Nothing but Blue Skies
“Look how blue the sky is!” Mom commented as we sat in the sun drinking our coffee.
I’d been prepared to find Mom angry and out of sorts. Daddy had told me that she’d verbally abused him. She doesn’t like it when she’s reminded to do things like brush her teeth or wear pajamas to bed (instead of the clothes she’s worn all day). When you ask why she’s yelling and cursing, she vehemently denies these incidents, these jagged shifts in mood that seem to come and go without warning.
I found instead, the fun mom. We had such a ball laughing at everything, making verbal puns, petting a little dog wearing a coat, watching a fountain squirt water, and listening to music.
The Alzheimer’s Association says that aggressive behavior may be verbal or physical. It can occur suddenly, with no apparent reason, or result from a frustrating situation. Maybe its trigger is a physical discomfort, or a miscommunication. Maybe it’s in the surrounding environment.
When we walked in the road to avoid the unpaved sidewalk under construction, Mom became increasingly hysterical. She was irrationally frightened that a car would hit us, and with a cry in her voice, she literally pulled me onto the curb.
Thankfully, she didn’t become aggressive.
What do you do if your mom becomes aggressive? First, understand that the person with Alzheimer’s is not acting that way on purpose. I remember learning that lesson from my young kids; it helped me calm down and avoid blaming them for their behavior (like dumping their food on the floor, or coloring on the walls).
Second, see if you can find the trigger. Maybe it’s something you can change or avoid, like a loud, crowded room or an unpaved sidewalk. Their comfort is more important than yours—you are in control, they’re not. I should have crossed the road with her to walk on the paved sidewalk on the other side.
Third, back down. Ok, Mom didn’t brush her teeth. She poured the hot tea into a glass filled with ice rather than the mug. She loudly denied putting the shoes under her pillow. Look for a way out of a verbal confrontation that will take you back to a calm space.
It’s not simple. It’s not easy. It doesn’t always work. It is much more satisfying to change the subject and laugh at the dog wearing a red plastic coat.
Here’s a charming side dish for a satisfying winter’s meal.
Roasted Tomatoes with Parsley and Garlic
This is a good recipe when tomatoes are plentiful. It’s easy to make and will impress your guests with its elegance.
5 tomatoes halved
3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
½ cup fresh parsley chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Halve tomatoes and place in a baking dish cut side up. Liberally brush each tomato with olive oil. Sprinkle with chopped garlic, large-grained salt, pepper and parsley. Roast at 350° for ½ hour. Serve warm.