Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Coordinator

Last week was a bad one with my mother, so much so that I felt it was time to inquire into assisted vs. independent living at Atria.  (It's done well, where she stays in her apartment and just has more people helping her with stuff.)  She also had two mild anxiety attacks that made me think it might be time for anti-anxiety meds, but it was the week I was wrapped up in eye stuff and couldn't do much for her, and I figured it would not be a problem to wait a week.

Well, this week she is much better, calm, no signs of anxiety and when I talked with her the thing she stressed over and over again is that the thing she is most proud of is that she can be independent.  It's like she knew I was thinking of getting her more help.

So I met with the patient services coordinator at Atria and we had a wonderful chat.  She said she would do a mini mental health exam on her and decide if she needed further neurological assessment.  That exam was today and she told me that "It is not too bad, however clearly there is dementia that has been masked by the routine Mildred is in. Also being so independent with activities of daily living and being quite 'recluse' has masked the ability for me to see this sooner."  I hadn't though of the word "recluse" but that describes her life quite accurately.  The coordinator sent me the form for the exam she gave her and I will forward to her doctor.

She also gave me a book on Alzheimers by their go-to expert on the subject.  I thought I had read most of the major books on Alzheimers and dementia, but had not seen this book.  The authors use the "Best Friend" approach to dealing with people with Alzheimers and dementia and there are lots of suggestions for how to interact as a best friend, not as a caregiver or relative, and draw them out to get more intellectual stimulation, none of which will work with my mother since she is so resolutely reclusive and determined not to be interested in anything.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Sweater

With the approach of winter...and of Christmas, I happened to find a place where I could find my very own "ugly sweater" in my size (though I have to admit that I don't find this sweater "ugly" at all...I think it's cute!)

This sweater, and another, with a penguin on it, arrived this morning and I was thrilled with them both.  I wore the sweater to Atria today when I had lunch with my mother.

She loved the sweater.  All three times she first saw it.  When I arrived (11:30), I woke her up and she never noticed what I was wearing until I pointed it out to her.  Then she told me how much she liked it.

On our walk to the restaurant, she suddenly noticed my sweater and said how much she liked it and asked when I got it.

At lunch, she pointed the sweater out to Margaret, at our table and they talked about how cute it was.
Then on the walk back to the apartment, she noticed it again and she asked when I got it and told me that it was cute and how nice that I got myself a new sweater.  Sigh.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

I went to Atria yesterday to let my mother know that Peach had died.  She was shocked because she hadn't remembered that she was sick.  We talked for a long time and I told her I would be over today for lunch.

There was no answer when I knocked on the door, which always scares me.  I let myself in with my key and she was lying on the couch.  I checked to make sure she was breathing and as I sat down to wait for her to wake up, her eyes opened and she groaned.  She was more out of it than I have ever seen her.

She wasn't in pain, she wasn't nauseous, but she was completely confused and very anxious.  She knew she had to be doing something, but she didn't know what.  She says this a lot, but it was worse than usual this time.  She told me she hadn't eaten.  At first she said she hadn't eaten in 3 days and then she said that she had not eaten since she moved into Atria and had not been in the dining room.  When I told her she had been there for 2-1/2 years, she was amazed.

I checked the refrigerator and saw that she had eaten half the piece of pumpkin pie I had left for her, so told her that she had eaten something, at least.

She told me about "the nice girl" who comes every day to find out if she has eaten and that she said she would bring food, but she doesn't know if she ever did.

I sat and listened for almost an hour as she told the same story over and over again about her confusion and about how she would wake up in the middle of the night, convincing herself that she had to keep from telling me any of her fears because it would bother me and she didn't want to be a bother.  Apparently her biggest fear was running out of clean underwear (she still has 4 pairs in her drawer)  

I definitely learned what it's like to be a therapist, as I just let her talk and talk and talk, though she was making no sense.  I had the feeling that what she really needed was some kind of anti-anxiety medication, and it made me angry yet again (I get angry about this a lot)  that no doctor has given her a baseline mental health exam, though I have asked each doctor who has seen her to do it, and she has no relationship with any doctor. 

Her primary care physician is mine and I chose her not because I thought she was such a wonderful doctor, but because I could e-mail her.  I have written here more than once about the difficulty ... impossibility ... of getting an e-mail account set up for my mother, which apparently even God can't do.  My doctor is a numbers person.  She keeps track of all of my numbers -- lab numbers, blood sugar numbers, heart numbers, but she has never asked me personal questions and is not a person I would turn to for a talk about something bothering me. But since I haven't needed more than that I haven't tried to find another doctor.  She's been my doctor for about 10 years.

I tried to contact the patient services person at Atria, but she won't be in until Tuesday.  I just wanted someone to TALK to to find out what was the best course for her.  Is it time to move to assisted living care level, where she stays in her apartment but someone comes in to check on her meds and make sure she gets to the dining room every day, and just be a daily predictable person she might come to rely on?  I don't know.

Then I came home and wrote to her doctor, who is out of the office until Monday, of course (I got a return message to that effect).

Of course all this is coming about at exactly the wrong week for me. I have four doctor appointments myself this week, three with the eye doctor (one of which is my cataract surgery on Friday) and another with an audiologist to get the process started for hearing aids.  I also have my first work day at Sutter on Monday.  And after my surgery, I'm not going to be able to drive until the doctor gives me clearance.  So even if the doctor thinks my mother should see someone -- her, or someone else  -- I may not be able to get her there.

At one point I told her that I thought maybe the severe deterioration in her dementia seemingly overnight might be a reaction to the news about Peach.  She didn't remember and was shocked all over again when I told her Peach died.

She finally calmed down enough that I could make sure she got to lunch and during lunch she improved a lot.  I also made sure she had a glass of wine, which I thought would relax her (and it did).  But when we got back to the apartment, she said she was dizzy and wanted to lie down.
I picked up her dirty undies and brought them home and will return them to her tomorrow.
I am very worried about her.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Suspicions confirmed

After I left Atria yesterday, I wondered if my mother was really sick or if it was an excuse to avoid a social gathering.  The last time she was nauseated was the day I was going to drive her to San Rafael for lunch with her friends to celebrate her birthday.

I posted a note on the dementia support group on Facebook and have found countless other people who express the same feeling, that their loved one always gets sick when a social occasion is approaching.

When Tom et al come up for Christmas to spend a couple of hours with her, I won't tell her.  I'll just let it be a surprise. No time to get anxious about it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Thanksgiving that Wasn't

Thanksgiving didn't happen the way we planned, but was very nice anyway but without my mother.

