Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fulll Day

The phone woke me up shortly after 5. It was Atria saying my mother was in great pain in her right arm and they could not calm her down. I was at Atria by 5:30.

She was miserable and periodically screaming out in pain. She had a blood bruise on her arm and I said I would call Kaiser, which I did. They couldn't see her until 2 but we had an appointment with the social worker for her long term care insurance at 3 and she needed to see the doctor in the morning.

There was a lot of discussion and ultimately I took her to the emergency room.  Making a very long story short, the doctor found a tiny hairline fracture which they put a splint on.


This only took ~3 hrs. I was going to take her to breakfast but she wouldn't be able to use utensils so I just stopped at Starbucks for coffee and a muffin.

We got back to Atria and I left her and came home to sleep a little. I was totally exhausted. I woke up a couple of hours later when my guru called to let me know the computer was fixed, but I knew I didn't have time to get it.

Back to Atria. She was asleep and no sign of her splint which she had removed. I let her sleep until the insurance rep arrived.  I found her splint and put it back on her but she doesn't know what it's for and I'm sure she finally took it off again as soon as I left.

The exam took two hours and if there was any question of the company about her Alzheimers there is no longer any question!  The insurance woman could not have been nicer and it was heartbreaking to watch her trying to answer questions like "what is your name?"

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I Miss the Dining Room

After I left my mother yesterday, I spent a little time sitting in the little alcove opposite the main dining room and just watched people entering...and eating.  And I got a little teary, realizing how much I miss the dining room.

I used to have lunch with her once a week and while I had lots of complaints about things, in comparison to the memory unit, it was lovely.  I have only eaten in the memory unit a couple of times.  There is no choice of food.  It comes from the same dining room, but arrives luke warm.  There is no pitcher of water on the table.  You have to ask for water and the aides are usually busy, so I don't.  

And then there are the other diners.  There are only about 30 in the memory unit, so the dining room is quite small.

and you don't hear the hum of voices the way you do in the main dining room.  The first table there, on the lower right, usually is filled with four women who are far along in their dementia.  One of them keeps her head on the table until her food comes, another is gap-jawed and needs help with eating, the other two are just a lot more out of it than my mother.

When I have eaten there with my mother she spends most of  the meal asking where we are what we are waiting for, and how she is going to find her way back to her room.

I compared that to the folks in the main dining room -- people like Cameron, who is younger than I am and wheelchair bound.  She has her little clique of people around her and they always sit at the same table and have in-depth conversations about lots of things.  I think Cameron told me she was in engineering...I could be wrong....but I often thought about how interesting it would have been to sit at Cameron's table.  We often sat with Margaret, a lovely little white-haired woman with lots of physical problems, which you don't realize until she gets up to go back to her room and walks bent at sharp angle over her walker.  But she is usually is cheery and I've always enjoyed talking with her, especially since she is a Davis native and we both remember the "old days."

There are lots of other familiar faces, many of whom stopped to say hello to my mother or to tell me how special my mother is.  The long-time servers knew her and would chat briefly. There is nobody like that in the memory unit.  They are all trying to figure out where they are and what they are doing and the aides are busy helping people who can't eat unassisted. So I look for reasons not to go to Atria until after lunch.  

There was more than just missing the dining room that had me teary sitting in the little alcove.  My mother often sat there, having coffee and cookies and looking out onto the patio that she loved so much.

We would sit there and chat.  Actually chat about things. She was vague, of course, and increasingly so as her dementia progressed, but we could chat.  People would stop by to say hello.  The people who run Atria always stopped to say hello. Now I don't think they even remember her, since the memory unit is a separate facility that has little to do with the main facility.

When I arrived yesterday, she was sitting in the main room and Ellen deGeneres was on TV and my mother was sitting in a chair asleep.  When I sat down next t her and said hello she didn't open her eyes but said "I hear ya..." I said that I had just arrived and she opened eyes and looked confused.  I asked if she wanted to go to her apartment.  "What will we do there?" she asked.  I said we could visit.  I got up to get someone to open the apartment door for us.  My mother sat in her chair and kept signaling whether or not she should come with me.  She finally did.

When we got into the room she wasn't sure where she was.  We spent  the time talking about how something was wrong and how she didn't know where she was (in other words, the same thing we always talk about)

Her roommate Marge walked in at some point, picked up a bra that was lying on the floor and walked out.  I don't know if it was hers or my mother's.  I decided it didn't matter.  Marge has talked to me a few times -- she uses words, but I have never once understood what she was talking about.  She seems a very unpleasant woman.  The aides tell me that she and my mother are "great friends," which I have never seen and when she left, my mother said "I don't like her."

Finally someone came to get her for dinner.  She asked me if she was dressed all right or if she needed to get dressed up, and wondered if she needed to bring her purse and how she was going to pay for dinner.  When she learned that I was not going to stay for dinner, she was nervous because she wasn't sure she could find her way back to her room afterwards.  When we got to the dining room, I saw there was a seat at the table where Loretta was sitting and I sat her there, but Loretta's dementia is progressing too and I don't know if the two of them talked with each other.  They were both looking off into space when I left.

So the main dining room is not only something I miss for the food and the servers and the other residents, but it represents a time when my mother was more "with it" than she is now. And it makes me think how much I have changed in the past 4 years.  And that is sad too.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


I knew that paranoia is often a component of dementia, but had  not seen it until today.
The day started with no sleep.  I absolutely could not get to sleep and only fell asleep for about half an hour or so around 7.  So I was not operating on all cylinders.

I had a dental appointment at 11.  I am one of those weird people who enjoy my appointments.  I like my dental hygienist, Christina, and I enjoy the brief moments to catch up with Cindy, who has been a friend since the 1980s, long before she had her own dental practice.

It was noon when I left the office and I did not want to get to Atria at lunch time, so I did a little shopping first (laying in goodies for Ashley, who moves in tonight to take care of the house and the dogs while we are in Santa Barbara.  This will be the first time they dog sit while their baby is becoming a toddler.  I hope it all works out, since we are not "baby proof" here.)

I got to Atria just as lunch was finished and my mother was sitting at a table laughing with her friend Loretta. The two women have been "friends" for most of the time that my mother has been at Atria.  They love to tease and put each other down.  They remind me of my mother and her friend Paula, in San Rafael.  I was so happy when my other found Loretta.

Of course, they don't have a clue who the other one is.  They don't know each other's name and are at about the same stage of dementia, Loretta perhaps a bit ahead of my mother because she moved into the memory unit a few months before my mother did.

