Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Done Good

I finally took a break from my Breaking Bad marathon and went to Atria around 10:30 a.m.   I didn't want to be there too close to lunch because she always wants to treat me, but lunch a Atria every day can get spendy for her (she doesn't realize that!)
We had a nice visit and she laughed about my Breaking Bad marathon and how addicted I'd become to the show in literally just a couple of days.   She told me, again, that "they don't have the shows I watch up here."  This is only partly her dementia.  For literally DECADES I've been trying to get it through her head that she watched NBC on Channel 4, but that Channel 3 was the NBC network up here.  She figures now that because her shows used to be on 3, 5, and 7 and that she has no 3, 5 or 7 up here, that she can't watch her shows, but must watch different shows.  It doesn't help that there is no directory screen on her ComCast set up (this is basic, basic, basic cable, which is provided free by Atria, but anything additional will cost).  She also does not get the Davis paper.  I tried bringing it to her,but since she doesn't know anybody in Davis she is not interested in reading anything about the town, so I stopped doing that.  
For TV, I think she just turns it on, flips through channels (many of which are in Spanish) and if she doesn't recognize anything, she turns it off.  
After I got home, I kept thinking about her TV problem and I know she used to watch several favorite programs, so I decided to make her a TV guide.  I drew up a table and arranged it so that I included only the channels she would be interested in.  Also, since she doesn't turn on the TV until 6 p.m., and goes to bed by 11, I only included the 6 to 10 time slots.
Then I just sat here at my laptop (because I can't get a week's schedule on the cable box in my office) and just filled in all the shows for her.  It looked like this:
TVSched.jpg (68662 bytes)
It took the better part of a couple of hours, but when I finished, I had the whole week mapped out for her and even designed a cover. 
TVGuide.jpg (47879 bytes)
I stapled it all together and drove back to Atria to give it to her, so she could see which shows were going to be on tonight, in case she wanted to watch TV.
Whenever I give her something, she's always appreciative, but she was positively giddy about this listing.  She thanked me over and over again and looked through it, delighted to find the names of favorite shows there.  "You know, I thought they didn't get the same shows here that I had..."  I was very happy that I had taken the time to put this together for her.  It can pretty much serve as an indefinite TV Guide, though I will check and see if anything major changes from week to week and then run off new pages, as necessary.
I felt really good about myself, so good that I came home and took a 2+ hour nap.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fantasy Land

There may be no characters wandering around in funny costumes, and nobody singing "It's a Small World" (unless it's at the Tuesday sing-along), but I feel like I've accepted my regular visits to Fantasyland and I'm sure that ultimately I will be much happier for it.
Now that I have given up trying to encourage my mother to do anything at Atria, she is much happier because we don't argue any more, and, while not exactly happy, I am at least glad that I don't have to work so hard any more.
When I arrived today, she greeted me as if she hadn't seen me in weeks. I complimented her on her new manicure and the fresh flowers on her table and asked if she had had a nice visit with my cousin Denise yesterday.  She insisted that Denise hasn't visited her for weeks, the manicure is old and she needs a new one, and the flowers are the one I sent to her on her birthday three weeks ago.  She also said that Ned had been there yesterday for lunch.
But I know for a fact that Denise and her sister were there, that Denise brought the flowers and gave her a manicure, and that Ned is coming next weekend.  But it's pointless to try to get her to remember because it only frustrates her, so I play her fantasy game.  Denise hasn't been there, nobody has visited her, she hasn't had a phone call from anyone, and Ned came to have lunch with her yesterday.
We had a ten minute visit, but managed to stretch it out over an hour and a half.  She asks what I've been doing exciting, I tell her about the three shows I saw over the weekend, she asks what I have coming up this week and I tell her "nothing," then she tells me that she hasn't done anything exciting herself, that she just sits there, that nobody comes to visit her, and then she asks me what I've been doing exciting and what I have coming up this week.  When I finally tire of having the same conversation over and over again, I tell her I have to run errands and that I'll see her in two days.
She does remember that she has 3 friends coming to take her out to lunch tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if, when I go to see her on Wednesday, she remembers that they were there.
Acceptance is a good thing.  If you can't change a situation (and obviously I can't change this one), might as well just accept what is and go with the flow.  I've never been good at that, but maybe I can learn. As my mother has told me all my life, "this too shall pass" and I'm not in a big hurry for this situation to pass.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Wasn't Ready