The plan had been to take dinner to her so we could have a family thanksgiving together in her apartment and she wouldn't have to leave Atria (which seems to scare her).  This was Ned's idea and better than mine, bringing her here to share Thanksgiving dinner with us.  Ned and Marta were bringing mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls; I was cooking the turkey and stuffing and making the pies.

My mother had never been particularly interested.  I had hoped the idea of having a family dinner would have pleased her, but she had been particularly blasé whenever I mentioned it, merely saying "well...whatever you want."

In the morning, hoping to help her remember that we were coming by in the afternoon, I brought the pumpkin pie, and a floral arrangement for the table.  I sat and talked with her and she said that she was feeling sick to her stomach.  Jeri called and we did a facetime chat and even that didn't help my mother.  She said she felt like vomiting.  It was obvious we needed to cancel our plans.  She said she was going to bed, and I left her lying on the couch looking miserable.  I will go over there today and see how she's doing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


The visit with my mother was nothing out of the ordinary.  I finally remembered to break it to her that her friend died last week.  I wasn't sure how that would go and if she would have to be reinded of who Dodie was, but she didn't need reminding and was shocked and saddened.  I told her I had no information on the cause of her death and she said, somewhat wistfully "maybe someone will call me," so I let her other friend know that it was OK to call.  I couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't be like breaking the news all over again, but her friends were concerned about the effect of telling her over the phone and I think that will be OK now.

She's developed a new "thing" -- reading her watch.  She can be at times obsessive about it and seems to have trouble each time trying to figure out what time it is.  She obviously doesn't need a watch, since she has no place to be, but having it on her wrist is important to her.

The weather continues to be a big topic of conversation.  Today she asked the usual question "is it hot outside?"  I told her that no, in fact it was cold (about 59).  After that each time she looked outside she would tell me that the sky was so blue but somehow it looked cold.

I've read some new things about Alzheimers / Dementia in the last week.  One was a list of ways to tell if a person has dementia or Alzheimers and with I think one exception, it described my mother to a T.  The other was a book written for caregivers (as in people in an assisted living facility who care for dementia patients) about how to enrich their lives, how to handle difficult situations, etc.  So much of the situations discussed sounded so familiar.  I sure wish I could get her doctor to do a baseline, but that would involve getting her to a doctor and that's not likely to happen until her required annual physical since it takes an act of God (literally) to get her to agree to see a doctor.  But next time I'll try being more insistent.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Back to Normal

First visit with my mother following our cruise.  I took a selection of post cards to tell her about the trip, figuring that eventually I will make a selection of the best photos to show her.  She didn't seem to remember I had been gone when she opened the door, but then she did and, of course, it took many retellings but that was OK.  We had things to talk about.  And she laughed a lot when I told her about Walt getting left in the bathroom of the bus.

But the best part was going to lunch.  Robert joined us.  He is a regular at her normal table but came in late today, as did we, so we were at a different table.  Her whole demeanor changed when he arrived.  She was back in flirty mode again.  She has always needed a man in her life to flirt with. The two of them are good for each other, he can't hear much and both of them have dementia, so they speak the same language.  Robert's dementia was particularly bad today but somehow they were able to enjoy a conversation. I was amazed that she greeted him by name.  I didn't know she knew ANYONE at Atria by name.

While they were chatting, I was talking with Carol, a woman I hadn't met before, but who has been there not quite a year and says that "Mildred is my favorite person here."

Loretta came in while we were lunching. Carol told me I should see Loretta and my mother trading barbs when they are together.  I told her that I had and that they were even better when they had a little wine with their meal.  Loretta is starting to get that 'Atria look' that all the older people with dementia seem to get (my mother included) where they have completely lost interest in their appearance.  In addition to wandering around looking for a friend to eat with, I noticed that she had not brushed her hair and her clothes were "askew."  My mother is frequently like that when we go to eat.  It seems a good way to tell the ones with dementia from the ones without is to check their hair.  Robert's normally well coiffed white hair stood up in back like Alfalfa's.

But all in all it was a good visit.  I dreaded getting back into the Atria routine, but it wasn't at all depressing, and she desperately needed underwear washed.  I don't know what she did in my absence.  She had told me she would wash things by hand, but doesn't remember now whether she did or not.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Separation Anxiety

My mother is very scared that I am "abandoning her" when we leave on this cruise on Monday.

I've set up someone at Atria to check on her every day and make sure she has taken her meds, Ned and Marta are going to visit her, and if she remembers, she will wash her own undies. I'm also going to e-mail her every day to Atria's general manager, so I've done all I can do to make the time easier for her.

After this trip, I'm not going on a trip like this again. It is just too hard on her and as long as she is where she is, it's only going to get worse, so no point in putting her through that. I've traveled enough for the nonce. So I'd better get all the fun as I can out of this last hurrah!

Monday, October 19, 2015


I went to Atria today after halftime of the 49er game. My mother was pleased to see me, of course, and surprised that the 49er game was on.  She was always a big 49er fan, but now doesn't pay attention to when games are on, though if someone is there to watch it with her, she is happy to do that.

She will never again watch television by herself. They have changed her cable system to what is now actually much nicer, as it includes a built-in directory, so you aren't just flying blindly in your station choices.  But it took me a good 5 minutes to figure out how to work it (quite simple, really, once you understand the directions) and I know that there is no way on earth that she would ever be able to do it. As it is, after she moved in, I had to tape the keys of the remote to turn on her TV because she couldn't understand that you had to use the other remote to change the channels. She called me at least once a day to tell me that her TV was broken until I finally just made it impossible for her to use the number keys on her TV remote and force her to use the cable remote instead.

However, when I left, I did leave the TV set to CBS, which has a lot of shows she might watch, including news and Good Morning America, so maybe she will be able to watch if  the set doesn't switch back to the home screen again.

Of course, I think she watches almost no TV at all these days, so it's probably not a big concern.'

But we enjoyed the game. She did get into it and only asked half a dozen times if they were playing "here or there."  I was delighted that either the ethnic makeup of the teams at the moment has changed or she has forgotten that she used to obsess about the number of African Americans on the team.  Didn't mention that once, though we both commented on the number of tattoos some of the players had.

All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon and I'm glad that I went over there.  I'll have to do it again next time there is a 49er game that I happen to remember.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Took my mother's meds to her today and was pleased to note that she seems to have taken her meds daily this week. She sometimes forgets.  

Somehow she has gotten it into her head that Walt and I go dancing.  I don't have a clue why but she asked me several times today if he and I were going to go out dancing tonight.  She and her husband loved to dance and maybe she's putting that on me, since he's not around any more.  But other than dancing at weddings, Walt and I have not danced together in 50 years.

