Len: Dear “My Mother, my idol”……….. Your story is such a touching one and so beautifully told. Thank you for sharing it. My guess is that you have been and continue to be a wonderful child. Listen to Cliff’s advice in terms of having your mother receive a thorough assessment from a qualified specialist. Information (good and bad) is empowering, so be sure that she is also kept informed of her condition and what she can expect in the future.
Don’t forget about your father. It sounds like he has already taken on what are probably both emotionally and physically demanding responsibilities associated with being a caregiver and he, too, is bound to feel the stress and strain that comes with the responsibilities of helping a loved one. For too long, family caregivers have been neglected or else overlooked and yet they continue to provide the lion’s share of family support in situations like this one. There are more and more caregiver support services available in the community which can be found by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging.
I don’t want to jump the gun, but, if a specialized assessment of your mother results in a diagnosis of dementia there are some excellent resources to turn to help the entire family deal with the challenge. Consider getting a copy of The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins (be sure to get the latest edition as it has been updated regularly). Also, there is no better place to turn for the most current resources and information on Alzheimer’s Disease than the Alzheimer’s Association which has chapters in virtually every state (go to www.alz.org).
Finally, hang in there and stay strong – your love and concern and that of your dad combined with the innate strength and capacity found in your mom will, I believe, get all of you through this in one piece, regardless of the challenges that you may face down the road.