Thursday, September 3, 2009

Confirmation: Hello Stages 5 and 6

Mom had an appointment today with her geriatric nurse practitioner. We meet with her every 4 to 6 weeks to tweak her medications and discuss her overall health and mental decline.

The visit went much as it always does; mom shocked and confused when we talked about her meds. Horrified and suspicious when we talked about her Alzheimer’s.

“I’m petrified of that disease,” she said, and it's true. For years, she would badger our general practitioner in Boston about her fear of getting Alzheimer’s. He would answer, “Don’t worry, you won’t know it if you do.” She laughed and recited that line for decades.

It was evident my mother had gotten worse in the six weeks since her last visit; her hands were wringing and twisting, she was less animated, and she was seeking out the no-no drugs like Ativan and Xanax.

Then, the standard questions' test:

“What day is it?”

Mom looked over at me, hoping for the answer. She wasn’t getting anything here.


“It’s Thursday. What year is it?”


“It’s 2009. What season are we in?”


“Yes! Very good. How old are you?”

“That’s easy, 82.”

“Ma,” I asked, “how old am I?”


“What? Thanks a lot!”

I described in detail the changes I’ve noticed and how she’s been functioning at home. My mother’s eyes turned into tiny cracks as she regarded me with suspicion. Since she has no recollection of anything, everything I say is a lie.

I asked the NP if she thought my mother was between Stages 5 and 6 and she said yes. Seems I was right on the money.

As we waited for the elevator after the appointment, I asked my mother if she was ok.

“Yeah, just tired.”

I took her arm and weaved it through mine. I could tell she was confused and embarrassed again. She kept looking down at the rug, as if in deep concentration. What she was thinking only she knew, but I wasn't worried - if they were plaguing thoughts, they'd be lost to her within moments.


  1. I think it's hearwarming for you to share on a regular basis. I'm sure it helps somewhat to bring a small sense of peace to your otherwise frazzled life.

  2. Laura, I find that writing helps most times. Other times it bring the reality even closer. Funny, this craft of ours :-)

  3. Lisa - The #fridayflash listing on the side of my blog isn't complete. Jon makes a list every Saturday and posts it on his blog at
    You can also find the new list each week on FaceBook under #fridayflash. Glad you're enjoying the stories!

  4. What a walk you are on, Lisa. I feel for you, for I know it is difficult. You're spirit is admirable. What are blessing you are to your mom, and how fortunate she is to have a daughter like you to walk alongside her in this most difficult time in her life. You will be glad you did. After Mom passed, we were left with no regrets to complicate the grieving process. Take care of yourself through this.

  5. I will, thank you Sylvia. And I feel a bit of lightness today...almost an acceptance. Acceptance is key isn't it?

  6. Lisa,

    I'm happy to have found your very interesting site, I took the liberty of adding it to the blog list at Alzheimer's In The House. That site was created after we learned my Wife Sue has early-on-set. I don't feel there are nearly enough sites that deal with care giving. Keep up the great work.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

  7. Lisa, Peter and I are reading through your latest blogs tonight. I keep saying "she is an amazing writer!". Your stories are so simple, yet compelling. We are thinking of you. I walk through my day changed after reading your story.

  8. Michelle, I could not get a greater compliment. Thank you so much.