Ask Jennifer: Week ending 10/12

Posted at: 03/30/2010 2:51 PM
Updated at: 10/06/2014 11:43 AM

Dear Jennifer,

My mother is my support, my friend, and my rock. She’s almost 80 and she’s recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I am so very sad. I will help her any way I can. We have talked about it and cried about and we’ve reminisced. But when my mom doesn’t recognize me, I don’t know how I’ll manage. Of course I always knew she wouldn’t live forever. Now I’m facing it and I can’t imagine being without her. We’ve gone through so much together: good and bad. We’ve been there for each other. I just don’t know how to live a single day without her. I am not suicidal or anything like that. I’m just so sad. I’m lost. This hurts already. How do I manage? How did you manage? I can’t sleep through the night anymore.


Dear LuAnne,

You are already in the throes of grieving. You and your mother had a very close bond and your way of life with her is going to change. I felt very much the same about my own mother. I felt like we were both losing a bit of ourselves as the Alzheimer’s progressed. What helps? Join support groups through the Alzheimer’s Association. Talk to supportive family and friends around you. Take it a day at a time. Recognize that in your future, there will be an empty spot that no one but your mother can fill. Live in the moment. Take comfort in paying tribute to your mom through your steadfastness and through telling her now all the ways you admire her and will remember her. Start a reminiscence notebook of her life stories. Ask her questions and write down the answers. Encourage other visitors to do the same. Your mother may lose her memories, but you won’t. This will comfort your mom and you as you learn new bits and pieces you’ve never heard before. Ask her things like: Who was the first boy you kissed? When you were a girl, who did you admire most? What is one of your favorite memories?  What life lessons are the most important to you and you’d like passed on to the next generation? And LuAnne, go see your doctor and talk about your situational depression. There may come a time that you could use some medicine to help you. If that time comes, listen to your doctor and take it. Remember, one day at a time. Today, all of your worries about what might happen are not real. Enjoy the day.