Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

old friends

After lunch, I went to Atria.  I had been there the day before, but my mother had been sleeping.  I sat there for an hour, reading, waiting to see if she would wake up, but she never did.  I had bought a bunch of junk food for her, since she hasn't had any food in her apartment in awhile, and I left her clean laundry on the bed.  I also wrote a note for her, that I left on her chair and then came home.

She was awake when I got there yesterday, but lying on the couch.  The note I left for her was still sitting on her chair, so she had not sat in that chair at all yesterday.  I somehow feel that she saw the note and thought someone had put it there and she was not supposed to remove it and just sat on the couch instead.

She got up and sat in her chair, reading my note several times, each time asking me if I had written it.  Then she'd put it down next to her and then see it again, as if for the first time, and read it again.  She is having difficulty recognizing words now and so she reads slowly and has to sound out many simple words.

The other thing she spent time doing is looking at a photo of her 90th birthday party.

This framed picture sits on the floor next to her chair and from time to time she pulls it out to look at it and ask what it is.  It is a picture of all the people who came to her 90th birthday party and any of them signed the border of the frame into which we were going to put the group photo.  She looks at the photo and doesn't recognize anybody.  Yesterday I found the book I made for her after the party and showed it to her, reminding her about what fun she had at the party and how many people came to celebrate with her.  She doesn't even recognize me in the photos and doesn't always recognize herself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Today I picked up her laundry (it always surprises her when I do that, though I've been doing it for nearly 4 years)...I found dead leaves in the bag that I put the laundry in, dead leaves and an empty box from Sees in the laundry hamper along with her dirty undies and dirty undies on top of garbage in the waste basked.

I sorted things out and said "I know this is hard for you to remember..." and told her about the mixup of containers.  She said "I know I should remember, but I don't have an idea what you are talking about."  So I took her in and showed her "this is for laundry, this is for garbage."  She was terribly confused and said she would try to remember but wasn't sure she could.

Show Biz

Saturday night we took my mother to the Davis Musical Theater Company's production of 42nd Street.  Every so often she complains that it has been so long since she has been to a show and I've been waiting for one that I thought she could follow.  42nd Street is a musical which is set in the 1930s and is mostly singing and dancing, so it seemed perfect for her.  I knew she would never remember she was going, so I went to Atria to have dinner with her (though she had already eaten when I got there, so I never got dinner) and she wouldn't be blindsided at the last minute, though I must have told her a dozen times what we were going to do.  At least she was kinda sorta ready when Walt came to pick us up.

In all honesty, I don't know if she knew where she was or what she was doing there.  She sat stoically through the whole thing and never so much as cracked a smile, never clapped once, even during the standing ovation at the end of the show.  It was both sweet and sad that I realized before the show that she was watching me looking at the program and turning to the same pages whenever I changed the page.  I don't think she actually read the program.

She never said a single word after the show about it.  I'm convinced that when she finds the program in her purse she won't have a clue how it got there.  So...cross that activity off the list of "things to do to enrich my mother's social life."

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Loneliness of Dementia

 I went to Atria to drop off my mother's laundry, which I had washed.  I told Walt that I really should write an entry called "The Loneliness of Dementia," which would be entirely too depressing an entry but I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  She had people around her most of Christmas and that was very nice but now that things are back to normal again, it's mostly just me again, and Ned, bless him, stops by now and then too.

Her stepson, who used to have dinner once a week before she moved to Davis, started trying to come every couple of weeks and now he comes every month and a half or two months ("It's a long drive," he tells me, forgetting I used to make it in the other direction once or twice a week in the years before she moved here).

My cousin's daughter used to come 3 or 4 times a year to do her nails (she's a cosmetologist), but I think she was only up here once in 2016.  Her good friends from Hospice of Marin, with whom she worked for >20 years used to come up for lunch, but they don't come any more.

Face it:  she's no fun to visit any more (except maybe for Ned, who is determined that things will be FUN...and makes them that by the power of his personality!)  But she can't remember a lot of people she used to, and she can't remember anything for longer than a few seconds, plus, most of the time she is sleeping (today she told me she almost never naps any more!) and always wakes up feeling terrible.  She often says she has been sick to her stomach all night and has been throwing up and then has to clean up the floor (not true).  So it takes a long time to talk her out of not feeling terrible, but if you get her to her chair to sit, she eventually starts asking about the weather and "what have you been done that you haven't told me about and I should know" and then "what are you doing tonight?" and often "are you going dancing tonight?" and then back to the weather again.  Wash, rinse and repeat until I get tired of it (almost exactly an hour) and then say goodbye.  If I tell her I'll be back in two days, she gets upset because she needs to see me every day.  If I go early in the day and say I'll be back the next days she is upset that she will be all alone all afternoon.

I feel so sorry for her because I seem to be the sum total of her non-mealtime activity and it makes me angry with myself that I sometimes don't visit her every day because I just don't feel like it.

I usually come home feeling totally worn out, though I really haven't done anything but sit and  listen to her for an hour.  I almost always need a nap when I get home.

But I do understand why nobody comes to visit her any more.  It's definitely not fun, especially if you go every day and spend half of it hearing about how bad she feels.