Oh No, I’m in the Doghouse Again…Dealing with Dementia Patients

Basic CMYKMondays are usually a stressful time for me when caring for a dementia patient, in that you’re bouncing off of a weekend, hopefully a good one…the alarm goes off at 5 am, you’re tired because you’ve been going to bed later than normal for the past 3 days but work is calling. You drag yourself out of bed, do all the things that you do in the early am and out of nowhere, Mom decides to get up early. I pass by her room, and notice her toes moving…I say to myself “OH NO…I’m not ready for her to get up yet, I am still trying to get ready for work” I pass by deliberately a few minutes later, and now I see her feet dangling off of the bed. I peek my head in her room and I say “It’s really, really, really early, you can go back to sleep for another hour”, praying that she will lay back down for awhile. As fate would have it, on this Monday morning, no such luck…I can see trouble in her eyes…or rather that weird stare when she goes into a dementia attack. I continue to go about my business thinking that maybe, just maybe she will give in and go back to sleep for an hour….nope…she’s up and shuffling towards my bedroom door…Happy Monday.

So, with that I make sure she’s not needing the bathroom, and I continue to go about my business in getting ready for work. When this happens in the morning, she reminds me of a lost kid, with all of us running all over the house from this room to the next in preparing for the day, and there she is standing there wondering what is happening. It’s obvious that she wants some attention paid to her but since she seems all right, we just keep doing what we are doing so we can stay on schedule for work. Vladimir leaves for work and now it’s just me, Mom and the dog, waiting for Cardine, her home health aide to come. I’m still running around trying to be done on time. Finally it’s 7:30 am and Cardine’s car pulls up. Tonya, the dog sits in the window eagerly waiting for her to walk through the door in anticipation of the usual snack that I leave for her when I go to work. Mom is standing there wondering what is happening going further and further into her dementia attack, and I am saying thank goodness Cardine is here, a sitcom in the making. After she arrives and settles in, I brief her on the morning, I say my normal goodbyes and I get a wicked awful blank stare from Mom. Her face is expressionless and her mouth is like a straight line across her face. She does this whenever she is angry with me….so, I just excuse myself and leave for work saying “Have a nice day ladies”. I wish I could think to take a photo of this because it’s a funny face…Mom was mad at me so I’m thinking Oh Boy…poor Cardine, Mom is in a tailspin and they will have a rough day and that’s never a good thing. On that note, I was gone…

Photos: (1) Mom and her home health aide, Cardine…my hero!

mom-cardineUpon my arrival home after work, I found that Mom let her anger go right after I left and Cardine had a wonderful day since Mom readily agreed to have a hair wash and a bath in the morning without a fight. People with dementia apparently let go of anger a lot faster than the rest of us, probably because their mind is in out of sight, out of mind mode…It was a good day for all….after all.

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Dementia Patients Will Always Gravitate to that Which They Have Been Passionate About!



Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho, it’s off to work we go…My mother has always loved and aspired to be in the work place. Growing up in her parents house, she would hope and dream about someday joining the work force, being in Manhattan, working for a company while doing what she loved. It just goes to show you how different we are, as I had always aspired to be my grandmother, a wife and home maker with absolutely no desire to work outside of the house. While I can accomplish more at home with respects to creativity and home, my mother felt more useful in the office. Maybe her desire to be in the work place had something to do with her mother being a home maker…and maybe my desire to be a home maker is because her my mother wanting to be in the work place…who knows. I guess  you can drive yourself crazy trying to analyze it when in reality, it is what it is.

So, now with mom smack in the middle of late stages of her disease, she still aspires to go to work. She has verbalized this to me in the morning while I am making my exit out the door for work. She has said “sure wish I could go to work instead of you”. I say “so do I”…And at other times while in the middle of a dementia attack, she would even try to leave the house to go looking for a job. Leaving the house became a quite a dilemma, therefore needing to get a home aide while I was at work to keep her safe.

To compensate for her great loss, she now goes through papers…any papers, old bills, newspapers, notes, letters. She lays them all out on her bed very neatly being mindful to make little organized piles covering half of her bed. Not sure what type of filing system she has but she seems to know what she is doing. One morning when Cardine, her home aide, was here during the week, she told me that my mother was worried that nobody would show up for work that day and that she would have to send Cardine home and close up for the day. She was imagining that she was running a business here at home and that because of the snow, nobody would be coming that day. I found it amazing that a person can be so into their own head, remembering so long ago and continue to try and act out what was so dear to her, while somehow making herself feel at peace. The mind is a strange thing and everyone is unique in the way they compensate.

So now, I try and leave out her boxes of papers so that she can organize and file when she has the mind to, keeping her busy, literally for hours upon hours. She has a closet filled with games, puzzles, playing cards, coloring books, but it is her papers where she feels most useful and at home. I think the word useful is the key word…back in her day, she worked at some very prestigious companies with very important positions, working closely with her boss and co-workers. She felt useful and needed, and knew that she was very good at what she did. They relied heavily on her and she took it very seriously. Hanging onto her work life is a way of hanging onto who she once was, who she still aspires to be… well, actually who she thinks she still is. She may have this terrible disease called dementia, but deep down inside, she is still the much needed and useful person she once was.

The image above shows Mom’s family…Sister Lillian, Mom, Mother, Father, Cousin Raymond and Uncle Sam. Taken up in Greenwood lake where her Aunt Adlaide lived. Who knew that young girl had such deep thoughts on where her life should go….but the good news is, that she accomplished it…she lived her dream…she was a valuable employee to the likes of the Rockefellers, ABC, Forbes Magazine, Bozell & Jacobs Advertising. She was good at her craft and she was valued and needed. What more could a person ask?

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