One of our members (E) had moved to be near her son several years ago. She just moved back to a memory care unit in Town, and so I went to visit her. She greeted me warmly, and I introduced myself to her, figuring she probably wouldn’t remember me. She said it looked like a pretty day, and asked if it was warm outside. I assured her it was. She asked me where I came from, and I told her. She said, “I can’t quite place you. Who are you?” I introduced myself. She asked where I came from. She said it looked like it was a pretty day outside, and asked if it was warm. She observed that the wind was blowing the corn she could see through the window. She said, “I can’t quite place you. Who are you?” I introduced myself. She asked where I came from. She told me they were taking good care of her. She said it looked like a pretty day, and asked if it was warm outside.
After having the same conversation (with minor variations) 5 or 6 times, I took my leave of her, with the promise to be back next week. I gave her my business card, so she could remember I’d been there. As I left to go to Big City to visit a member in the hospital, I found myself trying to figure out which was more frustrating, trying to visit E, or Mom. E can talk, but we had the same conversation repeatedly during my visit. Mom is pretty much nonverbal. She can occasionally answer a question in a way that makes sense. The other day Dad was desperately trying to communicate with her, as it seemed something was bothering her. They both were becoming increasingly frustrated. Finally he asked, “Do you want to take a nap?” She turned to face him and said, “Yes!” She seemed to be wondering why it took him so long to figure it out.
I think with E it is probably easier to convince yourself you’re communicating with her. She probably is better able to communicate if she is in pain or in need of something. When her son reported that they were bringing her back here, he said that she forgot his visits as soon as he was out the door. At least Mom can’t berate us for not visiting frequently enough.
I ran into the daughter-in-law of a member after I visited with E. She had been visiting her Mom. She asked about my parents. We talked about how hard it is. Then she raised the fear that overshadows everything, “I wonder what we’ll be like.”
I read another book this week. After almost a year without reading a book, I’ve now read 2 in the last week. For now, at least, I feel like I’m holding dementia at bay.