Thursday, June 14, 2018

LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVING (INTERVIEW)


LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVING (INTERVIEW)

I was interview this week by Lori La Bey on Alzheimer's Speak about my relationship with my mother and being a long distance caregiver. I think you might find it to be quite interesting.(1 hour long)

Here is the link:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/alzheimersspeaks/2018/06/12/long-distance-caregiving--the-struggles--gifts

Sunday, May 27, 2018

THE POWER OF TOUCH



 THE POWER OF TOUCH


I have read that physical touch is one of five ways people communicate and receive emotional love. It is also stated just reaching out and taking someone's hand can be the beginning of a journey. For me holding hands was the most tender moments that my mother and I shared during my month long visit.

As our fingers were intertwined like never before, as we held each other's hands, it felt to me as if I never wanted to let go. It was at that very moment that I became aware of how meaningful human touch was with my mother. Mom's fingers spoke words to me. They told me how much she loved me as I felt her warmth and tenderness like never before.

Every once in a while she'd open her eyes, look at me, squeeze my hand and smile. How I yearned to know what she was thinking, although on this day most of her words remained silent. Suffering for fourteen years, Alzheimer's disease has been removing her use of language.

We held each other's hands for hours as if we were young lovers. Yet this was different it was my mother that I was touching. We needed no words, just holding hands said it all. We both held on so tenderly as if never wanting to let go. Each day thereafter I hungered for my mother's touch, meaning more to me than I could have ever imagined.

I reside in New York while mom lives in Florida. Not only do I miss her deeply I very much miss the caressing of our hands. I miss her touch, her warmth her tenderness which filled my heart with love.

What does the human touch mean to you? Is it feeling the warmth and caring of another human being? Or is it perhaps feeling loved? Is it embracing another person?

Whatever it means to you, for me, it was an intimacy so different than one that I could have ever dreamed I would be able to share with my mother. It is for me a love that has come full circle and now is complete.


"Letter To My Mom" & My Mom My Hero are both available on Amazon worldwide. Ebook, Audio, Paperback.
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lisa+hirsch

Friday, April 20, 2018

BEING A LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVER


BEING A LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVER


Quite a few years ago I recall defending myself from some other caregivers. They thought I did not qualify to be mom's caregiver since I lived far away. They thought that I did not care for her in the same way that they did. Their words stung me deeply and had me momentarily question myself.

I certainly felt compassion for their situation, yet I too, had the agony of hearing and seeing my mother disappear in front of my very eyes. One moment she knew my name and the next she had no idea who I was. My heart felt equally broken as theirs and I questioned why would they judge me?

Was I any less of a daughter to my mother because I did not live near her? Unfortunately, I could not just pick up and move to another state, and my mother refused to leave her home. I am my mother's daughter and that will never change, no matter how many miles may separate us.

Before moving mom into the nursing home for years I spoke to her caregivers every single day to hear how she was doing and to help plan her day. I questioned what she ate, if she took her vitamins and if she gave them a hard time when she was being bathed. I also delighted in hearing how mom loved to sing along to the CD'S that I made for.

There were moments when mom sounded great and there were other times when I was so frightened yet unable to just jump in my car and rush over to her. I remember when they called an ambulance to take mom to the emergency room after her aides discovered she had bruises (from a fall) that she could not tell us about. Then there were the times she was hallucinating which was due to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Once, when she was in the rehab hospital I spoke to the physical therapist who told me that my mother was not following instructions. I responded "how could mom possibly remember what you just said since she has Alzheimer's." The therapist answered, “oh I didn't know she had dementia.”

Then there was the time I received a call from a first response team who was not able to reach my brother. Mom's neighbors reported her "just sitting" outside her apartment on the curb. Her caregiver left for the day and because of confusion mom went to sit outside to wait for her. You would think that one of her neighbors would have just brought her back into her home. After all these years of knowing her how could they now just shun her like this?

The time was approaching to place mom into a nursing home my brother and I realizing she needed twenty-four hour care. Talk about feeling guilty and confused. How could we do this to mom? Her wishes were to stay in her home till she died.

