Mid-Life, Mid-Stage Crisis

We have been humming along okay. Mom has been managing pretty well. She can make her grits, dress herself, contribute brokenly to our conversations. We will watch a show together, and she will have an opinion as to who was not being smart or careful. Sometimes it makes sense. It is very cute. She kind of starts in the middle of a thought, and we have to guess the context.

Sometimes I have to tell her that I have no idea what she's talking about. She laughs and says, "Can't you read my mind?!" We laugh. But, no, mom, it's getting harder, I think while my heart sinks.

The day I lost my mom

I feel like mom turned some corner recently. It was July 20 - I thought to myself that today is the day I lost my mom. She didn't know how to turn the kitchen faucet on to add water to her grits. She forgot that she's supposed to use toilet paper, and we realized she hasn't been using soap to wash her hands. She wasn't.... Her.

The following may gross you out. It grossed me out, but it's where we are right now. Literal potty talk ahead.

Bathroom battles

Mom called me to the bathroom. Her pants were down at her thighs. She didn't want to pull them up because she was dirty, I figured out. Did she want to get in the shower? Did she have poop on her clothes? Yes? No? No. Do you want toilet paper? "I didn't think of that." She didn't think of that?

She waddled back to the toilet and sat and proceeded to wipe. I was mortified. She folds her Kleenex into little squares and uses every square inch. Now she was doing that with the toilet paper, trying to fold the diarrhea inside and using the same few squares.

I yelled at her. Not super loud. But like a mom when your kid runs into the street, "What are you doing?! No! You are going to make yourself sick! You are getting poop all over your hands! We have plenty of toilet paper! Wipe once and drop it. DROP IT! Into the toilet!"

I wanted to shock her. I wanted her to remember. I wanted her to not do this gross, crazy thing! We use toilet paper so poop doesn't get on our hands, I fussed at her exclaiming. What a thing to get stuck on.

Managing the glitches of Alzheimer's

With Alzheimers disease, you can get these glitches. My dad used to shave under his nose, and did not seem able to shave anywhere else. He kept going back to under his nose and would just laugh, helplessly, like the joke was on us.

Mom likes to fold her Kleenex. Her nose is always drippy. "Old lady drippy nose" or nonallergic rhinitis, my allergist once diagnosed me, unsympathetically. Now, mom's folding has taken a turn into a nasty glitch.

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Managing the guilt that often accompanies caregiving

I felt guilty. I should be this angelic caregiver that rises above and only goes along. But I couldn't. It was nasty and unhealthy. If you saw how she licks her fingers and tries to get a piece of food stuck in her tooth with a fingernail, you might yell, too! E. coli, Listeria is all I could think of.

The doctors have changed mom's diabetic medication. That is the reason for the stomach upset and diarrhea. With the higher dose, it has to be taken with food. She has been on the same routine for years, and I have moved into the routine for her once she couldn't manage. Now, it has changed, and I am adjusting. She needs a little more time.

Mom doesn't quite seem like herself anymore, which makes my heart hurt. She still has a few quips left in her though, like today when she finally got out what she was trying to say answering my husband's question. She pretended to wipe her brow and say, "Whew!" We all had a laugh. I’m trying to roll with it all, but this mid stage in my mid life is a crisis. Lord, give me grace.

Bathroom issues are tough. What have you learned from your struggles with a loved one with Alzheimer's? Share your tips with this community member and help other caregivers.

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