Christmas and Parents with Dementia

FaithfulI am finding the holiday’s to be quite trying. The benefit is the variety of evening programs with music at the retirement community. The curse has been the additional tasks that come with Christmas holiday.

My mom has been asking where the 2011 Christmas card list was since Thanksgiving. On this topic, she knows we are in the 21st century.  On almost every visit, my mom has asked to return to their town house to get the card list. I let her know that we visited their townhouse, and checked every desk, cabinet and file folder with no success. Thankfully, I marked it on the calendar and ask her to check the date which helps redirect the conversation.

When I arrive yesterday, my mom is upset. She can’t find her gold necklace and wants to get to the town house to look for it. I know it was at their retirement apartment because she recently showed it to me. As we are checking all the usual hiding places, I find the 2011 Christmas Card list. I pass it to my mom.

We  have found the list!  As we move through the day, and I see all the card piles sitting untouched around the apartment, it dawns on me that my mom probably can’t get this simple project done. Her brain was fixated on the list. She knew she should be getting out cards but couldn’t problem solve that without a list, she could have mailed out cards as each one arrived. Even with the list, she is unable to figure out the next step.

I ask my mom to sit down and help me put the 2012 Christmas Card list together. I get her stuffing while I address the cards. As we are working through the cards, I ask her about the people. Today, my mom is unable to tell me about any of the people on their list.

How many of us are wondering if this is the last Christmas we will spend where our parents still recognize who we are?  Today, I will savor the moments. Cherished.


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