I’ve had to make an adjustment to how I visit my mom. The community is dedicated to memory care so on any visit, I could be walking in to find a resident who is frantically searching for their dog and asks for my help, or one that has just decided to follow me and is trying to walk out the door with me when I leave.
I’m slowly getting to know the other residents. A few immediately made themselves known to me, but many of them don’t speak so it takes time to get familiar with the residents. On a beautiful day, we go outside to sit under the gazebo. One resident settles in next to us but doesn’t speak. A second resident walks by and we invite her to come join us. As she gets ready to sit, the first resident reaches out and pokes her right in the behind. I giggle and make eye contact with the woman who did the poking and she winks at me. She tries to speak but garbled words emerge but she continues to smile at her prank.
Thankfully, the second resident doesn’t mention it and joins as we discuss the beautiful weather. I saw how the disease changed my parents in two very different ways. Now I’m seeing a whole new host of behaviors. Some of the residents are delightful and always smiling and others are argumentative and confrontational.
For years, my mom swung between behaviors and I learned Three Go-To Tactics for Dementia Caregivers that served me well. I believe the lion emerges when she’s frightened and confused. We worked with her doctor to find a medication that would help as well as a found a new community that is dedicated to supporting those with dementia.
I grew up moving a lot and learned to take everyone I met as they are and quietly watched to see how they behaved. My habits have had to change and after watching dementia in my parents and in others, I don’t believe that man who repeatedly bangs his walls with his hands had a violent personality before or the woman who will come up and tell me to go sit down was bossy before dementia. It’s such a cruel disease that steals so much from all of us. Acknowledged.