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I have to remind myself to remain patient.

That it isn’t easy for her, either.

That I need her as much as she needs me.

That one day she we’ll lose the “her” that is her.

That’s what Alzheimer’s does…


This is the message that I sent out to family today… I thought I would share it with you….

A month or so ago, Mom finally had testing done at the Memory Disorder Clinic at Bruyere.

Today, Mom got the diagnosis Shirin and I were expecting and she was not.

Early stages of late-onset Alzheimer’s.

She took it rather pragmatically and there is some medication that she can take which will (hopefully) slow down the progression. However, had she taken me at my word years ago, she would have been diagnosed ages ago and had the benefit of a longer time on the medication and not so much of a precipitous decline in her memory the last few years.

Late onset, unlike early onset does not mean that we will “lose” her to Alzheimer’s. Basically, it is a slow-moving process which in a younger person means incapacity before the age of 65.

Mom is older and so will experience dementia at a ripe old age.

However, she will be experiencing a decline in her memory (short term memory) over the next few years and we have to face that.

It hasn’t been easy for me dealing with a lot of the problems which have cropped up, so far. I handle all her finances because she can’t. I handle her medications because she can’t. I handle making her appointments and seeing she gets where she needs to go because she can’t.

She repeats the same stories and questions and anecdotes and needs reminding about things she should remember on her own because she can’t remember.

If she calls repeatedly leaving the same message, its because she doesn’t remember having called and having left the message.

Her long-term memory is pretty good. I notice gaps in recollections. This indicates that she is starting to falter a bit there but ion the whole, her long term memory is pretty good. She remembers the stories, she just forgets she’s told you 15 times in the same conversation.

The upshot of this is that she will need patience and compassion. She will need people to visit and call often.

The fact is that, slowly but surely, we are losing her and we need to make the best and the most of the time she has left. One day, she will not remember us… That day is hopefully a long way off but in order to make these last years as good and as worth-while, she needs us.

Sometimes it is frustrating and upsetting to have to go over and over and over the same things sometimes 50 times in a day but that’s what has to be done.

As a family, we need to make every day memorable for her, even if she won’t, in the end, remember it.


On Thursday, I got a call from some vehicle finance company asking for my mother. Figuring it was just one of those cold-callers for the new scam of selling useless finance and insurance for cars to people gullible enough to want something for nothing (which this is the opposite of… nothing for a lot) , I said “No thanks!” and hung up.

They called immediately back and said that, in fact, someone had put us down as a reference to finance their car loan. This “someone” is the same “someone” for whom we have (well, my mother, anyway) been getting calls from a bank (major Canadian financial institution) because they have skipped out on repaying a loan and the bank wants to know where they are.

As this “person” is the wife of my brother who is part of the reason why my mother is in the financial situation that she is in, and neither one has never taken ANY responsibility for their own part in their own life-situation; and since moving from their last address not bothered either to call my mother but once and not given us a forwarding address, I haven’t been able to give them information they don’t already know. Nor, I might point out, has either one of them bothered to ASK before putting my mother down as a reference.

AND, as my 85 year-old mother little needs being harassed by a bank that she may or may not have actually given her consent to be a reference for and certainly is not in the state of compis mentis to GIVE informed opinion on the relative financial and personal responsibility of my brother and/or his wife, I have, on behalf of my mother asked them to stop calling. They assure me they will…. and then we get another call. Next time I will tell them that they can talk to my lawyer….

So, I “cheerfully” said… “Noooo… That won’t happen…” when they woman at the other end of the line suggested my mother might give a reference.

I then emailed my sister to bitch about this.

In the midst of this email bitchfest, the phone rings.

It’s my brother.

I’m thinking. “Oh, this going to be good… He’s either calling to tell me they might be calling about a reference or he’s heard that I wouldn’t give one”.

“I need to give you a heads-up….”

“S is in the hospital…”. (“S” being his wife)

Apparently, she had her gallbladder removed almost two weeks ago and seemed to be on the mend when she started having abdominal pains, was vomiting blood, and otherwise obviously becoming less and less well. “They are running tests…” Don’t know what the problem is…” It’s serious…”

Great. Now, I feel guilty… My sister feels guilty (no love lost on either side of this triangle of siblings and sister-in-law). We just lost my lovely sister-in-law, Alice, two weeks ago to cancer. This is obviously a very serious situation.

