Mother’s Day is not only difficult for those whose Mums have passed, it can be difficult for those whose Mums are still alive.
Seven years ago, Alzheimer's stole our Mum. And it is not giving her back. Our mother is still with us physically and on the outside to the rest of the world, she looks exactly like she always did. But mentally and emotionally we lost her a long time ago and this Mother’s Day, like all the celebrations we have lived through recently, she won’t really be there. Alzheimer's is insidious. We are mourning the loss of someone who is still very much alive. When first told of her diagnosis we really didn't comprehend the enormity of the disease, nor its power it would have over the dynamics of our family. Nothing prepared us for what lay ahead. Our initial thoughts – seriously, how bad can memory loss be? People forget things all the time. How uneducated were we! This disease is not a normal part in ageing. It is ageing disgracefully. It strips you of normality, dignity, self-esteem and the most important human right - communication. Communication is a two way process and the essence of being a human being. Watching someone you love fearfully trying to remember a face, a name or where they are, is heart breaking. To know they want to recognise, talk or reach out with a touch - but can't, is incomprehensible to someone who can. Intellectual thinking and making sense of the present is, what we do everyday. For Alzheimer’s suffers it is a slow process of knowing routine behaviours and a lifetime of memories slowly being erased. Nothing that can be done to stop it. According to Dementia Australia - the new voice of Alzheimer's Australia, statistics show:
Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians contributing to 5.4% of all deaths in males and 10.6% of all deaths in females each year.
In 2018, there is an estimated 425,416 Australians living with dementia (191,367 (45%) males and 234,049 (55%) females) Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 536,164 by 2025 and almost 1,100,890 by 2056.
Every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia.
These statistics do not present a great deal of optimism.
Even though our Mum still remembers the core family members, staying positive and connected with her is not an easy feat. Few and far between are the days we actually have her in the present. The simple things in life are not so simple anymore. Family get togethers, special events, shopping, lunch in a cafe - they all require a whole lot of patience and perseverance. The days of easiness are long gone. What we wouldn’t give, to have her back in the present for just one day. A day to shop, lunch and share conversations about our everyday lives, dreams and ideas. To hear her motherly advice, input and criticism - yes criticism, who would of thought? But it is better than a blank stare. We once took all of these for granted. This Mother’s Day we may be lucky to have her in a moment of presence, where she is with us, she is our Mum. If not, we soldier on and cherish the moments we do have. We will communicate our warmth and affection by holding her soft hands and stroking her beautiful face. And even though mindfully it may seem like she is slipping further and further away, bodily she is always there. This we are grateful for. All Mothers are special. Love yours.