Alzheimer-Proof

jan

Alzheimer-Proof

jan
It's been two weeks since we placed my mom in the facility, preparing for my trip to Ohio without her this summer. The house felt very BIG. Her end of the house, the master bedroom and bath, stood spacious and empty. My husband and I have been sleeping in the spare room, cramming our clothes into the dresser I picked out when I was 15. It seemed a bit ridiculous to continue on like that. She may or may not come home, but it won't be until September at the earliest, and I could stop living like a teenager with an illicit boyfriend.

Everybody makes accommodations for living with someone else. My daughter makes accommodations for her baby, waking up at all hours to nurse, anticipating the baby gates and capped electrical outlets. My sister accommodates for her new puppy, taking her out to pee, removing anything important she could chew on. I made a few accommodations for my mom, with dementia.

Now all the doors don't have to be locked from the inside; all the household chemicals are back in the house from storage in the garage, so something as simple as wiping a mirror is much less complicated. The stove is back on all the time, so no more trips to the breaker box to boil water for ramen. Plugging and unplugging the toaster and microwave after each use is a thing of the past. Knives, scissors, and letter openers sit idly out in the open. No more fidgeting around when you want to cut a bagel. The refrigerator stands calmly at attention without being locked. My day doesn't revolve around medicine prep, naps, trips to Walgreen's, laundry, interrupted meals. So much open space! So this is what normal feels like! I forgot.

It also feels like when you have a seriously ill cat who is having an extended stay at the vet, and you wash all its toys and bedding and put it away, not sure if it is coming home. You're going to get ready, just in case.

When you Alzheimer-proof your house, you are making accommodations to prevent the disease from causing harm to your loved one. But how do you Alzheimer-proof your mind, or your heart? How do I make accommodations in my thinking and feeling that keeps harm at bay? I've told myself a hundred times she is not my mother any more; she's just "this lady, you know", so the immediate need and urgency of the moment takes over for the emotion.

How do you Alzheimer-proof your heart? Or can you?

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