Sunday, April 4, 2021


 


 

AFTER..."OUR" LONG GOODBYE

I have hardly had any sadness since my mom passed away, nor have I cried. Yes, there is a pang in my heart if I think of her, yet I seemed to have moved on.

When friends & family asked me how I feel, or how am I am doing, my answer was mostly the same; “For the last three years I had prayed for my mom to have peace. There was hardly any life as she mostly slept or was slumped over in her wheelchair, her eyes shut closed. An existence that I would never want, nor did she.”

Just the other day I decided to reread the 2 books that I wrote about our journey together since mom had Alzheimer’s. After reading the first several chapters of my first book, My Mom My Hero, to ease the pain I think I subconsciously buried all the wonderful things mom and I had shared together.

Since we lived in different states, I would call her daily. I would be amazed at all the Buddhist like things she would say. We would speak for quite a while and laugh at the silliest of things like two teenage girls. We would sing together and have spelling bees where she mostly scored 100. This always baffled me since at times mom could not remember my name, yet she could always spell magnificently.

It was not always upbeat. I had moments of great concern when she seemed to be hallucinating. I later found out this was caused by a urinary tract infection. After if she showed any signs she would get tested, and if positive would be put immediately on an antibiotic.

I now feel that after her death all the emotions that have been dormant will surface. Although there may be some tears and heartache, I want to return to a place in time where my mom even with Alzheimer's was, to me, the most special lady. I fell in love with her unconditionally and she will always remain in my heart. Her strength and courage through all the years of her illness was something that I greatly admired. I now wish consciously to celebrate and honor her life not bury it.


I have started a Group for anyone who would like to honor, share a memory of a loved one who has passed away from any Form of Dementia. This group belongs to ALL of us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A TRIBUTE TO MY MOM


A TRIBUTE TO MY MOM
 

As my mom transcends to an after life, if one believes in that, I am in awe of all the wonderful sweet loving moments we were able to share. I am fortunate to have many photos and videos of her, that capture her sweetness, humor, and innocence that I so treasured throughout the years.

As I witnessed her disappearance from the life she once had, I hold close to me all the joy she brought to me through her sixteen year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. 

As her world was diminished, each day leaving her with less memory, my love continued to grow.

I remember how for years mom walked the halls for hours in her nursing home, blowing kisses to all those who worked there, and, asking many to join her on her walk to "nowhere".When I visited and was by her side, they would sharewith me how much they loved her.

Mom, a woman in her late 80’s for years searched for her parents  wishing to find them and go home.  I always believed she was going back to a time and place in her childhood where she felt the most loved and secure.

In many ways my mom was different after she got Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, for me, it opened my heart to a new relationship with her, as I fell unconditionally in love with her.

On Monday February 1st, mom went into respiratory crisis and was put on oxygen and morphine along with 24 hour hospice care. They had instructions that mom's  own wishes was not to have any medical treatment to prolong her life; they reassured me that they would only offer comfort care. At 1:20 AM February 5, 2021 the phone rang and awoke me and my husband. I did not need to answer to know what they were calling about.It was the nursing home telling me that they were sorry that my mom had passed away at 12:58 AM.Hanging up the phone I said to my husband that my wish and prayers for the last three difficult years had finally been answered. Mom had finally found peace.

Through the last 3 years I have cried and prayed for this day.  I have cried about all the years that she could not appreciate a beautiful sunny day or take a walk on a beach. I have cried about her not remembering my father or her children. I have cried that she could not remember her one and only grandson whom she adored. I cried that she was not aware he got married, has a child of his own, or could see the young man he became. I cried as her world disappeared into no existence. The one saving grace was that with her newfound innocence and childlike ways l was  so grateful that we were able to smile and laugh together like two teenage girls.

As I reminisce, I realize that I want to celebrate my mom’s life and not her passing. For the last 16 years as the disease progressed she lived  in a prison,yet mom never complained and showed as much love as she possibly ever could. She would say things that truly inspired me, became my Buddha and I looked at her in awe and wondered what she was thinking.