Of course, I have no real reason to feel badly about scuttling the car loan. My brother and his wife may feel hard done by and may well write me off over this but my mother’s best interests are now my best interests. My brother doesn’t call, has not one shred of understanding that his mother has dementia and that stress from what he and my niece (my other sister’s daughter) put her through financially could well have contributed to her mental state and/or could well have killed her had I not been there to help “fix” things.

“S” gets crabby with my mother (on the rare occasion in the last two years we have seen them) for asking the same questions, is appalled by our living conditions which are messy but nothing to be “appalled ” over) but not appalled enough to ask if she can help me) and takes every opportunity to make snide comments clearly intended to point out her seeming superiority to everyone else in the family. Oddly enough, no one else in the family has lost their house because the wife has refused to make any payments towards the mortgage, or is constantly in a state of debt while taking jobs for three months and getting fired or quitting in a snit because “someone doesn’t like them”.

Somehow, the rest of us, as financially strapped as we are, manage to keep full-time jobs and don’t think that the world owes them a living.

Nor, have any of us “borrowed” money from an ageing parent even as someone is begging them  not to and that, unless they stop, that parent will be out on the street with nothing to show for a career and a home and dedication to a family… and whinged “But I’ll be out on the street” without a concern about the parent.

So, why should I feel guilty?

I don’t.  I fell badly that “S” is in hospital (we went to visit her, that evening) and hope that it all works out for her. But as far as being “felling guilty” goes. I have nothing to feel guilty about.

They are in their 40s. It is time to start acting like they are in their 40s.



I took Mom down to The Heart Institute and got her fitted with the  ambulatory blood pressure monitor this afternoon about 2:30. We went from there to the chiropractor’s and then I drove her home. I went out to Sears and bought 2 pairs of shoes for myself and then got some shopping done. I arrived home, just before 6, and went to put the groceries away and Mom started complaining about the blood pressure monitor as soon as I got in the door. “We need to take this back.”

I asked if it was uncomfortable or something and then walked into the living room to find that she had taken it off. I asked why she’d taken it off. “Because I’m done with it!”

“We have to take it back.”

I said “You aren’t supposed to take it off. It’s supposed to be left on!” We paid $100 for this test that isn’t covered by OHIP and I’m worried that we’ll have to pay another $100 to have it put on again. I am still trying to understand why she took it off. And then she says “Aren’t we supposed to take it back, today?”

I said that we are supposed to take it back Thursday that she’s supposed to wear it for two days!

“But I’ve been WEARING it for two days!”

I kept trying to tell her that she’s had it on for less than 4 hours, at this point. She’s looking at me like I’m crazy…

I told her what we did today and she’s convinced that that was 2 days ago…

I managed to get the thing put back on properly, though. Hopefully, it will STAY on for the next two days.

And every time the thing beeps before the cuff inflates, she’s asking “Is this going to go on all night?”. I explain that it only beeps for the first few hours and then before bedtime, it stops beeping and won’t beep at all before we take it off. It will take her blood pressure every half hour but it won’t beep…. It beeps again and she gets irritated and asks if it is going to go off all night long, again.

“It seems to be beeping every 2 minutes!”. It is 1/2 an hour by my count…..

Jesus and all the Saints preserve me….

The August doldrums are wafting in…


Don’t know if it was Mom’s “turn” yesterday and the inevitable visit to the hospital (she is fine ….) or the lack of sunlight because of the crappy weather or… well…. a certain anniversary looming… or all of the above. Feeling blue as I usually do in August.

And I am feeling gun shy about taking the last 5 days of any leave I have left for the year in case I am stuck taking unpaid leave for some stupid accident, after having used up all my sick leave, emergency leave, family leave, and holidays which is where I am with the exception of the 5 days annual leave left….

Mom wants to go out to Thunder Bay and then to Rainy River to see my sister. If I take holidays, I want to stick closer to home… day trips and perhaps a weekend camping trip.

If only Mom was able to fly or take a train by herself, now. We can’t afford it.

I would like some time to myself… a few days not having to worry about a trip to the hospital or having her calling because she can’t figure out the TV remote. We need some time away from each other.

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