But I enjoyed the "normalcy" of sitting with these two friends laughing with each other, and was glad to see my mother actually laughing with another resident.

When it was time for us to leave the table, I don't know where Loretta went, but my mother and I headed back to her apartment.  She is having what is probably another bout of sciatica and her leg is bothering her.  I was pleased  (and very surprised) to see that she had brought a cane with her to the dining room.

We walked to her room--which she cannot find yet (the big MILDRED on the front door helps!) and she sat down in her chair....and then it started.

It started the way it usually does, with her looking around and saying "something's wrong."  She then said what she often said, that she knows she should be doing something but can't remember what it is.  We even laughed about it, and I told her what I always tell her, that the nice thing about living at Atria is that if there is something she should be doing, the staff will remind her, that they are her memory.

An aid came in to check on her, on her regular rounds.  She and I talked about the leg pain and I explained that she had suffered from sciatica before but had not complained of pain in over a year.  She asked if it was OK with me if she faxes my mother's doctor to ask bout adding Tylenol to her meds.

I watched my mother's face while the aid and I talked.  I could see that she couldn't follow what we were saying and that it bothered her a lot.

After the aid left, she got this weird look on her face and said she just didn't understand what she's done wrong that offended everyone.  She says nobody in the family will talk to her.  When she walks into a room, everyone turns their back on her and whispers about her. and she doesn't know why.

She says nobody calls her to ask her to go out to lunch or dinner and when she calls someone to invite them to do something they just say "I am busy."  She can't figure out what she has done wrong.

Another aid came in.  She was just coming on her shift and was checking in on all of her clients.  A darling girl, with a big smile and rosy cheeks.  She and my mother talked and laughed together and after she left, my mother was gloomy again  "See?" she said, indicating the aid and how she hadn't wanted to talk with her.

Then she pointed at me and said... "I look at your face and I see these thoughts going through your head, how you want to leave and how you don't want to be with me."

Then she went on to say she didn't know what anybody in the family was doing any more and I said that I could tell her something, that Brianna was on a softball team that had just qualified to go to the championships in San Diego.   I thought that might interest her because Brianna is her great granddaughter (though she does note relate to that) and because she herself was a softball champ in high school.

She just looked at me and said "Now why in the world would you tell me that?" and had zero interest in what I was saying.

She had this disconsolate look on her face and just kept trying to figure out what she had done wrong and why nobody liked her any more.  I couldn't leave her like that so I just sat there and listened.  Sometime I tried being in her head and responding to what she was saying and telling her how sad I was that she was being treated so badly.  Other times I tried being in the present and reminding her that all that family (her siblings) were dead and couldn't shun her  ("Yeah, but there are others in the family..") and reminded her that everybody lived at least 100 miles away.  That didn't help.
(Yes, I know the pointlessness of trying to "help" but I hate seeing her so miserable.)

I stayed about 45 minutes trying various things until finally I got her to laugh and come back to normal again.  They I hurried up to leave before she sank back into depression again.  I told her I'd be in Santa Barbara and that I'd see her in a week and she told me to have a great time and seemed as happy as she ever is these days.  At least I didn't feel uncomfortable about leaving her in the depths of depression.

I came home and slept for about 2 hours.  I'm just going to have to put that in the back of my mind while we're away, and realize that she is in good hands and that the aids are taking good care of her...and she can have lunch with Loretta.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wasted Trip

It had been several months since my cousin had been up to do my mother's nails.  Niecie is a cosmetologist who owns two beauty salons in Marin County and has been keeping my mother's nails in good shape since long before she moved to Atria.  But she's also a very busy person and I think it had been about 6 months since she was last able to come up and my mother had been complaining about her nails for a very long time.

Niecie is such a special person.  Everybody in the family plays lip service to loving my mother, but in all the time she has been at Atria (4 years), nobody has so much as sent her a note.  Somehow telling me how much they love her on Facebook is not quite the same thing as getting in the car and actually coming to see her.  Of course, by now it doesn't matter because she wouldn't know who anybody was anyway, but every time someone tells me how special she is and how much they love her, it irritates me!

I almost made an appointment to have her nails done when I took her to the beauty parlor this week because her toenails were particularly bad (long and curling under), but before I could do that, Niecie called and said she was planning to come up.  Yippee.  The cavalry was on the way!
When I was last at Atria, they told me that a podiatrist would be coming to the memory unit to examine everyone's feet this week and asked if I wanted her to see the doctor.  I told them no, since I knew Niecie would be there.

Niecie called me from Atria this morning to let me know that she was there, but my mother was "too tired" to let her give her a pedicure, even though she has been complaining about how bad her feet are.  So I made arrangements with Atria to have her see the podiatrist, which will cost $40 (since it's not covered by Kaiser) just because she was too tired to sit in a chair and let Niecie work on her feet.

But she wouldn't understand my frustration.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


We don't have a lot of "normalcy" around here ... or at least around Atria ... these days.  It's like going  through Alice's rabbit hole when you are let into the memory unit and you never know what to expect.  If I'm lucky, she's in a good mood, which means that we pretty much stare at each other for an hour while she asks me if she lives there and who this or that person is in a picture she indicates...and whether or not her mother is still alive.

If it's like last week, she is in another zone entirely.  You can't convince her that she is not in a situation where everybody hates her because she's done something terrible, but doesn't know what she has done.  (And if I'm very unlucky, I'm to blame for all of her problems.)

If I'm very lucky, she's in a giddy, chatty mood where everything tickles her fancy and we spend a lot of time laughing.

What rarely happens is a "normal" day.  Days when I take her out to lunch are more or less normal, except for the endless questioning about where she is.  But she used to go out to lunch with friends frequently and it's always pleasant to go out to lunch with her.  I wish I could afford to take her out to lunch more often, because I really enjoy it, and she does  too.

Haircut days are also normal day.  She used to have her hair done once a week for years and was good friends with her hairdresser. Hannah.  I last took her to see Hannah a couple of years ago when she needed a permanent.  It cost so much money, I didn't take her back again, since Lucy, the beautician at Atria, does a fine job for much less money.

I'd been putting off making an appointment for her.  She's several weeks past when it should have been done. Her hair has been so long and stringy, hanging in her eyes, often looking fly-away and giving her that "Wicked Witch of the West" look.  I'd only put off making an appointment because either I didn't have my calendar, or it was Lucy's day off and I couldn't reach her.  But today, she finally had an appointment.
She was in good spirits when I got to Atria.  She was napping, but got up right away.  When she opened her eyes, her first word were "Well...I have a sister."  When I told her that no, she had a daughter she came more to life and sat up.

