Wednesday, October 31, 2012

candy house

She is changing; and it frightens me. Again I have to adapt to these new behaviors, I have to change, because she is changing.

Her sentences are mostly gone. Her word-finding is spotty.

What struck me yesterday is her non-response when people talk to her.  There is no conversation, not even a grunt or smile or nod. As if she doesn't know/remember that when you talk to someone, they should talk back.  She gives me a hollow expression, an unsure stare, a lost-in-space glare.

I slipped her repaired glasses onto her face, she brightened up, realizing that she could see better. Then she knit her brow and stared at me. I think she was asking "Why did you have my glasses? Why did you take them off my face?"  She didn't even realize she was without her glasses for the past two days. So unlike her screaming and crying in June, when she was without her glasses for the first time. (Unfortunately, her old glasses didn't hold up long enough for me to get the repaired new glasses back to her.)

The activities leader came over and said Hi.  She greeted Mom with warm words. She looked at me sadly and told me that Mom is not singing anymore.

Last summer we talked about Hurricane Irene, and the huge rainstorm. Yesterday Mom wasn't even aware of the bad rains and swaying trees outside her window, from Hurricane Sandy.

We are looking through her latest issue of Yankee Magazine.  I'm flipping through the pages (her fingers weren't cooperating) and pointing out and commenting on the photos. She's not really paying attention. She's not engaged in this activity. All of a sudden Mom reads "Candy House". It's a small advertizement for Mrs Nelson's Candy House.
"Yes, I remember going to Mrs Nelson's Candy House." I say brightly.
"Yes." Mom says.
"It was beside DeMoulas grocery store."
"Yes." Mom says.
"It was next to Grant's department store."
"Yes!" Mom says.
"They must be making lots of chocolate candy for Halloween."
Mom stares at me, she is lost, the conversation is over. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Mom flunked her mammogram. Not that the radiology tech even got to give Mom her mammogram. It just didn't happen.

Mom was clean and dressed, had eaten her breakfast, and ready for me to bring her to her appointment. The aids are so good.
Mom and I slowly walk out to my car, she's shuffling behind her walker; step with her left foot, drag her right.
"Where are we going?" she asks fifty times.
"You have your mammogram today. We're going into town, to the doctors office." I repeat.
"I just had one." she repeats. I feel the same way, didn't I just have one, and now it's time for another.
"All us women need to get our breasts checked, Mom, we all do it."
"Where are we going?"  We begin the conversation again.

We get to the hospital, she starts to panic, the office is at the hospital campus, she recognizes the hospital, she doesn't want to be here. I don't know why.
"Why are we here!?!?"
"You are just here for a mammogram, they are just going to take some pictures." I try to exude calm.

I park in a space for the Walking Disabled, nice and close.  I hang up my new parking tag. I can't get Mom out of my car. She can't get leverage on the door or walker handles. She is like a rag doll, a very heavy rag doll.
"I can't. Nooo." she cries.
A petite elder man comes out to help, he is a hospital volunteer. I worry more about him than Mom. Somehow Mom finds some strength, and we get her up and behind her walker.  He directs us to radiology.
It's not that far, but for Mom it is a long walk.  She wants to sit down in the reception area, I won't let her, I walk her straight through to the dressing rooms. She sits and I help her into the johnny.
"Necklace" she screams.
"I'll put it on, Mom, it's right here, I'll keep it safe." She swats my hand, I've put the necklace on backwards, she tries to tug it off over my head. I fix it so she can see me wearing it properly.

With a lot of effort Mom stands and starts to walk to the examination room.
I spoke with the staff yesterday during the preregistration phone call. They know that Mom has dementia, they know she is a slow walker, they know that she will need to do this exam while sitting on a stool.  They have scheduled two people to help Mom through this.The four of us slowly walk down to the examination room.  Mom is whining and whimpering.  We try to get her to sit on the stool, she won't sit because there are no chair handles for her to grab, she is afraid, she is out of sorts, she is not trusting any of us to get her onto the stool. She can't calm down, she can't be reasoned with. She is scared and frightened.

"Let's not do this today," the tech says "We can try again on a better day. We'll contact her doctor and let her know what happened."
"There won't be a better day." I say quietly.

Mom is exhausted, they offer me a wheel chair. I push Mom into the changing room, I get her dressed.  We go to the cafeteria, I'm pushing her and dragging the walker behind me.  We have a drink and Mom calms down. I push her back to the parking lot.  The same kind volunteer comes to help me get Mom into my car.

Back at Mom's place, I have to find two aides to help me get Mom out of the car.  She is spent.

Will I ever be able to take her out again?

no more puzzles

There will be no more jigsaw puzzles for Mom. It was something she loved doing, it was something we could still do together, but now it is too much.  She can't even pick up the puzzle piece. I have to put it into her fingers, in the proper orientation, point to the space where it goes, and then watch her for ten minutes try to cram one piece into the one open space, and not get it in.

"Noooo" she wails. Her face gives me a multitude of expressions. Emotions that she can no longer express with words.
No, you are wrong, that piece doesn't go there.
No, don't make me do this, you are torturing me, it is too hard.
No, this piece is the wrong one, why are you teasing me.

There is no connection with shape and void, there is no connection with color matching. All the jigsaw puzzle skills have vanished.

Monday, October 22, 2012

glasses 4

Last Tuesday Mom's glasses were missing, again. They were found, lenses out, screws gone. She wears them when sleeping and napping. She has done this for years.  I gave her the old super-duper-glued-together glasses and went to get the new ones fixed. 

Today the staff called me, to tell me Mom's glasses are broken, again.

I think it's time for the staff to "take" her glasses when they get her into her pajamas and distribute her evening medications. She's not going to like that!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Mom and I spent a lot of time yesterday looking at old photos.  Because her vocabulary and clarity had really declined the past few months, I wanted to do a little testing, I wanted to force words out of her.

Her sentences are very short. Most of her words aren't found in a dictionary.
I find it funny that her "catch phrases", the ones she has always used to string together her conversations, are still there.  And these phrases still pop-out clearly between her jumbled phrases.

Yesterday, I was the one to tell Mom about her photos, I was the one to repeat her stories back to her. It was easy, as I have heard these stories over and over and over.  When a photo brought back to her a strong memory, her sentences and word recall were much clearer. 

We were looking at photos from my son's wedding. He was married on my Mother's front steps, at that house she loved so much. There was a photo of my two sons together; all so very grown up and handsome in their black suits. Mom points to the younger son and asks with clarity "What about him?"  She's asking me "Is he married yet?" I laughed and laughed, "No, Mom, he's not married."  I can't wait to tell him that his Grandmother was worried that he's not married.

As Jolene Brackey reminds us in Creating Moments of Joy  “They may not recognize you but they have not forgotten you.”

Saturday, October 6, 2012

less and less

Mom is more and more confused. Her words are more and more garbled. She cannot remember how to use parts of her body. She cannot follow instructions.