Mom now has been in a nursing home for 5 ½ years and my brother and I know that it was the correct thing to do. I call often speaking to the nurses and always ask them to please go tell mom that her daughter Lisa called and send her love. I may only get to visit her every few months yet the staff knows that I take a very active interest in her well-being. Mom no longer knows where she is living yet my brother and I feel secure with the care that she is receiving.

So with deep thought my question is am I any less of a daughter than the others since I am a long distance caregiver? The answer is clear to me. I am my mother’s daughter and no matter how many miles apart we are the love and concern I have for her is as deep as the bottom of the ocean. She is my mother and I will always be her daughter, which also includes being her caregiver.



My new book "Letter To My Mom". It is the continuation of my first book "My Mom My Hero" Available Worldwide on Amazon in Paperback & Kindle.
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lisa+hirsch&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alisa+hirsch


Friday, April 6, 2018

THE WARMTH OF TOUCH



THE WARMTH OF TOUCH


My mom has Alzheimer's for over fourteen years and as her disease progresses so does my emotions. I often feel I am on a rollercoaster swaying back and forth as it speeds around many curves shaking up my inner feelings.

This February like the past four years, I once again spent an entire month with my mother. As a long distance caregiver having the opportunity to see her more frequently brings out a more positive responses from her.

Now on most days we find her with eyes closed and very little expression on her face. The sound of music that once delighted her seems to have disappeared. One thing that is constant is that when I take her hand, even when she seems to be sleeping, she holds on tightly as if never wanting to let go.

On several occasions with eyes wide open we also found mom speaking nonstop. Although her speech is gibberish and difficult to understand it still lifted our spirits to hear her come alive. Yet amazingly enough mom said a few profound things such as "people should be happy".

I am always grateful that my wonderful supportive husband joins me. He is so loving to mom especially when I feel a loss for words. Magically he connects with her and finds the right things to say.

The head of nursing has confirmed that mom is in the last stages of the disease. I do not know when she will finally say goodbye, yet in my heart, I do not believe that it is in the near future.

I have shared many times before that this horrific disease also fascinates me. Sometimes I question if I am now in denial or just becoming immune and accepting the situation. The once praying for mom to go to sleep has vanished and a new "space" has opened up for me.

I now feel more serene and have a calmness that is freeing. No more torturing myself of what I wish to be. I know that when mom is ready or the disease has "won", that is when I will have to say my final goodbyes. So for now, I cherish and remember how tightly our hands intertwined never wanting to let go.





My new book "Letter To My Mom". It is the continuation of my first book "My Mom My Hero" Available Worldwide on Amazon in Paperback & Kindle.
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lisa+hirsch&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alisa+hirsch

Monday, February 19, 2018

HOLDING HANDS






 My New Book "Letter To My Mom , My Hero" available on Amazon worldwide.
 USA link    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lisa+hirsch&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alisa+hirsch 

HOLDING HANDS



I have read that physical touch is one of five ways people communicate and receive emotional love. It is also stated just reaching out and taking someone's hand can be the beginning of a journey. For me holding hands is the most tender moment that my mother and I can share .

As our fingers are intertwined like never before, as we hold each other's hands, it feels to me as if I never want to let go. It was at this very moment that I became aware of how meaningful human touch is with my mother. Mom's fingers spoke words to me. They told me how much she loved me as I felt her warmth and tenderness like never before.

Every once in a while she opens her eyes, looks at me, squeezes my hand and smiles. How I yearn to know what she is thinking, although on this day most of her words remained silent. Suffering for fourteen years, Alzheimer's disease has been removing her use of language.

On this day as I played some of mom's favorite music she held my hand tightly as to let me know how beautiful the music was. Heaven's doors seemed to open as we listened to Susan Boyles sing "I Dreamed A Dream", Frank Sinatra's "My Way" and Barbra Streisand's "People".

We held each other's hands for hours as if we were young lovers. Yet this was different it was my mother that I was touching. We needed no words, just holding hands said it all. We both held on so tenderly as if never wanting to let go. Each day hereafter I hunger for my mother's touch, meaning more to me than I can ever imagine.