I told her we were going to get her hair done and there was no argument.  She just immediately put on her shoes and was ready to go.

It's always such fun watching her interacting with Lucy.  It's one of those "normal" times.  Other then telling Lucy that people always ask where she gets her hair done (she's thinking of when Hannah used to do it), they chatter away just like the old days.

And in the end, though she never thought she needed a haircut to begin with, she's delighted with how she looks.

We returned to her apartment and she sat down, dazed, and asked if this is where she was going to live from now on.

Normalcy was nice, while it lasted.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

She Doesn't Hate Me

Apparently my mother doesn't hate me any more.  This is nice to know.

I got to Atria around noon yesterday, thinking I'd sit at her table and have coffee while she ate lunch, but they told me she had gone back to bed, so I went to her apartment and told her I would take her out to lunch.  She smiled and was happy to see me, though said she hurt "everywhere," including down her legs and under her arm.

I got her up and we went out to the front of Atria.  It was a hot day -- mid 90s -- and I could only find a place to park a block away and didn't want to make her walk that far, so I parked her on a bench by the front door and let the woman at the desk know that I was going to get the car and that she should be aware of my mother in case she wandered off.

But she didn't.  She was still there when I drove up and we both enjoyed the air conditioning blowing in our faces.  

We drove to IHOP, which is very close to Kaiser.  The timing could not have been better.  Her appointment was at 1:50 and we finished lunch at 1:25.

She beamed when she looked around, said it was a nice restaurant and she had no been there before (we've eaten there several times).  It was good to see her smiling, after the horrible visit on Thursday.

Menus overwhelm her, so I usually give her a choice of two things.  This time it was easy because IHOP had its berry-themed menu and I gave her a choice of French toast with berries or crepes with berries.  We both agreed on the French toast.  When it came, she said it was enough for three meals, and I have to admit I can't believe she ate the whole thing!

Her appetite is never as small as she thinks and generally speaking, if you put something in front her she will eat it.

We were in plenty of time for her appointment.  She's not good at waiting because she can never remember where she is and why she's there, and once we are taken to the exam room she can't understand why it is taking so long for the doctor to arrive.

But while waiting, she rhapsodized over the beautiful leaves she could see out the window.  Never knew anybody who loved trees and leaves as much as she does!

The exam went well, again, though her blood pressure was low and she's lost 7 lbs this year so the doctor made some adjustments in her meds.  But she is given a clean bill of health until she is about to turn 99 (she turns 98 in a little over a month).

I can no longer drop her off at Atria and trust she will find her apartment on her own, so I walked her down to the memory unit (apparently I can ask for someone from the memory unit to come and get her, but that doesn't seem right).  I sat in her apartment for a bit, but we were both tired and I was either going to fall asleep in the chair or get up enough energy to get out of the chair and walk back down to the car.

I slept for over 2 hours after I got home.  These days probably take more out of me emotionally than physically, but I do come home absolutely drained.  Now I take a day off and then I take her to get her hair cut at the Atria beauty salon, which is going to be a lot less emotional than a doctor's appointment.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!

As much fun as my visit with my mother was on Tuesday was as bad as it was when I went to see her yesterday.  Thursday is the day Jeri wants to call her, and I've promised to be there by 3:30 on Thursday afternoons so make sure my mother is in her room and answering her telephone.

I got there at 3 and she was standing by the common room looking lost and when she saw me she muttered under her breath that she was so disgusted she could hardly speak.  I suggested we go to her room.

When we got to her room the door was locked and I told her to sit on the bench outside the door while I went to get someone to unlock it.  When I came back with an aide, she was walking down the hall and trying to get into someone else's room.

I brought her back to her room and she looked, as she usually does, confused and unsure where she was.

When we sat in our respective chairs, I asked what the problem was.  

It turns out she's disgusted and so sick she wants to throw up.  She's disgusted with how badly "the business" is being run.  How nothing is being done and how "the boss" (a man) doesn't care. 
She hates her room.  I pointed out that she had people to take care of her and she got extremely indignant.  Nobody helps her.  NOBODY had been to see her since she moved in.  And if she tries to talk to someone, they just turn their backs and walk away.  Or they laugh at her.

At one point she said that she was just going to leave and go find another place to live.  I asked her how she was gong to do that and she said she'd just go out and find a place.  I asked her where she was going to look and she said "in those places where you look." (thank God she is in a locked facility and I don't have to worry about her trying to leave)

I texted a note to Jeri that she was bad and that when she called she should be cheery.

In mid-tirade, my mother was so disgusted she said she couldn't stay there any longer and got up and stormed out of the room.  I brought her back and tried to talk to her a bit longer, hoping Jeri would call, but she did. not. want. to. be. there and stormed out again.   (I texted Jeri not to call.)

I followed her down the hall and saw that Jennifer, who is in charge of the memory care unit was in the hall and asked if we could have a meeting, thinking it would placate my mother to talk with "the boss."

We went into Jen's office and my mother was so furious she was unable to find words. When I pointed out that Jen was the boss there, she spat out "and who is YOUR boss?" (because obviously a woman couldn't be the boss) When we tried to get her to say one thing that was upsetting her, she tried to say that she didn't even have a desk, but couldn't find the word for "desk."  Jen asked if she would give her two days to try to make things better for her and suddenly she bent over, grabbed her stomach, and said she had to leave or she was going to "urp."

We returned to the room and I spent the next hour or so trying to calm her down, but she was shaking, she was so livid.  Somehow it became all my fault for not fixing things.  But she couldn't tell me what needed to be fixed.

She finally said she was just going to go to Washington and start her own company, but she couldn't say what kind of a business it was going to be or how she was going to get there.  Maybe she'd go to New York instead.

Every time she told me it was my fault for not fixing the business, I told her I didn't work for the business and that I worked for myself.  "Well, who do YOU answer to?" she asked, belligerently.  I told her I only had to answer to myself, but that never registered and she was still convinced that I worked for "the business."

When I finally told her I thought I should leave, she told me not to come back because if she saw me on her porch she would not answer the door.

I finally got up and delivered a message from her good friend Jeff, whom she knew from Hospice.  Jeff is dying of cancer and so she has not seen him, but I had just received a note asking me to give her a kiss on the forehead for him and tell her he loves her.  So even though she was so angry with me for not fixing "the business," I kissed her from Jeff and told her that he loves her.  She said she didn't remember him.  

