Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"How Long do you think I'm going to live?"

I made a short trip to Atria today.  My mother had asked me to buy bread and milk for her (I know that a week from now I will probably throw both out) and I had noticed she was out of ice cream, so I bought her some ice cream too.
We sat down to visit and within 15 minutes I had reassured her at least 10 times that Ed would be by to visit her tomorrow and would bring checks for her.   She would then turn around and say "that's good because I need to go to the bank and get checks."
When there was a gap in the conversation and she asked "How much longer do you think I'm going to live?  I'm old, Bev.  I'm 94.  All my family left me behind." I had to get out of there.  I just wasn't up for the "I'm old--when will I die?" conversation today.  It's the conversation we have at least three times every time I visit her.  It's a terrible thing to say, but on one level, I am almost wishing for her death.  I don't want to lose her, but she wants to go so badly.  I remember when she went through this with her mother-in-law and had exactly the same conversations with her.  Catherine lived to be ~102 and spent a good five or six years refusing to become involved in anything at the very expensive facility where she lived.  My mother was so frustrated with her and I wish she could understand (she can't) that she is doing exacty the same thing.
Peg told me today about a woman who lives at Atria who is 102 and who makes clothes for babies of low income mothers and homeless people and who volunteers in several other activities in Atria.  I mentioned that to my mother and she just said she was too old to get involved in anything.
I came home and read another book on dementia.  If there is anything comforting in these books it is realizing that as dementia patients go, my mother is high functioning.  And that, believe it or not, is comforting.

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