bpatlinden

The kids get it

My kids are almost 20 and 25, and I'm kinda impressed at how they've picked up on talking with their grandmother who has dementia. When she says something like "we'd better get out of here" or "I have to have an operation tomorrow", they say "good idea, Grandma, I'll get your bigger suitcase, which sweater do you want to pack? And should we pack hard-boiled or deviled eggs in the cooler?" Or "well, you'll need your overnight bag, which pajamas would you like to bring?" This all happened kind of fast, over that past year and a half, and we all had to go with the flow, which re-routes its course weekly. I just wish my dad had that kind of flexibility #engineer

Comments (12)

  • runninginplace
    last year

    My kids are fine with their grandmother although they rarely see her--she is in assisted living with dementia. My husband though--what a saint he is. He takes her out at least twice weekly so spends by far the most time with her. She is on a loop that runs ~ 30 seconds and I'm not kidding about that time length. So when we go anywhere she will ask the exact same question at that frequency. He patiently answers over and over and over. Sometimes he genially tells her she's asked him the same thing 7 or however many times. She will sigh and say her memory isn't so good. Sometimes he says very matter of factly 'well you have severe dementia' and for some reason it doesn't bother her at all. You'd have to be there but it's actually pretty funny to listen to them. When she asks where all the traffic is coming from he says they are taking their moms to dinner. When she fixated on the flags at half staff after McCain's death he kept telling her it was because our cat had died the day before (which was actually true).

    Since I'm already no doubt going to hell I like to have some fun so when she asks the rings question 'where are my rings?' (wedding, engagement and college which she insisted we keep so nobody would steal them sigh) I tell her I sold them to buy crack. She always knows it is a joke and it amuses me every time.

    Generally I'm sure it must look like we all have dementia at a family gathering because EVERYONE knows to answer her over and over and over. A couple of years ago we brought her to our house for Thanksgiving and she thought she was at her parents' home. So that was a fun holiday, she kept wandering around exclaiming how mama still had the bedroom set up the same, and asking when daddy had moved the couch. NB we have lived in the house for 30 years and until she went into AL she lived a block away. Good times!

    Best Answer
  • Olychick
    last year

    That's really nice that they can meet her where she is. I know how frustrating it can be for families when loved ones change and sometimes it's difficult to avoid trying to force someone to face reality (our reality, not theirs). That says a lot about your children. Good for them.

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  • l pinkmountain
    last year
    last modified: last year

    My best friend's mother kept wanting to "go home" while she was in care, in her home. She said it just looked like her home. She was a take-charge person, so I'm sure being bedridden there made it feel very unfamiliar to her. My husband said his dad kept wanting to get up and go to work. We definitely need to come up with strategies to honor this impulse in formerly active, in-control people who in the end of their lives are resigned to immobility. My husband has had limited mobility for just three weeks after hip surgery, and he is going insane. Unfortunately, he is not a reader. My other friend says her mom is still able to take great comfort in reading although her mobility is limited. And she used to run a whole farm!

    It certainly doesn't do any good to chastise and argue with someone about the difficult reality of the situation.

  • bpath reads banned books too
    Original Author
    last year

    Pink, when my mom was living at home she often spoke of "let's go home". It's very common among persons with dementia.mOften she would get up and walk through the house collecting items to bring and tucking them into her rollator. Her caregivers and I let her do it because she wouldn't give in to distractions and arguing was just agitating for her. We just followed behind her without talking, made sure nothing fell, subtly closed doors and drawers behind her, just kept her safe. Later we'd put everything back. Mom and I would make packing lists (she was always an organized list-maker), and they were pretty bizarre. I find them in sofa cushions and drawers every now and then as I clean house.

    Like your husband, my dad now has limited mobility and is not a reader, except for the paper and financials. But he also has macular degeneration which makes it hard to read. It's really bugging him. He is in skilled nursing right now, and of course would like to NOT be. His best activity is when we talk about all the repairs we are having to do with their house. He was part of the design and construction of it, so he can advise on all aspects of its workings. At least it keeps him busy.

  • l pinkmountain
    last year
    last modified: last year

    The saddest thing for me when cleaning out my parent's house is finding one of mom's old "to do" lists or address lists, or tagged magazine pages or a clipped recipe, a list of "still want" plants for the garden, etc. . I make these kinds of lists too! That's about the only consolation.

    Re your dad, I think there are resources he can eventually tap into if he wants, for readers to tape record things for him. I know my Uncle volunteered to do this for many years and I have several friends with sight issues that have taken advantage of this.

    I have to laugh about your dad, as we keep a list of things my dad can "fix" at the house. Hubs doesn't quite get it, when he says, "I can do that" I say, "But that's something dad will enjoy doing." Hubs can't imagine enjoying taking the recycling to the recycling center, etc. My dad doesn't exactly "enjoy" it but it keeps his mind occupied and makes him feel useful and connected. Dad was never one to have an enjoyable hobby. Bossing people around was his hobby! (Well, that's what we joke.)

  • Olychick
    last year

    My mom had macular degeneration and found a great resource through the National Library Service for the blind (you don't have to be totally blind). I wonder if the people who weren't readers might not still enjoy some books on tape? There is something wonderful about being read to, and I often wonder if some non-readers just might be that because they aren't good readers (maybe with a learning disability that makes reading less than pleasurable)?

    They provided her with a tape player and books through the mail, all for free, postage free returns. They had a wide variety of selections and it looks like they currently have books, not only on tape, but free for download. It might take some experimenting, but maybe you could find books that tap into a particular interest: someone's home town or geographical sites near them, or WWII or airplanes, etc. I don't think the books are all fiction, but of general interest topics, too. https://www.loc.gov/nls/

  • DLM2000-GW
    last year

    bp that's wonderful that your kids are so kind and able to go with the flow. It can't be easy for them seeing the changes in a loved one. One of those tough life lessons. Obviously they have good role models.

  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real
    last year

    What nice boys you brought up.

  • neetsiepie
    last year

    That's so sweet of them! I got so upset with my Grandmother when she'd argue with my Grandfather when his Alzheimers was in the early stages. He'd make strange requests or say things that made no sense and she'd argue that he was wrong. I felt that she should just go with it, but then, she was his primary care giver and likely very frustrated.


    I love that your kids are not trying to correct her, nor do they seem to be patronizing her. In her mind she's doing this specific thing and why should anyone argue with her that that is not happening? I hope my kids (or grand kids) humor me when I'm in that position!

  • bpath reads banned books too
    Original Author
    last year

    Where would we be without humor and patience? Gotta have 'em.

  • Em11
    last year

    My grandmother used to worry about someone leaving a baby outside when she was in her dementia years. So my little niece gave her one of her baby dolls to cuddle, and it made a huge difference in lowering her frustration level. I think she just wanted something to take care of and make her feel productive.

  • bpath reads banned books too
    Original Author
    last year

    Baby dolls are popular at my mom's memory care, I see one woman who can become quite agitated though chair-bound and unintelligible, but she holds a baby doll and is much more content. They also have a stuffed cat that purrs that some residents like.

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