Former caregiver, Carmen Scherubel was inspired by “I want to go home” to write about her mom’s search for home in a different time. Click above link to review article then scroll down to comments to read outspoken dementia advocate, Dr. Richard Taylor’s perspective on wanting to go home. (TCV Ed.)
Mom’s search for home across time
My mom would sometimes slip back in time. At times I could acclimate her to the current time but not always.
One time when Mom was frantically looking for my brother, the truth did not work. Albert passed away at age 14. I discovered the truth was the last thing Mom needed to hear. (This was the first time I had to deal with a situation like this.) The same happened when she was looking for her mom. Both times she asked me, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”UGH. This is when you just want to go into a corner and throttle yourself on the head.
I learned that I needed to come up with an answer that worked. I got her to talk about Albert, so I had an idea of the time she was “living” in.
She talked about Albert when he was little. She couldn’t see him because he was outside playing. I was with him! Her kids were out playing. Even though I told her I was Carmelita, she said, “No, the other Carmelita.” I let that go and went back to Albert. He used to play at Denny’s house and Mom knew and trusted his parents. I tried telling her he was at Denny’s house. She said, “He didn’t ask me to go there and it’s time for dinner.” Ohhhkay, scratch that one since I couldn’t produce my brother for dinner.
Suddenly, I remembered that he was on a Cub Scout Camp Out with Dad! “They will be home in two days.” Thankfully, that worked. She complained that nobody told her. I explained to her that all the boys and their dads went and they were having a wonderful time. I added that there were no phones at the campground. She seemed fine with that explanation — not happy, but her anxiety diminished significantly. (Funny that she never found Carmelita and that was not a problem.)
I suggest using a memory notebook for the hired caregiver since these things can also happen in our absence. Mom’s caregiver tried to change the subject when she wanted to find Albert. Of course it didn’t work any better with her than it did with me. Mom was relentless in her pursuit to find Albert. So the caregiver gently told her the truth. When I returned home, Mom was in tears mourning the death of her son, and the poor caregiver was just heartbroken. How well I know that feeling! I told her what to say about my brother next time that works and also what worked for when she asked for her “Mommy.”
On the occasion when I would be instantly stumped by something my mother asked me, I would make up a reason to leave for a moment (phone call, doorbell, etc.). I’d gather my thoughts to formulate a strategy for whatever the situation was at the particular time.
The notebook is a great idea for caregivers as it helps them to know their clients, which is not only helpful in conversing with them but also serves to alleviate stress on us caregivers when we are away from our loved ones. We can relax knowing that whatever the situation, the caregiver has as much information as possible.
About the AUTHOR
Carmen Scherubel was a full time, award-winning, multi-million dollar producing Realtor. Six years ago, her mother had a hemorrhagic stroke, leaving her with dementia and physical impairments. She changed how she managed her business in order to stay home and take care of her mother.
Scherubel writes, “It was the most rewarding and challenging endeavor I had ever taken on in my life. My mother recently transitioned into her perfect, spiritual form, and I was honored to be there to send her off to the paradise she earned. I learned so much during this journey. Mom would be proud.”