“When I came home from work yesterday, Mom took my hand and walked me through the house, smiling from ear to ear. At first I didn’t understand; I was just glad Mom was calm and happy. Less than 60 seconds later I understood way too much. Mom cleaned the entire house, removing every item in sight and secreting them away in one her Alzheimer’s hiding spots. Including our cat, Fred.”
New Alzheimer caregivers may not believe this story; veteran caregivers are smiling because it happened to them (even better, did not happen). Either way, you’re probably thinking, “What would I do if my Alzheimer’s parent did this?”
The older I get the more I realize there’s no “right” answer. Each Alzheimer’s patient is different; each Alzheimer’s family is different. Understanding your options is the most important step in finding the “right” answer for you and your family:
- Recognize Mom’s pride in her accomplishment and her inability to comprehend the unbelievable amount of work/time you’ll spend finding the items. Smile, hug her and say, “Thank you, Mom. This looks beautiful. Let’s find Fred and feed him dinner.” (Cat lovers, relax: Fred was found happily napping in Mom’s closet where Mom put him.)
- Throw your hands in the air, pour a glass of wine, and call two friends/family members: one to take Mom out for dinner, the other to help you search for the missing items. After the excitement and disorientation of dinner out, Mom is unlikely to recognize you’ve “undone” her spring cleaning job.
- Recognize Mom can no longer stay alone: you were lucky this time. Mom could just as easily have caused a fire, hurt herself with a knife, or walked out the door and gone missing. Hug Mom, feed Fred, (definitely) pour that glass of wine, cook dinner, and make a note to call Alzheimer’s Community Care (772-223-6351) or Alzheimer’s Assn. (Stuart 800-861-7826; Vero 772-563-0505) for help.
True, each option is valid and they're combinable - the only question is, what works best for you?
Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight, & Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©