Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where am I


Past three weeks. For five years Marsena’s been caring for The Great Aunt, almost 89, and she can’t do it anymore. Her margins are gone. Plus she needs to find work. Denis and I have been here now almost a month. Helping make decisions. We’re so grateful there’s a beautiful memory care place The Aunt loves – she’s been there for respite care and can’t say enough good about it. The food! The comfort! The staff! Alzheimer’s makes you look at someone you know and love and even though you tell yourself this is not the person she used to be, nor is it the person she will be someday, you still get heart-sick, worried, even annoyed and you hate like anything to get drawn into petty arguments and corrections about whatever and yet you do. Or at least, I have. In my head, anyway, I’ve told her off. Sorry.


Day before yesterday. It’s time to move to assisted care. AR is angry and terrified. Any kind of change has always been a phobic catalyst. In these later stages of Alzheimer’s it’s worse. She’s lost the ground of who she is and what she can do. She’s saying dreadful things about Marsena. Doesn’t want to see her again. Threatening to have her “agents” on the east coast rescue her. She wants to go back to Mass. She HATES Autumn Leaves. She doesn’t want to see anyone. Her heart is broken, ours, too. We haven’t found ways to comfort her. Sorting through the remainder of her things is sad. The accumulation of possessions – how they’re too much at the end of life. But perhaps this is inevitable even when you clarify and eliminate, there’s still stuff. The staff at Autumn Leaves are saying give time, give time. Transition sometimes takes a few weeks. We hope so, we hope so.


Yesterday. Watching the Vikings play. Ah, love that Brett. Denis is under an afghan and drinking coffee. Marsena is downstairs doing a little work on the apartment, it helps her to be busy. We’ll be helping with more of that tomorrow. Denis is feeling worse today, sadder. I’m better, so that’s good.


Today. When I’m sick with a bad cold I drown in hot lemon tea with honey, so soothing. Today Psalm 103 is lemon honey. God’s love: forgives, heals, redeems, crowns with love and compassion, satisfies, works righteousness, justice, is great, from everlasting to everlasting. Praise for the soul. Praise for God. Haven’t seen The Aunt for three days, the staff advised letting her settle in first. We pray and pray.


Later. I went for the first visit. I'm scared. I observed her a moment, watching her in a comfy chair, her feet up, watching TV with others, (something none of us could do all day, which annoyed her no end). I saw her laugh. When I touched her, she looked up and beamed, “I was praying someone would come by to cheer me, and here you are! Where’s Marsena?!”

10 comments:

Jessie said...

Tears. Thanks for sharing.

Debbie said...

Great post, Margie.

Corrin said...

Thank you for posting. I'm not in the life stage where I have to care for older relatives, but it is so good to hear from others who do.

On a funny note, when I first glanced at the photo it looked like your aunt was holding an ax and I couldn't figure out why. My husband had to point out to me that it was a cane. Guess I need better glasses.

Chemex said...

God bless you, Margie.

Margie Haack said...

Friends, thanks for comments. I know many of us will or already have accompanied others down this path.
Corrin, I understand the axe bit. I think that's how she'd like to use it.

Mel said...

I used to do social work, marketing and activities at an Assisted Living/Memory Care - she will transition and settle in and it's far better to make this transition before the Alzheimer's has moved to the late stages....that way she is able to 'age in place' - I'm sure you heard this from Autumn Leaves. It does just take time, but often times, as I helped families through this very hard time, it's much harder on them than the individual. The structure and care will do wonders for her. It can often become almost impossible to care for someone in a home with Alzheimer's - it's a good choice. But no matter what, it's a hard and ugly thing to come to terms with. Praying for grace in the process.

Margie Haack said...

Mel, your words are very comforting and wise. So good to be reminded. And already, we see signs of positive transitioning.

Lynn Trew said...

Margie,
We did this with Dan's Mom back in 2002. A very sad time for all. What is of upmost importance right now is that she is in a place where she is safe. I really think it is actually harder on those who have to watch the decline although the moments of brillance and clarity were very amazing. But losing the essence of her is very hard indeed. Praying for all of you!

Margie Haack said...

Lynn, I think you're right, it's those moments of brilliance and humor that show up, and you start to laugh and think, she's back! then you press pause and remember all the rest. And maybe it is harder to watch than to be the one who forgets.

jenni said...

Beautiful, Margie.