Ollie, Ollie, Oxen Free

I know it’s been a while since my last post; I have been trying not to upset myself or my mother, so I have been quietly hiding.

Since I have been taking care of my mom, I have had a few bouts of depression; I have had trouble with concentration, hopelessness, constant sadness, low energy, fatigue, and the feeling of failing my mother.

Well, I’ve been working on myself to accept what I cannot change. For the last two weeks, I have done what the doctors and my family have been advising me. Let my mom live her life the way she wants. I’m no longer after her to drink fluids, nor have I been trying to get her to eat a balanced meal. I leave options for her to decide what she wants and as you would guess, she always chooses the wrong thing.

So, for the last two weeks, I’ve been playing hide and seek.

What is my life like now?

It’s actually been harder. Since I am not making her eat protein, her dementia has gotten worse. Our arguing has lessened, but her reasoning and the ability to understand is very stressful.

So, we have been playing “hide ‘n seek.” On a few occasions, she appears to be clear headed, and I come running out like a kid who’s just heard “Ollie, Ollie, Oxen Free,” only to find out I fell into her trap.

“Nancy, is Paul still sick?”
“Mom, Paul’s not sick.”
“Well, I thought you said he was, and he’s been locked in the small bedroom all morning.”
“Mom, Paul’s not home.”
“Then why did he lock the bedroom door?”

We walked into the hallway, I turned the knob and the door opened.
“How, did you open the door?”
“Mom, you have to turn the knob.”

“Nancy, open my bottle of water?”
“It’s opened.”
“No, its not, I tried to open it and the cap is tight.”
“Mom, I loosened all the caps. If the caps were any looser, the water would spill out when you picked them up.”
“Nancy, look the cap won’t move, it’s stuck.”
“Mom, you need to turn the cap to the left, you’re turning to the right – you’re closing all the bottles.

“Mom, why do you have plastic trash bags on your bed?”
“To protect my mattress.”
“Mom, your bed has a mattress protector, and we’ve been using the disposable blue bed pads like in the hospital for the last seven years.”
“Oh, is that what they’re there for…”

She’s locked me outside of the house on three occasions.
She’s heated up spaghetti sauce thinking it was soup.
She’s had Hazelnut creamer instead of milk in her cereal.
She’s washed her hair in cream rinse.
I’ve found depends in the sink, on the floor, in the wastebasket – everywhere but the diaper pail.
She talks to herself about me, out loud, so she can hear what she’s saying.

I question my ability as a caregiver. It takes a special type of person, and maybe it’s not me. So gradually I am learning to laugh at the funny things, to realize that most of the time she doesn’t know, and some of the time she just doesn’t care about what she says and does. She has always been critical of me, whether or not it’s the dementia or her true feelings, it’s her problem, not mine.

I have tried to look for caregiver forums, just to know I’m not alone, but when I read the loving stories that are posted, I feel like the odd man out. It seems that everyone can cope but me, and I’m left feeling more depressed.

If you have read any comments, on my entries, you would know I have a faithful reader. Her name is Barbara. One of her blogs is Senior Safari. Her entries are very informative, and as luck would have it, she posted about a Family Caregiver Forum she just joined. Reading what others had posted on this site let me know I am not alone. Being a caregiver 24/7 is hard work, there’s no morning or afternoon breaks with the girls, no hour lunches. It’s being isolated, stressed, and at times angry.

Just knowing that I am not alone, and my feelings are normal, made this day a little better.

Thanks, Barbara!


9 Responses to “Ollie, Ollie, Oxen Free”

  1. 1 seniorsafari July 3, 2009 at 7:08 am

    When I first saw your post in my RSS reader, a big smile lit up my face–Nancy’s back!!! YAY!!

    By the time I finished reading the post, I had tears in my eyes. I feel so bad for you going through all of these emotions and trying your best to keep a cool head.

    Nancy, you are doing the best you can given the circumstances. Please don’t ever doubt yourself!

    I’m so glad the forum is helping you! I will be posting on there a lot after the end of July. My blog will also have more personal posts. I will be moving in with my Mom July 31st to care for her so I’m sure I will have interesting stories to tell and will be needing advice. Being a caregiver at work and doing it personally are 2 different things so I will be stumbling along just like you!

    I’ve missed you!

    • 2 Nancy July 4, 2009 at 8:21 am

      I’m back and doing much better, thanks to you and the Family Caregiver Forum.
      Barbara, your personal e-mail came at just the right time and showed me what a dear friend you are.
      As to you moving in and taking care of your mother, I think you’ll do just fine. Unlike me you know what to expect.

  2. 3 Jonie July 3, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Dear Nancy – I’m so glad you met Barbara!
    A wonderful friend!
    I understand your loneliness and your self-doubt.
    Please don’t be too hard on yourself and remember – you can’t give up your life for your mother – get out once a week and enjoy yourself. You need to recharge batteries regularly!!
    I pray that you get all the loving support you need in this difficult time. Your mother is truly blessed to have such a loving daughter and she wouldn’t want you to be unhappy and exhaust yourself.
    God bless you with wisdom, joy and strength,
    PS. I hope one of my websites puts a smile on your face.

    • 4 Nancy July 4, 2009 at 8:19 am

      Let me start out by saying your blog is awesome. Hopefully later today I’ll have some me time to check more of it out.
      Now about Barbara, yes she is a wonderful friend. She stumbled across my blog back in April, and has given me words of encouragement and support ever since. I look forward to hearing and value what she has to say.
      Yes, I need to get out once a week, it’s just not that easy.

  3. 5 seniorsafari July 3, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Nancy, I may know what to expect but there will be a deep emotional element going on since she’s my mom and not ‘another resident’. Don’t get me wrong, I love the residents dearly but it’s still going to be different with Mom.

    • 6 Nancy July 3, 2009 at 5:02 pm

      While I still struggle with health issues, and recognizing the signs of dementia, you are ahead of the game, but then again you will be making decisions for your mom instead of a resident and that can be emotionally difficult. One thing I do know its hard moving back home, and even harder is the mother daughter relationship when the roles are beginning to switch, I can only say buckle your seat belt your about to enter the roller coaster of your life..

  4. 7 seniorsafari July 4, 2009 at 5:10 am

    That’s what scares me, Nancy. How do you tell your mother what to do without coming across as bossy? I will have to tread softly and be as diplomatic as possible. She and I are both head-strong women–very set in our ways so there is bound to be some clashing.
    I’m strapped in, I’m ready!

  5. 8 Your BFF July 5, 2009 at 3:18 pm


    You can call me anytime, day or night, when you need to talk. Your new friends are right-on about taking some time away. You need it. Let some others come and Mommy-sit. Perhaps your brother could take at least one day a week to come and stay. When everyone pitches in it sure becomes a lot easier. Dealing with the dementia must be one of the hardest things you have to do. I admire you so much. You are One Very Dedicated Daughter..I wish she knew how fortunate she is to have you.

    Your BFF

    • 9 Nancy July 6, 2009 at 8:00 am

      I already call you night and day, that’s why one of your nicknames is Dr. Phil.

      Nancy you know my mom personally, and she likes you, maybe I can buy her a one-way ticket oops I mean a round trip ticket to visit you. (Now for those of you that don’t know my BFF, she would say ok and follow through). Actually, everyone has offered to help, but were still buying the shovels, just kidding. My brother has stayed with my mom for a few hours for me, and has even offered to watch her why I go to Hawaii, everything still up in the air. Just don’t worry about me, you’ll be one the first to know when I lose the last few marbles that I have.

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