She said she didn't remember the last time she danced and I told her it was at her 90th birthday party.  I pointed out the framed photo she had right by her side of the group at the party.  She picked it up, but didn't recognize many people.  The photo has a wide border that people signed and she could not recognize any of the names except Jeri.  She asked me 3 times who "Eileen Broderick" was and I explained it was her sister's daughter-in-law and reminded her of the wedding we attended at a family reunion one year, but that went way over her head.

I finally left Atria the fifth time she asked if Walt and I were going to go dancing tonight.

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Who's That?" Part 2

She didn't know who was in a series of photos of Jeri and then said "I wouldn't recognize her if I met her on the street because I haven't seen her for so long."  But she also told me that "you talk about Brianna and Lacie and I don't have a clue who they are" and then after I reminded her they were her great grandchildren and that their pictures were in front of her, I asked if she remembered who there father is and she asked "Walt?"

She also doesn't remember that Niecie had been there to give her a manicure and was kind of vague about who Niecie is exactly.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015


We went to a memorial service for my friend Nancy, who used to live at Atria, today.  In her brief time at Atria, my mother once called her her "best friend," though she didn't realize that she lived just 2 doors from her own apartment, and never knew her name.  She died a couple of months ago, in an Alzheimers facility in Sacramento, at age 90.  As I sat there watching a slide show and listening to everyone's memories, I was left with a profound sense of sadness.

"Effervescent" was the word that many people used to describe Nancy.  And it fits her to a "t".  I don't think I have seen a picture of her when she wasn't smiling a broad smile or laughing with whoever she was with.  She's had her share of sadness, including a failed marriage and the death of an adult child, but she has taken it all, including her worsening mental problems, with grace, humor and laughter.  

She had many hobbies and activities, loved to interact with people.

I would like to be able to say any one of those things about the woman who looks like my mother, but who sits in a chair day after day looking at leaves. We will soon go through the months where she complains that the trees are bare.  She has brief flashes of interest if someone comes to visit, but it's all new for the visitor and they don't see her nearly every day the way I do.

I would like a smile, a joke, a laugh, an interest in ANYTHING outside the damn leaves and whether the wind is moving them or not.

Effervescent she is definitely not.

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Who's That?"

I brought her a photo of Peach and Bob today.  She said the man looked familiar.  I told her that the photo was of Peach and Bob, but she didn't hear me say "Peach" because she looked at the photo and said that yes, she recommended Bob.  "Who's that with him?  His wife?"  When I told her it was Peach, she couldn't believe how old she had gotten.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Covering up

She is wonderful at covering up her dementia. My cousin Kathy's daughter Karen had a nice visit with my mother yesterday and wrote this on Facebook:

Such a fun visit! She kept telling me she was 100 years old and I kept telling her we needed to call Willard Scott and get her face on a jelly jar--belly laughs all around. Love Aunt Chubbie!!
I'm delighted that they had a good visit and that Karen came away feeling so good about it, but today my mother has no memory of the visit, does not know who Karen is, doesn't remember who Kathy is, and has never seen The Today Show or Willard Scott in her life, even before the dementia.

(She did, however, when prodded, remember Cousins Day)

But she has all sorts of tricks to cover and to make people think (a) she knows them, and (b) she is following what they are talking to her about.  I know there are people in the family who get angry with me for talking about her dementia because it's perfectly clear to them that she's not nearly as bad as I make her out to be.  I invite them to spend a month with her!  Or even a few days!

I've watched her have a lovely conversation with people on the phone and when she hangs up and I ask her who it was, she has no idea, but she can hold up her end of the conversation and from listening to my end of the chat, I'm sure nobody has a clue she doesn't know who she is talking to.

I made the mistake of trying to make a joke today.  She was saying how frustrating it is not to remember stuff, and not to remember people.  I asked her if she still remembers her family. She is forgetting what her siblings looked like and she says she can't remember a lot about her father but thinks she will always remember her mother (whom she sees in her dreams most nights).

She then asked if I ever forget people like that.  I said that yes, I sometimes forget who my mother is.  She did not get the joke at all, but sadly remembered that my aunt Marge was my mother.  When I  told her I was joking and that she was my mother, she then remembered that she is, but didn't understand that I was joking.

But I am thrilled that Karen visited her and have no doubt that at the time, though my mother had no idea who she was, that she enjoyed the visit.  I won't let Karen know that she doesn't remember her or the visit.  So few people visit her and I hate to harp on it, begging them to come.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

TV Party

We went to Atria tonight to watch CSI with my mother.  She used to be a huge fan of the show but stopped watching when William Peterson (Grissom) left.  However, when I found out he was returning for the finale, I thought she might enjoy it but knew she'd never watch it by herself, so Walt and I went to watch it with her.

Ultimately I think she enjoyed it, though after I turned it on, she asked if I wanted to turn it off so we could visit (NO!!!!!).  When Walt arrived, she asked him if he was Walt.  And at every commercial break, she asked me if the show would be continued next week and I would tell her that no, this was the finale.  It was good to have Walt there because he got a taste of what I go through every time I visit.  But she kinda sorta followed the story once she got into it and even cried, with me, at the emotional ending, so I think it was good that we did that.  I'll have to keep my eyes out for things on TV that I think she might like and have more TV parties.  We get to have quality visits and we don't have to just sit there and stare at each other!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


There are horrific fires burning all over California.  Whole towns have burned.  My mother, sitting with blaring headlines at her elbow, knew nothing about it, but "those things happen, I guess"

There is nothing I can discuss with her because she absorbs nothing.  She has lost the ability to be upset by anything that has nothing to do with her appearance.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Old Age

I am SO TIRED of talking about how old she is, how she doesnt want to be old, how she wants to live to 100, how she hates the age changes she sees in her body.  Since she has NO INTERESTS whatsoever, this is ALL we talk about...this and whether it is hot outside.  (and what exciting thing I'm going to be doing)

How I wish she had the feistiness of this woman.  I would welcome her doing something outrageous even if only once.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Sunday was a bittersweet day from start to finish.  We started at Atria, meeting Ned and Marta for brunch, to celebrate my mother's birthday, which is tomorrow.

We've been over this for a week or more, but she didn't remember, of course.  After her surprise that I was there, she was surprised again when Ned and Marta showed up, and especially when they wished her a happy birthday because she never realized it was her birthday.
When we all went to lunch, she asked why and then was surprised to find out it was her birthday and then as we sat down, she was astonished to learn it was her birthday.  One thing about dementia--you get a lot of nice surprises!

