Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Well, at least it's short

My mother has had her hair cut, and got a perm today.  She has been looking long and shaggy, like an old lady in a rest home, and I was surprised to read in one of my old entries that almost exactly a year ago, I was making the same complaint.  

I have been pushing her to get her hair cut and she keeps "thinking about it" while the hair grows longer and stringier.  I finally realized that this is something else she is incapable of doing.  The idea of (a) remembering the hairdresser, (b) finding the phone number, and (c) making the call was completely beyond her ability, so I made an appointment for her last week.

This morning she called in a panic.  "Someone" had called her--she didn't know who--to ask her about something--she didn't remember what--and could I return the call and take care of it for her. 

I figured it was beautician Lucy calling to remind her about her appointment, and it was.  She wanted to make it earlier, so I went to Atria for lunch and then took her upstairs to the salon.  I realized again that this trip upstairs to find the salon is completely beyond her ability to navigate.  She didn't even recognize the elevator and swore she'd never been in it.

This wasn't a bad memory day, it was a terrible memory day. She couldn't remember anything, and even when we got home from the salon, it took her a few minutes to recognize her own apartment, but then she noticed familiar things and "guessed" it was her place.  I think "having something to do" just completely threw her for a loop.

But it got done.

When she had a haircut and a perm last time, this is how she looked...

and that was what I was expecting to see when I picked her up.  I spent the 2 hours she was at the salon in her apartment and when I got to Lucy's, my mother was sitting in a chair, bent over, with her head in her hands.  I'm not sure why, whether it was fear that I wouldn't come to get her (which it may well have been), or if she had looked at herself in the mirror.

This is the before and after:

She looks better, that's for sure, but she looks like she got her finger stuck in an electric socket...or like an old lady in a rest home that just had a bad perm.  If it had been me I would have been very upset, but she seems OK with it...and if she can't recognize her own apartment, it's probably a good thing she can't really see how bad her hair looks.  For this she paid $75.  She wuz robbed!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


We got to Arriverderci restaurant early.  This was the place where we celebrated my mother's birthday back in September, though then we were outside in the sun.  No outside on this cool day.
Jeff, the "kid" in the group (he's only 50) was the last to arrive and I asked him about his new goatee.
He explained that he had been sick last week and only had enough energy to grow hair.  He said he didn't think it was going to last long.

As usual, we had a wonderful meal, lots of laughs and my mother came alive again (though it doesn't look like it in this picture!)

The lunch was for Paula's birthday.  She was turning 91.  I had bought a card for my mother and me to sign but she never did get it straight who was having a birthday and wished Jeff a happy birthday several times.

The group decided we need to get together again next month to celebrate my birthday.

I really enjoy these people and am happy to meet with them.  It also gives my mother much-needed socialization, which she does not allow herself at Atria.

When it was time to leave, there were hugs all around, and a special hug for Jeff, who is my mother's favorite. As much as she enjoys her female friends, she's just not happy without a man to fuss over.

When I was paying the bill, my mother walked outside with the other women and I was so worried about her getting lost that I forgot to leave a tip and the waiter had to run after me.  I was embarrassed... because he had been a nice, attentive waiter!

We were both tired on the way home.  I was fighting sleep, so pulled off in a parking lot and put on a playlist of music I had made when we took my mother on a long drive to visit her family home many years ago.  It's all music of the 40s and 50s, and by golly she sang all the words to all the songs...some things she remembers!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Secret Wish

I suppose it's not such a "secret" wish if I'm going to write about it, but here it is.

I am hoping my mother goes to sleep tonight...and just doesn't wake up.  I know that's a terrible thing to say, but we had the very best lunch ever today.  

The visit started out the same as always, telling me she was feeling disoriented and that she hates it when she occasionally has days like that (she doesn't realize that she tells me that every day), that she feels old, that her brain isn't working, etc.

I was happy to see that she seems to be caught up on her meds.  I was afraid that she had forgotten to take them every day.

While we were walking to lunch, something I said struck her as funny and she started giggling.  She was in a giddy mood all through lunch and everything made her laugh.  It was just a delight.  A lot of times she told me things that didn't make any sense, but she thought it hilarious and giggled.  She talked about men and sex and food and being old, and losing her mind, and other people in the dining room, and said that even her teeth don't work any more (said she puts food in her mouth and she forgets what she's supposed to do with it). Everything made her giggle and I was so happy to share her giddiness.

When we got back to the apartment, she sunk into her chair again and the depression was back, but they can't take away that fun luncheon.  I realize that what I need to do is just take these gems of days as they come, enjoy them to the fullest, and let them sustain me when we talk for the thousandth time about living to hunnert or why she's the last of her family still alive.

As I left, she threw her arms around me, hugged me tight and told me she loved me.

But if there is a kind, compassionate God, my mother will just quietly pass out of this life tonight and take those giggles with her to heaven.

Monday, January 5, 2015


Today she called me and I didn't hear the phone so it was 2 hours later when I called back.  By then, of course, she had forgotten why she called, but thought it had something to do with pills I was supposed to bring her.  I told her I brought her pills two days ago and asked her to check on them.  She didn't know where I put them (though they have been in the same place ever since she moved to Atria--she didn't remember having to take pills).  She finally found them and I asked her to read me the letter that was on top of the next closed box.  She didn't understand what I meant but after a long series of descriptions from me, she finally told me that her box still had the T, F, S boxes unopened, which means she has not taken her pills for 3 days.  Fortunately none of those pills are keeping her alive, just keeping her healthier.