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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diving Into Dementia...

My mother is diving into dementia.  She is getting more confused, unable to comprehend and carry out important tasks, like remembering to pay her bills – getting late notices and past due notations on her statements.  We were not *aware* that this was happening until November when my sister became suspicious when there hadn’t been any bills sent out in the mail for quite a while, and asked my mother about it.  Subsequently, in helping Mom to pay her bills, she discovered a notice on the electric bill that they would shut off her electricity if they didn’t receive payment by a certain date because of a missed payment the month before.  And most recently she received a cancellation notice of her supplemental health insurance for non-payment!  And yet she adamantly and angrily *insists*  that she is paying her bills, as if forgetting to pay them is somehow a reflection on her character, rather than an indication of a problem -  a slippage of the linkages in her brain…

I tell this story because my “spiritual path” also includes these tough thresholds with family that need to be continually navigated.


Mom is strong-willed, stubborn, and in denial of what is happening.  She feels that “certain people” are conspiring against her to make her *look* bad, and thus suspicious when we try to approach her with the issue at hand, or offer any “help” to try to remedy this.  When my sister, who has lived with her for the last 3 and ½ years, discovered what was going on, she went on a hunting expedition and found unpaid bills hidden away in mother’s bedroom, stuffed in her chair and other assorted places.  She has been diligently trying to manage this situation, and trying to establish a payment system that my mother will agree to.  We both felt that although searching her space was a bit invasive, it was necessary under the circumstances.  But my mother doesn’t want my sister, or me, to know about her “finances”, which I understand, and so balks at the system and any attempt to help.  And - my sister doesn’t want *me* to intervene, or to say anything to my mother indicating that I know what is going on, as she feels that Mom will think that the two of us are ganging up on her.  And yet they both vent to me about each other, each telling me a different story – as I pretend not to know…

It is frustrating actually – having to *pretend* - that life is different than it is.  Putting a pretty bow on it and pretending it is “fine.”  But, as we discovered, trying to confront this situation head on, at this point, only creates more overwhelm for my mother.  Crossing this threshold is a gradual process, needing skill, diplomacy, humor, psychology, awareness, patience and Presence with *both* of them.  And so I concede – maintaining the secrecy – playing the game…  Which I hate doing… But I also know this is what happens in family dysfunction where people cannot be honest with each other, and then you add dementia to the mix and it creates a never ending loop of lies, suspicion, and malfunction.  I am certainly able to be “present” in the moment, and to them, but it doesn’t *address* the issue, which now has gone beyond being logically addressed with my mother.


In October, my sister set up a “payment box”, one that can be bought at any office supply place, with the numbers of the month on it.  She explained it to my mother and started putting the incoming bills in the box – to help Mom *remember* to pay her bills.  Initially my mother resisted and then agreed to it – or maybe just acquiesced under perceived pressure.   Then one morning my sister came up from her living quarters in the basement, and found the box empty.  My mother had taken all the bills out of the box and put them back in her bedroom, hid them away – forgot them - and didn’t pay them, although prompted by my sister.  There is obviously a power struggle going on over who’s in control.  My sister taking charge because she *needs* to (in more ways than one ;) and my mother resisting, resenting that she has to hand her bills over to my sister for processing – in her mind, losing control – although she is still making out the checks with my sister’s help.

Their personalities are butting heads, and neither knows how to reach within and become aware of a deeper Presence, and so they remain veiled to their Eternal Being that lies underneath the surface, floundering in a sea of unconscious reactivity to each other and the situation…


And me?  Well, I’m no saint, that’s for sure. J I’m trying not to get pulled under by the undertow of family baggage and dynamics, and yet it happens.  I’m trying to remember that this is all happening within the context of Ultimate Reality.  Eternal Consciousness is the context for everything that occurs here.  *We* are just an occurrence here, a wave on that Ocean of Consciousness, rising and returning to the Ocean of Being in the span of a life.  I remind myself that when seen through the eyes of Ultimate Reality everything is deeply “okay.” The only way that I know to navigate the waves is to dive deep into this Ocean of Infinite Consciousness and become more deeply *aware* of what is truly Real within - otherwise I remain emotionally unconscious, floundering on the surface waves of the present moment, living from crisis to crisis, reacting to life. 


Life itself is an enormous threshold that we are all attempting to cross together – each in our own way…

~

Photo #1 - a mistake :)
Photo #2 -  shadows on the wall
Photo #3 - Shadows of spindles in chair back
Photo #4 - photo of sunset color inverted



12 comments:

  1. Dealing with shadowy world of Dementia must be very trying! My own neighbour relates stories over the fence to me about her own Mum who now lives in a home but for a long time she was a jekyll and hyde character causing lots of concern among the family, but as you said seeing the humorous side is essential...

    Love your images they well represent your life's story.

    Best wishes. x

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    1. Thank you Sue... Yes, challenging for sure. There's no jekyll and hyde yet :)

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  2. The photos are a beautiful complement to this sad news. I've been through this with Mom, who died with Alzheimer's back in 1997. It's tough. The good news is that there are so many resources now for families to get through this. Strength and peace to you and your sister, and love to you and your mom.

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    1. Thank you Ruth... It does seem like we're headed down that slippery slope. Yes, the Alzheimer's Assoc Website is a wonderful resource. So sorry to hear that you experienced this with your mother. My husband's mother also has Alzheimer's and is in a facility in New Mexico, where her daughter lives.

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  3. This certainly reminds me of my dad - including the paranoia, which goes with the territory of dementia, unfortunately. Not an easy place to be in for anyone, sending you all the grace and strength to navigate the waves...

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    1. Thanks Uma :) Yes, I'm sure you can relate!

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  4. Best wishes, Christine. My father and mother-in-law both had Alzheimers, so I can relate. Glad you're taking advantage of the resources available.

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    1. Thank you David... It seems that there are soooo many who have, or have had this, in one form or another! Impacting so many people! I wonder why it hit our *parents'* generation... So many imponderables...

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  5. How sorry I am about your Mom, and that it is so much for all of you to deal with. Families are tough territory and provide a lot of good stuff to chew on for "practice":o) It's not easy being in the crossfire between family members and family issues in general. I hope very much some better way of management for your Mother can be found... We want to remain "in control" as long was we can, don't we. Knowing when to surrender to others for much-needed help must be a very frustrating thing with age. Much to think on this, Christine... you are brave to share. Well wishes to you all... ((HUGS)) P.S. Wonderful photos--#4 is my fave. :o)

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    1. Thank you Tracy... As I'm sure you know, life is always presenting us challenges in one form or another :) I shared it because it *is* life as it is, at the moment. And as I'm discovering, for so many others as well...Seems none of us are immune to life's little realities...

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  6. Dementia is so difficult to deal with for all parties! I don't know if this might be an option but have you considered creating automatic payments for your Mother's bills which would be deducted from a checking account? Then no one has to even think about them. Best wishes as you journey this path.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Patricia! :) I will certainly look into it. In fact am headed out to my mother's today...

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