Sunday, February 8, 2015


My mother's Alzheimer's disease has progressed so slowly that I'm sometimes lulled into the sense that our status quo is unchanging. This causes me to react poorly when Mom exhibits new symptoms. After ten years of caregiving you'd think I'd know better by now; but I sometimes need to remind myself of the need to be flexible, ready to adapt to Mom's changing needs. This morning I wrote a list of reminders: 
Mom operates from a damaged internal timetable and not according to the tidy schedule I've posted on her door. When she calls for no reason I can immediately see, I don't have to be manipulated by childish or rude tactics, but it is my responsibility to address any underlying need.    

I won't always be able to diagnose her needs accurately, but that doesn't excuse me from trying. She may say she wants to visit when she really wants a snack. Or, she might say she wants to come over into my part of the house when she really needs to use the restroom. I must accept the responsibility to be a bit of a detective and that I need to give the time to try several different solutions.   

God doesn't ask me to submit to what is sinful in my mother, but she will become increasingly unable to express accurately express what she lacks, and even physical discomfort will be mis-expressed. Her stock answers and complaints will become her only way to express any kind of need or discomfort.  I must learn to respond to her need and not necessarily to her actions and words.  It is my  responsibility to check her over and make sure she doesn’t have  physical discomfort, and to pray for her to be certain she doesn’t have an emotional or mental disturbance.  I am obligated by the terms of the anointing God has given me as my mother's caregiver to place her needs above my own plans for the day.
It's human nature (sin) to rebel against submitting to another person. This trouble with submission causes discord between caregivers and patients; the caregivers feels resentment because the patients' needs must take precedence, and the patient is upset by the need to submit to a caregiver's guidance. As Mom's caregiver I need to put aside my adolescent reluctance to submit to the demands of her genuine need. I also need Godly wisdom to discern whether she has true need--or not.  As Mom says, "It ain't easy, Breezy!" 

It wouldn't be right to end this post here. I've made it too straightforward; my solutions, though accurate, are too tidy. I haven't addressed the sense of betrayal I feel when my mother attacks me with a barrage of hateful words; her Alzheimer's causes a childish self-focus that is hurtful for me as the former apple of her eye.  In my mind I know her behaviors are mostly disease related, but my heart doesn't always get the message, and some days are harder than others. It is a constant struggle to keep my heart pliable in God's hand so that I can retain compassion toward Mom. 

My mother has forgotten that I am her precious child, but the Lord does not forget me.  And, "...Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23)."
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you...Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 4:32, 5:21

1 comment:

  1. I love how you always make things straight by bringing them back to the Lord and His Word. To rely on His Word more than our feelings is true Christianity.. but oh so difficult at times. But... God is able!