For lunch we asked for two servings of brownie with ice cream.  Walt wanted one of his own and Ned, Marta, my mother and I shared the other, which Ned cut into 4 equal pieces.  She laughed when served, then looked away and when she looked back, she asked where that had come from and why were we having dessert and then was surprised to find out it was her birthday.

To my surprise, when we returned to the apartment, a woman, pushing a woman I had never seen before, knocked on the door.  The woman who knocked obviously knew my mother and it was someone I had never seen before, which pleased me because my mother kinda sorta recognized her, which means she has made friends with someone on the staff.  Anyway, the woman was bringing her a card and a piece of cake (which will sit in the fridge until I finally throw it away next month)

All things considered, except for the dementia part, it was a good day, she was in good spirits, we laughed a lot and then Walt and I went home, while Ned and Marta spent another 3 hours or so there until time to go to our second event of the day.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bad News

I learned today that Peach has brain cancer.  Doctors say she has "2 mos to maybe 2 years."  All I wanted was to talk to my mother.  After first being confused ("who is Peach?") and then upset ("oh no") her  reaction was a dismissive "Well, we all have things happen to us."

I still want to talk to my mother, but she isn't there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Flurry of Excitement

Today was Lunch at Atria day and it had a bit of a different twist to it.  For one thing my mother's back has really been bothering her.  So much so that she let out a shriek when she went to sit down and she can't make it all the way from her apartment to the dining room without sitting down.  But she doesn't need to see a doctor.  Not her.  The doctor told her 10 years ago that when it hurts she should just sit down and that's what she does.  Of course it's not possible that the disintegration in her coccyx has worsened, 'cause the doctor told her all she had to do 10 years ago.  I'll tell ya, for a woman who has always been so intelligent about everything except her health, she can be really stupid sometimes.  That Christian Science upbringing that she discarded decades ago pops up whenever it's convenient.

I'm going to take a different track with her.  I'm going to leave the decision of whether to see the doctor or not up to her BUT remind her that the thing she is most terrified of is being incapacitated and the fact that her pain is getting worse is a sign that the back is getting worse and if she doesn't get it checked out, she may very well end up incapacitated.  OR it may well be that she won't be incapacitated but will have to use a walker to get around, another huge fear (she's above all those poor people who use walkers.  SHE doesn't need a walker!)  Let's see how that goes over.

Someone in the Memory People group on Facebook suggested we try medical marijuana.  That had never occurred to me, and having zero experience with marijuana, I wouldn't have a clue where to find it or how to use it.  But it is something I might explore if the doctor thinks it might be a good idea.

But anyway, we eventually got to the dining room and "her" table was full, so we sat at the empty table next to it.  As she was sitting down, she got this funny look on her face and I looked off to the side and there was Loretta entering (on her walker, I might add).  Loretta, as I have said before, is my mother's best friend at Atria.  Neither of them knows the other one's name, though they have been friends for two years, but they enjoy each other so much, especially when they have wine with their meals.  They like teasing and insulting each other, just like my mother and her friend Paula do and I just love it.  Meals with Loretta are my favorites.

As usual, my mother poured over the menu before deciding on fruit salad and vegetable soup, and then couldn't remember what she was going to order.  When they brought her vegetable soup (which she has every day), they had added extra vegetables on top of the broth and she looked disgusted and tried to decide why she had ordered that.  She obviously was not going to eat it, so I took the veggies floating on the top of the broth off and put them on a separate plate and then she recognized her order and she ate the broth. 

We were enjoying lunch when suddenly there was a shout of "HEY!!!"  It was a woman who is probably the youngest resident of Atria, but I think she is there because she is in a wheelchair and probably this was the best place for her.  She was shouting "Is there someone who knows the Heimlich maneuver?  We have someone choking here!"

At the table next to her, on the other side of the room from where we were sitting, suddenly all the wait staff and some of the Atria facility people surrounded this woman and I guess managed to successfully "heimlich" her but there remained a lot of people around her for awhile until they were sure she was OK. 

As for my mother and Loretta, they kept insulting each other throughout the rest of lunch. At one point I asked Loretta which of her children she had in Davis and she told me it was her son.  I asked her how many children she had and she couldn't remember.  She thinks she has grandchildren. She just remembered that they have taken away any sharp objects in her apartment and are choosing her clothes for her and she now has to wear colors she never wore before.

It's easy to see why she and my mother are such good friends.  And the best thing is that when they are together, I have no qualms about joking about the fact that neither can remember anything.  They just laugh at me and with each other.  I'm sure they never see each other outside of mealtimes, but they do enjoy their meals together.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Good Day

It was a relatively good day, as days go.  I brought her pills and some toothpaste (I noticed she was out), and I picked up her laundry.  We sat and had a visit and actually between discussion of the leaves on the trees and asking what I was doing exciting and telling me she was getting old, we had some conversation that covered new topics.

She is fixated on when Jeri will come back, which she started asking me the day after she left.  problem is I've always been able to give her a rough time when Jeri will visit next, but since she came out for our anniversary, she didn't come out in August, as she usually does, and since she & Phil are going with Ned and Marta to Jamaica at Christmas, she wont be here then either.  So I can't even give her a rough time of how long it will be before she sees her again, though she asked me about that several times yesterday.

But she was in good spirits today and not the limp dishrag she has been on recent past visits.  The hour I spent with her was more pleasant than usual.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


One of the big frustrations of my mother's condition is that I feel so incredibly alone.  I never thought I would say that I miss my sister (who died in 1971), but I do.  It would be so nice to have someone to share this with.

Her step son, who used to have dinner with her every week or more often, has discovered that, golly's a long drive from Marin County to Davis (which I used to make in the other direction 1-2 times a week) so he now comes every month or 6 weeks.  He is invaluable, though, in that he handles all of her finances.  I'd be lost without him.  I also send reports to her stepdaughter and she never even indicates that she has heard from me.  The step grandchildren who, I thought, loved her, haven't seen her in nearly 3 years.  Just too far to come.

But she's been the "queen" of her own family, all these cousins and second cousins that I have who have worshiped her for years and waited on her hand and foot whenever they saw her.  There is a private Facebook group set up for the family and I post reports on how she is doing and how I'm feeling and nobody ever says anything.

One of my cousins (the one I would least expect to say anything) just wrote "Sorry to hear this Bev...It's tough.."  It was THE FIRST TIME in three years that anybody had given me any emotional support at all.  It almost brought me to tears.

One cousin comes occasionally to give her a manicure and that is very generous of her, but even she is coming at longer intervals now.  Nobody else has come to see her, and if they call her, I have asked them to let me know so I can keep track of who has contacted her, but either they don't call or they don't think letting me know is important, and though I know she enjoys their calls, she never remembers after she hangs up.

