Tag Archives: parent with dementia

My Mom’s Last Good Fight

Jane Roberts around 1999

Jane Roberts around 1999

My mom had always been an activist and forever relished a “good fight” for the things she believed in, but found herself, at age 76 after moving out to Los Angeles to live with us, diagnosed with dementia and a final seven-year struggle with the gradual loss of memories and the general unraveling of her once great mind. My mom was a fighter to the end, but with the continuing loss of her faculties, that fight got more and more quixotic and convoluted, and difficult for those of us around her. For me experiencing this with her, every day I grieved the loss of one more piece of the bigger-than-life person she had been.

As I indicated in another vignette (The “D” Word), a few years after my dad’s death in 1984, my mom was diagnosed with an atrial fibrillation that was causing her heart to not pump blood properly. For years it was treatable, but finally not, and the oxygen flow to her brain became permanently compromised, leading to the dementia. To my mom and the intellectual powerhouse she had once been, her diagnosis carried with it such profound fear that she could only deal with it by denial. When I tried to discuss the issue further on the way home from the doctor’s, my mom glared at me and told me candidly that she could not deal with the thought of “losing her mind” and so she did not want to talk about it again. Continue reading →