I finally got up and told her I was leaving and she said that she had decided she would just disappear for a month, so not to come back.

The thing I hate most about this damn disease is that you never know who you are going to find when you arrive.  Will it be the good natured woman who loved life and loved where she lives, as was the woman I met on Tuesday, or the harridan who thinks everyone is incompetent and that she must leave and start her own company?

Lord help me, I don't know who I am going to find when I go to see her tomorrow.  I think I'll bring candy....

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


It would be so nice if every visit with my mother was like today.

When I arrived, she was in bed.  I took advantage of that fact to sneak in the new package of Depends that I brought so I didn't have to answer her questions.  She talked with me from bed, but didn't seem in the least interested in getting up.  Then, suddenly, she realized I was there and sat up, wondering how long I'd been there.

She finally got up and sat in her chair and told me how beautiful I was.  Then, for the next hour she was just .... silly.  Everything she said, whether it made sense or not, made her laugh.  At one point she kind of shook her head and said "Do you know what I was just thinking?"

Then she explained that she had this overwhelming desire to pick me up and just hold me.  I laughed and told her that I didn't think she could pick me up, and she realized that, but her need to put her arms around me and hold me was so strong that I got up and hugged her.

It's nice that lately she recognizes Fred in photos all the time, but sad that she always talks about how she wishes he could be with her.  Part of the time she knew he was dead, other times she just thought was was "somewhere else" and wondered if he would ever come back.

It was interesting to try to follow her thought processes, which seemed to be bouncing all over the place, but she was always happy, reaffirmed that she loves life and wants to go on living.  I did not leave in my usual state of depression.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Family Ties

I confused my mother yesterday.  She had been looking at the pictures of her family on the wall and not so much reminiscing (since she doesn't have firm memories any more), but saying how lucky she had been to have such a good family, how much fun they had together, etc.

She looked at me and said, "didn't we?"  I said "Well, I wasn't there, so  don't know."

"You weren't there?  Why weren't you there?"

"I wasn't born yet!"

She was confused and she asked me how I got there.  I tried to talk around the subject but finally said "you had sex with my father."

She looked shocked.  "I had sex with your father???  How could I ever have sex with your father???"  

I finally realized she didn't know who I was.  I asked if she knew who I was and she said.  "Of course.  You're my sister."  

I told her that no, I was her daughter.  She thought about that for awhile and finally said "I'm going to have to think about that.  I don't understand a word of what you're saying."


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fantasy Land

I had a call from Atria yesterday that my mother was out of something. I could not understand what word the woman was saying, but decided it must have been her Depends, which it was.  I bought two packages and restocked the larder.

My mother was in good spirits and told me that she and a friend had taken a long walk that morning, all the way downtown, and that she was tired when she got back.  I did not point out that she could not get out of the building and didn't know where "downtown" is.

When I left, she was trying to decide what she was going to cook for dinner.

Fantasy Land

I had a call from Atria yesterday that my mother was out of something. I could not understand what word the woman was saying, but decided it must have been her Depends, which it was.  I bought two packages and restocked the larder.

My mother was in good spirits and told me that she and a friend had taken a long walk that morning, all the way downtown, and that she was tired when she got back.  I did not point out that she could not get out of the building and didn't know where "downtown" is.

When I left, she was trying to decide what she was going to cook for dinner.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


My mother and I spent an hour looking at each other yesterday, with occasional brief conversation about how beautiful her floral arrangements were and who is that strange man in the picture on her dresser (her husband), but really there was absolutely nothing to talk about.  She wants to know what I'm doing that's exciting and, in truth there is nothing on my calendar this week, so I had nothing to tell her.

I'm going to have to get better about making up exciting stories for her, though I did tell her that I have an upcoming radio interview about the summer season in Sacramento and her response to that was "Oh?  Aren't those flowers beautiful?"

I would have suggested that we go for a walk in the garden or something but (a) it was hot out and (b) she was barefoot, so I figured that could be a suggestion for a later, cooler date.

But actually, I am encouraged to see that the move to memory care seems to have been good for her.  With increased contact by the staff, she can't just lie in her bed all day any more and that seems to be a good thing.  She's not exactly a social butterfly, but I she does seem brighter these days.

Her laundry hamper is still missing.  They told me to label it (it's rather unique looking so I'm not sure why it needs to be labeled), but by the time I got back with a Sharpie, it had disappeared and I have not seen it since.  But I also didn't see any dirty laundry lying around.  

When I left her, I met with Jen, who is in charge of memory care (technically it's called "life guidance," which seems a strange euphemism).  She actually acknowledged having received my email (be still my heart) and she asked me if I had been given a copy of the assessment on my mother done by "the other side" before she moved in (no).  She gave me a copy which I read before seeing my mother.  I had a few question about it, so we met after my visit and I found her delightfully forthcoming.  She also gave me the web address for a SurveyMonkey questionnaire about my mother's background and her likes and dislikes.  Presumably this will help them set up some sort of a program for her.

But my big question was about laundry and she told me that the staff does the laundry, so I'm off the hook after 4 years.  I am not sad about that.

I let her know where I have put her supply of Depends and pee pads and mentioned the odd places where I'd found the used ones in her old apartment when we were cleaning up (the oven?).  Jen said she found them stuffed between the mattresses in her new place.

The other interesting thing was that in her old apartment she had necklaces that she laid out on her dresser and kept fiddling with them to make sure they were in a straight line.  When I decided to take her jewelry box home to prevent pilferage, I left a small box and a few things in it and I noticed that box is now opened and two more necklaces are now laid out on top of the dresser.  She doesn't wear them, she just arranges them.  I wish I knew what that was about.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Big Move

The best part of yesterday was when my mother, sitting in her chair, looking out the window of her new apartment, found a tree that was particularly beautiful.  I knew it was going to be OK.

We had  long day and I'm sure my mother is waking up this morning not having a clue where she is, but I hope at least she can find the bathroom.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I told Walt when I got home that it is getting more and more difficult to find something to talk with her about.  She asks endlessly what my plans are either for the rest of the day or for the rest of my life.  I try to find something that I'm doing that she can follow, but she seems to be having difficulty following even simple sentences and often just waves me off with "I can't understand a thing you're saying."  