There is more to "coming home" from a vacation than unpacking, doing all the laundry (and trust me, with no access to laundry facilities, EVERYTHING, even the things you hadn't worn yet, smells!), and restocking the kitchen because you tried to run out of everything before you left, so nothing would go bad while you were gone.
Everyone had told me I could put my concerns for my mother behind me while we were gone and I didn't really think I would do that.  I still sent her e-mails every day (which she forgot receiving) and I was worried about her, but it wasn't until I walked into her apartment on Sunday to have the same conversation that we have been having every day for the last couple of years, that I realized that I really had put all that aside and had managed to have a "Mother vacation" after all.
I went and saw her yesterday for awhile and brought some postcards to show her, and brought her toilet paper (how she managed to go through five rolls of paper while we were gone, I don't know!).  She was also out of ice cream, I noticed and she said she needed paper towels, so today I got those for her yesterday and planned to deliver them today.
I'm still having jet lag, I guess.  I don't think of it as jet lag, but I do nap a lot and I managed to fall asleep around 1, waking at 3, with a start, and realizing how late it was.  I considered skipping today, but I had all the stuff to take to her, so I literally staggered out to the car.  I was still half asleep when I pulled up at Atria, though the chat with the girl at the front desk (who has never heard of Istanbul) helped wake me up, and off I staggered to my mother's apartment
The problem was, I think, that she had been sleeping too and was as groggy as I was when she answered the door.
So there we were, two groggy people, one with dementia, trying to have a coherent conversation.
In my cheeriest voice, I said that tomorrow was our big day, the day we go to the Brain Gym again.  She said she's not going to go.  She hates it.   She doesn't need any help because her brain is fine and she realizes I'm trying to help her, but she is never going to go there again. much for help with her brain, which apparently is just fine.  I'm disappointed.  I thought that was going to be our "thing," going to the brain gym and then to lunch, but it was only my thing.  Time to give up and let her just deteriorate.
The ironic thing, which she would never see if I pointed it out to her, was that when her mother-in-law moved into an Atria-like facility my mother spent years so frustrated with her because the facility offered so many opportunities for her, but she refused to interact with people and all she did for years was sit in her room asking why she was still alive and wishing to die.  But if I pointed that out to her, she would not see that she is doing exactly the same thing.  
There is a birthday dinner for all with September birthdays coming up and I asked if she was going to go to it.  She just looked at me like I was crazy. Go interact with other birthday folks?   WhyEVer would she do that?
Ed had been there yesterday, apparently and brought up the last of her stuff, in boxes, on a cart, with a note that it was for me.
You would not believe what happened.
She slouched in her chair, glowered toward the boxes and said "Stuff," with all the venom she used to use for "all this crap" in her house.  She said she didn't know what was in the boxes and I said I didn't either, but when I took them home, if there was anything I thought she wanted, I'd bring it to her.
Then she said something like:  "Well, when I moved here, you told me to just leave everything behind and I did.  You said I wouldn't be needing it.  But how do I know there's nothing in those boxes I might need?"   She then suggested that we go through a box a day to make sure she didn't need anything.
I told her that the thing that botherted her most about her old house was all the "stuff" in it and that she hadn't needed any of it for the past four months, so she obviously didn't need anything that was in any of the boxes.
She got very huffy and said I didn't understand what it was like to leave it all behind and that she really felt she needed to check the boxes to find out if there was anything she really wanted.  I pointed out that even if there was, she had nowhere to put it in her new apartment.  I was very, very angry with Ed for putting me in this position when he could have let me know he was coming and delivered these boxes to my house.
She then got very angry because I was keeping her from her stuff.   But as I have said before, there is an up side to dementia.  I tried to find a subject to talk about other than the big pile of boxes in her room and she was easily distracted.  But I really needed to be out of there, and I definitely needed to get rid of those boxes or she would have them all opened in no time.