Friday, April 8, 2011

Change is Hard

I've felt so angry with my mother the past few days. I don't believe I'd better describe in detail the reason for my anger; but my fellow caregivers understand. The anger is justified.

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. 


  1. Your words are so true. For many years I taught a class on Dementis to help new employees at the Nursing Home I wored at. I always stressed the importance of the caregiver being willing to change, not the Person with dementia. It is hard, no doubt about it. And I didn't see the caregiver remembering that fact nearly often enough.

    I will continue to pray for you. This is a subject that is so dear to my heart. Blessings to you!

  2. I will be praying for you. I remember when my grandparents went from lapses in memory and some functional problems to suddenly behaving more like disobedient children. It really was hard to hear some of the mean things they would say, and I know it often made my father cry to see and hear his parents this way. There is a grace that God gave us to look past, to forgive and forget, their inability to control themselves. And though they might be angry and spiteful, even physically violent (as my grandfather became). May God grant you His peace and grace and forbearance as you care for your mother. Love in Christ, dear sister.

  3. Your posts always seem to hold something that "fits" no matter where I am in my life. Who would not be drawn to the very title, "Change is Hard." It sure is. Thank you for writing and including scriptures.

  4. Your blog is incredible. I only wish that I had found it sooner when I was still dealing with caregiving issues. It was not so long ago that I was feeling some of the things that you are feeling now. Thank you for so openly sharing your heart.

  5. Thank you for being so willing to be so transparent. May the Lord bless you for all you are doing and will do for your mother. I so pray and hope that an in law by marriage will come to the Lord, for his wife who is only 64 is already in stage 6 of Alzheimer's. She hit a really rough patch for about ten days and has had two good days. I don't know IF he knows enough to know that there will be more changes and she will go back to the rough places of not knowing him, but knowing the rest of us. Your post gave me insight and comfort, it will help me know how to pray for him. She was only diagnosed two years ago. We are praying that a blessing of his salvation will come from this curse. Thank you again for being so willing to be transparent. Blessings on your week.

  6. Mary Lou, I'm praying for your relative whose wife has dementia. Our God does bring gold from ashes, and I pray with you that the blessing of salvation comes to him.

    Doris, Sarah, Pam, Vee, and Mary Lou; thank you for taking your time to post comments. I pray for each of you and am grateful for the way the Lord has spoken through you here. As Doris said, "Blessings to (each of) you!"

  7. Linda,

    I admire your humility and dependence on the LORD in this post.

    I am trying to prepare myself for the day when my husband will exhibit such behavior.

    Thanks for leading the way.


  8. A friend mentioned your blog but I could not find the courage to read it until today. Thank you for your honesty and bravery and knowing that as I weep for myself in the same situation I am not alone and the Lord has provided someone to help hold up my arms in my times of despair and weekness. God Bless You

  9. Oh Hazel, I am praying for you now, bless your heart. I'm sorry for the trial you are going through; it is such a double whammy to lose the care and support of a loved one and at the same time be expected to transition into the role of that person's caregiver. And then to add insult to injury, dementia often causes our loved ones to act toward us in ways that are hurtful. I thank the good Lord for His comfort and strength. "Though your father and mother forsake you, the Lord will lift you up" (Psalm 27:10). God bless you.

  10. Praying for you and thanks for opening my eyes. I need to change a lot. Your wisdom always helps me so much and your faith in the Lord is inspiring.