Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is this lunch?

I went to Atria for lunch.  Nothings works better than a lunch at the funny farm to cheer one up.  She woke up a little more clear-headed than last time, but wandered around wearing only her pajama tops for about half an hour, trying to straighten out a necklace n her dresser for literally 30 minutes, butt flapping in the breeze.  I finally got her dressed and then to the dining room.  If dementia has ever been something she could hide, it no longer is.  I don't know if the woman who eventually joined us, Betty (someone I had not met before), has dementia or not, but I suspect she does.  My mother asked many times if this were lunch and just lots of stuff like that.  I did a lot of explaining what we were doing today (flowers to the cemetery), who Paul was, etc.  Nothing new.  Just the new normal, with a bit more nudity involved this time.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Visitors


My cousin Denise, the cosmetologist, had called to let me know that she was going to come and have lunch with my mother and do her nails, so I didn't feel I had to go to Atria today.  But when I was on the way back from Kaiser, she called to let me know that my mother was almost out of toilet paper, which mystifies me because I bought her 6 rolls last week and this means she is going through a roll a day!

I asked Niecie how the visit had gone and for the first time she said that it was just sad. She's usually so upbeat and eager to let me know how my mother is just FINE for her. She got her singing to familiar tunes, but she zoned out after awhile and it was the same stuff I have with her when I visit  Also, apparently she answered the door wearing only her pajama bottoms.  Usually she's wearing only her pajama tops, but this time it was just the bottoms, which must have been quite a surprise for Niecie!

When I got home, there was a message from a friend of my mother's, who had stopped by to see her before Niecie arrived.  She found her in bed, with no top on, but she was pleased that my mother seemed to recognize her and they had a fairly good visit.  I suspect, however, that she won't be back.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thank God

It was the difference of nigh and day today.  She's back to trying to figure out what she should be doing that she's not doing (which she has done every day for nearly 4 years), but anxiety is gone and she didn't faint.  I feel MUCH better today!

Friday, March 17, 2017

bad, bad day

Visited my mother today.  She was very out of it, making no sense, saying she was in great pain, but couldn't localize and when I asked her again where it was she said that since I got there, the pain was gone.  She made pretty much no sense in the time I was there.  I felt uncomfortable leaving her, but I found a Catholic channel that was running the daily Mass and I figured that would be something familiar for her...and by then she had calmed down considerably from when I first got there.

She was lying in sheet stained with feces when I got there and I called for housekeeping to change the sheet for her.  As of the time I left (an hour later) they had not shown up and the woman at the front desk didn't seem at all concerned that my mother might sleep in feces tonight.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Accidents

I wrote to Atria after I discovered feces on her sock and asked if there had been an accident (since I didn't see any other sign of one).  They said that yes, there had been "a couple" of accidents and asked how I felt about adding showering to her services.

I said yes, definitely, if she would go for it, and then asked about the memory unit and its cost.  They don't think she is quite "there" yet, but will get back to me on the cost.  I don't know what her insurance will cover if she moves there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Best $40 ever

A year or so ago, I was at Michael's Craft Store and found a beautiful arrangement of artificial red carnations.  Michael's has great artificial flowers and I check the store periodically for flowers for my mother, who can't remember to take care of real flowers any more.  This one was gorgeous but would have been much too expensive except that it was about 50% off, or $40.  A chunk, but what the heck.
It has turned out to be the very best thing I ever bought her.  I can't think of a single time when she has not suddenly noticed the arrangement, as if for the first time, and said "aren't those roses beautiful?"
I have bought other artificial arrangements and live bouquets, but nothing since the carnations arrived has pleased her nearly as much as this bouquet.  It has, in the long run, saved me a lot of money because I know I don't have to spend money on flowers any more.  This arrangement is "new" every time she looks at it and her delight in seeing these beautiful "roses" is genuine each time.

