About My Mom

In the back of my mind I understand she is likely to return to where she was a few weeks ago. Still this recent change has been nothing short of miraculous and totally unexpected.

Early in October I wrote about my mom. She has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Changes in her were noticeable and troubling. Over the last two weeks things have changed again… rapidly… for the good. None of us quite know what to make of this.

The long term plan has been for our little family to get together for Thanksgiving. My sister’s oldest daughter has just given birth to my parent’s second great grandchild. It’s a joyous time. How often could all of us (including Stefanie) be in one place?

The worry was how my mother would travel? We all assumed she and my dad would not be able to attend.

They flew in this past weekend. The trip went well. They’re at my sister’s home.

That’s not the startling part.

When I wrote in October my mother was speaking in monosyllables. She was answering questions with single word answers. She was not engaging with those around her. She would not maintain a conversation.

All of that has changed!

I first noticed it a few weeks ago. My sister noticed it too.

Yesterday my mom joined a phone conversation and kept up her end admirably. I am ecstatic beyond belief.

We are not naive. No one expects my mom will return to the woman she was ten or fifteen years ago. In the back of my mind I understand she is likely to return to where she was a few weeks ago. Still this recent change has been nothing short of miraculous and totally unexpected.

You have no idea how excited we are to join the family for Thanksgiving.

40 thoughts on “About My Mom”

  1. Geoff,

    It certainly is a beautiful thing to see mom at least be able to participate in a Holiday that everyone will be at. I lost my grandmother years ago to the disease–she literally went from walking, talking, etc. to being bedridden with diapers in six months. It was very sad. But your mom appears to be the “comeback kid.” There’s a lot of determination in that woman and a lot of love in her family

  2. A Thanksgiving Blessing for your family for sure. Hoping that this reversal stays for a while. Cherish every moment(we all know that you will) and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family , and all of your faithful followers!

  3. Was her diagnosis definitely Alzheimer’s, or was that simply an assumption based on symptoms seen so far? Has her hearing changed or been modified? I know from my mother that hearing impairment can make dementia seem more advances, as well as depressing the sufferer from the social isolation and embarrassment it causes.

    Or has she gotten on some sort of medication that would increase blood flow (which might help with a vascular dementia)? It is beyond fabulous that Betty will be able to interact with family at a higher level this holiday, and you all must be ecstatic. I hope this lasts a long time.

    Sorry i missed you Sunday, I was at a housewarming party at Rossmore. This is an absolutely enormous “age stratified” gated community to which a friend, now 79, just moved. He has a lovely (and hideously expensive) condo with a view out over the Rossmore valley. (2,200 acres, 9000 residents all 55+, but more likely in their late 60’s to 80’s). the kind of place where the signs are all very large, and people have to be reminded to keep their golf carts off the sidewalks mnd out of buildings!

    Give my love to everyone that knows me Thursday! I will be on my own (a long story) for the first time, but kind of think it will be interesting as a one time thing. I’m gonna have sushi of course.

    1. Dennis – It was a doctor’s diagnosis based on observation and tests. Alas, self imposed social ostracism is a real concern.

  4. I too have familiarity with this awful disease. However, take heart Geoff, just because she has it, does not necessarily mean she will experience the effects quickly…sometimes it takes years to really progress to the most difficult part. Enjoy your Mom as she is now and I hope, as was the case with my Dad, she will be able to engage with family for quite some time. The most important thing is that your Dad has the support he needs to provide care to your Mom. Regards.

  5. Appreciate, value and prize your time with your mom, and I hope this stage lasts a very long time for Dad and for your family.

    My dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 61. He has tried really hard for 10 years, and those times when he “came back” were always so worth waiting for.

    This is just an awful disease. I just went to my dad’s nursing home last week to say “goodbye and I love you”. Hospice is next and I am really so very sad for my dad.

  6. and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Enjoy Mom while you can. I wish I could spend one more Thanksgiving with mine.

  7. Geoff: I cannot express how happy I am for your family and especially for you. My husband and I are now both in our eighties and there but for the grace of God. We will remember all of you in our prayers and I am sure you will all show your Mom how much you love her and how glad you are to have her. We absolutely have no idea what the mind retains after the words are gone. Have a safe trip and a lovely reunion. See you again soon.

  8. Geoff, this is great news, especially at a time when you are all together…… Having gone through this with my own Mother, many factors coul have caused this, one of which is sheer will on your Mother’s part. At time, when we least expected it and times when we knew my Mother would love to ba “all” there, she could rally and make it happen. Another common part of Alzheimer’s is a down turn from a physical ailment. Anything can cause this, a cold, a pain, a bladder infection (very common in older folfs) etc…… Is it possible during your Mother’s worst time, she had something physical go un-noticed? Not all that unusual. And perhaps that was really not her benchmark at this point in the process. I know you have many sources for info on this…..the one thing you will learn, is there are no magic answers. I’d be very happy to sit and share my “knowledge” with you if you were interested.