I used to try to make her laugh and tried that today.  She was commenting on the brown age spots on her arm again and how they made her look old and that they were ugly and she wanted to just chop her arm off.  About then, her nose began to itch, as it seems to do constantly, and she took her napkin and rubbed her nose with it.  I told her that if she chopped her arm off she would not be able to scratch her nose when it itched.  That was entirely too complicated for her to follow.  A couple of months ago we would have had a nice giggle over that.

We did talk a little about politics.  She asked me how the world was doing and I said "terrible" and then gave her a very brief outline of what is going on (she has never heard of Donald Trump, though she read the newspaper every day).  She kept demanding to know what I was going to do to fix things.

But we had a nice lunch and I told Piyush, the server from Nepal, who is my favorite (she always called the women "mama" because she can't remember everyone's name) that she would be moving to memory care next week and she was very sad, because she would probably not see her again.  I was so happy to take a picture of the two of them.  I've printed off a copy and will get it to Piyush when I am at Atria tomorrow or the next day.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mothers Day

It was just 11 a.m. when we finished and I decided that was too early to go to Atria, so we waited until 1 and then went to visit my mother . Each holiday that we share together, I wonder if it's going to be the last one.  Whether she is here next year or not, it really was the last video in this apartment.

Walt came with me this time and he got to see her when she is good, but making no sense in whatever she talks about.  She did spend a lot of time talking about the trees outside and that made her smile.

Since conversation was all but impossible, we didn't stay the full hour, but I did snap pictures of the furniture we want to donate because Habitat for Humanity is interested but wanted to see what we had to share.  I have to go back tomorrow anyway to pick up laundry, so I will visit more then.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Rose is a Rose

Today Ned and I took my mother to the McKinley Park rose garden in Sacramento.  Ned has been wanting to do this for months but had to wait for the roses to bloom...and then when they reached their peak, he was on the road, driving from Houston to Sacramento.  So the roses are slightly past peak, but still an amazing, dazzling display of color.

We almost didn't make it.  When I went to Atria she was asleep and didn't think she could stand up.  I became Ned or Jeri and jollied her to sitting, then gave her coffee, which woke her up a bit.  She got emotional when she asked "where's Mom?" and I had to tell her that her mother had been dead for 60 years.  She was sad that she didn't even know that.

But eventually I got her out into the car, not having a clue where she was or where she was going, but by the time we got to the park near Ned's house, she was a bit more with it.  Ned, bless him, met the car, got us out right across the street from the entrance to the park and then took the car and parked it, so we would not have to walk far.

Ned was such a good guy.  He had packed a lunch for us and thought of everything.  He bought white balloon bread, which he remembered my mother always made her sandwiches on when she made lunch for him as a kid.  He went and found olives because my mother had always said "it's not a party without olives."

He made a delicious fruit salad and he packed beverages -- wine for himself and his grandmother and water for me.

We were at a bench in the shade, just outside of the garden itself and my mother kept exclaiming over and over about how beautiful the flowers (and trees!) were.

I left the two of them sitting there and I went off to wander through the garden and take some photos.
Eventually, my mother was getting cold so they joined me in the garden and we wandered around looking at all the roses.  My mother especially seemed to like the huge bushes of white roses.  In fact, whenever we were talking about anything, she would interrupt to say "aren't those white roses beautiful?"

It was finally time to leave -- I needed to get the car home for Walt, who was going to San Francisco that night.  Ned went and got the car for us and parked it in "movie star parking" (directly opposite the entrance to the garden--Thank you, Gilbert) and we said our goodbyes.

Instead of getting on the freeway, knowing how much my mother loves trees and knowing that Sacramento is officially a "Tree City," I drove through town and, not surprisingly, she just loved looking at all the trees.

I dropped her off at Atria and while she didn't know where she was going, I knew she would be able to find her apartment (I won't be able to do that after she moves next week) and I came home to nap for a couple of hours, since I'd had so little sleep the night before.

While still vague and demented, she was so much better at the end of our adventure than she was when she woke up, that I felt good about the trip and am encouraged to think about the possibility of her having more social interaction with folks in the memory care unit, which can only be good for her.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


...we ran into Margaret, with whom I used to eat whenever I had lunch there (now her table is usually full).  She was happy to hear that my mother was going into the memory unit because she has noticed that she has declined a lot in the last few months.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dog Day Afternoon

Walt and I decided to go to Atria in the afternoon.  I thought I would bring Lizzie with us so she could distract my mother while Walt was in her bedroom measuring furniture.  As it turned out, no sneaking was necessary since she was sitting in the lobby across from the dining room, so I just took Lizzie down to visit her while Walt went off with his tape measure to the apartment.

My mother has always loved dogs and she was happy to see Lizzie, who was just so good, so gentle and so happy to have someone make a fuss over her.

I lost track of how many times my mother asked if Lizzie was our dog or not and how long we'd had her, but it was nice to have her distracted and to have something to talk about.

There are a lot of dogs who live at Atria and I've gotten to know many of them.  There is, for example, a Boston Bull terrier named,  think, Molly, who lives across the hall.  There is a sign on the door of that apartment letting people know that there is a dog inside and what the dog's name is.
Dogs always attract attention and having Lizzie in the lobby was a great magnet for lots of people who wanted to pet her.  One woman told us about her dog, who had lived at Atria for a few years and now lives with her daughter, but the woman keeps a fenced in yard for when the dog comes to visit.

What was strange about the day was that I swear almost every dog who lives in Atria came by while we were sitting there.

Elizabeth is my favorite.  She's a lovely Dalmatian and everybody loves her, including, apparently, Lizzie.

There was little Chita, a long-haired Chihuahua looking dog who was as energetic was Polly but didn't bark.

There was also the dog I have called a mini-Lizzie because she looks exactly like Lizzie if Lizzie had been bleached and shrunk.  The two dogs' tails wags furiously and they really wanted to play with each other.

My favorite King Charles spanial walked by and both dgs wagged at each other from across the hall, but the person on the other end of her leash didn't let her come over to sniff butts.

Walt finally joined us, having finished measuring everything.  My mother didn't recognize him and I'm not 100% sure she ever knew who he was.  She also looked confused when I talked about Ned and didn't have a clue who that was, and when I explained he was her grandson, she waved her hand and let me know she didn't know what I was talking about (Ned is meeting us at a rose garden in Sacramento tomorrow so we can take her to lunch there and let her enjoy being surrounded by roses).

