Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Talk about my office

I went to Atria today to deliver meds and pick up laundry.  Fortunately she was in her apartment so the visit was easier because we could talk many times about how much she loved the flowers around here.  I started telling her that Ned was painting my office lavender.

You'd think that would be easy.  You'd be wrong. She has lost the ability to process information.

- Ned is home painting my office.  We're painting it lavender.
- What about lavender?
- That's the color of the paint.
- Paint for what?
- My office.  Ned is painting it.
- Ned?  Where in your house are you painting?
- My office.
- I've never seen your office.  What are you doing to it?
- We're painting it.

And that's just the FIRST time we talked about it.  Know how many times you can repeat this conversation in an hour?

We also had an argument, of sorts about her mail.  She has a stack of opened envelopes that she says she needs to throw away.  It's been there for awhile.  I told her I'd go through it to see if anything needed to be attended to.  In the tall stack there were ads for X-Finity, ads from AAA asking her to return (for the car she no longer has), empty envelopes, etc.  I got them all sorted and the 3 envelopes she needed to keep set aside and she was adamant that I throw NOTHING away because she had to go through it all herself and decide what she needed to keep.  Then she set it all back where it was, waved her hand over it and said "I have to get rid of all this crap."


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Quick Visit

I went back to Atria, where I found my mother sitting by the dining room and sat with her.  I wanted to get coffee, but you can't GET coffee in the damn place any more.  Forget about a cookie or something like that. I discovered that you also can't visit with my mother in the alcove there, especially on bad memory days, which today was.  When we are in her apartment, she spends an inordinate amount of time talking about the beautiful flowers in her apartment and the leaves on the trees outside the window.  With those two topics not possible, we had nothing to talk about at all.  I only stayed 15 minutes and then left.  The good thing is that she has no concept of time, so she had no idea that I stayed such a short time.

If she would ever...just once...not ask me who the cute little girls are on the back of my phone, I would be so happy, but it's like another knife in my heart every time to know that she has no awareness that she has great grandchildren, or that she has ever seen them, or has any interest in them or emotional connection to them.

Monday, May 23, 2016


I stopped at Atria to deliver my mother's pills and her laundry.  I really should have done that yesterday, but put it off another day.

When I got there, her newspaper was still outside and when I knocked there was no answer.  I always fear the worst, and let myself in quietly.

I could see that she was still in bed, at 1 p.m., and tiptoed into her bedroom to see if she was alive.  I was happy to hear that she was snoring loudly, so I tiptoed out again, wrote her a note and left, hoping she'd figure out that the bag I left in her bedroom was filled with clean underwear.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Whine and Roses

There was no wine today.  Maybe a bit of whine, but definitely no wine.

Around 11, I called my mother to let her know Niecie would be coming for lunch and to give her a pedicure, and NOT to go to the dining room until she got there (knowing full well she would forget most of what I said, but she might remember that there was some reason why she shouldn't go to the dining room).  There was no answer.

I figured she had either gone to lunch early, or she had gone to sit in what she now calls "her seat," which is a chair outside the dining room where she can watch the trees in the garden.

I tried calling Niecie to tell her where to look for her, if she was not in her apartment, but didn't reach her.

About 10 minutes later I had a call from Niece, who was in my mother's apartment, with my mother and she said, very tactfully "she's not remembering things too clearly today and she seems a little anxious.  She doesn't want me to give her a pedicure."  I asked her if she wanted me to talk with her and she said no.  She said she would call me later and we could get together.

I sat here for about 10 minutes, worrying about what was happening at Atria, knowing how she can get when her anxiety kicks in.  I decided I couldn't stay home and so left for Atria.

After the visit(s) were over and we went out to our cars together, Niecie told me that when she arrived, she woke her up, that she didn't know who Niecie was, she didn't remember having a daughter ("I have a daughter?").  She didn't remember being married ("did I have a husband?"), didn't remember any of her parents or siblings.  By the time I got there, Niecie had talked her into the pedicure and had some music (from Pandora) going on her iPhone and though my mother seemed angry at someone working on her feet, she at least was letting her (thank God because she definitely needed her toenails cut!)

