What's that? I don't blame my mother's negative behaviors on the disease?
No. I blame her inability to hide her "negative behaviors" (aka, sin) on the Alzheimer's disease. Sin is sin.
However today I had a little bit of a revelation. (I always think of the line from one of my favorite movies, Hook):
Smee: "I've had an apostrophe!"
Hook: "I think you mean an epiphany..."
This particular epiphany should have occurred for me much sooner. I've written a caregiving book, for Pete's sake. Here, belatedly, is my renewed understanding: In a caregiver/patient relationship, if change is needed, the caregiver is the one who has to change.
I am the one who must make the necessary changes to accommodate my mother's needs. Admonishing her won't help, because she can't remember what she did wrong. Becoming irritated by her behaviors might be justified, but doesn't help the situation at all!
The challenge comes because Alzheimer's disease progresses so slowly. My mother has spent a long stretch of time at roughly the same level of functioning, and this allowed me to become used to the status quo. But recently Mom has lost the ability to monitor impulses that she previously was able to control. The behaviors I now see that are disturbing and inconvenient aren't patient issues, they are caregiving issues.
Change is not easy, particularly not for someone like me. I am the proverbial stick-in-the-mud, clinging stubbornly to antiquated ways of dealing with my world in the face of change. (Who prefers a teakettle to heat water anymore, when the microwave is faster and easier? I do!) However, as an Alzheimer caregiver, I must resign myself to the fact that my mother's condition will continue to deteriorate, and that I must accept the responsibility to change my patterns of responding to her as her needs increase.
I'm feeling comforted today by this Scripture: "I, the Lord, do not change..." (Malachi 3:6).
And by this line from the old hymn "On Christ the Solid Rock:"
In every dark and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil...What a relief to depend on the Lord, who does not change, in the midst of all the uncertainties of life. If you'll excuse me now, I'm going to go heat some water for tea.