I remember how during the first few years of her illness she would constantly repeat “if you have your health you have everything, that is all I wish for my children. “

Sunday February 7 th the day of mom's funeral hit me like a ton of bricks.I did not want to get out of bed. Due to Covid, since my husband, son and I lived in NY we would participate together as one family on Facetime. My brother and fiancĂ©e, living in Florida, would go to the cemetery. My brother called so I could say my final goodbyes to my mom. She looked beautiful as she was wrapped in a white shroud which is a Jewish tradition. She looked at peace, a place that I had yearned for the last three years. I told her how much I loved her and asked my brother to kiss her for me. We performed our own service with eulogies, meditations, and Jewish prayers. Tears streamed down my face yet there was a beauty and calmness to the moment. Mom would be placed next to her husband, my dad who passed away over twenty-five years ago.

I never was one that believed in going to heaven, nor an afterlife, yet today I thought, if it is true, mom will also be reunited with her parents as well as her brother.

I had prayed for this day for quite a few years knowing that when it did come that it would be a blessing for my mom. I would miss her deeply but there would  also be a relief for me, for everyday here forward I would not have to worry about her. My mom is gone forever, and I now like so many others my age have become “parentless”.

As cruel a disease as Alzheimer's is we were able to share several wonderful years filled with lots of love. My mom gave birth to me, raised me and as our roles reversed it was a blessing to care for her as she once did for me.

My mom Ruth Elian may you Rest In Peace. You became my hero with your humor & your magnificent ways.


I have started a Group for anyone who would like to honor, share a memory of a loved one who has passed away from any Form of Dementia. This group belongs to ALL of us.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

THE LONG GOODBYE


Picture is from 2012 (mom already had Alzheimer's)

THE LONG GOODBYE

I haven't seen my mother since the pandemic began in March 2020.Without any notice, mom's nursing home was shut down like so many others around the country. As of now, only with a scheduled appointment would I be able to visit her outside. Since she resides in Florida and I live in New York that sadly is not possible as of now.

I guess the next best thing is being able to FaceTime with her. Mom can no longer see due to macular degeneration. Her eyes remain closed mainly because of Alzheimer’s . With some wonderful assistance from hospice staff when they visit, or an employee from the nursing home, I get to see and speak to her every few weeks.

When these planned calls transpire I see my mom either lying in bed or slumped over in a wheelchair. Her eyes are closed yet when she hears the sound of my voice I know that not only does she hear me, she also recognizes my voice, as she nods her head in an up and down motion. Sometimes her eyes flutter as she tries to open them. I tell her how very much I love and miss her as her head still moves to let me know she is hearing me. The very first time we did the FT call I was anxious yet, as we proceeded, tears rolled down my face and at that moment I was glad that she could not see me.

The head of nursing who I speak to frequently called to tell me that my mom lost 3 more pounds and now weighs 76 lbs. She mentioned that her skin color is good and it's amazing that the wound on her leg had healed. She continues to say that she is not eating and the weight loss is not a positive thing. I pray to myself once again wondering if mom is finally getting ready to let go.

As my mind clears, I once again pray that mom would just go to sleep, something that I have wished for these last several years. I hope that in 2021 she will finally find peace for this has been a very "long goodbye".

As I think back about the last eight years I am so touched by all the love & support that my Blog & FB friends have given me. It has been a long journey for most of us and I am so grateful and thankful for all of you. We are a “ family” that unfortunately have walked similar paths and we all have an appreciation and understanding of what all of us are going through.

I am thinking of our loved ones and the families who suffer from this horrific disease, and hope that we all stay safe through this pandemic .





"Letter To My Mom" & My Mom My Hero are both available on Amazon worldwide. Ebook, Audio, Paperback.

Monday, November 16, 2020

MY HEART JUST BROKE IN TWO

 


Photo from 2018


My Heart Just Broke In Two


It’s been quite a while since I have shared about my mother. Honestly speaking, that is because there is not much that I can say. I have written a few blogs since my return in May from seeing her.

Recap:

My husband and I arrived in Florida the beginning of January as we did each year and was visiting mom regularly until March when Covid19 forced the nursing home like many others to shut down. Since then it has recently opened on a limited and shortened visiting schedule. Since March I have continued to speak to the head of nursing weekly to get updates on my mom. She was hardly eating as we had observed and has remained hardly responsive and listless. This is still the nurses observation yet her weight dropped from 83lbs to 77lbs. 