(this isn't it, but it's similar--her arrangement
 is bigger, more spread out, and in a basket)

Today I decided to go for lunch, since it had been a busy weekend and I can't remember if I visited her over the weekend.  But I got there and it was parked solid.  Nothing in the Atria parking lot, nothing in either direction on the street and I was too lazy to park in the shopping center 2 blocks away.
["Too lazy" is only part of the reason...my back is giving me fits and I hope my doctor has some suggestions when I see her next week.]
I decided what the heck -- let's go out to eat again.
Well...fortunately as I was talking to her on the phone to try to get her to come to the car so we could go out, someone in the parking lot pulled out and I was able to park after all.  Trying to absorb that I couldn't find a parking place and would take her to lunch was entirely too complicated for her to comprehend.
She said "I don't understand a word you're saying, but I'll be here when you get here."
There is no way I could have guided her through the complex actions of putting on her jacket, getting her purse, and coming to the front of the facility, nor could I leave my car in the passenger zone.
It was clear from the get-go that this was a worse than usual memory day.  For example, she was reading a book written by her friend Father Joe O'Looney, a book she had typed when he wrote it.  I mentioned the book, which she couldn't find, because it was lying under the fresh cookies I had brought.  When she found the book, she thought she would read it because it looked interesting and "you typed it" made absolutely NO dent in her memory process.
She thumbed through the pages, and stuck at the back of the book was a card. She took the card out, opened it and read the birthday greetings from Peggy Kerr, a former Atria resident who had become my mother's friend.  I wasn't surprised that she didn't remember who that was, but she put the card back in the envelope, closed the book, put the card on top of the book put the book back on the table and then "saw" the card for the first time and opened it to read it again, again not knowing who Peggy was.
Over lunch, her worsening word-finding was blatant, as she could not remember the word for anything and just substituted any word that popped into her head for what she wanted to say, or in indicating my cup of coffee, waved her hand and said "that.....that...that whatever you have in your cup."
I've also noticed that people used to stop and talk with her in the dining room, but they don't seem to do that any more.  She mentioned the beautiful white hair on "that woman over there" with whom she used to eat every day, but who is now a stranger to her.
It was time to pick up her laundry and I just despaired of her ever learning how and where to put her dirty laundry.  The waste basket was stuffed full of underwear mixed with puddle pads, including a pair of socks, one of which seemed to be smeared with feces (though I could not find any other clothes smeared with feces).  The bag in which I carry her laundry home with me was also a mixture of pads and pants and the laundry hamper was almost empty.
No point in trying to explain it to her.  I tried that before and it was way beyond her ability to comprehend.
I didn't leave depressed, the way I usually do, just sad that she seems to have taken another step downward.  I sure wish I could have one more conversation with my mother, but I fear that is no longer possible.
But I sure am glad I gave her those carnations.  I bring joy to her life every time she looks at them, even though she has no clue where they came from.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Just too nice a day

The plan for the day was to go to Atria, maybe for lunch, and then get some errands done.  But on the drive over to Atria, the skies and the trees were so gorgeous that I knew I had to get my mother out of the damn place and go. see. nature.


Everywhere you looked there were gorgeous cloud formations and all the trees were starting to come into full blossom.  When I saw my mother lying, as she always does these days, on the couch, awake, but just staring off into space, I didn't ask her, I told her  that I was taking her out to lunch.  I figured we would go to Denny's in Woodland but I would take the long way to and from there, driving through areas of Davis where I knew we would see a lot of trees...and open areas where there would be good views of clouds.

She was confused, of course, but meekly followed me out to the car.  It was perfect.  She loved the clouds (which she sometimes called "flowers" when she couldn't remember the word for clouds) and even noticed the blossoms on the trees.  And you could not ask for a more glorious day.


We passed by almond orchards just coming into blossom, not quite full, but very pink, and stopped to watch a crop dusting plane which was flying over the orchards.


Then on out to Woodland, to Denny's, where we parked under a tree that she thought was so beautiful.

.

The choices on a menu always confuse her, so I give her a menu, but order for her, letting her make her own choices if the waitress asks her, but if the choices are still too confusing (don't ask "white/wheat/rye/biscuit/muffin?" -- entirely too complicated!), I just answer for her, since I usually know what she wants. 


She had a fried egg, hash browns, bacon and wheat toast. To my amazement, she ate it all, which she usually does not do  During the lunch she kept staring out the window marveling at all the cars that were driving past the restaurant and how they all looked new.

We got back in the car and drove back to Davis.  I drove around, downtown through the arch of trees on F Street that is always so beautiful, and the line of blossoming trees on Covell Blvd, which are so pretty at this time of year.


Of course she had no idea I was driving in big circles, and she enjoyed all the views and I think that by the time I returned her to Atria (which she recognized as somewhere she had been before), she was tired and ready to take a nap.

It was a lovely day and she only asked me twice what I was doing tonight and only once if I was going dancing.  I consider that a successful afternoon