She did, however, enjoy looking at the picture of Brianna carrying the foodball that I posted yesterday.  Usually when I show her pictures like that she says 'who is that?' but today she just talked about the photo as if she knew who I was talking about.  You just never know from minute to minute who she is going to remember and who she is not.

But the best part of the day was just watching my mother interact with Lizzie and Lizzie seeming to enjoy it.

I don't know if dogs can visit in memory care, but if they can, I think I need to bring Lizzie more regularly.  It's not only good for my mother, but for the people around her as well...and Lizzie's a great dog to do it because she's so calm and loving

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


There is one characteristic of my mother's that I hate and that is only getting worse as she gets older.  She is a very vain person.  She always has been.  She is from a family of 10, 7 girls, and to be honest, none of them would compete for Miss America.  But for a long time she was the only one who was "citified," who moved from the country to the city, and who, eventually, was taken under the wing of my grandmother whose friends were rich ladies who dressed well and knew how to set a proper table and all those things that go with a certain level of society.  We weren't in that level of society, but my grandmother spent her life trying to live up to it.

I don't remember ever waking up in the morning and seeing my mother without full makeup.  The first thing she did every day was to get up, go into the bathroom, and put her make up on.  She might be cooking breakfast in her bathrobe, but her makeup was on.  I don't think she learned that on the ranch where she grew up!

For most of her life, she went to the beauty parlor every week so there was rarely a hair out of place.  Surprisingly she didn't have professional manicures that I remember, but she was always doing her own nails.

Now, at 97, she doesn't have the same routine.  She can walk about with bed hair, looking like the Wicked Witch of the West and it doesn't bother her, but she is obsessed with her hands.

When I left Atria today, I realized I had spent one hour talking (or listening) about her hands.  She's mad at them, you see.  She hates how they look, hates the ropy look of her veins and especially the brown spots.  She picks at them and hits her hands and calls them stupid.

Showing her that my hands look similar to that doesn't help.

After she talks to and scolds her hands for looking so old, then she examines her arms and slaps at the brown spots on her arms.  Stupid, stupid, stupid! she tells her arms.  And then it is back to her hands again.  

She will change it up a bit to tell me how ugly her nails are.

My cousin gave her a manicure recently but it looks like she has filed the nails down so they are not the way they looked when she had the manicure.  They aren't chipped or cracked, she just doesn't like the way they look.

Then she goes back to examining her hands and how she hates them.  This is a conversation we have almost every time I visit her, but today it was a conversation that went on for literally an hour.
She finally told me that she just realized her shoes had holes in them and I knew it was time to go home before I went stark raving mad.

The one brief break from the hour-long diatribe about her ugly hands was when she asked me where the little girl was.  "What little girl?" I asked her and she said "You know.  The cute little girl who is always here."  Not sure where THAT came from!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Power of Attorney

There is a lot more "power" in that term than the title that we sometimes throw around would suggest.  I felt very powerful, signing away all my mother's personal rights in preparation for her admission to the memory care unit next month.

She's going to be very upset and I am having nightmares trying to figure out how to make it all go as smoothly as possible for her.  It reminds me of the weeks leading up to her move to Atria four years ago.

It was the longest conference I've had with Richard, the General Manager of Atria.  We have had our moments when I had to confront him about this or that thing, but this was a congenial half hour we spent together.  I kinda sorta liked him, though when he talked about hoping my mother's rent will be reduced once the tax rate goes from 30% to 15%, I figured that politics was not going to be a good topic for us to discuss.

So now all the decisions have to be made, and behind my mother's back.  She was not happy when I mentioned the move to her (I knew she would not be) and said she would "think about it" and "let me know."  By now she has forgotten.  But I wanted it to be said.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Principal's Office

Well, it wasn't really like going to the principal's office, especially since the two people I was meeting with were young enough to be my granddaughters.  But it was a serious meeting.  They have noticed, as have I, a decided step down in my mother's cognitive function.  They feel it is time for her to move to the memory care unit and I wholeheartedly agreed.

We talked about particulars and dates.  I asked about how this ordinarily works and they said they find it better if someone takes her out for the day while others move her stuff so that when she returns, she goes directly to the memory care unit and, God willing, her memory deficits will cause her to forget that she was ever anywhere else.

So I hope to do this while Jeri is here next month, because things are usually better when Jeri is along, though today she could not remember either Ned or Jeri, but that will pass when she sees them again

One of the HUGE advantages is that we can move her into an apartment that is as bare as possible and maybe she will stop worrying about "all this crap."  All the crap will be packed into boxes and stored until things settle down and I have chance to go through them.  I will also move most of her furniture into storage, since she's moving into a one-room studio that is small enough that I'm thinking of getting her a new, smaller bed (she now has a king size).

I took another tour of the memory unit, visiting the 3 apartments that are currently vacant.  I chose the largest (slightly larger) and brightest and will sign paperwork on Saturday.  I then told her what we were going to do, knowing that she would immediately forget.  I also knew that she would not (a) understand or (b) approve.  I was right, but I didn't dwell on it.  I just wanted it to be said once.

So all that done, I went to the apartment and found her sleeping in bed, as usual.  I had bought more "junk food" for her for when she doesn't want to go to the dining room (cookies, nuts, and chocolate). I convinced her that she would like to go out to a restaurant for lunch for a change.  And I actually got her up, dressed, and outside.  She was pleased to see the rose garden in front of the building.
Then we drove around looking at gardens in Davis.  It seems every other house in town is having gorgeous displays of my favorite wildflower - poppies!

We passed by my house (which she has never seen before--and why have I never invited her to come and visit?) so I could show her the irises growing in the front yard.  They came from bulbs I took out of her sister's garden after Marge's death oh so many years ago (at least 30, if not more).  She said that was "interesting."

Then we drove to Denny's in Woodland, 10 miles away for lunch (cheapest sit-down restaurant I can think of that is also nice).

She often does not go to lunch at Atria, frequently tells me she is sick to her stomach and can't think about food (as she did this morning), but at the restaurant she managed to finish a whole bowl of chicken noodle soup and both halves of a toasted cheese sandwich, which I consider somewhat of a ice cream for dessert!

It was a pleasant lunch, answering the same questions over and over again, but she seemed in good spirits and best of all she was out of Atria for a few hours.

Melissa and Brianna, the Atria staff concerned with her care, tell me that in memory care each resident is checked on every two hours.  Also, since her new mantra seems to be that she needs to be doing something to help someone (instead of "I know I should be doing something but i can't remember what"), they can probably find a job for her to do every so often so maybe she will feel like she has a bit more purpose than she has had in a very long time.  At least that's my pipe dream for the day and it makes me feel better.