Fast Forward:

Last week I received a call from a social worker from Hospice who I met back in February. She said that she was with my mom and would I like to do a Facetime. My immediate response was "no", since mom can't see me given that she is legally blind. Within a split second I changed my mind and the Hospice social worker happily changed our call to Facetime.

The second I saw mom tears ran down my face as I told her how very much I loved and missed her. At that moment I just wanted to hug and touch her, and keep telling her how much I loved her. She heard me, she recognized my voice and I was certain she knew it was me, as I watched her head move up and down. I also witnessed the opening of her eyes for one split second. My husband was on the call with me and we couldn't believe what we were seeing. I continued to tell mom about her great grandson and how she had always told me that the love one feels for your grandchild is undeniable. Once again  she opened one eye as my heart broke in two. Mom not only heard me she knew that it was me.

After sixteen long years of watching how Alzheimer's has robbed my mother of her life, I have always known that deep inside whether she verbally spoke to me or said my name that she has always known that it is me. As a parent myself I can never imagine not knowing one's own child. 

As of now, with cases of Covid19 rising I will be staying back home in New York, not knowing when I will be returning to Florida. I don't know when and where I will ever get to see my mom again yet I hope to be able to communicate through Facetime. 

The love that I have for her is so deep, and although I lost her years ago, my love for her is undeniable. I am grateful that she has been well cared for through the years, and still wish that she will soon find peace.


 

Alzheimer's My Mom My Hero

https://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers-Daughters-Bittersweet-ebook/dp/B00BZC9LBQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516971426&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Letter To My Mom 


Sunday, August 23, 2020

CELEBRATING MOM'S 96th BIRTHDAY


What can I possibly say today on my mothers 96th Birthday? That for the last several years I have been wishing for her to find peace, or that I am sorry that years ago, I could not have removed this horrific disease Alzheimer's from her.

Yet through the last 16 years that my mom became ill I have also been blessed to have fallen unconditionally in love with her.

Before mom was sick our relationship had many hills and valleys. Yes, we had some moments and were able to share some touching times together, especially when my dad was dying.

As I flash back, I remember when mom would come visit weekly from Long Island to help me with the business I had started. We would heat-seal bags after stuffing them with t-shirts, stencils and magical fabric crayons to create a craft kit for children. During this time each week we would speak and laugh for hours. As a newly wed, in my early thirties, I remember sharing with her my ambitions, hopes and dreams.

Looking back, I now wonder how and when did our relationship go astray? As a teenager I recall when my friends came over mom seemed to always embarrass me. As I now reflect it was I who had the problem. My insecurities not fitting into the wealthy community my parents moved to effected me in many ways.

How I wish that I could turn back the hands of time and regain all the years I wasted. Knowing that this is not possible, I focus on the present and am quite thankful that I was able to get in touch with all the deep love and affection I have for my mother.

From my experience I know, from the bottom of my heart, that it is never too late to heal one's relationship, especially with a parent.

So mom, on your 96th Birthday, although you cannot hear me, nor maybe understand me, I want to tell you how very much I love and adore you.

As I reminisce on my youth, getting married and becoming a mother myself, I want to thank you for all the love you have given me and, even more, for always being there for me.

As you "blow" out your candles, I hope you can soon find peace. It would be my wish for you even knowing that when the time comes, given the pandemic I cannot be with you. You will be all alone. Yes the hospice nurse will be present yet I, your daughter, will not be able to be there to touch you, hold your hand and whisper, I love you.

My mom, who brought me into this world, will leave this world all alone. As sad as this is to say, this is my wish and I pray for you that it comes soon.



"Letter To My Mom" & My Mom My Hero are both available on Amazon worldwide. Ebook, Audio, Paperback.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A DAUGHTERS DIARY-Part 2

 March 2020

For the last few days I have been shedding tears realizing that I will finally be saying my goodbyes to my mother. As I begin to write my "last" chapter I reflect on the journey that my mom and I have been on for the last 16 years. Then suddenly without notice it seems that the whole world shuts down.....the Coronavirus has arrived.