    God Speed and enjoy your holiday !!!!

  9. Geoff, I’m HAPPY for you and your Family!
    I know this Alzheimer’s walk all to well. My Mother has been “victim” of Alzheimer’s for almost 20 years now. Mom’s general health is perfect today except for this disease leaving her totally helpless with her care and needs. The varying stages does allow the family to digest what’s happening and to learn what may works best for each Alzheimer’s victim. Babies and young children DEFINITELY returns the patient to our world in varying degree. Your Mom’s response is definitely part of this package. Her response to her upcoming trip to meet a new little ones goes along with this. This baby is a total delight to her. No doubt, her great grandchild triggers her Mothering memories. Her new great-grandchild brings out the best of your Mom’s past memories and is the best of gifts to you and your family for your Thanksgiving gathering!
    I’ve wanted to email you since you wrote about your Mom’s Alzheimer’s. My heart and thoughts have been with you and yours since then. I hope your Dad has allowed extra assistance at home. Its a major job and can be very stressful even in the best of situations. We managed to keep my Mother in her home for 5 years with some challenges. My 4 siblings and I took turns staying overnite and had 36 hours of paid assistance during the week. Eventually Mom’s needs became more than we could deal with at home and moved her to Alzheimer’s Assisted Living facility. It was a good move for my Mother and allowed us to re-focus our daily lives. Caregiving takes a toll on the caregiver.
    I know that you and your family are very concerned for your Dad. I wish you well and many good days ahead for your Mom.
    Your Thanksgiving visit is a wonderful opportunity for you to take tons of great photos. What a gift these pix will be; not only for you but also in the future to trigger your Mom’s memories. Enjoy your Family Thanksgiving. Have fun making tons of holiday memories and the gift this little baby brings to your Mom and family.

  10. Geoff, my mom has been living with Alzheimer’s Disease for over a dozen years. She’s 83 and still with us, still living at home with my 88 year old dad in their Manhattan high rise. They have 24/7 home health care aides, we set up the living room in their apartment with a hospital bed so she can sleep comfortably (as can dad in his own bed in the bedroom). She must be spoon fed soft foods, and she basically sits around with her eyes closed most of the day. She is still able to respond, after a fashion, to my dad, my sister, my wife, and my three kids (ages 16 through 31), although she doesn’t remember who we are without heavy prompting, and even then, she always was polite and social so much of it is her acting the way she guesses she’s supposed to.

    So you could have your mom around for quite a while! She will continue to feel your love until after her last day on Earth.

    1. Peter, Our family has this same experience with our Mother as yours. Mom is now 90 yrs. We are very thankful she never experienced wandering and other varied behaviors. Mom’s feelings were the total opposite of not wanting to be ALONE. She was/is very comforted to have someone with all the time even if she doesn’t know who the person is! Life agendas were adjusted to accommodate her needs. We’re very thankful Mom’s nature has always been a calm non-demanding nature even in her worse moments. She raised 10 children and never raised her voice. Today its rare we ever hear her voice in any form but every once in a while, she surprises us with the appropriate 1 word! Every nurse and aide who cares for Mom says the nicest things about her. Geoff’s Mom is at the beginning of this disease. I hope she can stablize at some point with a new med or break through. Peter, you are very correct in stating Geoff’s Mom will always feel the love that surrounds her. I’m happy that you’ve found the best care to accommodate both your Mom and Dad allowing them to remain in their home today. Happy Thanksgiving.

  11. Geoff,
    So sorry to hear about your Mom. By any chance, have you ever spoken to Kristen C with your concerns? Great place to start, my friend.

  12. Geoff, is it possible that part of your mother’s problem may be depression? If so, the change and excitement of the trip and seeing family may have at least temporarily “snapped her out of it” and what you’re seeing now is her true condition re the Alzheimer’s – rather than Alzheimer’s plus depression. If that is the case – depression can be treated…

  13. I am so happy to hear this. This is going to be a great Thanksgiving for your family in more ways than one. Enjoy every minute of it. Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family.

  14. Geoff, we’re familiar with Alzheimer’s in this family too. My mother-in-law went from being diagnosed to her passing in less than three years. It was a horrible three years. My father-in-law was strong enough and willing enough that she stayed home until the end. So in addition to the sad times, I always try to remember the few moments of recognition she had. The time my daughter went to kiss her ‘Mema’ and she reached up and touched my Becky’s face and said “beautiful”. That was it, and it was the only word she’d said all day. Or another Sunday when all the family was visiting my in-laws that out of the blue, she said “Billy”. I said “Billy, Mema’s calling you”, which was a surprise in itself. He came in the room and went to her and asked “what do you want Mem’s?” She simply said “love”. The moral of the story is… you’ve been blessed with this wonderful gift. Enjoy it, and enjoy Thanksgiving and don’t give a thought to tomorrow or the day after that or the day after that because it’ll get here eventually. Happy Thanksgiving with love, to you and your family.

