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Stages of Alzheimers
Hi Wendy C. I know how horrendous this is for you. I too am experiencing this long goodbye and my mom cud be in your mom's position soon as this wicked disease continues to run its course. My siblings and I had to make the heartrending decision to put our elderly Mom (84) into the Elderly Mentally Infirm (EMI) Unit of a Nursing Care Home in Jan2014 because Alzheimers had ravaged her brain to the extent that she was too vulnerable living alone. (Dad passed away more than 10 years ago). She was doing so many oddities caused by this disease, eg she hadn't a clue about dressing appropriately for the weather, going out in only short sleeves and summer clothes in winter weather, leaving her door open, pushing her breakfast trolley with unfinished breakfast on it heading to the shops, rescued and returned by caring neighbors or her own carers if they happened to be driving past as they did their rounds in the area. Mom had had a care package in place for over 2 years, they called 4 times a day at meal times and some long visits "sits" in between, and we 4 siblings visited as often as possible on a rota basis to fill the gaps of mom's loneliness in between that but even then Mom cud never remember that anyone had been to see her. So the move to a Home was the best and worst thing ever. Best for Mom, worst for us coz it was the ultimate acknowledgement that this illness had progressed so far and there's no stopping it. For weeks we told ourselves it was for respite and she wud get back to her own home soon but of course that was just wishful thinking. It's been over a year now and it really has taken me that time to fully accept how advanced Mom is. She was assessed as being in Stage 5 within the first 6 weeks of moving into the Home and is now in Stage 7, the final stage. Yet each stage covers such a broad spectrum but I'm glad ("glad" is not really the right word for it, "satisfied" perhaps) that I know what to expect, what's ahead for Mom coz she may plod on for months or years, no one knows. The Care Home staff are brilliant and have always answered our questions honestly and know our mom so well. There's so many activities laid on for all residents to take part in no matter what their ability. Chairbound vacant minds take part in singing and tea dances etc too. My mom still walks and talks and knows us vaguely but is so frail and falls more often now. Falls will increase until eventually she will be wheelchair bound coz her brain will stop telling her to get up and walk and collect things. I'm sorry you are in a similar, even worse, predicament as me, your mom is more advanced. From what I've seen of people who are chairbound, vacant looking and unable to communicate, they still respond to the kindness and love of a human touch and tap their feet (if able) to music and singing. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about what's ahead for mom and that we will lose her further. All any one of us can do is visit occasionally and offer that human touch knowing hopefully that those carers offer it as well when we are not there. I really am grateful that there are so many wonderful people in the world who feel drawn into genuinely caring for dementia sufferers and certainly I witness it in the Home my Mom's in which is very reassuring. I visited my mom 3 or 4 times a week for many months when she first went into the Care Home until it got to the stage where it was affecting me so deeply with sadness that I had to reduce my visits and now I visit once a week or even fortnightly. Mom's in a different world, an Alzheimers world, and visiting such a place can be deeply disturbing but it doesn't mean we love our moms less just coz we visit less. I wud say just cherish the special memories you hold about your mom and do ask for advice from your mom's Care Home Manager about how she is and what to expect. So many people can exist in this chairbound vacant state for years. There's one resident in mom's Care Home who turned 100 years old last year and has been chairbound, bedbound and vacant for more than 10 years in the same Home. It has helped me greatly to know and hear about what stage my mom is at in this progressive disease and what to expect along the way. It doesn't remove the grief but lessens it a good bit and enables me to let her go and let me get on with my life, so I do hope all this may help you in some small way as it has helped me so much reading about yours and so many other people's circumstances as we carry on living on the outside of the Alzheimers mind. Thank you for "listening" & sharing.