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Alzheimer's: The Art Of Giving Up

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

mom has alzheimer's, and i guess she's now in what could be called the late stage. she's had to give up so much already -- her home, her car, her pets, her independence. she spent over two years in a lovely assisted living with her own things around her. and then, as her dementia progressed, she had to give up her private room and bathroom and her furniture, paintings, books and other things -- most of which she no longer remembered -- and go to a dementia unit of a nursing home. she wore my father's wedding ring on a chain around her neck after he died . . . but the last time i saw her, she'd misplaced it. a social worker tried to comfort me, saying "it's not as if it meant anything to her any longer." while she was right, it wasn't really comforting.

and now she's misplaced her own wedding and engagement rings. she no longer has much -- if anything -- left to give up.

mom got engaged at 17 and married at 18. she's 80 now; those rings haven't left her fingers since she got them except for one brief -- two day -- period in the late 1960s when it was all the rage to have one's rings welded together. she never took them off to do dishes or lotion her hands or even to do messy work like mucking out a stable, grinding meat for sausage or butchering chickens. when we were burglarized a few years ago, my husband's friends anxiously inquired "did they get ruby's wedding ring?" dh was honestly puzzled. "why would they think that? do their wives take off their rings when they go out?" the only time he's seen me remove mine is when he took it to the jeweler to buy me an anniversary ring to wear with it for our tenth anniversary. i was raised to believe you just didn't take off a wedding ring. my ring is almost as much a part of me now as my mother's was of her. i'm sure i learned it from her.

i cannot imagine my mother taking off her rings -- i didn't even realize it was possible. her knuckles have swollen, and although she's lost enough weight to take her from plus-size to small, i didn't think her rings would make it past her arthritic joints. the fact that she took them off means that she's lost more of herself than just those rings.

the last time i saw my mother, she had lost the part of her that gave her interest in me. she recognized me as her daughter; she just wasn't interested in me. i stopped calling her daily when she made it clear she wasn't interested in the phone calls -- not just once, but day after day after day. alzheimer's took most of our relationship away. it took the good parts, leaving only the bad. now it's taking my mother's identity from her at the most basic level. those rings -- and the marriage they represented -- were an enormous and very basic part of my mother's identity. and now it -- and they -- are gone.

blondy2061h, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology.

So sad. I don't know what to say except that I'm really sorry you're going through this. Alzheimer's is truly terrible.

TakeTwoAspirin, MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in Peri-op/Sub-Acute ANP.

I think the progression of this disease is a process of letting go, for everyone not just the patient. I don't know if that makes it more or less bearable but it is certainly part of the process. Grieving for them before they have even gone.

So sorry.

Ruby, I'm sorry for the things you and your mother are going through. Alzheimer's is truly one of the scariest and most awful diseases that can happen to one's self and one's loved ones.

While working with my patients, I'm always a little glad when I don't have a very detailed social history. It just seems too sad to know "Elsa, who used to collect stuffed owls, was a member of a polka dance club, and has been married to her high school sweetheart for 68 years" vs "Elsa, an 86 year old woman."

It's horrifying sometimes to see how much has been lost.

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER.

Chronic illness strips people down in so many different ways before it lets them go. You are hurting for her losses, but if you think of it as taking on the pain that she would otherwise feel...?

My apologies if I'm not getting it. You're in my thoughts.

I think the progression of this disease is a process of letting go, for everyone not just the patient. I don't know if that makes it more or less bearable but it is certainly part of the process. Grieving for them before they have even gone.

i agree with taketwo.

alzheimer's has to be THE most painful, cruel disease...

where the loved ones experience a never-ending, grieving process.

ruby, i'm so so sorry.

(have you tried ransacking her rm with a fine-toothed comb?)

just know that your mom's core, her soul, remains firmly intact...

as you witness every other aspect of her being, perish into the grips of inconceivable doom.

she will be free of herself, sooner than later, and reunite with those people and items she has always cherished.

again, so very sorry.

words just aren't enough.:hug:

leslie

systoly

Specializes in LTC, Memory loss, PDN.

I don't know if this is an option for your mom, but I think it's worth mentioning memory boxes. Some memory loss units have them built into the walls outside the rooms or the can be mounted on a shelf or counter. They are boxes constructed of plexiglass or equivalent with a lockable door or top. You can put pictures, jewelry or anything meaningful in them so the resident can look at the items at all times, but no one, except unit manager or whoever has the key can access the content of the box.

Aurora77

Specializes in Med Surg.

I'm really sorry, Ruby. I can't even imagine what that must be like.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care.

So sorry for what you've been through and still go through with this horrible disease. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, and your mother.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

i don't know if this is an option for your mom, but i think it's worth mentioning memory boxes. some memory loss units have them built into the walls outside the rooms or the can be mounted on a shelf or counter. they are boxes constructed of plexiglass or equivalent with a lockable door or top. you can put pictures, jewelry or anything meaningful in them so the resident can look at the items at all times, but no one, except unit manager or whoever has the key can access the content of the box.

there's a memory box with pictures outside mom's door. too late for the rings, though. i wish i'd thought of putting them into the box before she lost them.

my grandmother went through the same crippling disease - her mind gave out long before her body did...I'm so sorry...

I hate to suggest it but do you think they were "taken" as opposed to "lost"?

systoly

Specializes in LTC, Memory loss, PDN.

What a wonderful example and positive influence on others your mom was and is in this age of disposable marriage.

I will ask for strength and peace for these two wonderful women.

LPNnowRN

Specializes in LTC.

I am so sorry for your and her loss. Just last week we caught someone throwing their rings away, and gave them to their spouse for safekeeping. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease on many levels. The person with it loses so much, but can't really remember the past after awhile. It's family and friends who can remember who suffer loss after loss for a very long time. My heartfelt sympathies.

trauma_lama, BSN

Specializes in Trauma, Emergency.

i could tell from the title and the author that this post would hit hard- and it did! i'm not experiencing anything similar, but the way you word it is so relatable. you really have a gift for writing!

i'm so sorry you're having to endure all this. i can't offer any words of encouragement other than to remember that you're not alone, that there are lots of us out here in an.com-land thinking about you and praying for your struggle. :redpinkhe thank you for sharing such a deep part of yourself with us.

I am just so very sorry. I lost my parents quickly -- they each literally "dropped dead." While that was difficult enough (and still is), I didn't have to watch them go through this truly terrible decline. My heart goes out to you.

maelstrom143

Specializes in PCU.

Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for your pain right now. This is precisely why I did not stay long in LTC. You see the people who had active lives, love, a life...slowly losing all they hold dear, while their loved ones stand by feeling helpless, unable to do anything to help their loved one. Husbands would visit their wives, hoping for a glint of recognition, leaving at the end of their visit dispirited and hunched in upon themselves. Or the wife, unable to comprehend that her "Bill" would never again be able to recall her name, their children, or how much he had loved her...no. It was too hard to see that day in and day out and used to make me go home and cry for hours afterward.

I am so sorry you are going through something so awful. Prayers going your way!

My mom had dementia from brain radiation. She did things she never would have done pre-goofy. It was sad. Dad kept her going- and provided excellent care; I moved from where I LOVED (TX) and returned to my hometown (armpit of the midwest).... urosepsis killed her- which was horrible.

But, she never got to the point of not knowing family. She did mess up the details (I moved back in a U-Haul- she told her friends I quit nursing to become a truck driver :rolleyes:) But at least she still knew us up until the last 2 days.

I'm sorry you're going through this. It's so hard to see them decline one bit or piece at a time. :hug:

:hug: My heart goes out to all of you. :-(

I am very sorry for what you are going through. My mother also had alzheimers. I know it is hard but somewhere deep inside her she knows, it may not always be when we want it to be but it is there. Just take day by day. I know it is a long grieving process. My mom is gone almost 6 years and I still am not over her death, I will be praying for you. DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF THROUGH ALL THIS!! Take care!!

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