Losing It

She’s losing her ability to write. She’s losing her ability to read. She’s losing words and lipsticks and jackets and purses.

And I’m losing it.

“They’re stealing clothes from my room,” my mother laments. “And they throw out my magazine when I’m not looking.”

I wanted to believe her, but I know this is just another way Alzheimer’s robs my mother of rational thinking. “Let me take a look,” I say, and give her a hug. Over the years, I’ve become a stand-in for Saint Anthony in finding mom’s lost objects. The religious magazine she’s talking about is stashed at the back of her nightstand. Again.

At a workshop I attended last week, dementia expert Teepa Snow told us this: “If the same thing is missing three times in a row, it’s usually because it’s causing fear.”

Suddenly, I realized mom was hiding that magazine because the words had become terrifying.

I made copies of the articles she likes, and now, while she holds her magazine, I read it aloud. She may not comprehend the words, but reading still brings her comfort. And together, it’s not so scary.