  15. Our miracle was last Christmas.
    Dad is fighting the same as your mom, as well as cancer and a recent stroke.
    They will rally from time to time,
    Enjoy the good moments and remember all the wonderful memories.

  16. What a blessing for the Thanksgiving holiday! Enjoy her…this will be a Thanksgiving that your whole family will always remember!

  17. Geoff, about three years before my Mom passed last year, she was dx’d with Alzheimers and onset of dementia. She had also suffered with depression most of her life. She was given aricept, on top of the blood pressure and other meds she was already taking. She did seem to improve during the first year of treatment, but then sank into a progressively deeper depression. My Mom worked in retail clothing sales until she was 80. She loved her job, and was so good to her customers, they would follow her if she changed to a new store. She couldn’t stand on her feet for long hours at 80, so she had to stop, and that’s when her depression really got worse. We were each others caregivers for years, (I am disabled). She had a bad stroke in 2010, and was placed in a nursing home and hospital for a few months, where she was mistreated. She was allowed to fall out of her wheelchair at least three times that I know of. She came home for hospice care, and she was totally black and blue. Even the hospice nurse was incredulous at how bruised she was. She was able to talk, but was very hoarse. Her last words to me were:”They’re hurting me”. It breaks my heart. She passed away later that night, the one day I had her back home. After she passed, her doctors said: “We’re not sure if your Mom had Alzheimers after all”. They just kept adding medications on top of medications, including Seroquel, which may have actually led to her stroke and death. Seroquel can be dangerous for the elderly, and was given without my knowledge in a nursing home.
    I am glad your Mom is having a respite from her symptoms. From my experience, you cannot be too diligent keeping an eye on how the doctors and caregivers treat your Mom. Some of them just give up on elderly patients. I’m alone now, and my heart is broken over losing my Mom and how she was mistreated. Holidays are meaningless to me now..

  18. Ah, Geoff…what great news. And even if it’s temporary, it is a special gift to you and your family. I like to think that prayers are answered regardless of faiths or backgrounds. We’ve been lucky enough to “meet” you and your family here on the net and I’m willing to bet that lots of us keep you all in our prayers. Quality time is better than quantity time. May you all have a “Quality Thanksgiving”.. 😀

  19. What a blessing that you all are able to get together with your Mom and Dad, enjoy, laugh, love, and listen. Seems like all these other posters have some good advice and experience. I wish you and your family many more years of wonderful memories. God bless! <3

  20. What a great Thanksgiving gift you have! My dad was diagnosed about 10 years ago but in hindsight the symptoms were present long before that. He’s 95 now and in an assisted living facility. Sometimes he won’t have a conversation and other times he’s very close to Dad. Who knows why that happens, but the “good times” are definitely cherished. I wondered – is your mom on any medication? There are some new meds that can actually cause slight reversal in symptoms, and some that kind of “stop it in its tracks” for a while. At any rate, enjoy your time with your family. Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. Sometimes we get a little tap on the shoulder to remind us of what we should truly be thankful for. Wishing you and your family much joy as you make memories to cherish!

  22. Geoff; I’m sorry to read about your mom; and sorry I missed that post where you said she was diagnosed with that terrible disease. However as you are aware it is treatable… and the effects can be delayed with the newer generations of medicine. I’ve lost a good friend and family member to this – and I know what you are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with you all; and for your mom especially. Enjoy every moment with her!

    Have a VERY Happy Thanksgiving!

  23. So happy for the whole family. Please give our love and a hug and kiss to all. And a special hug for Aunt Betty. We love you all.

  24. So happy to hear that Aunt Betty is doing so well! Gary and I are looking forward to seeing Aunt Betty and Uncle Harold at the end of December. Have a wonderful holiday together and please give hugs and send our love to all! ♥

  25. Geoff, My 86 year old father-in-law was suddenly showing signs of dementia and Alzheimer disease. We had him admitted to the hospital because of how fast it came on. Upon further testing it was discovered that he had a UTI. I learned today that UTIs in the elderly cause all of those symptoms. Who knew? After 2 weeks of aggressive antibiotics he is almost back to his young 86 year old self. He still forgets somethings but not any more than you’d expect from a 70 year old. If your mom has not been tested for a urinary tract infection, I would highly recommend that she get tested asap.

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