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Several Days in the Life of Moms Dementia
by Marijo Phelps
03/12/10
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This day was before the family realized the extent on Mom’s dementia. Yes, she wanted to MOVE rather than face issues and get things straightened out. Yes, she was sometimes irrational (but she according to her MD she was bi-polar and couldn’t take the meds most of her adult life so we never knew what to attribute to what) Yes, she was thinking many people were out to get her. But neither we nor the nursing staff had realized to what extent her dementia was affecting her thought processes at this point.

Mom left a phone message, she’s had it where she is living with Dad in a wonderful assisted living facility. She called a local moving company and was going to another facility all the way across town (she doesn’t drive and never has since rolling her boyfriend’s car at age 18) AND she wants to move Dad back to another facility he used to be in. She hung up on me when I was trying logic and scripture with her.

Help me, Lord, to honor my parents yet BACK OFF and wait. Speak to Mom, Lord and encourage Dad.
My sister, Colette, in Iowa (better perspective from a distance for sure) had marvelous insights: me logical and Mom emotion driven but she can sure get me hooked.

Ah, Lord God Thou hast made the heavens and the earth with thy great power, nothing is too difficult for Thee – can You speak to my mom and have her hear and obey? Give me wisdom and strength!

I talked with Dad, he agreed that he was getting great care where he was and he did not want to move again (Mom had moved them around 10 times in two years – sometimes together and sometimes in separate facilities)

Thank You, Lord, for an excellent talk with my excellent Dad! Bless him. Please speak to Mom.

At least Mom and I had come to an agreement that she was not to call me at work unless it was a hospital type emergency. She left voice mails at my home phone and I could collect them when I had a break time. At this point in time I was working 32 hours a week.

Mick and I were keeping up our home and the folk’s home which Mom wasn’t ready to sell yet AND visiting the folks at 2 different facilities.

Many mornings I went in to feed Dad his breakfast. Hum. If we’d have had kids when we first married they’d be teenagers by now…..maybe there is a reason I never got pregnant and we didn’t have children.

Voice mail from Mom wanting to move Dad to the facility he’d been in before NOW.

Lord, help us!

Ah, Lord God, nothing is too difficult for You – melt/meld Mick and me together in Your love….
Touch Mom and Dad….
Help me with a regular quiet time, praise, prayer and sitting at Your feet….


The weekend with Mom was terrible wanting to move Dad, because a dog came into his room after she left the door open? She is not listening to reason. I was in tears and she said she’d no longer be responsible if anything happened.

We were hiking and the Lord showed me Moses (Dad) and Aaron and Hur (Colette and me and our husbands and our prayer back up) And how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s arms and he had victory. AND that Mom was released from responsibility and it was being transferred to us. My sister, Colette
Had gotten the same illustration from the Lord and had shared it with Mom unbeknownst to me.

By this time we were more aware of Mom and her dementia process but we were still being knocked off our feet by actions and reactions, never knowing what next. Since I was a geriatric RN, this wasn’t a total surprise, but it was a shock.

With patients I knew them NOW. With Mom, I knew her THEN and NOW – it was totally different, I was emotionally involved to say the least.You do lose perspective when it is your own family member. They taught us this in training, but now I had, regrettably, the perfect living example.

Mom was in a facility with apartments, assisted living and they were soon to open a skilled nursing floor. My sister had found out this information as Mom was still “foxy” enough not to tell me, about the supposed move she planned for Dad.

I called to find out about the staffing ratio. I felt it was, well, basically criminal. 2 CNA’s for 19 residents on DAY SHIFT. That was worse than any facility I had ever heard of in 2 different states.

I spoke with Dad. "Marijo, I don't WANT to move."
Well, maybe you can tell Mom this tomorrow when she visits you?"

"No, no,I don't want her mad at me, I CAN'T tell her - maybe you can get legal custody of me?"

My poor, dear father, making more sense at this time than mom ever could. How could I get legal custody of my "on the air" father? I had power of attorney for health care but legally, mom could still move him. I didn't think any judge would declare Dad "unfit" mentally and we didn't have the time or funds to find out.

We hoped most of this was dementia talking through Mom and that she’d forget. Lord have mercy. For some reason she always remembered those things we hoped she’d forget and she forgot most all else.

“Mom, Dad is getting really good care where he is and I don’t think we are going to move him. He just got settled in and likes being there. I phoned to see about staffing in your new place and it just would not allow for good care. Love you Mom and we can talk more later,” was the message I left for her.

I got an awful phone call from Mom, “You, you are terrible and, and messed EVERYTHING up,” she gasped out between sobs and then hung up on my machine.

Oh, boy.

There are times when I don’t even know what to say.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.


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