As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
For the past couple of months, I have seen my mom decline physically and cognitively. She has lost weight and seems almost unresponsive to voice. My family and I ate Thanksgiving dinner at her assisted living, and though she ate rather continually, she was silent and noncommunicative. I thought it was getting closer to the end.
Yesterday I dropped by to give her some clothes I bought for her. She was sitting in the living room of her assisted living house, reading the paper—I mean really reading the paper. I walked in, and she broke into a broad smile and said, “Hello, Sara.”
I sat down on a chair next to her and began to take the clothes out of the bag. One by one I showed her the shirts and pants and gloves, commenting on the colors and quality of the fabric. She looked, no, closely investigated each article, commenting on the grey pants, “I like this material.” AS she looked at the green shirt she said, “I don’t have anything this color.” I pulled out the plum turtleneck and she said, “I really like the purple shirt.”
Blow. Me. Away. I was amazed. How could it be? For months, she has been so far away, and now, so present and involved.
I talked to my resident expert on dementia, Barbara Green, MSW. Barb is a world-class social worker with lots of experience working for the Alzheimer’s Association. Barb said that this is the way it goes. Sometimes the brain is firing and sometimes it’s not. As time passes, the frequency and duration of those moments of “presence” decline, and the obvious consequences of dementia become more consistently omnipresent.
I plan to drop by Mom’s place next week. I bought her two new flannel nightgowns. I wonder what she will have to say or if she will say anything. I remind myself, “Take it easy and as it comes.”