Monday, December 23, 2013

the end of AAQI

Only one week left to purchase a "Priority Quilt" from the AAQI. The whole project will be ending at the end of 2013.  All monies raised go to fund Alzheimer's disease research.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

glasses part 6

So the saga of Mom's glasses continues...  I got her a third pair of glasses, exactly like the two she had. Had, as is past tense. Had as in: one pair she stepped on and broke and the other pair had completely disappeared.

I thoroughly searched her room for this missing pair of glasses. I looked in and under the heaters, in and under her bed and pillows, in all her drawers. They were just gone. Her aides and the housekeeping staff have been looking for them too. 

But now Mom has three pairs of glasses.  A local optometrist managed to solder her broken frames together. They're not pretty but they work. And miracle of miracles her missing pair of glasses were found.  They were in her neighbor's bureau, under the clothing.  How did they get there? An aide found them when she was putting away laundry. Yipee!  I was so afraid they might have slipped into a trashcan.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

did you get the message?

When I got to Mom's today she was just sitting down for dinner.  She saw me from across the room, smiled, and waved.
"My, my daughter!" she boomed.
Wow, it's a great feeling to be recognized, she made my day.
I wave back across the room. "Hi, Mom, it's so good to see you."

Before her meal comes we look at the pile of Christmas cards that she's received. She doesn't open her mail anymore. We oooh and aaah at the cute pictures on the cards. "Slow down" she manages to say. She wants to look at the picture more carefully.  She's alert today and engaged in her surroundings.  She doesn't acknowledge all the names I read to her, but some names get a "yes yes" response.

Then lunch is served and another lady at the table starts talking to me. "Is this your mother?" she asks.
"Yes I'm her daughter."
"You are so lucky to still have your mother."
Oh my, my heart is stuck in my throat. Take a big breath and try not to cry.
I smile back at her "Yes I am."
"My mother is dead, and my father too. But you're not as old as me. Is you mother a teacher?"
"Yes, Mom was a second grade teacher.  Are you a teacher?"
"Yes, I taught kindergarten. Is this your mother?"
"Yes she is."
"You are so lucky to still have your mother."
"Thank you, I am lucky."
"My mother's dead. Is your mother a teacher? I was a teacher."
"Yes Mom taught second grade. Are you enjoying your lunch?"
"It's alright, is that your mother?"
"Yes this is my mother."
"You are so lucky to still have your mother."
"Yes I am." 

Oh no! We are stuck in a conversational loop.  But maybe this loop is carrying the message that I needed to hear today.  Maybe today's messenger is a sweet demented little old lady.

I am so lucky to still have my mother.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Today I just want share my thoughts about the importance of the activities leaders in assisted living residences and nursing homes.

Many forms of dementia remove self-motivation, the loss of executive function. People lose the ablily to initiate activity.  They can’t get out of their own way. They are lost until someone tells them what to do or where to go.

Gone is the ability to plan a meal, cook a meal, or to follow a recipe. Long ago Mom lost the ability to make the connection from "I'm hungry" to “I can go to the kitchen and find food”.  Now she can not even make the connection from “I’m hungry” to “I can ask for food”.

So the feeling of “what should I be doing” has no answer. There is just a lost feeling. There is no response coming from the brain that says: read a book, clean the house, feed the birds, go for a walk, sing, fold laundry, play the piano, work on a puzzle, write a letter, pay the bills, watch a movie, knit, whittle, call a friend, bake cookies, or make a sandwich.

Her motivation is broken.

This is why when you visit people with dementia, you sometimes see them sitting, just sitting. They are lost, there is no motivation, they don't know what to do, or how to go about doing it. They need someone else to direct their actions. We need good activity leaders.  Come for a ride.  Let's get an ice tea. Let's sing together. Let's go to worship.  Help me fill the bird feeders. Let's work on this project. Tell me about your trip to Europe. Let's play Bingo. Come fold laundry.  Let's look at your photos. Help me water these plants. Let's go for a walk. Let's go down to dinner.

We need good activity leaders. It makes all the difference.