Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

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.