Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

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.