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The Dementia Heist

(Source: nytimes.com)

Hiding with my older sister in her S.U.V., I’m nauseated. We’re committing a heinous crime. Twenty feet away, I see a paramedic escort my silver-haired mother into the memory care center, a nursing home for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

We’ve tricked Mom into coming here because she’s not safe living alone. Moments before, we set up her room with photos and labeled her clothing. Nurses recommended we stay out of sight. I feel like the worst daughter.

But according to doctors and social workers, we’re doing the most caring thing.

Even as a child, my relationship with my mother was volatile. I constantly navigated her unpredictable emotions. To encourage positivity, I complimented her cooking, dressed like her mini-me, and parroted her disdain for our unassimilated Russian relatives. Good moods meant she’d share apple slices over a Doris Day movie, fry me blueberry blintzes, or help me fashion opera gloves from bubble bath while sitting next to me in the tub. Bad moods meant an endless cycle of slaps, me prostrating myself and her forgiving.

I always knew that my mother had had a hard life. As a girl in Russia, she watched her father bleed out after Nazis bombed the local railway station. At 27, she fell from a train, shattering her kneecap and almost dying from gangrene. She’d dreamed of becoming a singer, but instead married my father, an old bachelor and “the only man who’d marry a cripple,” my grandma said. In 1964, they abandoned everything with little money to immigrate to the United States.

More Info: nytimes.com

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