Yesterday our elder had yet another visit with her geriatric team. It was to reassess how she was doing and to tweak her medications. For the first time, she found out the diagnosis of her mental condition…Alzheimer’s.
I wasn’t sure how she’d react, but from what I’ve been reading it was something she needed to hear. To my surprise, she took it quite well. I think having a known name for her condition was more of a relief than otherwise. On our way home, she made the title comment.
Finally Understands…Maybe: Some aspects of her current living arrangement may make more sense to her now. While she had been told she had a mental disorder, she associated it with being crazy. That’s not what Alzheimer’s is. The “maybe” part is that she may not remember being told and will probably have to be told again. However, if she continues to accept it, stress levels will probably drop, for all of us.
My Role: My reply to our elder was that it was weird for me, too. That is definitely the case. It’s hard to more or less switch places with an elderly relative and take on more of the caretaker role. I don’t think of it exactly as a role reversal. I’m not her mother and it’s not quite the same job. That doesn’t make it less weird.
Will Best Friends Work? A Dignified Life, by Virginia Bell, MVH and David Troxell, MVH suggests a new approach. Instead of viewing it as a mother/child relationship, it might be better to look at it from a best friend’s approach. This can make the care and communications a lot easier. A mother might be firm, demanding and exacting. A best friend can coach, relieve stress and guide.
Practicality: Eventually that will work with our elder. In fact I suspect the time when it will be appropriate is rapidly approaching. However, at the moment, there’s still a lot of daughter in law/mother in law stuff going on. She’s not quite to the point of relinquishing her role as elder and that’s not something I want to push.
This is a weird feeling. I’m not the only one to find it that way. However, with the help of the staff in our elder’s facility and the new information I’m learning, I think it will work out. It will benefit our elder and it will make my job a lot easier.