Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Friday, March 28, 2014

New Friends

When we were looking for a place for my mother, just about this time a year ago (if you can believe it!), I remember walking through the place in Petaluma where we almost signed a contract.  We were going through the dining room and since it was about 1 p.m., most of the place was deserted, but there was this one table with three women at it.   They had finished their meal and were just sitting there talking and laughing.
I thought to myself at the time, "this is what she needs.  She needs friends in her life again."

At that time, some of her close friends had died, one had developed Alzheimers, one was in a facility and too far away to see.  Her best friend, several years younger, still had the stamina that my mother no longer had.  So she sat in her house all day long and it seemed she never saw anybody but her hairdresser.

I felt so hopeful that getting into a facility would bring her friends again.

Well, that didn't happen right away.  She talked with people at mealtime, but had no interest in forming friendships, a good deal of that, I'm sure, being that she couldn't remember them once she returned to her apartment.

Over the months, her resolve not to get involved has strengthened, and mine to get her involved has weakened, so that I now accept what she is, where she is, and how she is.

Today we went to lunch and chose a table where nobody was sitting.  The table nearby had three people at it, including Loretta (my mother doesn't know her name), an artist who recently had some of her paintings on display in the state capitol and was interviewed on TV.

But Loretta barely remembers that, and my mother doesn't remember it at all.   But they are friends.  They don't know each other's names, but they laugh about what they can't remember.  They insult each other and laugh together and they are like the women I saw at the other facility.  They will probably never visit each other's apartments, or make plans to do anything together, but they recognize each other, they recognize that they like each other, and when they get together, it's like they are old friends, who understand each other in a way that I can't really understand each of them because I'm not there yet.

I left Atria today feeling very good about how far she has come, socially, in a year...when I thought she wasn't progressing at all.

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