My name is Lorraine Wildcat. I am Ojibwe from Lac Du Flambeau, Wisconsin. I am my mother’s caregiver.
My father passed on Dec 2, 2021, from heart problems and Covid. His doctor told us that my dad would have died with or without COVID because he had given him only 6 months to live. My mother Rosetta had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years before, so with the added stress of caring for my mother, my dad was not in the best of health. At that time, I did everything I could do to help him. My husband and I had moved in with them. I am very happy that we did as my dad was at risk for falls, and without us in the home, there would have been no one to pick him up. And mom didn’t know how to use a phone or even call 911.
I do this alone, with my husband Frank being my rock. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers who think that when they come here once a month for 5 minutes, it is helping me out. I will not say anything to them. I cannot argue with them as I save all my energy for my mother. Two of my siblings don’t even come around or call asking how mom is doing. Some days I am so exhausted I cry.
Alzheimer’s takes over the quality of life, not only mom’s but also mine. From the time we get up until we go to bed, I watch and listen for her. Mom was a strong Native woman at one time, and now she depends upon me like a child does for their mother. Every day I curse Alzheimer’s for taking my mom from me. Every day before I go into the kitchen to start our daily routine, I cry and wonder why someone is so mean to my mom when she never hurt anyone.
During the day, I do a lot of redirecting mom, and I learned that once she gets something in her tangled mind, there is no reasoning with her. She has a lot of anxiety in the afternoon, constantly pacing from her room, kitchen, and living room to look out the window as if she is waiting on someone.
Same question multiple times, and each answer isn’t what she’s looking for. I have recorded The Price is Right and replay that all day as that will hold her attention. Always asking me, “Did I eat yet? Do you think I should eat.” Her meals are small, so I let her snack on fruit during the day. And for an after-dinner treat, I give her a mini ice cream cone, and it makes me smile because she is so childlike, and it makes her so happy she giggles. 🙂
Alzheimer’s is vicious, stealing her memories of those she loves and taking away her ability to communicate in full sentences as I watch her search for words. Sometimes I will see my mother in her eyes, small flickers of her former self returning for just a few moments then going blank. Her understanding of simple everyday personal cares are no longer in her reach! On shower days, she thinks I am out to harm her. She will ask in a childlike voice, “Why are you doing this to me? Why are you mean to me?” My heart breaks every day. I know it is the disease, but to think that my mother would even consider that I would do her wrong is devastating!
From all my research on Alzheimer’s, there is no treatment to heal or stop this marauder who steals our loved ones’ memories, feelings, thoughts, ideas, reasoning, and ability to care for
themselves. It is ruthless! Every time I search, I am hopeful, but there is nothing again!
I could close my door and scream out loud. Why does this disease offer no sympathy? Why does it pick on my mom? My heart is very heavy as I type these words. I am lost as to how much more I can do. If I could do one thing to make a difference, I would delete Alzheimer’s from the world!
My thoughts on placing her in a community-based residential facility, I don’t want to. I believe that she would be more comfortable at home, familiar with everything and family, and be happier if possible. But I fear there will be a time when she needs to be there.
My grandson of 21 years needed a place to live, so I asked him, “I will let you live here, rent-free in exchange for helping me with grandma. Sit with her while I run my errands”. It has been working out. I take naps during the day, and I get to go to the store or my doctor’s appointments without having to take her with me.
I am very thankful to our medical clinic and Dana Irmick (APNA), who is mom’s primary care provider. Dana makes house calls when mom has an appointment. She even brings a lab technician when they need to take blood. How awesome is that? It makes life a little easier as mom gets anxiety real bad in public places, and she can’t wait as she is very impatient.
I would love to take a weekend trip. My brother Hank says he would come to stay with her. Still, I’m so torn between leaving her with the unfamiliar that I would constantly worry that he wasn’t caring for her properly. Would my weekend be worth the worry? And would he come? He has told me before that he would sit with her, and last-minute texted me and said something came up.