Because I am the Long Distance Caregiver in our family, I see Mom only on major holidays or when I manage a few days of extra vacation.
The hard part is that I rarely see my family and miss them all the time. Yet the positive aspect is that I easily observe the changes in our mother’s Alzheimer’s journey.
As Mom slips away with each visit, I notice her drawn face, added confusion and the fear that has always plagued her—now increasing. Because my siblings see Mom all the time, I am often more aware of the subtle changes.
I share these observations with my siblings so that we can make the important decisions that will help Mom through each stage.
The delicate balance is that I can’t just breeze into town, tell everybody what I’ve observed and expect them to listen to my incredible advice.
Just because I’m the oldest doesn’t mean I’m the smartest or the most discerning. It just means I’m the oldest. Darn it!
But even one of my relatives once told me, “I’ll be you can see the changes easier than we can.”
Yes, that’s true. During the Easter holiday, I noticed how withdrawn Mom had become. Was it because her hearing aid needed adjusting or had she lost more comprehension? Was she not able to understand conversation as easily as she did at Christmas? A few months makes a world of difference to an Alzheimer’s victim.
Mom and I share some of the some personality traits. We’re both choleric, Type A’s—those get- busy-and-get-it-done women who organize the world while telling everyone what to do and how to do it.
My life experiences and my training as a life coach and a Stephen minister have taught me to temper my choleric self, to listen carefully and help people see the solutions themselves.
So even though I might see the changes, I can’t march in and suggest a solution. No solution exists for Alzheimer’s. All we can do is persevere through each 36-hour day, hang on to our faith and pray for everyone involved.
Together, my siblings and I make an awesome team. My sister is smart, and my brother is wise. I add the fresh eyes to observe Mom’s changes.
As a family, we blend our love for Mom and our life experiences into the best caregiving unit we can possibly be.
Still, observing the changes in Mom also helps me see the changes in all of us as we age, deal with the stress and search every resource for the best way to make it through this journey.
May God help us that even as we observe the changes, we may also have the grace to accept them.
2013 RJ Thesman