Dementia Poem From Too Far Away by Bett CollettBett

From Too Far Away

by Bett Collett

Were there signs that I missed?
Or was she always like this?
She’s more than forgetful
Much more than confused.

Did I see it take hold

When Dad passed away?

Or was it before then?

I really can’t say.

She is still the same person

Who still knows my name.

The memories are there

They just aren’t the same.

All I can do is all I can do.
A phone call from home

Some visits, too few.

Be sure she is cared for

And never alone.

December 8, 2011 – Mom’s 80th birthday

An original poem written by Bett Collett

For as long as I can remember, Mom was absent-minded, forgetful, so no one noticed that she was really declining until my Dad passed away.  That was a reality check for the whole family – he went suddenly and unexpectedly and Mom never really recovered. She refused medical attention so was not diagnosed until a few years later.  By then she was already past the mild stage and rapidly moving through the moderate stage.

I took charge as best I could from 450 miles away, coordinating her caretakers and my siblings, along with the mountain of paperwork.  After many agonizing months of trying to keep her safe in her own home, it became impossible.  She was constantly finding ways to “escape” from a home she no longer recognized, was paranoid and hallucinating, she was at-risk for falls, she smoked incessantly and refused medications.  A two-week respite stay at a local hospital dementia unit turned into a semi-permanent placement.  I sold her house in Vermont and was finally able to move her back to our native Connecticut where most of our family still resides.  She is now in a fine facility, being well cared for, my siblings are right there to visit frequently and are regularly involved in her care plan meetings. Mom’s own siblings and old friends are visiting often.

The experience has been gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and guilt-ridden.  No amount of knowledge prepares you for the emotions involved.  Putting my mother in the care of strangers was the most difficult decision I have ever made, even though I know she could not get the kind of care she needed at home.

Having supportive siblings has been my saving grace.  We agree that Mom is where she needs to be and each of them has stepped up to do whatever they can.  I am still almost 400 miles away, but somehow the drive seems a little easier now that the situation has settled into some semblance of routine.

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