strength in these difficult times. What do we know about life? We have no idea. Hold on to family and look after yourselves.

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    1. Sabine-- Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and words. We know so little about life. As I watch my mother make this journey, I wonder about the push to live into such old age.

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  38. you know Robin Roger how we care, please let us know what is going on.

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