Dinner For 2 Please, Dementia Patients And Social Interaction



There was a time when Mom would always sit at the kitchen table with the family and eat meals. That’s what the old timers did and families today still do it..thank goodness. Since she’s been at my house she’s never sat down at our kitchen table to eat dinner with the rest of us, except once when my son Shad came to visit. Not sitting at the table was mostly an OCD thing, but over the years, with the dementia setting in, she has forgotten about the OCD, but out of habit, still wouldn’t sit at the table. So, with that, she would opt to have dinner in her room and I, of course, humored her and served her dinner on a table in her room, which became the norm. If that’s what made her feel comfortable, I would of course, do that. I continued to eat in the kitchen, usually multi tasking while eating because there is not much of a window at night after the work day to get things done. Crazy way to live but that’s today’s world. 

Photos: Above (1) Mom, Eleanor Van Meter’s family, mother, father, sister, aunts and uncle out on a picnic, pre 1949. Below: (2) Mom after dinner on her 86th birthday…going to bed looking content, happy and tired.

Birthday 86

After Cardine, Mom’s home health aide started with us, I noticed that they would do things together in her room, such as eating lunch together, coloring or playing games. I also have noticed that Mom has directly responded to that by being more alert and in touch with reality. Cardine told me that Mom wouldn’t finish her lunch until she ate her lunch also. Mom would always leave some food on her plate saying it was for Cardine. I guess that she was feeling badly eating in front of Cardine, so she would take that as a hint to heat up her own lunch…sure enough, Mom would finish her lunch. I don’t know whether it is a “polite” thing or a “being in company” thing, but it seems obvious to me that she does better when eating in company with social interaction. As a matter of fact, looking back, she will never take the last of anything….even if it is the last chocolate chip cookie…..now that is self control…or perhaps a result of growing up in the depression years.

As a kid, she would always eat dinner at the table with her sister Lillian and her parents. When I came along, I would always sit at the table with my grandparents as well…seemed to be a family thing that she somehow lost along the way. Now, when I come home from work, I settle in and fix both of our dinner plates and I go sit in her room and eat with her. She eats all of the dinner on her plate happily, we have some conversation and we watch a tv show, even though she really doesn’t understand what is going on with the show, it doesn’t matter…it’s interaction and stimulation. She seems more alert and ready for her night after dinner. Btw…Vladimir doesn’t feel badly that I’ve abandoned him in the kitchen….mainly because he has always eaten every leftover in the fridge like a vacuum cleaner before I even get home, so he’s finished for the night.

After it all and in the end, I know that I will be happy that I had spent time eating dinner with her after work, creating some good quality time with her, knowing that she had a full stomach at the end of her day. It’s also a good thing for her interacting with people and engaging her brain. It’s a win-win situation.

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