Second week in March:
I will be leaving in a week & have been locked out of visiting mom. At least I will be departing knowing that she was somewhat aware as I stroked her hair, kissed her and held her hand. In my heart I believe that we both could feel all the love that we have shared.

March 16th:
Coronavirus.... in some ways we are now prisoners ourselves. From no where the world now seems like it’s crashing down. While I am "stuck" in Florida I pray that my mom will find peace.

March 18th:
How does the saying go...I feel like a "man" without a country.  Haven’t been able to see my mom because of shutdown of NH. For a few days I actually forgot about her, so desperately trying to figure out my own life. I pray that my son, his wife and our precious grandson will be okay. Our family and close friends are persistent on us remaining in Florida,

Maybe mom will go to sleep while I am here. Funny for now I am locked in a "prison" like her. The one thing keeping me centered and not falling apart is that each day that I and my husband awake with no fever, I am grateful. How could I possibly ever cry, while the whole world is in the same terribly sad situation. 

March 21:
We were suppose to head back home to NY 2 days ago on March 19. Not sure how long we will be remaining here. It feels like life now stands still as the world waits to come out of their homes. To open their eyes to a whole new world, one that in some ways may feel the same, and in other ways will never look the same.

I of course have not been able to see my mom & I am sad that I probably never will. This week her weight dropped to 80.4 and I was told she is listless.

April 18th:
How I wish I could say my goodbyes. Honestly these last few weeks since I cannot see her I have not dwelled on what I could not do for her. Actually there were a few days as the world was collapsing that I did not even think of her .

My thoughts have been consumed with my husband, son, daughter in law and my precious 9 month old grandchild. I shared with my husband that there would be no one else in the world that I would rather be stranded on an island with.

Update July 2020:
I have been back home in NYC since May7th. I speak to the nursing home weekly. There have been several cases of Covid19, mostly from staff. Up until a few days ago they have successfully been able to keep the figures low. Now it seems like a get a call every few days with another one who has the virus.

Mom does not eat & yet has not lost any weight since I left. I've been told that she occasionally says of few jumbled words, shakes her head to answer, sleeps most of the day as her eyes remain closed. The head of nursing does not understand how she is still alive. Mom will be turning 96 August 24th. I have no idea when my mom will finally say goodbye, yet, what I am grateful for is that in her world she has no idea of what I and the rest of humanity are now living through.

P.S. A day or two before I was leaving I went to her window which was located on the second floor to say my goodbyes. There was a beautiful tree (photo above) that reached her window. It brought tears to my eyes as I remembered what my mother had shared with me. She told me that when she was a teenager in the summer she loved to sit under a tree for hours and read. It's amazing that this tree has been here all these years and I never discovered it. It has now become for me, my mom's tree.

As I now look back through the past 16 years on this journey with my mother I realize many things. I reflect on moments of sadness, yet I also remember even more all the loving special moments that we shared. Way to many to count. It took me until I became an adult to share a bond with my mom that only a mother & daughter could share.

P.S.S. Since my mom is in the last stages of Alzheimer's I did not want to bother anyone to bring her to the window. Yet I did phone a very special aide from outside the NH. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I asked her to please go give mom a kiss & tell her how much I love her. She promised she would as I wished her well and told her that I would come back some day to see her.

Be safe world and please let's all keep wearing our Masks!



"Letter To My Mom" & My Mom My Hero are both available on Amazon worldwide. Ebook, Audio, Paperback.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

A DAUGHTER'S DIARY -Part 1


July 2020

Since the pandemic took over the world, life for all of us is quite different. This certainly includes caring for our loved ones. For me, my mom has Alzheimer's for the last 16 years and lives in a nursing home. She has been in the last stages for the last 3 years, yet somehow sadly enough she will not let go.

I live in New York and every year fortunately I have been able to spend a few months with mom. I arrived in Florida this year on Jan 14th planning to be there for nine weeks. My nine weeks turned into four months yet my visits to mom's nursing home abruptly ended on March 10th. Like many of us that have a loved one in a facility we are still not able to enter to see them.

What follows are my actual notes of when I first visited mom till Covid19 hit the United States.