One reason I set up this blog (other than keeping a record for myself) was so that the family could keep track of her, if they wanted.  To the best of my knowledge nobody has ever looked at it.

It just makes me feel that I'm out here on my own without anybody to say "there, there...we understand. You're doing OK, kid."

My kids are wonderful and Walt does what he can.  When his mother was in her last years, he had  a brother and a sister to talk with.  I just feel so totally lost some days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Memory People

One of the most helpful things I did recently was to join the "Memory People" group on Facebook.  It was started by author Rick Phelps after he was diagnosed, in his 50s, with early stage Alzheimers.  He decided to document what he was going through and wrote a book, "While I Still Can."  Realizing that he eventually would reach a point where he could no longer t ell his story, he collaborated with Gary Joseph LeBlanc, whose father had died of Alzheimers.  I found it a helpful book.

But he also founded the Memory People group for people with memory diseases and those caring for them.  His Alzheimers is progressing, so he doesn't contribute that often, but when he does it is particularly helpful.

After my mother's day of being so restless a couple of weeks ago, I posted a note to the group and today got this wonderful explanation back from Rick.  It doesn't help solve the problem, but it gives me insight into what is going on in her brain:

When I awake, everyday, I am unsure of where I am, what is going on and things like that.

Think of it as being on vacation and waking up in the middle of the night, being disorientated and not knowing where you are or what is going on.

This is how it can be for a dementia patient in their on home, in their own bed. The brain for whatever reason does not allow you to recognize where you are.

And from there, stress ensues and confusion just snowballs. Sometimes as in your Mothers situation, Bev,
she just cannot figure out what is going on, but by keeping busy or saying there is something she should be doing takes her mind off of being so confused.

I don't know this is happening, I am just sharing what goes on with me. Not everyday, not every morning, but more often than not. And chances are this will get worse as the disease progresses.

I am sorry she and you are both dealing with this. Calm her, reassure her, and whatever she thinks needs to be done, agree with her. And tell her you will both make sure that whatever it is is done together. Sometimes this will help. Sometimes...

She tells me so often that she feels like she should be doing something that this explanation helps a lot to help me understand what that must mean for her, and to try to find a way to help her feel calmer about where she is.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Edge of a Scream

 At the height of my Judy Garland craze, back in the 50s or 60s, there was an article in one of the movie magazines that I was hooked on, about Garland.  I have read lots and lots and lots of articles about her over the years, but this is the title I always remember:  "Always on the Edge of a Scream."

There have been times throughout my life, for one reason or another, when I have felt that way, and today I realized that one of my big problems is that I am living every day wondering if my mother is alive or dead.  Is that overly dramatic?  Probably.  But that's how I feel.

After leaving her yesterday, I worried about her all the rest of the day and woke up worried about her.  I had told her I would call to remind her to take her meds.  I decided I'd wait until after lunch, since sometimes she sleeps late.

I started calling at 1 and got no answer, but if she went to lunch, it's possible she just wasn't back.  Between 1 and 2:15, I called her 5 times and there was never an answer.  I didn't want to call Atria to check on her, so I drove over there, certain I would find her dead.

The fact that there was no newspaper in her mail slot was a good sign that she had at least gotten up that morning.  I knocked and she answered the door.  I asked why she hadn't answered her phone and she said it had not rung.  I told her I had called her five times.

Then I noticed that her phone was not on the charger, where it should be and I looked around and couldn't find it.  I decided to call it to see if it would ring.  The phone in her bedroom rang, which she heard because she was standing near the door to the bedroom.  After a search, which she didn't understand why I was undertaking, I finally found the phone, under a stack of newspapers at her elbow.  It was dead.  Once I put it in the charger, it rang as soon as I called it. 

But when the phone rang, she held up the two remotes to the TV and told me that those hadn't rung.  I had to explain that those were for the TV and were not telephones.

She said she felt fine (though had NOT taken her meds) and she couldn't understand why I was so worried.  I stayed for awhile, but not the whole hour because we were expecting our new refrigerator to be delivered.

As I went out to the car, I felt better knowing why she had not answered the phone and that she was alive, but it hit me that with everything I do almost every single day there is this cloud over my head wondering if my mother was going to die today or if she would live to "hunnert."  Not a fun way to live.

I miss my sister.

That Helpless Feeling

It was another day I left Atria feeling like I wanted to cry.

I was bringing my mother's meds for next week to her.  I knew she would be running out of them today and didn't want her to skip a day.

I knocked on the door to her apartment and she called out, as she always does, "come in!" which is silly because she never leaves the door unlocked and always has to come and unlock it.

She answered the door with unkempt hair, as if I had awakened her, and the first thing she said was "I forgot to go to lunch" (It was about 2 p.m.)

I went to replace last week's pill container with the new one and discovered she hadn't taken her pills for almost the whole week. She tried to convince me she had taken them, but that's something she can't talk her way out of because the pills were all still there.

We sat down to talk and I reminded her, as I have every day for the past two weeks, that we are going to San Rafael tomorrow to have lunch with her friends.  She looked surprised, then got huffy and said "I never agreed to that!"  Then she said that she felt "terrible" and just didn't feel like going "but you go and have fun."  I reminded her that this was a lunch for her birthday and if she couldn't make it her friends would undoubtedly cancel it.

Based on her reaction today and how she was last time we met them for lunch, I've decided we just won't do that any more.  The first few times we went to these lunches were wonderful and such a tonic for her, but not really any more. She enjoys the lunch, once we get there and she realizes that she knows the women we are meeting, but the anguish of getting ready to go when she doesn't recognize the names of any of the people we are going to see, and the nervousness of leaving Atria, and the hour long questions on the drive down about who is going to be there and who decided we were going to meet and why were we going to meet, over and over again are exhausting for me, but worse for her because she really is afraid she is going to get lost, going to have to talk to people she doesn't know and isn't comfortable being away from her familiar surroundings.  She is also nervous when looking at a menu because it's impossible to decide what to eat and she usually whispers to me to choose for her. (Things are better on the ride home because I have a playlist of music from the 40s and 50s that I have downloaded from iTunes which has all of her favorites and she sings along with every song all the way home -- proving that even people who can't remember anything else can still recall song lyrics!)

I tried to identify why she wasn't feeling well and she doesn't know.  It's not pain, it's just...something.  I asked if she had breakfast that morning and she said no.  I pointed out that she hasn't had her pills all week and hasn't had anything to eat today and maybe that was the reason why she was feeling so bad.  But that requires too much cause-and-effect processing to sink in.

