Years ago my mom had a huge stroke. I have seen the MRI, there is a huge black area in her brain that was destroyed. Over the years she had other strokes in spite of the fact that her blood pressure is under control. With each stroke she loses a little more. I was told by a doctor that she has vascular dementia. Dementia that is brought on by the strokes. In some ways it is similar to Alzheimer's. Dementia is dementia after all. However, the biggest difference is that while dementia from Alzheimer's is like a slope, dementia from vascular dementia is like steps. You stabilize for a while and then have a small stroke and lose something followed by another period of stabilization. Sometimes you notice the stroke and sometimes you don't.
Sometimes I notice that my mom is more "off". Lately I have noticed that she is losing more abilities. She had a short period of time when her eating was off. This was followed by a day when she didn't want to drink. I was really worried then the next day she started back eating and drinking. However, she lost something, her ability to effectively use eating utensils. Having the ability to feed herself was always an important skill for me. I can cook for her and provide for her, but feeding her all the time is difficult. If I just had my mom to take care of it would be fine, but I don't. She will eat finger foods so I have purchased a lot of health bars and such to supplement her meals. My moms caregiver saw the same decline and stops by most week days at dinner time to help. Dinner time is the hardest part of my day with the kids and I don't have time to feed her then.
Another concern I have is her stiffness. She always pulls to her right in a fetal position. I massage her legs to get them straightened out and shift her but she always ends up in the fetal position. She doesn't have any bed sores but I worry that she isn't repositioned enough. From what I read this is a big issue in nursing homes so I don't feel that she would get better care in a nursing home. Actually I think that if she went to a nursing home at this time she wouldn't live long.
In spite of her slow decline she still has interactions with her family. Benjamin loves playing with her and interacts with her in a loving way. He helps with her care. He loves her.
Some days I doubt myself. Some days I worry that what I do is not enough. Some days I tire of being the caregiver. Yet, every day I get up and do what I have to do because that is who I am, my mom's daughter.