First visit:
Mom spoke(non stop) gibberish with her eyes mostly closed as she also spoke about her mom. I wondered if I was her mom since she also said to me "I love you". After observing her on my first day I now questioned how anyone including myself can think that those with Alzheimer's are not suffering. I will never know the real answer since she cannot tell me. Yet as I observe her I believe that she is locked in a prison with 4 walls that she never can escape from. To me it is like a living hell.

The only saving grace is that she doesn’t realize what has happened and thankfully she appears not to be in physical pain. What I have witnessed through the years which is more deadly is a slow mental death. I believe that she’s aware just that any thoughts she may have disappear as quickly as they come.

Third visit:
Mom looks so sad. Her face appears to look like skeleton, her eyes are sunken in and red. Today her mouth seemed somewhat twisted. My brother several months ago had noticed it & we questioned if she had a minor stroke. I so deeply felt that she wanted to say something to me but was unable to speak. Her eyes as she looked at me with a blank stare told me she wanted to say something but was unable. I now feel certain that she knows it’s me.  I pray that she hears my words of love to her .

My best friend whose mom passed away years ago from Alzheimer's askes me how my visit went. My response is " I tried to distance myself from being emotional about my mom. There were times I looked at her and was heartbroken". I think that I am immune from the situation yet as the evening comes to a close I can't stop thinking of her.

Fourth visit:
I believe she hears my words so as I was saying goodbye I quietly whispered that it was okay for her to go to sleep. I whispered that I think she would be happier. With her blank stare she just looked at me with a face that appeared empty. One that cried out in silence for someone (me) to help her. Years ago after being in the facility she said to me “kill me” which at the time I thought she perhaps had just made a mistake with what she wanted to say.... now that I look back & think about it I believe that was exactly what she was asking.

End of first week:
I found through the years that many times after seeing mom I needed my own escape. Many days  I would take a walk on the beach and once a week go to a movie just to clear my head from thinking. This week I went to see "Little Woman".

While watching Jo says to sister Amy, "when did you become so wise”? Amy answers "maybe I always was but you were too busy noticing all my faults". This strikes a nerve and has me remember that years ago after explaining my early relationship with mom to a friend she answered, "maybe your mom was always like this but you never noticed". I leave the theatre feeling sad wondering how many years I might have wasted.

Week 2:
Today mom's eyes with a blank stare remain open. She shakes her head yes or no when you ask her a question. She holds my hand so tightly & if not mine, then her own. She moves her arms to wipe her eyes. Today she blows me a kiss. Her eyes continue to cry out in sorrow. She seems unable to speak yet her eyes say it all. I am so certain that she sees( although she has macular degeneration) & understands what I say. She knows I am here.

Week 3:
This is not fair. I see and can feel her pain. I see it within her face. Are the words that remain unspoken crying out to help her? Today her eyes remain open and her lips remain silent as if they are forever sealed .Each and every time that I come and visit my mom it never gets easier.

Week 4:
Saw mommy at 11AM(she's better in the mornings). Showed her a picture of her great grandson(sad because she can't see images) & tried to explain who he was. I believe that she understood for her eyes opened a little wider as I spoke & then suddenly she looked at me as if to say.....then she closed her eyes and slept for the rest of our visit.

Week 5:
As I leave now to go see my mom I feel sick and have numerous sad feelings. Feelings of I can’t keep doing this. My stomach churns, I feel nauseous & I have a headache. Maybe I have been in denial.

Seeing my husband's cousin earlier in the week he had asked how my mom was doing. I responded with how this year seems so much better. He so wisely said "not really you’re just getting use to it".  My answer..."I doubt that for it is something you never get use to."

A Day of Miracles (maybe?)
Today my husband and I accidently ran into moms doctor & the social worker from hospice. Mom has been stable since they have been giving her supplements (Ensure) which is against her wishes. We also find out that the doctor has her on Synthroid(for thyroid) and he claims that both of these are partially keeping her from declining.

We state her & our wishes to get her off of both. We win (hooray)doctors orders are given to remove both. Let’s see how long this lasts before NH doctor intervenes & reissues both. Director of Hospice says we need a symptom to remove mom from nursing facility. Praying that this will cause a symptom so mom can be moved to hospices own facility to fulfill her wishes. Only the next few weeks will tell.

