Why I limited news exposure for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s

Accommodating my mother took many forms as her disease progressed

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by Ray Burow |

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My mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease ended more than 10 years ago. I miss her, but don’t get me wrong: Given the choice, I wouldn’t bring her back. She’s in a better place where her mind is crystal clear.

Now, if I could wave a magic wand and return her to us sans Alzheimer’s, I’m probably selfish enough to do so, as we miss her that much — but trust me, she’d be pretty ticked off. My mother believed, as do I, that clarity on this stinky ol’ Earth doesn’t compare with clarity in heaven.

I don’t know anyone whose heart is as pure as my mother’s. I mean, the woman couldn’t lie, even in jest. Trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a sibling and getting Mom to play along never worked. Even if the trickster told her the tale to tell, the jig was always up when it was Mom’s turn to chime in. She’d dissolve into laughter. She couldn’t do it.

Once, at my father’s request, she attempted to keep a secret from us kids. Dad was in the hospital and gave her implicit instructions not to tell us. She tried, she really did, but cracked under the multiple questions. “I don’t know why your father asks me to fool you. He knows I can’t lie.” Bless her heart. Her stammering around a white lie always gave her away.

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Accommodating my mother’s disease

Throughout most of her life, my mom read the morning newspaper religiously and watched the evening news. Like the rest of us, she understood that bad things happen, but even before the confusion of the Alzheimer’s set in, the evil in this world disturbed her.

During the middle and late stages of her disease, bad news became even more distressing to her. As a result, we chose to filter her news intake.

Now, we didn’t keep all the sad news from her. She mourned the loss of her brother and also a brother-in-law. She understood death and dying as a natural part of life. But she didn’t understand or had difficulty comprehending the tragedies perpetrated by the wicked in this world. She’d hear something terrible on the news and ask me, “But why? Why would someone do such a thing?”

We didn’t want her to be afraid, so we limited how much news she watched on television. Perhaps that’s a choice you’ll consider as a caregiver.

We also had to change how we watched TV, though she could usually grasp that actors were just pretending; they were playing a role, and a story was unfolding. Still, sometimes she’d ask, “Is that real?” She’d accept that it wasn’t if we told her so.

One Sunday afternoon, my youngest daughter and I watched the movie “Hope Floats” while Granny napped in her chair. Spoiler alert: The little girl in the film cries big because her father, estranged from her mom, rejects her. Suddenly, we were startled by boo-hoo crying.

“Mom, are you crying? That’s not real. It’s a movie.”

“It is?”

At the realization that it was a movie, Mom began to laugh. And so did my daughter and I. Then, on the heels of her laughter, Mom said, “You know, they shouldn’t put that on television. Some little children really go through such things.”

Pure heart.

I miss her so much, but no, selfish as I am, I wouldn’t bring her back into this evil world. Our reunion will have to wait until I go to her.

Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.


Laurie C Jarrett avatar

Laurie C Jarrett

Our moms would have been friends!

Ray Burow avatar

Ray Burow


Your comment made me smile. We'll have to be friends in their place. I'd love to hear more about your mom.



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