Category Archives: Conversations

Conversations with your parents, especially when they are suffering from dementia, can be unsettling, especially when they act nothing like the parents who raised you.

Connecting the Dots

Two weeks ago I was sitting at the breakfast table with my mom. She can no longer take her morning meds without supervision. I helped her get them to her mouth and held her coffee for her.

My dad walked into the room with his breakfast and my mom turned to me and whispered, “How could that be my father when my father is dead?”  I did not answer.

This has been a really tough couple of weeks and we have been seeking out the help of a new neurologist who specializes in late-stage dementia. Continue reading Connecting the Dots

Snapshots from Today

Today I intercepted my diabetic dad as he tried to eat a dog treat, thinking it was a cookie. He still wanted to eat it after I told him it was for the dog.

I saw my mom trying to get up from the dinner table and asked her if she was ready to get up, so that I could assist. She answered that she would come whenever the dentist wanted them. I told her we didn’t have an appointment tonight. Not sure what she was thinking. We have not mentioned the dentist in ages.

She sat at the table for a few more minutes with my  dad and then she tried to get up again.  I asked her if she wanted a hand and she asked me if the foot bath was ready. We have never done a foot bath and I never figured out what she meant. Continue reading Snapshots from Today

My Little Red Mittens

The last few days have been particularly challenging from my perspective as a caregiver. Mom has been lost in a sea of confusion. She does not appear to be aware of it or distressed. She continues to say things that are just not grounded in reality.

I ran into her room this morning as soon as the motion detection sensor went off. The first thing she told me was that she did not sleep in her room last night. If she had slept somewhere else, the alarms would have indicated her movement. The next thing she told me was that a man came into her room and slept in there all night. Again, if someone had come into her room, the alarms would have sounded.

Later in the day we tried to do crossword puzzles but she was too confused to process any info. The conversation turned to knitting and she was an avid and skilled knitter for decades. I told our visitor that mom had made me many mittens over the years. She looked at me and told me that she didn’t remember that. I thought that perhaps if I found a pair for her to hold, the tactile and visual stimulation would be enough to elicit a memory.FullSizeRender

Continue reading My Little Red Mittens

Another conversation with Mom: “People stinking up the room”

One morning, my mom awoke very sullen. As the day went on, she continued to be quiet and looked quite angry and annoyed. She asked that we go into a room where we could not be overheard and I knew I was in for another one of these sessions where she just reads me the riot act. And to that effect she did not disappoint.

She told me that whatever kind of boarding house I am running here is my business. (It is no boarding house and there are few visitors because most of my time is spent caring for her. All is calm and quiet.) She said she was up all night with the people I have sublet the house to.  They come out of the wall in the back of her closet at night and there are 30-40 people stinking up the room and she cannot sleep. All night long there is a lady who holds one or two fingers in the air to let them know how many bathrooms are free. They are using not only her bathroom, but a secret bathroom in the same hallway that my husband has been quietly putting in so that no one will know; there is no “secret bathroom” that my husband has been working on. Continue reading Another conversation with Mom: “People stinking up the room”

“I won’t hold it against you until morning”

Mom was very restless and argumentative tonight before bed.

She started to leave her room without her walker, a common challenge that greatly increases the risk of falling. I asked her to get her walker.

She replied, “I thought I had two!” As if having two walkers solves the issue of using none at all.

On her way back from the bathroom, after complaining that the toilet seat was too high (it’s a handicap seat) and that her pee splashes on her all the time (she misses a lot), I offered to take off her sweater and put on her pajamas. It’s part of the nightly routine.

Mom struggled to take her sweater off, going slow so as not to stretch it out. While it was over her head, she said, “Where’s my pajamas?”

I was standing next to her with her pajamas.

Continue reading “I won’t hold it against you until morning”

I’m the nicest person you know!

“I’m the nicest person you know!” Mom protested.

I winced.

I tried to mask my frustration.  My stroke-impaired 80-something mother was likely oblivious, focused only on winning an argument – an important victory in a waning life marked by a shrinking circle of choices and freedom.

Mom had just wrapped up a heated discussion with me.  The topic was her increasingly toxic attitude.  Never a particularly warm woman, Mom had taken to hurtling insults.  The pace of the constant verbal undermining had noticeably picked up in the past few weeks.

I retreated out of earshot, which wasn’t hard due to Mom’s poor hearing.

“She’s loaded for bear,” I remarked to my husband.

“Why?” he asked.

“Ever since she got the all-clear on her pituitary gland tumor she’s been tough.  It’s like she’s gotten a new lease on life so she no longer feels she needs to be nice to us.” Continue reading I’m the nicest person you know!

Another routine (crazy) morning conversation

This morning’s conversation:

Mother (in a conspiratorial hushed tone): “There was someone in my room last night.”

Caregiver: “Maybe it was **** (my husband) checking on you.”

Mother: “No, it was some entity.”

Caregiver:  “Perhaps it was an angel.”

Mother: “Or an evil spirit.”

It wasn’t any of the above, it was my dad, my mom’s octogenarian husband. Continue reading Another routine (crazy) morning conversation