I know it's a fact of life that people tend to get confused as they get older. Memory lapses occur, stories get repeated (and repeated and repeated and repeated), details get fuzzy.
My mother has displayed some of those characteristics recently, and it worries me. It's not that I don't think she's entitled to some confusion at the age of almost-78. It's just that HER mother had Alzheimer's, and she languished in a nursing home for almost ten years.
I wasn't around Grandmother much either, so I don't know what the first signs were. Did she just forget a few things here and there? Get confused about taking her medications? Did everyone laugh at her lapses and forget about them?
Maybe I'm just paranoid BECAUSE Grandmother had Alzheimer's.
At our family reunion three weeks ago, we were discussing the fact that Nurse Jane was left to mind a bunch of young'uns, when she wasn't much older than a young'un herself, when our parents had to make an emergency trip to Connecticut due to the death of one of our cousins. Mom was saying where all the kids stayed, and I asked what about me? She looked at me, puzzled, and said, "You weren't my child."
We laughed uproariously and I made a joke about the truth finally coming out after all these years, but the look on Mom's face was genuine confusion. My sisters and I have established that what she probably MEANT to say was that I hadn't been born yet. But I had. Don't you know whether your children had been born or not at significant events in life? I mean, I relate so many of life's milestones to how old Sweet Girl was when they occurred. I know Mom had FIVE kids to keep up with, but still..... Don't you know whether one was alive or not?
And those words..... "You weren't my child." Those aren't easily confused with "You hadn't been born yet." I still can't get over the look on her face. She looked for all the world as if she were trying to figure out to whom I DID belong.
I'm not being sensitive (I don't think); I haven't been brooding for three weeks over whether or not my mother loves me or wanted me (I think the vasectomy pretty much established that) or anything like that. It's just that I wish I could see inside her mind, to see if it's deteriorating more than expected for someone her age, or if what she's experiencing is normal.
Something I get to look forward to. Yay.
I'm not worried for selfish reasons, concerned that I may have to take Mom into my house when she becomes infirm. She wouldn't come here on a dare, all because I have animals. She hates animals. She won't even come visit here. And if something happens to these animals, I know where I can get some more. Seriously, Mom bought a long-term care policy years ago in case she got to a point where she had to have full-time care. None of us is capable (or willing.....shhhhh) of taking care of her if she becomes dependent on someone else.
But when do you know? How do you know?
Grandmother went from living alone to assisted living to a personal care home to a nursing home in what seemed to be the blink of an eye.
What do you watch for? Who decides?