I go to moms room and whisper in her ear that I am trying to make her wishes come true. With tears in my eyes I share that next week I will be leaving (March 19th)to go back to NY. Oh g-d how I wish that I could give mom the peace she so desperately wants and especially before I leave.

Next day:
Mom opened her eyes & threw me a kiss then her eyes shut closed. Before I leave each year almost as she senses it she does something unusual. I know for certain that every time that I come to see her she knows that it’s me.

For the last few days my tears are tears of what I believe will be my final goodbye to my mother.
Yesterday again my mom threw me two kisses. Another miracle.

Just received unexpected call from NH. They are on lockdown. Happened right after the tragedy in Washington State. No cases but no visitors to further notice. Sad because I was going to go starting tomorrow everyday to say my goodbyes; believing that next year she will not be alive & that I will never see her again. Just hung up w my brother crying.

 Part 2 to be continued …….next week.




"Letter To My Mom" & My Mom My Hero are both available on Amazon worldwide. Ebook, Audio, Paperback.




Sunday, December 15, 2019

WILL THIS FINALLY BE GOODBYE ?


WILL THIS FINALLY BE GOODBYE ?

The above picture which I cherish was taken in 2012 in front of my mother's home. At that time mom already had Alzheimer's for several years yet she was becoming adorable like a young child. Since then so much has changed. I chose this picture, for the more recent photos are too upsetting to look at. I sure don't want to remember her the way she is now.

In less than four weeks I will be arriving in Florida for 9 weeks. As the date approaches feelings that I have buried throughout the year have been surfacing. I feel sad and helpless, because mom has been dying and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to help her.

The last fifteen years has been a journey filled with both happy and upsetting moments. Coming from a positive place I was fortunate to have been able to cherish and appreciate the good ones. For the last several years those days have disappeared and all that is left is an emptiness filled with frustration and sadness. This has turned into a very long goodbye

The other morning I started to cry as I thought of how fearful I was to see her as she is today. She hardly eats anything, sits slumped over in her chair as her eyes remain mostly closed. My family and the staff at the nursing home are all surprised that mom is still alive.


POEM

She's locked away in a place they call home.

She sits and stares at nothing.

She speaks and says nothing.

She is nowhere yet locked within her own 2 walls.

She reflects on no one yet they say she is still alive.

Is she? or is she not? What am I to believe? What am I to feel?

The pain I now endure for her, deeply tears me apart. I have survived this past year by blocking her from my thoughts.

Yet as the time comes close for me to return these fears resurface.

How can I return from this haunting depressing world or better yet how can I desert her?

She is my mother. She brought me into this world and now I only wish to say goodbye.

My heart pangs, my body feels weakened and my hands seem to tremble.

Death, although final is all that I sadly wish for.

Sleep will bring peace and comfort.

It will remove her from a life that disappeared many years ago.

It is all so painful as I try to say my final goodbyes.




"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

Thursday, August 15, 2019

WILL I CELEBRATE MOM'S BIRTHDAY?



WILL I CELEBRATE MOM"S BIRTHDAY?

My mom will be turning 95 years old on August 24th and I do not understand how or why she is still alive. She sits with her eyes shut closed, occasionally nodding her head, while weighing only 81 lbs.  I wonder is it that her constitution is so strong, or as the nurses say, "it's not yet g-ds will". I am not a religious person yet I if g-d has anything to do with this I find it terribly troubling that anyone in my mother’s state would still be alive.

This past winter after spending time with her for several months, my family and I were certain that she would pass away within a few months. We are now 5 months later, and it is heart wrenching  thinking of her nonexistence. I pray that she is not suffering.

Unfortunately, the nursing home, aware of moms no intake of food, has increased her daily supplement from one time a day to three times a day and also added an extra protein. This of course will not keep mom alive, yet it is slowing down her departure. After questioning the staff, we were told that by Florida state law they had to provide an oral nutrient as long as my mother would still take it. 

They might have felt this was humane yet we felt that it was quite inhumane, especially since my mother literally spelt out her wishes; stating that if she had an incurable brain disease that she did not want …..etc. It's tragic that I was able to be kinder to my dogs so they could have as little suffering as possible while reaching the end of their lives.