She once again explained her not taking her pills by reminding me that she has never been a "pill taker."  Whenever her back hurts and she moans about it and says her back is "killing her" and I ask her if she has taken a pain pill she says "No--I'm not a pill taker."  In truth I don't know how much, if any, relief Aleve (which her doctor suggested she take) would give her but we'll never know because she's not a pill taker, even if it might relieve her pain.

We left it with that I will either call her or come over every day, now, to remind her to take her pills and I will wait on the phone until she has taken them. We'll see how long that lasts.  (I will also remind her to go to lunch.)

But she sat there in her chair, looking like a limp dishrag, with dark circles under her eyes, staring out the window, sighing and telling me she was old.  When I mentioned she would be 97 in 2+ weeks, she seemed surprised that she was so old.  Then she'd tell me she doesn't know why she doesn't take her pills because she sees them every day.  That is always followed by the inevitable "stupid, stupid, stupid!" indictment she is fond of giving herself.  I tried to remind her that it's not because she is stupid but because her brain doesn't work right any more, but that, too, is more than she can process now.

I tried to get her to laugh and remembered a photo Laurel had posted of Lacie, which I was able to call up on my phone, and that did make her smile and ask who the cute little girl was.


It wasn't a "visit" today.  It was two people sitting in pretty much total silence for an hour until I decided it was time to leave.  She didn't even tell me how pretty the leaves on the trees outside are today.  That was definitely unusual.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Sorta Perk

One of the perks, I guess, of dementia....

I've been concerned because she doesn't seem to be eating much.  She orders the same thing at every lunch -- fruit salad and vegetable soup (and then does not eat the vegetables, so she's really just having a cup of vegetable broth). 

We went to lunch and the entree was a hot turkey sandwich, which I ordered and my mother ordered a HALF of a bowl of vegetable soup, since a bowl (about a cup) was too much for her.  The waiter didn't hear her right and brought her half an order of the turkey sandwich, which she ate unquestioningly, not realizing he had brought the wrong thing.  So today, at least, she got a decent lunch, which she ate.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Poor Nannie

My mother is always saying that though she remembers her mother-in-law's name (Pearl), she can't picture her.  So today I found a picture of my grandparents and showed it to my mother.  She didn't have a clue who they were.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


She was restless today.  Said she knew she was supposed to be doing something, but didn't remember what.  Of course she has said  this every day I have seen her for the past 2+ years, but she doesn't know that.  She always asks if I ever feel that way and I tell her I do, which seems to reassure her that it's OK to feel disoriented, but today it seemed worse than usual. 

When I first sat down, the first thing she said was "did you bring those?" indicating some cheap trinket necklaces in purple and green hanging from the lamp.  I told her I had not and that I hadn't seen them before.  She said it's very confusing because whenever she gets up, she sees that people have brought things into her apartment and she doesn't know who or why.  Obviously she had a visitor that she can't remember.  I've asked people to sign in on the calendar when they visit, but nobody ever does.

She didn't want lunch, just fruit salad (which consists of less tan a cup of fruit).  The waitress asked if she wanted a large  fruit salad and I said that yes, she did, but when the bowl came (the size of a cereal bowl) she said it was too much and only ate about 2/3 of it  I worry that she isn't eating and I've asked Atria if they can check and see if she goes to meals every day.  They said they would, but of course I have heard nothing from them since then.

She complained all thru lunch about feeling odd and that she just wanted to curl into a ball, go to sleep and hope the feeling went away.  When we got back to the apartment, we sat for a bit, but when I got up to leave, she didn't get up and walk me to the door, as she usually does.

I read a book today called "My Roller Coaster Ride with Sallie: an Azheimers Story."  Sallie is SO much like my mother, until the later stages of Alzheimers.  The difference is that she used a walker and a wheelchair when necessary and she was friendly and outgoing with people in the facility where she lived.

I did kind of laugh, though, when we went into the dining room.  Robert, the 98 year old retired veterinarian, was sitting at "her" table.  She's usually the 4th there, but when I come, there is no room for me.  But as she passed by she tweaked Robert's ear and he turned around and she gave him a smile.  She has always needed a man in her life and while Robert is not a love interest, he is at least a man in her life and she turns on the old Chubbie charm.

When we left the dining room she went to say something to Loretta, probably her best friend there  They don't know each other's name and see each other only at meals, but they have the same humor and enjoy each other.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Today was the first time she forgot Fred's name.  She said she couldn't remember my father's name and I said "Al."  She said that didn't sound right and I said "how about Albert"  She said that sounded right, but t hat she had never called him that.

Then I asked her if she remembered the name of her next husband and she got this blank look on her face.  "I had another husband?" she asked.  I said that yes, she did and that it had been Ed's father.  She looked confused.  I said 'well, you'd better remember because I'm supposed to bury you with him."  "Bury me with Ed's FATHER?" she said.  When I said his name was Fred, then she remembered.  But that was definitely a first!

Thursday, August 6, 2015


 I got this bright idea to ask her if she wanted to go upstairs and work a puzzle.  She said yes!  So we went up to the puzzle tables and found a puzzle that apparently had been finished but someone was taking it apart.  We decided to put it together again, about 1/3 of the left side of the thing.

We sat there for two hours working the puzzle.  While we were working, the Brain Gymnasium (remember that?) was going on in the room next to the puzzle area and hearing the group laugh and talk together made me sad that my mother refuses to consider going.

I noticed something interesting about her.  My mother has been a puzzle fiend all of her life.  We both are.  We are very good at jigsaw puzzles.  We look at pieces and generally find the right piece for a certain space without having to try a lot of them.  But we stayed to complete the puzzle and I know she was getting tired.  That's when I noticed she would pick up a piece and seemed to have no idea how to turn it to put it in a spot.  She'd try large round edges into small holes.  It didn't last very long, but I was surprised at how she seemed completely incapable of doing the puzzle.  Fortunately she snapped out of it soon and was zipping through the last few pieces, but I had the distinct feeling  that this was part of her dementia too.

Friday, July 31, 2015


May I say how much I hate dementia? This morning was not my best.  I tried to activate my new ATM card and they would not recognize my telephone number...the number I've had for forty years.  I tried several ways of getting it activated, but I was rushing because I told my mother I would be there for lunch.  It was pushing 100 degrees when I arrived at Atria and my hip has been hurting since yesterday.  There were two parking spots and the gardeners had blocked off both of them.  There was no nearby on-street parking, except for the slots which are set aside for the g-d zip cars.  I finally found a spot, rushed to the apartment, arriving at 11:20.  The door was locked, she was not inside (neither alive nor dead) and it appeared that both of her keys were inside and I didn't now how she could have left the room without her keys and the door was locked.