I reside in New York while mom lives in Florida. Not only will I miss her deeply I very much will miss the caressing of our hands. I will miss her touch, her warmth her tenderness which fills my heart with joy.

What does the human touch mean to you? Is it feeling the warmth and caring of another human being? Or is it perhaps feeling loved? Is it embracing another person?

Whatever it means to you, for me, it is an intimacy so different than one that I could have ever dreamed I would be able to share with my mother. It is for me a love that has come full circle and now is complete.



MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love. http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454248406&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Friday, January 5, 2018

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE




This picture was taken about 6 years ago (mom had AD yet she was still at home). Since then as her disease has progressed, much has changed. Mom is now 93 years old and has Alzheimer's for over fourteen years.

Last January(2017) mom caught a really bad cold and for over a month she laid most of the time with her eyes closed. She appeared to be "lifeless" except for a few moments that I was able to capture with her during my month long visit. She is now confined to a wheel chair. This blog post I wrote the year before.

Blog Post- Dec 2016

My brother called me the other day while he was visiting our mother at the nursing home. I unfortunately missed the call yet he left a message asking mom to say hello to me. Hearing her  say "Hi Lisa," immediately brought me back to a time when mom was whole. Her voice was filled with strength and definition.

Mom sounded as if she was free and clear of Alzheimer's. Her voice and tone was the mom that I always knew. I wondered how this could be. Is it possible that mom still has moments of being herself? At these times could she have a flashing thought wondering what is happening to her? A thought that disappears as quickly as it comes.

I will never know the answers and maybe it's better that way. My desire is only to protect her from  anything that can cause her heartache or pain. I wish to cuddle her in my arms, as if she were my own child and reassure her that everything will be okay.

I realize that what is left with mom is to try to enjoy whatever moments we have together. I want to sit with her, talk to her, touch her and hold her. I want to sing with her, laugh with her, and just be there for her. I want to show her and have her feel all the love I have for her; never questioning whether she knows if I am her daughter.

There are things that we can never get back yet I want to remember the things that I loved, and also the things she did that drove me crazy.  I want to remember her lectures to me, her humor, her support and all her imperfections. She was never perfect yet neither was I.

She is still my mom, and the journey that we have been on together for over fourteen years has at times been difficult yet, mostly, one filled with love.

I cannot take Alzheimer's from her and though it breaks my heart as I watch her disappear, it  has opened my heart to a place that I did not realize even existed. It has made me closer with her and has turned my love into one that is unconditional.



MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lisa+hirsch

Thursday, November 30, 2017

LIPSTICK- MY DREAM






LIPSTICK – MY DREAM

As a young child I cannot remember ever playing with my mom’s lipstick. Mom was so naturally pretty to me that I do not think she applied much makeup. One thing I remember quite vividly is how she always refreshed her lips. Even after having Alzheimer's for several years, it was always important for her to reapply her lipstick especially after eating.

This morning I awoke from a dream in which I shared a wonderful touching moment with my mother. As I laid awake and noticed that I could not recall every detail I recognized that the essence of my dream was surreal. How I craved to get back into my dream, yet it was not possible.

Dream:

 I awaited the arrival of my husband to take me to the airport. I was running late and if he did not arrive shortly I stood a chance of missing my flight. I had no idea where I was heading to, yet I wanted to board the plane.

I realized that this was my last day of being with mom and as she stood in a bathroom looking into the mirror I saw all her makeup set up as it had once appeared in her home. I peeked through the door as mom was reaching towards her lipsticks.

Even in my dream I was aware that mom still had Alzheimer's. I felt so good that mom was able to do this which left me feeling reassured that she was having a good day. I smiled, as I watched over her.

                                                         ******************
This was a comforting dream, to see mom somewhat whole for Alzheimer's has robbed so much from her. It has taken almost everything away leaving only a blank canvas. A life that was once filled with dreams, family and friends, has all but vanished.

The simple task of reaching for her lipstick and putting it to her lips would have been a major accomplishment, which makes me realize, in an even more profound way, how devastating this disease is.

In some ways my dream signified to me how the act of putting on lipstick could prove to me that mom was still alive. Something as simple as this never would have crossed my mind, and certainly one, that I would have years ago taken for granted. 