On the way home, I stopped at the strawberry stand to buy some strawberries

She didn't recognize Atria when I drove up, mainly, I think, because I came in from a different direction than usual.  She seemed at a loss when I told her to get out of the car, handed her her keys and told her that if she couldn't remember where she lived to ask someone.  I felt like a neglectful daughter.

But it was a good day and the first step has been taken to move her to what I sincerely hope that after she settles in will be a better place for her now.  A long time friend of hers told me he called her last week and she had no idea who he was.  Very sad.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New complaint

She seems to have dropped the "I know I'm supposed to be doing something , but I can't remember what" and has replaced it with "I just need to find something to do to help people." While I know it's pointless, I tell her that there are lots of opportunities at Atria, but she will have to actually leave the apartment first. That's when she dials it back to the original complaint...but it gives me something to talk with her about. (If she continues this it's a good thing because it's not the sort of thing that is likely to cause her anxiety)

There was NO dirty laundry to pick up, and some of the Depends were gone from her underwear drawer, so I guess she is using them, though that doesn't keep her from leaving feces stains on the sheets.  I just cover them up.  I can't expect the housekeepers to change the bed every day.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is this lunch?

I went to Atria for lunch.  Nothings works better than a lunch at the funny farm to cheer one up.  She woke up a little more clear-headed than last time, but wandered around wearing only her pajama tops for about half an hour, trying to straighten out a necklace n her dresser for literally 30 minutes, butt flapping in the breeze.  I finally got her dressed and then to the dining room.  If dementia has ever been something she could hide, it no longer is.  I don't know if the woman who eventually joined us, Betty (someone I had not met before), has dementia or not, but I suspect she does.  My mother asked many times if this were lunch and just lots of stuff like that.  I did a lot of explaining what we were doing today (flowers to the cemetery), who Paul was, etc.  Nothing new.  Just the new normal, with a bit more nudity involved this time.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Menu

I went to have lunch at Atria today.  My mother was better than she was the last time I saw her ... kind of "medium good," the kind of day where she had to check the name on the door of each apartment because she didn't remember where she lived, but she wasn't agonizing over what she was supposed to be doing.  

We have decided to give up on trying to get her help with bathing, but hoping to solve the Depends-resistance problem, I replaced all of her current lacy underwear in her drawers with Depends.  We'll see how that goes.

We went to the dining room for lunch and the menu actually looked pretty good.

So.  We had clam chowder to start and ordered the entrée.  The soup came fairly quickly, for Atria (which is understaffed and over worked) but it was more than 15 minutes before the entrée arrived.  I had to ask the waitress twice if we were ever going to get our meals, as people around us were being served.

It arrived without any tartar sauce or cocktail sauce to dip the seafood in.  Also, there was no butter and no honey for the cornbread and no apple slaw.

The servers are really good about avoiding eye contact, but I did eventually ask the server if we could get sauce and they was also slaw in arriving, but by the time they arrived, the shrimp was cold.  The clams -- I should have taken a photo -- were the size of hamster turds, flavorless, and hard as a rock.  AND, I noted, my mother had no shrimp at all.

I would have made an issue of that but from the size of the plate and the food on it, I decided she hadn't noticed and it probably would have been too much for her anyway.  But.  Sheesh.  This was ridiculous.  It is getting more and more that this is the kind of thing that happens.  But I keep telling myself that I don't live there and my mother doesn't notice any difference, so I don't want to make a fuss, was not like this when she moved in nearly 4 years ago.  I remember meals that were actually good, but I don't remember having one in a very long time.

We sat at a table with Margaret, with whom we eat frequently, and with Bea, who is always very quiet.  My mother always makes a fuss over the flowers that adorn every table.

She always notices how beautiful they are and always feels the petals of the flowers to see if they are real or artificial, though they are never artificial.

It's funny, but visits with her must wear me out emotionally because whenever I get home from Atria, I don't come in to my office but immediately fall asleep in my recliner.  Today it was for about an hour and a half.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


The bed has become, I think, my mother's refuge.  It used to be that when I went to see her, she was asleep on the couch.  Now more often than not she is sleeping n her bed, with lots of pillows and a comfortable duvet.  Sometimes she's dressed for the day, sometimes not and it's difficult to tell if she slept in her clothes (as I often do), or if she was helped to dress and then went back to her bed.

Yesterday I was going to have lunch with her, but no parking place, so I went shopping first and it was after 12 before I got to her apartment.  She was in her bed, dressed.  I could not tell if she'd been up or not, but since her shoes were next to the bed, I assume she had been up and had assistance getting dressed before going back to bed.

I just ache for her.  It must be terrible to wake up in a strange place, with strange people, and no clue where you are.  I woke her up and she squinted at me, and said, weakly, "I think I recognize you."
I sat on the bed, hoping she'd come to life, but she turned on her side, pulled the duvet up over her and said several things, all mumbled softly and I have no idea what she was saying.  After about 30 minutes, I told her I thought I should leave and let her get some more sleep.  That got her moving.  A little.

She eventually sat up, but just sat there, not really acknowledging that I was there, though ultimately she decided she would get up.  I told her I'd wait in the living room.  She finally came out and said "what am I supposed to do?"  I told her there was nothing she had to do but that I was just going to sit and wait for her so we could visit.

She disappeared again for a long time and when I went to check on her, she was sitting on the bed again.

She finally came in and sat in her chair, but didn't know where she was.  She seemed surprised to hear she'd been there nearly 4 years.  She asked how often I sat in the chair she was sitting in.  She commented on the blooming plants outside, and asked what the blanket on her couch was.  She had no concept that I had not been around, and had no interest in hearing about the trip to Santa Barbara (though she asked what I'd been doing ... she just didn't want to know about it).  She said she just sat there and waited for people to come and see her.

I finally decided that we had nothing to say to each other and I left (ironically, exactly an hour, which is how long most of my visits last).  I brought her laundry home to wash, which surprised her that I would do that.

I left with tears on the surface, then came home to an email from the woman who runs Atria saying they were having problems getting her  to shower and to wear Depends and that she has been having accidents. She was thinking I could come by while they bathe her and maybe that would calm her down.  She also suggested I remove all of her underwear and replace them with Depends.

This is killing me.  I hate the thought of causing her discomfort by making her accept strangers bathing her. On one of her more lucid days, we talked about it and she was adamant that nobody was gong to bathe HER.

