Before I Knew My Mom Had Alzheimer’s, Her Weirdness Drove Me Crazy

My continuing series about my mothers struggle with Alzheimer’s turns the tables on me, the cartoonist, her son. Looking back now, I can see that many of the things that she did that drove me crazy were really early warning signs of the disease. Now that I know what’s going on, I am able to be patient. Why wasn’t I before?

6 thoughts on “Before I Knew My Mom Had Alzheimer’s, Her Weirdness Drove Me Crazy

  1. thank you for sharing your journey with your Mom. Dementia is such a difficult thing to have to face with a parent. My Mom was never fully diagnosed with Alzheimers, but it was just a matter of time. Her dementia was “strong” enough, though, that when she developed serious kidney issues (from diabetes) she was unaware of just how sick she was. She thought she was still in the hospital even though she was in hospice. However, many of the things you have in your cartoons, we experienced. Patience isn’t my long-suit and my son constantly had to tap me on the shoulder and make me step back.

  2. I’m 41 now, and in the exact same boat as you are, Ted (except it all happened sooner). My mom was very, very strange all throughout my childhood, and as I got older, it became increasingly obvious that something was medically wrong with her. However, most people that knew her attributed her eccentricities to her “Irish temper.” She completely lost her mind right when I graduated from college (barely into her forties). She lost her job, and I didn’t have one lined up. I worked shit jobs while I could to help with household expenses, but it was like living with a zombie. She would burst into my room and physically attack me (thankfully she was all of 5’1″), sometimes in the middle of the night, whenever. She was still driving around! Of course when I said she needed help, she was too stubborn to listen. I knew I had to get out of there, because I was not capable of taking care of the both of us. My father died when I was fifteen and I have no siblings, so there really wasn’t anyone around who understood. It only became apparent to my extended family that she needed round-the-clock care after I moved as many states away as I could get. Of course, my family disowned me for abandoning my mother, but by then the person she was had long since died, and I needed to get my own life together. Of course, her body did eventually die, and now I sit and worry. Does my loneliness and depression mean my own fate is similarly sealed? Am I going to put my wife through the same horrors I suffered? Maybe, since dementia only seemed to affect the women in my mom’s side of the family, I may “luck out”…

  3. i wish i could be as patient with an elderly friend i take care of. he hasn’t been diagnosed with alzheimers but he very well could be in the early stages of dementia. he also was recently diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum (which i always suspected). the symptoms of the two are actually very similar so i don’t know how they would be able to tell which is which. sometimes i think he’s just a selfish asshole. he verbally attacks me constantly and i’m pretty much the only person he has around that cares about him. i try to tell myself that he can’t help it but i see him restrain himself when “he has to”. so it’s hard. thanks again for doing this series.

  4. To answer the (probably rhetorical) question:
    In our culture, being patient and kind gets you nowhere, and unless you are constantly advancing, you are falling behind. Decades of conditioning leave us with no real options other than to become monstrous. The added weight of end-stage capitalism squeezing the last bits of vitality and strength from all of us makes it harder and harder to dredge up the few remaining scraps of humanity.

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