I looked in the dining room and didn't see her where she usually sits.  I didn't find her in the lobby or in the little seating area off the dining room.  I called Ed to see if she was with him, but he was coming to see her too and said that he had tried to all her too earlier and got no answer.  Now I was really worried, so I went to the front desk and they got three different aids to go looking for her.  Turns out she was at lunch, sitting behind a post on the other side of the room from where she usually sits.  It was now 11:30, she never goes to lunch with me before 11:45, but she was finishing her dessert.  I got angry with her and she told me to sit down and eat, but I told her I had to work and left.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Gone in a second

Boy this short term memory is really short term.  I was in the car and the phone rang.  I saw on the screen it was my mother.  I found a place to pull over and called her back. Time lapse no more than 3 minutes.  She denied calling me and said she hadn't even touched the phone!  But since she does not have speed dial on her phone, she had to actually dial it to get to me.

Owell.  We'll never know what she wanted.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Something New

When I go to Atria, I stay almost exactly an hour.  I don't keep track of the time, but it seems that we run out of things to talk about or I can't take one more round of "I'm old, Bev."  Today I was there to pick up laundry and I was telling her I was cooking corn on the cob for dinner.  She groaned. . She loves corn on the cob.  I was thrilled.  I had 3 ears at home, and plenty of chicken so I invited her to come back with me and have dinner at our house.  But she said she has been feeling dizzy lately and didn't want to leave her apartment ("dizzy" is the excuse she uses when she wants to get out of something)
Trying to find something different to talk about, I started telling her that Peach broke her wrist. She had been trying to turn one of her dogs over to the groomer and she went in one direction and the dog in the other and somehow she broke her wrist. 

I was going to try to find the picture of the cast with my phone and then!  I could call her.  So I placed a call, turned on the speaker and we could both talk to her.  My mother didn't say much, but she enjoyed listening to the two of us talking.

She (my mother) has a hard time remembering Bob's name these days, and can't remember where they live or why they moved there, but I think it was good for her to hear Peach's voice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

And Life Goes On

I went to visit my mother today, since I hadn't seen her for a week, due to our being in Santa Barbara.  I stayed my usual hour and at one point I wondered which was worse -- having your mother die, or having her live, but not the person you've known all your life. 

I wanted to share with her the things we did, since she always wants to know what I'm doing that's exciting. I gave her an outline of the things we did, who we saw, where we went.  She looked passively through it all and then said what she always says "Well, life goes on whether you want it to or not."  Then she told me she's old.

I brought my iPad so I could show her photos.  Each time she saw Bri in a photo she would say "who is that little girl?" and when I told her she'd ask who her parent was.

We went through the weather discussion several times -- is it hot or cold?  It can't be hot because I can see a leaf moving, so there's a breeze.

I tried family news.  I told her that my cousin Donna is moving out of Marin county.  She didn't know who that was.  I said "Remember Shirley had the three daughters with D names -- Debbie, Denise and Donna?"  She said she guessed she had never met them.  When prodded she did remember that Denise comes and gives her manicures.

She reminded me she's old.  She really looked old today.  Kind of limp and, the usual staring out the widow, uninterested in anything.

I asked her if she had heard from Ed (her stepson on whom the sun rises and sets) and at first she couldn't remember who that was.

Compared to things I read in my dementia support group on Facebook, I am so much luckier than many people, who are dealing with parents with really severe dementia and Alzheimers, but I just wish I could ignite a spark in her for anything.  I was thinking of dear Nancy, who died of Alzheimers a couple of weeks ago.  To the end, every photo you saw of her she was smiling broadly and enjoying life, even if she wasn't sure who the people around her was.  I would love to see a smile like that on my mother's face.  (The smile on the photo below was a fluke and I had to wait a long time to capature it)

I miss my mother, dammit, and I don't know how to get through to this nice, vacant old lady who is sitting in her place.

But life goes on...whether you want it to or not.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not from Funny the World

This is one I chose not to write in Funny the World because I suspect people are tired of hearing me talk about my mother, but yesterday was our 50th anniversary and there was a small party here.  Jeri and Phil flew out from Boston for it.

Despite it being on her calendar and my talking to her about it every day for the past two weeks, she did not remember, of course. But I didn't expect her to.  When Ned and Phil picked her up and brought her to the house, she was surprised to find out there was a party going on and said she was angry that she never knew anything about it.

She must have asked me the name of our dog Polly a dozen times or more, plus asking if it was our dog or not.  My friend Char wrote, "I admire your patience with your mother. I think I might have ripped my hair out and gone screaming from the room after the hundredth time she asked you about Polly..."  Sometimes it's nice to have someone else notice.

She would turn to me periodically through the afternoon and point to one of the grandkids and say "who is that little girl?" and then ask whose daughter she was and whether she had a sister.  I lost count of how many times she did that.

She lost her way going from the kitchen to her seat at the table after picking up her piece of cake.  It's a distance of, generously, 5 steps, but she started wandering around trying to figure out where to sit.

At the end of the day, she was very tired so I really understand why it was difficult for her to remember where she was or where she was going  But we went over and over and over where I was going to sleep and where she was going to sleep.  She didn't understand that this was my house and I was going to sleep here.  She didn't remember ever being here before.  She said she didn't know where her house was and wondered what city we were in.

Then there was the frenzy about her purse.  She always has to bring a purse, though it is as useful to her as Queen Elizabeth's.  But she was completely lost without her purse and wondered where it was  She was reassured each time I told her I had it (out of the hands of the grandkids and teeth of their dog) and I would get it for her before she left.  I sent Jeri and Phil to take her home so they could walk her back to her apartment, because I wasn't convinced she could find her way.

It was a lovely day and I'm thrilled to have been able to snap the above photo of her, since most of the time she was looking totally lost, but this was definitely not a good day for her, dementia-wise.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Need more birthdays

We went back to San Rafael for lunch again today and I decided we are desperately in need of more birthdays! This time we were to be celebrating the two women who have June birthdays.

The last time we were scheduled to go to San Rafael for lunch, my mother told me she was feeling dizzy and didn't want to leave Atria.  Since she has been more adamant about not leaving Atria and nervous when we are out (the last time was Mothers Day) that I wasn't sure if she was really dizzy or if she just didn't want to go.,

I prepared her for this lunch again, putting it on her calendar and talking about it everyday I was there to visit with her (each time, of course, she hadn't remembered it and got the "you say it's on my calendar but I don't have to look at my calendar if I don't want to..." look on her face.

This morning I called her to remind her I would be picking her up in an hour and she didn't ask why..just said she would be ready.  And, unlike last time, when I got there, she was ready and knew we were going "somewhere" but couldn't remember where.