The visit was more of the same...much more of the same.  She thought Niecie's sparkly fingernails were rings and no, she didn't want her nails painted like that because she already was wearing a ring.  I lost count of how many times she suddenly noticed her newly painted toe nails and asked who had done it.  Many, many times.

She asked who brought her the flowers that I had Jeri take to her back in March.  She asks me that many times every time I visit.  I think she has finally realized that they came from me...but she always asks.

We went to lunch and, as usual, she decided to have fruit salad and dessert.  As usual, I suggested she try the vegetable soup so she would have something more than a teeny tiny bowl of fruit.  This time she got petulant and said she didn't WANT vegetable soup but when the server came and she had already forgotten what she wanted to order, she told him she wanted fruit salad and vegetable soup...and then told me, which she never does, how good the soup was.

Back at the house, there was great surprise at her newly painted nails and she wondered who had done it.

Since Niecie and I had already visited and since we caught each other up on my other at our respective cars when we left Atria (and since it was getting late), we didn't go for wine, but each went home.

I left Atria relieved that someone in the Scott family finally has seen her at her worst, or near her worst, and understands that I am not exaggerating things when I write status updates about her on Facebook (which are rarely acknowledged).  I didn't feel quite so alone, but I missed Peach terribly.  And I also realized that anybody who might want to come and visit her (though in 3 years only Niecie has come) would decide not to make the hour+ long drive to come to Davis.

The thing that bothers me is that she seems to have forgotten her husband, Fred.  It never seems to faze her when I mention him and she used to tell me all the time that he's waiting for her and if she doesn't die soon he might get tired of waiting.  But she never says that any more.  But she has started talking about "her boyfriend," the 98 year old veterinarian who is deaf and getting to my mother's state of dementia as well.  I don't think she would think of having a "boyfriend" if she was still thinking about joining Fred in the foreseeable future.

I come home from these visits completely drained and just sit staring off into space.  I am realizing that her dementia is worsening quite a bit lately.  I don't know how much longer she can stay on independent living, though while I am monitoring her carefully, it's possible she can still make it a long time before I have to have people checking on her all the time, and taking her to meals, etc.
I miss my mother, dammit!!!!  And there is nothing I can do to get her back but I have to keep watching this person who looks and sounds like my mother turning into a person who is so different from the mother I have known.  But then she had to go through this with her mother so I guess this is just my time of life.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Who are you?

Today was the first day my mother didn't recognize me. I don't know WHEN she didn't recognize me. She's always friendly and gracious and you never know what she is really thinking, but at one point she asked me the usual question, "what are you doing tonight?" When I said that I was going to review a show she said "Yeah, Bev likes to do that too." When I answered "yes I do" she said, "No, I meant BEV likes to do that." When I said *I* am Bev, she suddenly popped into reality again and realized who I was. Whether she popped out sometime after I arrived, or didn't know for the first 20 minutes I was there who I was, I have no idea.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Progression...or Regression...

I took a break from cleaning to go to Atria.  I had bought some fresh strawberries at the strawberry patch yesterday and this morning made a strawberry pastry using some puff pastry dough.  It was quite tasty and I decided to take a piece to my mother (I know it will still be in her refrigerator when I go there in 2 days again to bring her clean laundry because each time I reminded her to eat it, she couldn't remember I had brought it in the first place.)

She was in as good a condition as she ever is, memory like a sieve, but in good spirits.  I got an insight into what dementia does to your brain.  She told me that as she sat there looking at the door of her apartment, she didn't have a clue what was outside that door and she didn't know if she should go left or right or straight ahead.  She figured she would know when she opened the door, but she could not visualize it...after 3 years.  I also mentioned Walt and she asked me who that was.

She tried to read a lab report from Kaiser which was headed "No significant abnormality" but could not sound out the word "abnormality" and said she had no idea what it meant.

These days I am more resigned, but sadder too, and I always leave the place feeling like I'm carrying the weight of the world.  I often go for a short drive in the country just to clear my head of dementia-brain before I go home.  I also find I sometimes postpone my trips to visit her.  She would like me to come every day, I usually come every other day and lately I've been going every 3rd day.  And I get angry with myself for finding reasons to postpone going to see her.  But I guess the good thing about dementia is she can't tell one day from the next, so I could probably skip a whole week and she wouldn't realize it.
I hate this disease.