I have recently been invited to two birthday celebrations this year. One is a dear friend’s mother who just turned 90 and the others mother will be 100. I realize how fortunate they both are and if my mom were in their health, I would wish for her to live "forever". Unfortunately and sadly enough, this is not my mother's situation.

So, as my mother's birthday approaches I can celebrate the life she once had, yet I can no longer wish her a happy birthday.



"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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

MY MOM


My Mom

It's been a while since I have shared about my mom. It has been a long journey since she got Alzheimer's; one that I will never forget. These past 14 years have been filled with many different emotions, from unconditional love to friendship and laughter, as well as feeling helpless and an overwhelming sadness.

The picture of mom that I have chosen was taken approximately 7 years ago when she first arrived at the nursing home. It brings me back to a time that mom and I were feeling "happy". The more recent pictures that I have from the last few years, all though touching, can also be upsetting. My son Logan is now 31 years old and has a beard. Six weeks ago he became a father for the first time to the sweetest baby boy.

I profoundly remember my mother sharing with me after my son Logan was born how much and how deep her love for him was. I never truly understood that until now.
It's absolutely amazing how much love I now feel for my own grandchild. How I wish that I could share this with her and tell her that she is a "great"grandmother.

Sadly enough she is not aware of this or,"most likely",anything at all.. I use the word "most likely" since in my heart when I hold her hand, kiss her face and tell her how much I love her I believe (or want to believe) that she knows it's me. The nurses have shared this joyful news with her and with her eyes shut closed she just nods her head.

For quite some time now her eyes remain closed. She barely eats anything and seems to be "surviving" on 3 protein drinks and supplements that the nursing home gives her. Something that they are not willing to stop given the laws of Florida. Mom now weighs 82 pounds and is on hospice. The nurse tells me that she is slowly declining and, it is all in g-ds hands. I am not a religious person, so I am not sure whose hands it's in, yet somehow my mother has a very strong constitution.

Mom will turn 95 years old on August 24th of this year. My wish for her, which is something I have wished for quite a few months, is for her to peacefully go to sleep. Truthfully, this would be the best gift that I could give her. I love my mom dearly yet the life she has been living is no way for anyone to live.

Nursing homes, regardless of someone's wishes, will do whatever they legally can to keep the patient alive. It's sad and, after feeling so helpless for some time, now I think that I have just become "accepting" to the whole situation.

Today I just wanted to touch base with all my wonderful supportive friends that I have made over the last nine years in the world of Dementia. Each of our lives have been touched in many different ways but the one thing that we all have in common and share is the understanding of what this horrific disease is all about.


Sending all of you a big warm hug and thank you for always being there.




"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

 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

IF MOM COULD ONLY SPEAK...

 



IF MOM COULD ONLY SPEAK...                                                                               Year 2019

My husband and I arrived in Florida this past January to, once again, spend some valuable time with my mother. We were greatly taken back when we realized how advanced her Alzheimer's had become. Mom's eyes remained constantly closed as she sat slumped over in her wheelchair. Her face remained expressionless and we witnessed her refusal of any food.

After several days I recalled what I had read the year before in mom's Heath Care Directive. As her daughter and surrogate I knew that I had to do whatever was humanly possible to carry out her wishes.

I phoned the attorney's office who, in 2007 in the state of Florida, drew up mom's directive. She redid it shortly after her younger brother passed away from Alzheimer's. After the attorneys reviewed it they advised me to reach out to hospice which I immediately did.

We met someone from hospice who felt that they could help us. They were going to take mom that evening to their facility to give her "comfort care". After some confusion with the nursing home, hospice realized that presently they could not do this. They too had to comply with the laws of Florida.

After she read moms directive we were at least fortunate to have gained the total support from the medical director of hospice . She said that she never read anyone's wishes spelled out so clearly, yet we still had many roadblocks momentarily in our way.

That evening I had a restless night’s sleep and in the morning my heart remained hopeful that we would be able to succeed in carrying out moms’ wishes.

There was no way that I would give up trying so we decided to approach the administration at the nursing home. I respectfully pleaded with them as I shared what my mother wished for, which was all legally documented. Mom's proxy was sent to their legal department and given the laws of Florida, once again we were told that there was not much they could do.

