Six years ago when Larry’s dad died, we began caregiving for his mom, Audrey, who was about 87. The first sign of what was to come–her Lewy Body Dementia–was the day she called to say she’d received a letter from her health insurance and they wanted to get rid of her. We didn’t know what was going on but the paranoia had set in.
Little by little things got worse, both mentally and physically. We remember the day she called furiously claiming someone sealed the lid on the trash can and had put their trash in her trash can. It was heavy and she couldn’t open it. When we arrived, we realized she had been trying to open it from the wrong side.
Little by little things got worse. She wanted to be independent so eventually we moved her into assisted living. But the paranoia and delusions and hallucinations characteristic of Lewy Body (www.lbda.org) got worse and Larry’s research brought him to the conclusion she had LBD.
After 6 months at the assisted living, we knew she wasn’t handling it. Not only were people stealing her stuff, when we found the stolen item, she knew they had returned it. The clincher was the day she said they had sprayed poison underneath her door and were trying to kill her. We moved her back to her own home. Except that she slept at our house and we took her back to her house to spend the day. Meals on wheels provided her lunch and she fixed a frozen dinner for dinner.
Eventually she wasn’t eating much and couldn’t remember how to work the microwave and burned the pot on the stove. It was time to come to our house to live.
That was 2 1/2 years ago. Little by little she has gone deeper into the disease. A saving grace was the Monday through Friday “social club” we took her to. It’s available to those with Alzheimers and Dementia and she could have some interaction from 10-3 and we didn’t go insane.
Now she doesn’t know who we are and if Larry says he is her son, she says, “You are not!” She believes we hate her and wish her harm. At least she’s past the point of accusing us of stealing her money. A few Sundays ago, Larry told her he was going to preach the sermon at church. She looked at him aghast and said, “Heaven help us.”
Now that I’ve been unable to do pretty much of anything for almost 6 months because of my intense back pain, Larry has become caretakers for both the demented women in this home. Well, okay, I’m only half-demented. So one and a half demented women. Audrey is no longer horrified that a man is dressing her.
But we believe the Lord has said it’s enough. It’s time. Audrey will be moving this afternoon to a care house where a caregiver(s) care for two other women. We believe they will give better care to her than we can and we know it’s for her best. And it’s for our best. Our stress level with all that’s going on hits the roof. The Lord is gracious and strengthens us, but as our wise Pastor Marvin O’Dell said, “God only strengthens you for what He wants you to do.”
So please pray that Audrey will adjust well to her new place. Considering that when she comes home from social club each day, she thinks she’s in a new place, her “new place” shouldn’t seem too strange.
We’re wondering what this new phase for us will be like. Hopefully I’ll have surgery next week and after several weeks of recuperation, we will be seeing how God leads for a new chapter of our lives. We have grown tremendously in many ways through these 2 1/2 years. When we realized Audrey would have to live here full time, I sat on the patio looking at the sunset and cried to God, “My life is ruined.” My life wasn’t ruined. It was changed and I was changed and Larry was changed. God worked and we’d like to think we’re closer to God and we are closer in character to Jesus.
Please pray that Audrey will do well, my surgery will be God’s provision for healing (if He doesn’t miraculously heal me in the next week) and we will know His leading for the future–step by step.