Feeling uplifted I rushed to the phone to call the nursing home, only to hear, that mom was having a “good day".

As her daughter and caregiver I am extremely effected. As for mom, she remains in her “dreamlike” state never wondering why things are the way they are.




MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love. http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454248406&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Friday, November 10, 2017

A LAND OF NO EXISTENCE


                                                      (This picture taken January 2017)

 A LAND OF NO EXISTENCE

In a few months I will be arriving in Florida to see my mother. I did this for the last three years, allowing me to spend an entire month with her. I usually feel a combination of excitement and nervousness yet this year, I am scared.

My brother recently sent me a video which upset me. Mom seemed far more advanced, almost as if she did not exist. She said a few words, was unresponsive not having much expression. I am hoping that with my daily visits she will somehow reappear.

This past Friday night as I was thinking I knew all too well that she had no idea of the day, time or year. She is unaware that I will soon be coming to see her. She has little idea or any that I even exist. The world that is so present in my universe does not exist in hers.

It feels as if Alzheimer's has taken over. It has conquered and left mom with little awareness of any life on this planet. She is locked away in a land of make believe, a land of no existence. I am grateful that she appears not to be suffering.

This journey that we are now on is getting much more difficult. I am filled with guilt and sadness,  at moments wanting her to go to sleep. How could I wish for this with my own mother? Am I cruel, or am I humane?

While she is still alive she rarely ever smiles. When someone with Alzheimer's does not smile, and shows little emotion, it appears that they are nearing the end. In mom's case, I have to believe, given her constitution, the end is not so near.

I miss her deeply and being able to touch her face and hold her hand should be enough, yet it still sharply pains me. How I yearn to share my life with her and wish that she could really understand when I whisper the words " I love you".

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease that wipes away ones dignity and life as it enters and attacks their brain cells. Some people succumb rather quickly while my mother has Alzheimer's for fourteen years and still counting.

At this moment many scientists are searching for a prevention or cure and are hoping that within 15- 20 years it will come. That is a long time away but for future generations it would be a blessing.



 MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love. http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454248406&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Sunday, October 8, 2017

MY WISHES



 MY WISHES

Although my writings about my journey with my mother have become rather scarce, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her. My feelings seem to fluctuate daily from a smile on my face to a pang in my heart about the world she now lives in.

My "lifeline "is being able to contact her nurses several days a week. Each time I ask them to deliver a message to her. Please tell mom that "her daughter Lisa loves her and misses her". They all assure me that they will. Hopefully for one minute mom thinks or remembers me. Either way it makes me feel that we are connecting since I live so far away

I often get questioned about how mom is doing. I know that whoever asks is being both thoughtful and kind yet it is a rather difficult complex question to answer. Considering that mom has Alzheimer's for fourteen years and, is on no medication at the age of 93, I guess one could say, that she is doing good... then I think to myself , if one considers a life of non existence.

Last January mom became so ill that we put her on hospice and was certain she would pass away. I actually prayed each day that this would happen. I stopped praying since my prayers were not answered and somehow she "bounced" back.

Mom was taken off of hospice and is now confined to a wheelchair. Sadly she no longer has the strength or maybe know how to walk. Her days of walking around in her Merry Walker have come to a halt. Mostly she sits with her eyes closed and every once in a while she "perks" up and says something. When the aides or the nurses interact with her she somewhat, responds yet, that is pretty much the extent of her life. I know mom would no longer want to be alive and honestly speaking, neither would I.

I hope that when her time is up she passes away as peacefully and painlessly as possible. How I wish that I could give her this last final gift. I want to hug her and take care of her in a different way than she had ever cared for me. She gave me life, and, how I wish to be able to give her peace.


MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love. http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454248406&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Sunday, September 10, 2017

MOM'S "CARE-DAUGHTER"




MOM'S "CARE-DAUGHTER"

When I am interviewed for a podcast or radio show I seem to feel pain when I am introduced as my mother's caregiver; for in my very soul, deep in my heart, I am first my mother's daughter and then her caregiver.

