An Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Story.
Shelly’s mother has Alzheimer’s and she has been her primary caregiver for years. Her mom is a wonderful woman that often thanks Shelly and her other caregivers, despite the fact that she doesn’t know who they are.
But this loving behavior wasn’t always the case. There was a time when the violence was so bad (pinching, pushing, punching and spitting), that other family members urged Shelly to put her in a nursing home.
How the family moved from the violence to now is part of Shelly’s story. “The spitting was the worst. That just got me to the core. At that time in one of my support groups, there was a gentleman who cared for his wife. A quiet, refined man, he took it upon himself to come up to me during that dark time and say, ‘You need to remember, it’s not her, it’s the sickness.’ It was a light-bulb moment for me. I started to realize that she is mentally in pain because she can’t find the words.”
The violence at that time was unrelenting and strongest during bathing and dressing. Shelly was at her wits end. She would never hurt her mother but “I realized I would still act out, just differently from mom. I would slam a drawer, throw things, or kick the garbage can. All kinds of things to get out my anger and not turn it on her. Somehow through the grace of God, I was able to turn it around. Maybe it was the gentleman from my support group and what he said to me. I became determine not to get angry when she did. I was determined to keep being nice no matter what she did. One day she was so bad, her hands were against her chest and I just started to hug her, trapping her hands there. I just kept saying to her, ‘I love you, I love you no matter what. I love you, I know you don’t mean to treat me this way’ I told her that more than once, even telling her, ‘I’m praying for you because I love you.’”
“And in being nice, vowing to not let her behavior get to me, I stopped acting out. I wish I could tell you her behavior changed overnight but it didn’t. It was a process and I realize now escalation in her violent behavior was because she was reacting to me, to get back and at me for what I was doing and because she could not find her words.”
I am just so grateful that we got to this place before we lost her. This is the woman I know as my mother. The one who says to me, “I’m so sorry for you.” And I can tell her, “Don’t be sorry, I am lucky to have you. Never be sorry.”
This is the first of a new series that tells the stories of caregivers. If you would like to share your story, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.