I had dinner with friends recently, and we were laughing hysterically when we were talking about our mother’s.
Both of our moms have dementia (or Alzheimer’s, no one knows for sure what form of dementia it is). You may think that it is nothing to laugh at, and really it isn’t.
If you read my “Sandwich Generation” article, you know that I have many conflicted feelings about my mom and her disease. Sometimes I am angry, sometimes I am sad, and sometimes I am just resigned to the fact that my mom has a disease that will progressively worsen.
I feel frustrated when I have to persuade her for 40 minutes to take her medication (the same 2 minute conversation 20 times over because she forgets the conversation). I sometimes feel like I am in that movie Groundhog Day, re-living the same thing over and over again, but somehow not ever getting it right.
Back to our dinner out with friends. When my friend and I started talking about our moms, we realized we were in the same boat! Both our moms wear the same clothes over and over and over again. We laughed as we shared the stories of how we try to get them into clean clothing and their insistence that their clothes are clean, not realizing they have worn the same pants for a week. How we sneak the clothes into the laundry and lay new ones out for them, and how they sometimes find the dirty clothes in the hamper and put them on again. We laughed as we talked about the quirky things they say and do, and how they will ask us the same thing over and over because they do not realize they asked the same question and got an answer two minutes ago. How they will call us on the telephone and not know who they called.
Then, there are times when we see a glimpse of how our moms used to be. The very capable, caring, and bright ladies they once were makes brief appearances, and then just as quickly are gone again.
Are we cruel for laughing like this? I think we are just human, and the laughter is a great stress release so that we can continue on caring for our moms with love and compassion. I find that I can either laugh or cry when I think about my mom, and since laughing is better for us, I try to always see the humor in the situation.
If you find yourself caring for an aging parent with some form of dementia, know you are not alone. It’s not easy, but try to remember that it is the disease making them this way and it is not their fault. Then go have a good laugh.
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