Thursday, November 7, 2013

Momma and Alzheimer's Disease

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It's always wonderful going back home, but so much has changed . . .

My Daddy died 12 years ago, on my Momma's birthday, and things feel so different without him there. Momma was always bustling around, taking care of Daddy's needs.

Momma at 18 years old . . . Quite a knockout!

Mom went back to college to get her teaching degree, with a major in special education, so that Daddy could retire early and become a gentleman farmer at 50.

This is the photo Daddy took with him overseas.

Momma and Daddy were married in Joplin, MO. Daddy was stationed there before he was shipped out to India.

They raised chickens, geese, goats, beef cattle, and had a couple dairy cows. Dad grew all the animal feed, tended a huge garden, milked cows and goats. Momma canned and froze their produce . . . Those were fun, productive years, living their dream! They were happy, but very busy!

The good life they had always dreamed of living, lasted for many wonderful years! Momma retired at age 65 and they worked side by side doing all the farm chores.

Dad was always in a lot of pain with ruptured discs and bone spurs. Then in the summer of 2001, he started losing weight. Tests in the fall revealed Dad had esophageal cancer and they sent him home to die. The chain smoking, all those years, finally got the best of him!

Momma on the farm, in her 50's, with our youngest, Matthew and middle son, Benjamin.

Momma missed him terribly, but was free to be more involved in the church. She began a women's Bible study on Wednesday mornings, became a deaconess in her church. She was always sending out cards with words of encouragement, or calling to counsel a young wife with marriage problems. She was there to bring comfort to the family of a father who committed suicide. Momma even attended special classes on ministering healing and started a healing service, after the regular church services

She also joined an art guild and eventually became the president. In the summer, she was one of the judges for artwork entries at the local county fair.

Their 50th Anniversary!

All that began to change about 2 years ago . . . Momma lost interest in painting . . . She couldn't figure out how to cook a meal . . . She wasn't safe behind a steering wheel anymore . . . Her feeling of independence and selfworth was slowly slipping away from her and she fought it!

A year ago Momma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease . . . Moderate to severe was the diagnosis . . . I'd call, and she'd complain about not being able to drive, feeling like she was being treated like a child . . . She couldn't remember ever making her Olive Dip, or her pumpkin pies!

They put her on the medicines you see advertised on television . . . They gave her diarrhea, messed with her electrolytes, and caused her to become depressed. Her primary care doctor took her off her heart meds, blood pressure meds, and Alzheimer's meds, hoping she would die of natural causes before this disease got too bad, and she had to be put in a care-home.

This last trip back home, Momma was finally talking about this "disease"! She was frustrated and felt stupid because she can't remember things! It broke my heart to see such a strong, loving, giving woman, my Momma, reduced to this! She was walking in shame because the disease was stealing her mind!

She also suffers from "sundowner syndrome". It usually affects those with dementia causing them to become confused, scared, angry and can turn into hysteria, and can get violent as the afternoon begins to wind down. An example: Will and I drove 3 miles away, to my sister and her huband's home. We arrived before dark, about 7pm. Momma started worrying about an hour after we'd left her house. She began pacing the floor, worrying we'd not be able to find our way home, or worse yet, hit a deer and ended up in a ditch somewhere! She turned on all the lights in the house, turned on all the outside lights, unlocked the back door. At 11pm, Momma called my sister to find out where we were. Momma was all shaky with fear.

I think the dark disorients Momma, and causes fear and confusion. She projects her frightened feelings on those she loves and worries they won't be able to get back home, because she couldn't find her way home. It must be very frightening for her.

I came home, from this trip, a bit angry (righteous indignation) that a woman of God, like my Mom, who had given so much of herself to others over the years, had been reduced to this! I called her and told her I'd been praying about her situation and knew this wasn't God's will for her final days! John 10:10 The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life, and more abundantly!" I asked if I could call her everyday and pray with her. I told her we would be using the Word of God like medicine to heal and deliver her of this awful disease!

Momma said, "You'd do this, for me?" I said, "Yes! It would be my great pleasure and honor!" "Jesus went about doing good, and healing all who were sick and oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him! Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever, and He wants you healed!"

My favorite scriptures for healing the mind come from Psalm 23 . . . "He restores my soul (mind, will, emotions and imaginations)", and II Timothy 1:7 "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind!"

When I first began calling Momma on the phone, I did all the praying. Now she joins in and we pray together, and agree together in prayer about God healing her, and we also pray about issues going on within our families.

I invite the Holy Spirit to come and settle in among us. I ask for "His peace that passes all understanding" to come and "guard our hearts and minds"! 2000 miles apart, yet we come together . . . bask in His Presence . . . are bathed in His peace . . . And receive His healing! It's a precious time for both of us!

My sister, Jann (who lives with Momma) says she has prayed, and it hasn't helped . . . She told me, "I don't want you to get your hopes up and get hurt!"

It's tough, and scary when you're face to face with Alzheimer's disease day in, and day out! It's difficult to watch your mom, the one who always cared for you, slowly slipping away. For my sister, as both caregiver, and daughter, it's wearing on her, both physically and emotionally.

I think it's easier to stand . . . in faith . . . from a distance . . . so I will stand . . . Over at Julie's!!!

I'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences with family and Alzheimer's disease.


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