Caring for a Parent with Multi-infarct Dementia

MCC5

Meet: Leah

Caregiver Connection: Leah is a pharmacist and a writer who, together with her sister, had to help their mom decide what to do when multi-infarct dementia quickly changed their mother’s abilities to care for herself.
Blog: Point to Jesus

God’s Care in the Caregiving

It hit us out of the blue—only it didn’t, really. We just were not looking for the signs.

Multi-infarct Dementia. Why? How? What do we do with this?

In January, my Mother lived independently, driving, shopping, going to church and Bible study, and having lunch with her girlfriends. By the end of March, she couldn’t figure out how to turn her television off or answer her telephone. By the middle of April, it was obvious she could no longer live alone. She needed more care than my sister or I could give her.

Today, six months later, her world has narrowed to her lovely room at the assisted living facility, the staff that cares for her, and her family. Honestly, sometimes I still cannot fathom how we got to this point. I leave many of my visits with Mother feeling shell-shocked by the entire thing.

Because I am a pharmacist, I am Mother’s medical caregiver. My sister, the accountant, takes care of Mother’s finances. Together we seek to do what is best for our beloved Mother. In spite of the tidal wave of emotions that go along with a catastrophic diagnosis—in spite of the feeling of heartbreak—WE ARE BLESSED.

Every day we seek to focus on how the Lord has walked with us, and ministered to us, in the middle of our life-altering circumstance. May I share just a few of the ways we have seen Him work in the past few months?

• The initial diagnosis was prompted by a fall and a night in the floor, because Mother couldn’t figure out how to use her telephone to call me. There were NO BROKEN BONES! Thank you, Jesus.
• When we got to the emergency room after the fall, the ER was empty, and for a couple of hours we had the full attention of the best ER physician in north Georgia.
• In those hours surrounding her diagnosis, I began to pray that the Lord would prepare Mother’s heart for whatever had to come. In the coming days, Mother made the decision to stop driving, and to move to assisted living. God surely prepared her heart for those changes.
• When we began searching for an assisted living facility, a lovely room opened up in the facility that was our first choice. Mother loves her room. On the first day we visited the facility, we walked in the door and Mother recognized one of the staff members. What a blessing it was to know someone who worked there! In addition, the facility is owned by a sweet couple who attend church with us.
• Thus far, Mom has retained her sweet disposition. She is cooperative and rarely complains.
• The staff at the facility loves the residents, and treats them like they were family members. Mom is happy and content there. A definite blessing.

I do not take any of these blessings for granted, but give full praise to God. I recognize that many families do not have an easy path with a family member with dementia. My heart breaks for them.

We have learned, once again, what it means to look for the presence of Jesus and praise Him in the storm. We did it from 2002-2004 when my daddy was diagnosed with cancer, and subsequently passed away. We found God to be ridiculously faithful in the midst of those months of trial. We have found Him to be no less faithful in this trial.

My prayer, sweet #caregiving friend, is that you, too, look for Him in the midst of your storm,… Click To Tweet 

#Caregiver, look for Him in the storm-he's caring for you and your loved one. http://wp.me/p2UZoK-yB via @blestbutstrest #dementia

Leah’s sister and mom share a moment with Leah.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Thank you so much for allowing me to share our journey here. It is an honor.

  • Thank you for sharing your journey caring for your mother; it isn’t easy watching a loved on decline – but I see the works of God in each step of the way! My husband’s original diagnosis was multi-infarct dementia – more currently called vascular dementia. That was my topic during the write 31 days challenge – I pray God continues to walk beside you in whatever path your journey takes.
    Barbara London recently posted…God’s Nature and Other StuffMy Profile

  • He is strongest when we are at our weakest. Enjoy your journey.
    Lux Ganzon recently posted…Faith It ‘Til You Make ItMy Profile

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  • Thank you for your story. We are all blessed to have had our parents in our lives and then to get to care for them like they cared for us is just an added blessing.
    paula recently posted…Things I Learned in My 20’sMy Profile

    • Paula, it is a blessing. My Mother keeps saying to me that it seems it should be the other way around…her caring for me. I tell her that she did that for many years. Now it is my turn. I treasure the time I have with her.
      Leah Adams recently posted…The Loft ~ A Tuesday Link Up ~ Favorite Fall RecipesMy Profile

  • Beautiful words here today…

    Though I guess I shouldn’t have read this at work. Now I’ve got tears in my eyes!
    Jen @ Growing in Faith recently posted…Embracing the QuietMy Profile

  • Thank you for sharing this, beautiful. X
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  • Such a beautiful post! I love that last line so much. Although our stories are different, I hear some similarities in our stories.
    Tara recently posted…A Cute Pair of Boots and J-Lo JeansMy Profile

  • Wow… bless you for being able to see the silver lining amidst such trials. I’m amazed by what it must take to be able to weather such storms — and then I remember that the answer is, as it always must be, Jesus.
    Sarah recently posted…the other Proverbs wifeMy Profile

    • Sarah, you are so right…..it is not always easy to look for Jesus in the midst of a trial. Some days I just want to run away, but then, I am reminded that Jesus did not run away from my ugliness and sin. He stayed the course so that I could be made right with the Father through the blood of Christ. In view of that, how could I not cling tightly to Him! Blessings to you.
      Leah Adams recently posted…The Loft ~ A Tuesday Link Up ~ Favorite Fall RecipesMy Profile

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  • Cynthia Owers

    Thank you, Leah, for your transparency regarding your journey with your Mom’s diagnosis. I am still trying, after well over six years to get a definitive diagnosis. Mama has been scanned, poked, prodded by some clinicians who had no clue what was happening. Then, I recently learned (thank the Lord) through a nurse who works with the elderly and she said it sounds like Lewy dementia. Going to our wonderful family doctor this afternoon to learn more. Mama is the sweetest person and has always been so. Just a lot of anxiety with this on her part and want to help her not feel so afraid. The biggest miracle is that in 2012 when she was having small seizures due to Zoloft and her sodium levels being severely lowered through drinking too much spring water (learned this through an endocrinologist who spoke and gave a paper when working at the Mayo clinic). Thank the Lord, that nightmare was addressed and she began to recognize me after being in what she called “a huge fog.” At first, Mama thought I was a nice lady who had been hired to stay with her. Mama said, you’re Cynthia, my daughter and baby girl! Praise Jesus, she still knows me to this day since that miraculous day two years ago. Mama still walks with minimal assistance (no cane, walker or wheelchair) at almost 90 years strong and she loves our Lord Jesus and life. I pray for those who are being lovingly cared for and for those who care for them. Don’t give up! More later…

    • Cynthia, thank you for sharing a bit of your journey with us. It is a tough, tough road that we have the privilege of walking with our loved ones. I pray you can feel the Lord beside you each day. Peace, my friend.
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