Two weeks ago I took my mom to see our Aunt, who she had been chiming about everyday. My Aunt has Alzheimer’s as well and lives in a nursing home. Of course mom had no idea where I was taking her, but when we got to the home and to my Aunt’s floor, though my mom couldn’t verbalize it, I could see a slight jolt in her face as she looked around and saw the people on the floor in their wheel chairs, some being non communicative and most being unfamiliar to her. My Aunt was slightly dozing when we got there and of course she didn’t remember us which I’m sure was a surprise to my mom. In her mind, it’s 1950 something. No sooner than we got there, Mom said, “ready to go?” and of course I said, “oh no…you wanted to see her, we’re here, talk to her.” Do you think I was going to bolt so soon after being questioned day after day as to where her Aunt is, how she has no family and can I take her to see her. Oh no, we were going to be there for longer than a minute or two.
Now I didn’t expect any long or sensible conversation between the two, but I thought my mom would have done more than just smile. My Aunt kept repeating that we looked familiar, mom would smile and ask how she was and I was the one answering questions, mediating and having a conversation with a lady named Dorothy, who was sitting next to my Aunt. When we got there Dorothy seemed fine, I know not everyone in a home has Alzheimer’s, but after a few minutes, I could tell I was hoodwinked (LOL) not by her, but by me thinking she didn’t have memory issues. She is the nicest person and I actually enjoyed talking with her. There I was trying to communicate with 3 people with Alzheimer’s, I deserved a gold star!
While I’ve been around others with mental disabilities and Alzheimer’s, that wasn’t the part that had me shaken. As I looked around, I knew at one time, most of these people were highly functioning, highly thinking (for the most part), working and knowing people who are now reduced to not knowing where they are, who their loved ones are, what day or year it is or being totally non-communicative. That was the sad part to see what happens when your memory starts to fail you because your brain cells are dying off. Alzheimer’s is a very real and scary thing. Seeing the residents can be affecting, but I’ve been on this journey too long to let a visit like this take me off my game. What Alz can do and could do has me shaken…but definitely not stirred.