Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Family Ties

I confused my mother yesterday.  She had been looking at the pictures of her family on the wall and not so much reminiscing (since she doesn't have firm memories any more), but saying how lucky she had been to have such a good family, how much fun they had together, etc.

She looked at me and said, "didn't we?"  I said "Well, I wasn't there, so  don't know."

"You weren't there?  Why weren't you there?"

"I wasn't born yet!"

She was confused and she asked me how I got there.  I tried to talk around the subject but finally said "you had sex with my father."

She looked shocked.  "I had sex with your father???  How could I ever have sex with your father???"  

I finally realized she didn't know who I was.  I asked if she knew who I was and she said.  "Of course.  You're my sister."  

I told her that no, I was her daughter.  She thought about that for awhile and finally said "I'm going to have to think about that.  I don't understand a word of what you're saying."

Sigh.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fantasy Land

I had a call from Atria yesterday that my mother was out of something. I could not understand what word the woman was saying, but decided it must have been her Depends, which it was.  I bought two packages and restocked the larder.

My mother was in good spirits and told me that she and a friend had taken a long walk that morning, all the way downtown, and that she was tired when she got back.  I did not point out that she could not get out of the building and didn't know where "downtown" is.

When I left, she was trying to decide what she was going to cook for dinner.

Fantasy Land

I had a call from Atria yesterday that my mother was out of something. I could not understand what word the woman was saying, but decided it must have been her Depends, which it was.  I bought two packages and restocked the larder.

My mother was in good spirits and told me that she and a friend had taken a long walk that morning, all the way downtown, and that she was tired when she got back.  I did not point out that she could not get out of the building and didn't know where "downtown" is.

When I left, she was trying to decide what she was going to cook for dinner.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Adjusting

My mother and I spent an hour looking at each other yesterday, with occasional brief conversation about how beautiful her floral arrangements were and who is that strange man in the picture on her dresser (her husband), but really there was absolutely nothing to talk about.  She wants to know what I'm doing that's exciting and, in truth there is nothing on my calendar this week, so I had nothing to tell her.

I'm going to have to get better about making up exciting stories for her, though I did tell her that I have an upcoming radio interview about the summer season in Sacramento and her response to that was "Oh?  Aren't those flowers beautiful?"

I would have suggested that we go for a walk in the garden or something but (a) it was hot out and (b) she was barefoot, so I figured that could be a suggestion for a later, cooler date.

But actually, I am encouraged to see that the move to memory care seems to have been good for her.  With increased contact by the staff, she can't just lie in her bed all day any more and that seems to be a good thing.  She's not exactly a social butterfly, but I she does seem brighter these days.

Her laundry hamper is still missing.  They told me to label it (it's rather unique looking so I'm not sure why it needs to be labeled), but by the time I got back with a Sharpie, it had disappeared and I have not seen it since.  But I also didn't see any dirty laundry lying around.  

When I left her, I met with Jen, who is in charge of memory care (technically it's called "life guidance," which seems a strange euphemism).  She actually acknowledged having received my email (be still my heart) and she asked me if I had been given a copy of the assessment on my mother done by "the other side" before she moved in (no).  She gave me a copy which I read before seeing my mother.  I had a few question about it, so we met after my visit and I found her delightfully forthcoming.  She also gave me the web address for a SurveyMonkey questionnaire about my mother's background and her likes and dislikes.  Presumably this will help them set up some sort of a program for her.

But my big question was about laundry and she told me that the staff does the laundry, so I'm off the hook after 4 years.  I am not sad about that.

I let her know where I have put her supply of Depends and pee pads and mentioned the odd places where I'd found the used ones in her old apartment when we were cleaning up (the oven?).  Jen said she found them stuffed between the mattresses in her new place.

The other interesting thing was that in her old apartment she had necklaces that she laid out on her dresser and kept fiddling with them to make sure they were in a straight line.  When I decided to take her jewelry box home to prevent pilferage, I left a small box and a few things in it and I noticed that box is now opened and two more necklaces are now laid out on top of the dresser.  She doesn't wear them, she just arranges them.  I wish I knew what that was about.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Big Move

The best part of yesterday was when my mother, sitting in her chair, looking out the window of her new apartment, found a tree that was particularly beautiful.  I knew it was going to be OK.

 
We had  long day and I'm sure my mother is waking up this morning not having a clue where she is, but I hope at least she can find the bathroom.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lunch

I told Walt when I got home that it is getting more and more difficult to find something to talk with her about.  She asks endlessly what my plans are either for the rest of the day or for the rest of my life.  I try to find something that I'm doing that she can follow, but she seems to be having difficulty following even simple sentences and often just waves me off with "I can't understand a thing you're saying."  

I used to try to make her laugh and tried that today.  She was commenting on the brown age spots on her arm again and how they made her look old and that they were ugly and she wanted to just chop her arm off.  About then, her nose began to itch, as it seems to do constantly, and she took her napkin and rubbed her nose with it.  I told her that if she chopped her arm off she would not be able to scratch her nose when it itched.  That was entirely too complicated for her to follow.  A couple of months ago we would have had a nice giggle over that.

We did talk a little about politics.  She asked me how the world was doing and I said "terrible" and then gave her a very brief outline of what is going on (she has never heard of Donald Trump, though she read the newspaper every day).  She kept demanding to know what I was going to do to fix things.

But we had a nice lunch and I told Piyush, the server from Nepal, who is my favorite (she always called the women "mama" because she can't remember everyone's name) that she would be moving to memory care next week and she was very sad, because she would probably not see her again.  I was so happy to take a picture of the two of them.  I've printed off a copy and will get it to Piyush when I am at Atria tomorrow or the next day.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Mothers Day

It was just 11 a.m. when we finished and I decided that was too early to go to Atria, so we waited until 1 and then went to visit my mother . Each holiday that we share together, I wonder if it's going to be the last one.  Whether she is here next year or not, it really was the last video in this apartment.

 
Walt came with me this time and he got to see her when she is good, but making no sense in whatever she talks about.  She did spend a lot of time talking about the trees outside and that made her smile.

 
Since conversation was all but impossible, we didn't stay the full hour, but I did snap pictures of the furniture we want to donate because Habitat for Humanity is interested but wanted to see what we had to share.  I have to go back tomorrow anyway to pick up laundry, so I will visit more then.