For several years I could not manage to find a sibling or relative who would admit to understanding that my mother was becoming demented. My own children knew it, but because of denial in the family, it was hard to have a normal conversation about the facts. Then about two years ago, finally, one of my nephews spent a few days here. The situation became very clear to him.

Mother at 100

We were able to discuss this frankly and honestly. And I told my nephew that it was the greatest gift to me to have someone else admit that there is a problem with Mother’s mind. All it took was that one person telling me, “You are not the crazy one,” to make me try to get her off of any drug that is affecting her cognition. She barely took any medication, so there was only one pill whose dosage we were able to cut in half. For some people removing or reducing the dosage of medications can do wonders for their mental state.

I believe even then, it was too late, though. Mother was mostly totally confused by that time. Not knowing day from night or summer from winter, or whether we are in Newport or Washington, is disconcerting.

One night at DeCarlos restaurant, she said, “We can’t sit at this table. There is not enough room. Wiley will be here soon.” (Wiley was my fathers’ name. He has been dead for 30 years.) And when I said, “He is not coming,” she looked confused and said, “He will be coming soon.” I said, “Mother, he is gone.” and she looked at me truly troubled, and said” He’s not dead???” and I turned to my niece for help and changed the subject.

It is so painful for her to have to experience grief again and again, over and over for people (2 husbands) and lovers and dogs long gone….it breaks my heart.

This confusion no longer happens because she is not aware of who people are or who is missing. I write this as an example. Here is a small window into what we who take care of aging parents experience daily. The sadness just goes on and on.

Of course, there are happy moments too. Mother can be very funny sometimes. She says what she thinks and that can make everybody laugh. She has no filter. Seeing people who come to the house makes her happy, and her smile is always ready.

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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