I agree with the need to get her to accept Depends because incontinence is becoming a problem.
I suggested to Brianna that we just ignore the bathing assistance right now until it becomes a noticeable problem and decided I won't take her clean underwear back to her when I've finished washing it and put Depends on her underwear drawer and see what happens.

As I said, this is killing me.  I watched her sister go through this and that killed me, watching that intelligent, funny woman shrink into someone who had to be bathed and screamed bloody murder the whole time because she hated it so much.

It's so hard to know what to do and I wish I could talk to my mother about it because she'd know the right thing to do!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


My cousin Denise, the cosmetologist, had called to let me know that she was going to come and have lunch with my mother and do her nails, so I didn't feel I had to go to Atria today.  But when I was on the way back from Kaiser, she called to let me know that my mother was almost out of toilet paper, which mystifies me because I bought her 6 rolls last week and this means she is going through a roll a day!

I asked Niecie how the visit had gone and for the first time she said that it was just sad. She's usually so upbeat and eager to let me know how my mother is just FINE for her. She got her singing to familiar tunes, but she zoned out after awhile and it was the same stuff I have with her when I visit  Also, apparently she answered the door wearing only her pajama bottoms.  Usually she's wearing only her pajama tops, but this time it was just the bottoms, which must have been quite a surprise for Niecie!

When I got home, there was a message from a friend of my mother's, who had stopped by to see her before Niecie arrived.  She found her in bed, with no top on, but she was pleased that my mother seemed to recognize her and they had a fairly good visit.  I suspect, however, that she won't be back.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thank God

It was the difference of nigh and day today.  She's back to trying to figure out what she should be doing that she's not doing (which she has done every day for nearly 4 years), but anxiety is gone and she didn't faint.  I feel MUCH better today!

Friday, March 17, 2017

bad, bad day

Visited my mother today.  She was very out of it, making no sense, saying she was in great pain, but couldn't localize and when I asked her again where it was she said that since I got there, the pain was gone.  She made pretty much no sense in the time I was there.  I felt uncomfortable leaving her, but I found a Catholic channel that was running the daily Mass and I figured that would be something familiar for her...and by then she had calmed down considerably from when I first got there.

She was lying in sheet stained with feces when I got there and I called for housekeeping to change the sheet for her.  As of the time I left (an hour later) they had not shown up and the woman at the front desk didn't seem at all concerned that my mother might sleep in feces tonight.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


I wrote to Atria after I discovered feces on her sock and asked if there had been an accident (since I didn't see any other sign of one).  They said that yes, there had been "a couple" of accidents and asked how I felt about adding showering to her services.

I said yes, definitely, if she would go for it, and then asked about the memory unit and its cost.  They don't think she is quite "there" yet, but will get back to me on the cost.  I don't know what her insurance will cover if she moves there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Best $40 ever

A year or so ago, I was at Michael's Craft Store and found a beautiful arrangement of artificial red carnations.  Michael's has great artificial flowers and I check the store periodically for flowers for my mother, who can't remember to take care of real flowers any more.  This one was gorgeous but would have been much too expensive except that it was about 50% off, or $40.  A chunk, but what the heck.
It has turned out to be the very best thing I ever bought her.  I can't think of a single time when she has not suddenly noticed the arrangement, as if for the first time, and said "aren't those roses beautiful?"
I have bought other artificial arrangements and live bouquets, but nothing since the carnations arrived has pleased her nearly as much as this bouquet.  It has, in the long run, saved me a lot of money because I know I don't have to spend money on flowers any more.  This arrangement is "new" every time she looks at it and her delight in seeing these beautiful "roses" is genuine each time.

(this isn't it, but it's similar--her arrangement
 is bigger, more spread out, and in a basket)

Today I decided to go for lunch, since it had been a busy weekend and I can't remember if I visited her over the weekend.  But I got there and it was parked solid.  Nothing in the Atria parking lot, nothing in either direction on the street and I was too lazy to park in the shopping center 2 blocks away.
["Too lazy" is only part of the back is giving me fits and I hope my doctor has some suggestions when I see her next week.]
I decided what the heck -- let's go out to eat again.
Well...fortunately as I was talking to her on the phone to try to get her to come to the car so we could go out, someone in the parking lot pulled out and I was able to park after all.  Trying to absorb that I couldn't find a parking place and would take her to lunch was entirely too complicated for her to comprehend.
She said "I don't understand a word you're saying, but I'll be here when you get here."
There is no way I could have guided her through the complex actions of putting on her jacket, getting her purse, and coming to the front of the facility, nor could I leave my car in the passenger zone.
It was clear from the get-go that this was a worse than usual memory day.  For example, she was reading a book written by her friend Father Joe O'Looney, a book she had typed when he wrote it.  I mentioned the book, which she couldn't find, because it was lying under the fresh cookies I had brought.  When she found the book, she thought she would read it because it looked interesting and "you typed it" made absolutely NO dent in her memory process.
She thumbed through the pages, and stuck at the back of the book was a card. She took the card out, opened it and read the birthday greetings from Peggy Kerr, a former Atria resident who had become my mother's friend.  I wasn't surprised that she didn't remember who that was, but she put the card back in the envelope, closed the book, put the card on top of the book put the book back on the table and then "saw" the card for the first time and opened it to read it again, again not knowing who Peggy was.
Over lunch, her worsening word-finding was blatant, as she could not remember the word for anything and just substituted any word that popped into her head for what she wanted to say, or in indicating my cup of coffee, waved her hand and said "that.....that...that whatever you have in your cup."
I've also noticed that people used to stop and talk with her in the dining room, but they don't seem to do that any more.  She mentioned the beautiful white hair on "that woman over there" with whom she used to eat every day, but who is now a stranger to her.
It was time to pick up her laundry and I just despaired of her ever learning how and where to put her dirty laundry.  The waste basket was stuffed full of underwear mixed with puddle pads, including a pair of socks, one of which seemed to be smeared with feces (though I could not find any other clothes smeared with feces).  The bag in which I carry her laundry home with me was also a mixture of pads and pants and the laundry hamper was almost empty.
No point in trying to explain it to her.  I tried that before and it was way beyond her ability to comprehend.
I didn't leave depressed, the way I usually do, just sad that she seems to have taken another step downward.  I sure wish I could have one more conversation with my mother, but I fear that is no longer possible.
But I sure am glad I gave her those carnations.  I bring joy to her life every time she looks at them, even though she has no clue where they came from.