Have you seen the commercial with "Negative Nancy"? Honestly, one of the biggest challenges for me in caring for my mom is the daily losses we have to deal with. She's still aware enough to know what's changing and she will voice her dismay and, sometimes, her anger about this. And I get it. I know I value my independence and love my connections with friends and family. Slowly losing that is hard. But meeting that day after day has stretched me. I haven't wanted to be dishonest or just offer empty clichés, and sympathetic hand-patting seems inadequate. Thankfully, I have stumbled across a couple of ways to meet this challenge that have been a blessing for both my mom and me.
One thing I've tried to do each day is initiate a distraction early in the day - a distraction of beauty with an expression of gratitude. Mom loves birds and flowers, so we're putting seed on the handrail of the deck steps so she can sit on the porch and watch the birds. She's spending a lot of time doing that and taking great joy in their antics. With her memory issues, each day is like a first time seeing them! We also have put a pot of mums on the table and she's paying close attention to them. I originally planted them in the yard so they'd become part of the garden, but she went out and pulled them back up because she liked them on the table. So I had to repot them.
Yesterday she was pretty discouraged and overwhelmed by her awareness of all the help she needs now - meals, cleaning, even personal care. We were on our way back from the grocery store and she commented on the fact that she couldn't do anything any more and how worthless she felt. She thanked me for what I was doing and I said, "Mom, every single thing I'm doing I've learned from you. I watched you do it for us and I watched you do it for your mom. In a way, you are still doing things." To my surprise, her face just lit up!
I know we'll have to repeat this conversation again many times, and there will come a time when even that connection will go, but I'm so very thankful that I can be here for these moments and keep her connected for as long as possible.