Whatever.  It was better than last time.

The drive down was the same, explaining over and over again where we were going and who was going to be there, interspersed with comments about how beautiful the trees were and what a shame it was that the grass is all dead looking.  Same ol' same ol'.

We were eating at Arriverderci again.

It's really a lovely Italian restaurant in San Rafael and so far everything I've had there has been wonderful.

We encountered almost no traffic, so we arrived early but I knew we had a reservation and that, the weather being perfect, we were sitting on the patio.

As the waiter was walking us to the table to wait for the others, I ordered my mother a vodka and tonic (she actually had 2 over the course of the lunch, which maybe helped!)

As I watched her joke and laugh and reminisce with her friends, the ones she wasn't sure she would remember when she saw them, I realized that this kind of mental stimulation is so good for her.  Really, she gets zero mental stimulation...and refuses to consider anything.  She won't join in any activities, she can't remember how to get upstairs where the puzzles now are, I've given up her actually making friends at Atria--the memory is just too bad for that, though she finally has people she recognizes and enjoys at mealtimes.  It takes coercing to get her to leave Atria for anything.  And even if you can get her to leave, her back pain (which she won't take a pain pill for) makes it difficult for her to move much.

She says she reads the paper, which she has done cover to cover her whole life, but if there is any tragedy or triumph in the world, or a win by the Giants or 49ers, she doesn't remember reading it.  I sure don't now how to stimulate a brain that refuses to be stimulated.

Still, this was as "with it" as I have seen her since February, when we last went to one of these lunches.  Next one is scheduled for September, this time to celebrate my mother's birthday.

Getting back in the car, I plugged in my 40s playlist again, since it had been such a success last time.  And this woman, who sometimes doesn't remember she has great grandchildren and never remembers their name, sang every word to every bloody song for the hour and a half drive home.  Music does amazing things to brain function.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Better Day

As unpleasant and frustrating as Atria was yesterday, it was a 180 degree change today.  I dragged my feet getting there, dreading a repeat of the day before, but knew I had to get there because she needed her next set of pills.  But we actually had a good visit, this time mostly concentrating on her family, how much she misses her sister Marge (Peach's mother) and how lately she's been dreaming about her mother having very real conversations with her, and waking up convinced that she was still somewhere in the room.  She seems happy to be having those dreams, and just sad to wake up.  I hope that some day she'll just decide to take her mother's hand and go off with her to find Marge and the rest of her siblings.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When will I see you again?

I came away from Atria today, after four hours with my mother, with such an incredible admiration (as well as sympathy) for caregivers who take care of loved ones on a 24/7 basis.  My mother has good days and bad days and I always arrive hoping this will be one of her good days.

It was one of her less good days, when she seemed just very tired and unable to concentrate on anything.  I've started trying to bring her news of all the "exciting" things I've been doing since I last saw her (2 days ago), since that's usually the first thing she asks me.  "Exciting" in my life is relative, but I did tell her how surprised I was yesterday when I could not remember the name of one of my friends' children (whom I have known all of her life) but could remember the name of my godmother's boss, whom I never met or even saw a picture of but remember his being talked about a few times...and remember, she died when I was 10!)

Her comment when I finished:  "Well, life goes on, I guess."  This is one of her go-to phrases when she hasn't followed or understood what you said, but thinks that a response from her is necessary.  It also effectively ends that discussion and usually precedes "I'm old, Bev."

She probably asked me 20 times what I was doing for the rest of the day (taking her to the hairdresser and when the hairdresser was finished, taking her back home again and then going to Sacramento to review My Fair Lady).  Each time I told her that she had a different response -- do I have to write a "report" about it?  How did I happen to get tickets for that show? Have I seen that show before?  Will I get paid to write about it?  Is Walt going with me?  Where will my review be printed? When I finish answering her questions she then says "so what are you doing for the rest of the afternoon?" and we start all over again.

A new wrinkle, though, is that she thinks never sees enough of me.  I haven't been there in a long time (2 days) and she misses me and when will I come back again (tomorrow).  

About the 20th time she said "I'm old, Bev--do you think I'll live to hunnert?" I decided it was time to go.  I could either walk calmly out to the car, or stay behind and start screaming.  If I were her 24/7 caregiver, I would not have that luxury and that, I admit, makes me a tad guilty, but not really, because I know that she has the best possible arrangement right now and, whether she realizes it or not, I'm there almost all the time.

But maybe next time will be one of her better days, and I really enjoy them.  Wouldn't it be loverly...?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brief Scare

I hadn't been to Atria in about 4 days, so it was time to go pick up laundry.  I got to the apartment at 11:15 and my heart sank.  Was today the day?

My first clue, whenever I go to see her, that she has survived another night is seeing that her newspaper has been picked up out of the delivery box.  But it was still in the box.
Nervous, I knocked on the door and there was no answer.  I got out my key and let myself in.  I could see the bed unmade.  I peeked into the bedroom and she was lying there, eyes opened.  I couldn't tell if she was breathing or not.  "Are you awake?" I asked, and she said that yes, she had just awakened.

Whew.  She was alive.

But she was quite disoriented.  Said the last time she remembered seeing on her clock was 3 a.m. (and had been up and down all night before that) and so slept until after 11, which is actually 8 hours, so a good night of sleep, if slightly off what she expected.

We visited until she began to wake up.  She told me something she had never told me before, that she was always embarrassed that there were so many children in her family because their family (of 10) was so much bigger than anyone else's in town.  Of course by the time she was born, the oldest 3 or four were already grown and gone (and my mother had a nephew 6 months older than she was!), so there were really only 6 or 7 at home.

After she was finally fully awake, she got her hair brushed and we went off to lunch.

I picked a great day to go to lunch.  Since it was Memorial Day, they had a buffet, but not the buffet they have on Sundays.  This was actually better -- fewer choices, but better quality.  I had 3 slices of a tri tip roast which was rare, just the way I like it, a bit of potato salad, and half an ear of corn on the cob.

My mother wanted fruit salad and vegetable soup, but there was no vegetable soup, so she decided to have chicken.  I went and got it for her, since her back was bothering her, and there was no fruit salad either, but I did get her a couple of slices of watermelon.

The corn on the cob was really good.  I am always leery about that particular food item from a food warmer, but this was fresh, warm, crisp and sweet.  My mother had decided not to have any but when I raved about how good it was, she decided she wanted some.  I remembered this was the woman who, in her teens, once ate 12 ears of corn for dinner!  When she took her first bite, she closed her eyes in bliss.

After lunch, I picked up her laundry and was pleased to see there were clothes in it this time, and no sheets, and then headed on home.