When she was in her home and I would visit, she gradually became not her usual talkative self. She complained that people asked too many questions. She would get especially upset when Pat called (her long time close friend). I guess she didn’t know the answers and couldn’t remember who Pat was referring to.I always found the microwave very dirty with boiled over coffee. She forgot how to operate it. Also the same with the dishwasher. I would find up to 17 capsules of dishwasher cleaner thrown in and she would never turn it on. Sometimes she would remember to put the dishes away (dirty of course). One time she tried to open a tin of danish cookies with a knife. She punched a hole in the lid and peeled some of it away. It’s a miracle she didn’t cut herself.My first real shock was when I told her I was coming but she didn’t know who it was at her door. When she finally let me in, she said she didn’t know I was coming but Harriett would be there later. Maybe this was the first time she thought I was her sister. I had come to dress her arm but could not find the bandages for she had put them in a very odd place.It’s interesting how the brain doesn’t work at times, for when I would call her, mother, she couldn’t make the connection that I was her child.I also found that food I brought never moved from the spot in the fridge where it was placed. It really hurt to think she was not eating. When I would put food in front of her, she would eat and really express delight that I brought something.By the time she was at the Village, Assisted Living Facility, she certainly didn’t know where she was and who visited. I could come right after he brother Aubrey and she wouldn’t remember he had been there. One time she kept calling for Chip, her grandson, and when I told her he wasn’t there, she said he was but just wasn’t listening.I always thought I had brought her enough snacks but when I returned a few days later, they were all gone.I tried to remember that even though she didn’t know me, her face would always light up with a wide smile when she saw me. I will always be grateful that she knew you and that brought her great comfort.
Myth: A person with advanced disease or a terminal illness who stops eating will “starve to death” painfully.
Fact: When a person with advanced disease or a terminal illness stops eating, usually it is because his/her disease has progressed to the point where the person is no longer able to process food and fluids as does a healthy person. Forcing this person to eat, or starting artificial nutrition and hydration does not help the person to live longer, feel better, feel stronger, or be able to do more. In fact, such a person given artificial nutrition and/or hydration will often feel bloated, nauseated, and/or develop diarrhea. Studies have shown that the majority of dying patients never experience hunger, and in those who do, small amounts of food and fluids, offered whenever the person wants, relieves the hunger.
Mama stopped eating about a week before she died. They say that it usually takes two weeks from the time they stop taking in nutrition. A friend of mine whose mom died from Alzheimer’s lasted well past two weeks. Each person is different. If allowed to die naturally you are doing the very best thing you can for your loved one. I firmly believe that.
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If you are in need of prayer for yourself, in your role as a caregiver, or if you have any specific questions please send me a comment with whatever information you want to share or ask about. I’ll say again that I’m not expert, but I probably experienced with my mom a lot of things you’re going through and will try my best to help. If I don’t know the answer I will tell you I don’t know. I’ll never judge, I’ve been judged enough to last a life time and would never do that to someone else. My email address is email@example.com if that is an easier way to communicate.
Until next time,
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