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Forgetful Eccentric or Dementia?

black KedsI witness my mother’s continued and now even exaggerated behaviors to feel independent and in control of her life. She will comment to me that her brain is failing her, but any attempt to assist her now is rebuffed – and it usually comes with a few barbs. The staff is regularly reporting that she is “verbally abusive”. I know it’s the dementia, but sometimes it is hard to differentiate that from child memories of being scolded.

If you haven’t experienced the dynamics, it will surprise you to know how much someone with moderate dementia can manage. Every person with dementia is different and my Mom is feisty and very mobile. Of late, my time with my Mom feels more like I’m dealing with a forgetful eccentric. I often find that most people believe personality changes are normal as you age — they are not and are often signs of a health-related issue.

My Dad’s funeral is this Friday and on my visits I try to work my Mom through bits of a discussion to make sure she has clothes to wear. When the cold weather arrived, I realized her winter coat was missing — and given that my Dad’s burial is in January — I am glad I still had my Mom’s old fur coat in storage at my house.

Sadly, one of our family friends suddenly passed away. Last Friday, we attended the funeral and I was oddly thankful that I could use this to see how long it would take to get my Mom ready, ensure she had clothes to wear and how she might manage through the service. When I called my Mom as I was driving over, she answered the phone and was crying. She told me she had a horrible pain in her chest. I asked her to pull the little red cord in her apartment so the doctor would visit immediately. She refused and said she would wait until I arrived. Thankfully, I was minutes away.

When I arrive she insists that the pain has gone and opts to attend the funeral instead of going to the Emergency Room. The staff arrives and my Mom tells them she has no pain and needs to leave to get to a funeral. They are following up with tests next week, but the moment has passed and my Mom is not going to concern herself with pain she doesn’t really remember now.

It was a bitterly cold day so my Mom puts on slacks and has on a blouse and sweater. My only concern is that she will only wear black Keds. My Mom was always well-dressed with 40 shades of flats and purses to coordinate with her skirt and blouse. Now, she can be found in ratty jeans, a blouse and sweater (or sweater vest) and black Keds. I ask her if she is planning on wearing the black Keds to Dad’s funeral. We have snow on the ground and bitter weather in our forecast and I can’t imagine standing by the gravesite during the ceremony in Keds.

The most difficult moments I’m finding are when my Moms current wishes collide with her former self. I am not going to battle my Mom over her desire to only wear Keds, but am considering how I might figure out how to get her into some boots for our grave site burial this Friday. My first thought is to hide the Keds and put a pair of comfortable but attractive boots in her closet. Pondered. 

2 comments on “Forgetful Eccentric or Dementia?

  1. You are in a really tough situation, as if planning and attending your father’s funeral is not emotionally difficult enough, you also have to navigate Mom’s dementia. I like your idea for the shoes. If she asks about them, you can say they had holes in them and you haven’t had time to replace them yet.

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