As mom started to lose more weight the doctor from the nursing home put her on 3 supplements (i.e. Ensure) and protein drinks a day. We tried to stop these drinks, yet the nursing home would not again abide to her or our wishes. Although they were compassionate and understanding I quickly realized that nursing homes are focused on keep their patients alive.

I am trying to accept what has transpired in the last few months. As one can only imagine it is very difficult. I have endured heartache watching my mother as she succumbs to this horrific disease. All I really want is for her to go to sleep as peacefully as possible.

I whole heartedly believe in "Death with Dignity" also known as assisted suicide. I believe that one has the right to leave this world when they are suffering and know the inevitable. When there is no longer any quality left in one’s life it should be their given right to decide when they wish to peacefully pass on.

Currently eight states have passed a bill allowing one to end their lives in this way. I know that this is a long battle yet as soon as New York State passes this bill, which I hope will be soon, I am committed to fight for the rights of those with Dementia. Even in the states that have passed aid in dying having Alzheimer's is not included, even if one's wishes were stated prior to when they no longer could speak for themselves.

I will begin in New York because that is where I reside. If I can help get it passed here, which would probably take years, then hopefully other states will follow. This is my mission not only for my myself, if I were to get Alzheimer's, but for all the others who suffer from this disease. Maybe one day this bill will be called "Ruthie's Law". An honor that my mom would be proud of.

This is my commitment and something I hope that many of you will join with me in this battle! Not only would I have wanted this for my mother, it is something that I wish for my loved ones and myself. It's called the freedom of choice!

If Mom could only speak what would she say...……..



"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, January 4, 2019

CAN WE SAY GOODBYE ?




CAN WE SAY GOODBYE?

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 80. For the first several years of her illness, she was able to live at home with part-time caregivers. Approximately six years ago, her cognitive functioning deteriorated and we moved her into a nursing home. Fourteen years after her diagnosis, my mother who is now 94 except for her macular degeneration, is on no medication for any life-threatening conditions.

Several months ago, two members in my Alzheimer’s group suddenly lost their mothers, even though they joined the group after me. Every time this happened I questioned, why my mom was still alive after having dementia for so many years?

I know how that sounds. But please let me explain. When she was first diagnosed, even though we had had a strained relationship, I fell in love with her unconditionally. I devoted myself to managing her care and our relationship flourished. Any ambivalent feelings that I once had no longer seemed important and magically disappeared. We shared our laughter and acted so silly almost as if we were teenagers. But today, after 14 years with Alzheimer’s, things with mom are quite different.

What kind of life can mom now possibly have? She exists, but does she really? She no longer has any appreciation of any of the beautiful things that once surrounded her world. Memories of her husband and children are all but gone. For many years, she’s had no idea of her age, her life, her family, nor even her existence.

Mom use to love to go to museums, movies and theatre. She enjoyed her morning walks or strolling on the beach. She adored reading, had a great quest for knowledge and loved taking continuing education classes. For many years now, none of these things have been a part of her life.

Today she is confined to a wheelchair with her eyes mostly shut closed. She occasionally utters a few words that none of us understand. Every part of her existence is taken care of by the wonderful caring aides in her nursing home.

If she could speak or see herself through different eyes, would she want to keep on living? I believe deep in my heart that I know her answer. The answer is what I would want for myself. I believe that when someone’s quality of life disappears, decisions need to be made.

Regardless of your beliefs I am certain that we can all agree that Alzheimer’s is one of the cruelest diseases. It takes away one’s entire world as if it never existed. There is no cure and the ending can be gruesome. So, I ask you, should someone with Alzheimer’s have the right to choose to die? In several states with other diseases you do have that choice. One can decline treatment, but with Alzheimer’s there is no treatment and one can live for many years with no awareness nor quality of life.

Most of us choose not to speak about this yet it is something that as human beings should be our right. We should be able to make our own choice of how we live and when we should die. My choice has always been that I would die with dignity, through physician-assisted death if need be, in order to have some agency in the process. That is what I so heartily wish for my mother.

In two weeks I will be arriving in Florida where my mom is, and staying with her for eight weeks. I want to hold her hand and share with her how much I love her. I also want to let her know that it is okay for her to just "say goodbye".