After looking up both words in the dictionary I found several different meanings. A daughter is a female child or person in relation to parents; a caregiver is a person who cares for someone who is sick or disabled.

A name I wish to be called is mom's "care-daughter". Although "care-daughter" does not exist in the dictionary I truly prefer the way it sounds.

In the last several years I know our roles have reversed, although what remains and cannot be taken from me is that I am her daughter .

Recently, I shared with a friend that on my last visit with mom it was so meaningful to just hold her hand. Since my return my friend asked, did I miss holding my mother's hand? My answer was simple. "No I don't miss holding her hand, what I do miss is not being able to share my life with her. Mom is still alive yet the world she now lives in is a world I may not exist in."

I then reversed the question and asked "can you ever imagine one day not knowing that you have two children named John and Alice, or that you are married for forty years, or that you have two sisters?" She looked at me and could not answer.

I have come to realize that unless you have a loved one with Alzheimer's you cannot really understand this disease.

Since mom is living with this disease for over fourteen years I know how fortunate am to still have this time to spend with her, yet throughout the years, I have been saying my "goodbyes".

Alzheimer's disease is not only mind boggling, it also can be a very long journey as we watch our loved ones disappear. They no longer live in our world so we somehow must learn to live in theirs.

Regardless of how many years mom and I may have left, today and always, she is my mother, and I will first always be her daughter. I love you mom, more than words could ever say.




MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love. http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454248406&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Sunday, August 20, 2017

BEING A LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVER




 BEING A LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVER


Quite a few years ago I recall defending myself from some other caregivers. They thought I did not qualify to be mom's caregiver since I lived far away. They thought that I did not care for her in the same way that they did. Their words stung me deeply and had me momentarily question myself.

I certainly felt compassion for their situation, yet I too, had the agony of hearing and seeing my mother disappear in front of my very eyes. One moment she knew my name and the next she had no idea who I was. My heart felt equally broken as theirs and I questioned why would they judge me?

Was I any less of a daughter to my mother because I did not live near her? Unfortunately, I could not just pick up and move to another state, and my mother refused to leave her home. I am my mother's daughter and that will never change, no matter how many miles may separate us.

Before moving mom into the nursing home for years I spoke to her caregivers every single day to hear how she was doing and to help plan her day. I questioned what she ate, if she took her vitamins and if she gave them a hard time when she was being bathed. I also delighted in hearing how mom loved to sing along to the CD'S that I made for.

There were moments when mom sounded great and there were other times when I was so frightened yet unable to just jump in my car and rush over to her. I remember when they called an ambulance to take mom to the emergency room after her aides discovered she had bruises (from a fall) that she could not tell us about. Then there were the times she was hallucinating which was due to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Once, when she was in the rehab hospital I spoke to the physical therapist who told me that my mother was not following instructions. I responded "how could mom possibly remember what you just said since she has Alzheimer's." The therapist answered, “oh I didn't know she had dementia.”

Then there was the time I received a call from a first response team who was not able to reach my brother. Mom's neighbors reported her "just sitting" outside her apartment on the curb. Her caregiver left for the day and because of confusion mom went to sit outside to wait for her. You would think that one of her neighbors would have just brought her back into her home. After all these years of knowing her how could they now just shun her like this?

The time was approaching to place mom into a nursing home my brother and I realizing she needed twenty-four hour care. Talk about feeling guilty and confused. How could we do this to mom? Her wishes were to stay in her home till she died.

Mom now has been in a nursing home for 4 ½ years and my brother and I know that it was the correct thing to do. I call often speaking to the nurses and always ask them to please go tell mom that her daughter Lisa called and send her love. I may only get to visit her every few months yet the staff knows that I take a very active interest in her well-being. Mom no longer knows where she is living yet my brother and I feel secure with the care that she is receiving.

So with deep thought my question is am I any less of a daughter than the others since I am a long distance caregiver? The answer is clear to me. I am my mother’s daughter and no matter how many miles apart we are the love and concern I have for her is as deep as the bottom of the ocean. She is my mother and I will always be her daughter, which also includes being her caregiver.

 

 
MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love. http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454248406&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch