It looks like we’re beginning the next stage of life’s journey with my mother.
She has been failing mentally for a while but still able to live somewhat independently in her assisted living unit. However, this week she has developed pneumonia and ended up in the hospital–and her mental acuity has failed significantly.
If (when) she leaves the hospital, she will not be returning to her unit but–after rehab–will be going into some area of the nursing home portion of where she lives. It is not safe for her to return to the unit she has lived in for the last couple of years–safe mentally or physically.
So…a new stage begins.
When we visit with her, she might begin the conversation sounding lucid, but then we can quickly veer off into a reality that bears no resemblance to where we were in the conversation–or to anything we know. Her short-term memory has been failing for a while–but now her long-term memory is significantly failing and/or getting thoroughly scrambled…or making new ones based on something she might see on TV or a snippet of a conversation she’s heard from someone else.
She still has the art of saying “the right thing” in order to deflect questions she doesn’t know how to answer or has forgotten the answer to. But when we push back, problems often become clearer…as in not being sure just how many children she has (3 of us) or what our names are.
This change is something we have seen coming…but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. She spent so many years as a woman who took significant responsibility for our family as my father traveled a lot…who could write well (although she didn’t always think so)…who enjoyed life…who was more gifted than she thought she was–and now, to see the shell of that woman…to see her blank eyes when she looks at me and isn’t sure who I am…it’s difficult.
But it is part of life.