Gift Giving Another Causality of Alzheimer’s Disease
By Lori La Bey, of Senior Lifestyle Trends
My hands were aching from shoveling the wet heavy snow and my body was chilled, but I wanted to stop at Mom’s. If I didn’t do it now I knew I would curl up at home and not want to leave. So off I went to visit Mom at the nursing home this X-Mas day. I didn’t even get the card I had picked out for her. I didn’t trust myself.
I was afraid I wouldn’t leave the house once I went in. I figured Mom wouldn’t mind if I brought the card tomorrow. This was my first year I wouldn’t even bring Mom a gift for Christmas. I almost bought flowers, than realized I was going to be buy them for me, not Mom. The truth is I’m not sure how much she can really see any more.
I knew for sure she wouldn’t remember the flowers were for her, or who they were from.
I knew beautiful flowers didn’t trigger anything special for her to hold onto, so what would the point be?
Yes, the flowers would be for me. I would ”look like” a caring daughter, but flowers have nothing to do with how much I care, how often I visit, or the quality of my visits. So I decided to pass on performing for looks, purchasing flowers to play a part. Performing for my ego. It felt strange to put my gift buying in prospective like that. Even as I write this knowing full well my thoughts are true, it was so strange to walk in empty handed.
Yet on the other hand, for many years now I’ve whined about the commercialism of Christmas and how disgruntled it makes me feel. How we have lost the true meaning of the holidays and the simple appreciation for one another. Since Mom’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I am usually able to look at things in my life in a deeper fashion. What is relevant and what is not? What has meaning and what doesn’t and why.
That part of Alzheimer’s disease has been a gift to me.
But like most Caregivers dealing with this disease, I ping, and I pong. I can see the good, the bad, and the ugly; depending on the mood I’m in. I also realize the sadness I feel about not buying a gift for my Mother because there is no joy in giving her a gift at this stage. Who would have thought Alzheimer’s disease could take gift giving from me? Of all the things I could list which I’ve lost due to this disease, I have to admit, gift giving would not have been something I would have ever thought to write down, but the reality is, gift giving another causality of Alzheimer’s. Another loss.
Now in the later stages of Alzheimer’s it is work to try to get a response out of Mom for any gift she receives. Gift giving is not meant to be work. It is not meant to be work of recognition of receipt, but many times, it is what we do with an Alzheimer’s patient. We try to connect and the gift is a tool to do that. So we try hard to get approval, recognition – for what we have given someone. When a person with Alzheimer’s is not able to respond to simple comments or directions, it can become counter-productive and frustrating for all.
I also have to mention, prior to Mom being in her end stages of the disease, she gave me much joy when I gave her something, anything. She was like a small innocent children thrilled to receive any present or kind gesture from another person. I guess I need to balance the loss I’m feeling today, with the extra joy she gave me with that glint in her eyes in earlier stages.
I need to focus on that which I already know. I need to accept and appreciate the gift of our self is simple, easy, and needs no direction or comment. There is no decision on what to buy or how to wrap it. Our delivery is the important thing with this gift. Our attitude. Our love. Our compassion.
Hoping you all enjoyed the holiday!