The year 2020 was one of incredible hardship and pain for many seniors, including their families

by The Standard | Podcast April 25th 2021

Experts say that physical isolation is the key to fighting Covid-19. My Mother, who has Dementia and Parkinson’s experiences disorientation and loneliness, from staff and family members who wear masks, which block all facial expressions! Yet, Mother did respond to my voice and laughter, with tears of both joy and sadness. It was a challenge providing her comfort and reassurance, while keeping an acceptable social distance!

It is especially hard when a loved one has dementia. My Mother kept pulling at my mask but what she needed was comfort, hugs and assurance. On my most recent visit, Mother began to cry, and tears streamed down her face. I felt utterly helpless. In my sixty-some years, I have rarely seen my Mother cry. My Mother is/was one of the strongest women I know. Mother, at times, does not understand what is being said. She cannot respond verbally as she has limited or unrecognizable speech.

Her words come out as gibberish, even on a lucid day. I watched as she struggled to communicate with utter defeat. I cannot imagine how she feels or the emotional frustration she must be experiencing.

We are confined to her room, so I always open the curtains. I discuss the beautiful birds and their glorious sounds; we talk about spring flowers and the anticipation of growing a vegetable garden. She did get excited about gardening, yet her words were gibberish. She sighed, and tears began to fall. I truly dislike her lucid moments. Her fingers, hands, and arms cannot receive the commands to hug me or even rub her itchy nose! I adjusted her hand grips correctly, repositioned her in her chair, and her facial expressions changed, so I knew she was more comfortable. I know individuals with dementia need to observe body language.

She ate her entire meal, at times, struggling to swallow. I said to her, “You are probably thinking, what am I doing here and that my daughter has to feed me this mush?” She shook her head yes as tears streamed down her flushed cheeks. I lovingly washed her face with a warm washcloth, wondering if this would possibly be our last visit? I didn’t rush; I didn’t want to leave her side.

At times, all a person needs is for you to acknowledge how they feel. I looked at Mother intently. She looked away, then gazed into my eyes. The tears began to fall. I told her, “I cannot imagine your pain and suffering, and I know God has a plan for your life, we must trust in Him.” She nodded her head in agreement. I said, “In our suffering, we continue to honour and glorify God, and we must trust His plan.” Once again, she nodded. I reminded her of the times we would snuggle under the covers and read the Bible together. I asked her if I brought my Bible next week could we read it together? A faint smile appeared on the corners of her lips.

If you are a caregiver, remember you are not alone, and everyone’s journey is unique. Get support from others who may be experiencing a similar experience, join a support group or talk to someone in your community.

I felt guilty when placing my Mother in a Long-Term Care Home. Never feel ashamed about how you feel. Learning to deal with your emotions is important because they affect your well-being and the well-being of the person you care for. Remember, as long as your loved one has supervision, your absence will not put them at risk. If you wonder where God is, read Romans 8:28.