When Dementia Steals Away “Home”

Kate Swaffer is living with a diagnosis of dementia and has eloquently taught me and given me a better understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of this journey. I immediately connected with this post that speaks of the term “hiraeth” which means homesickness for a home in which you can never return.

On every visit with mom, I interact with 2 or 3 residents who are trying to get “home.” Some want to know if I can give them a ride, some want to know when family is picking them up, and some just want to know where home is. I also have frequent conversations with mom about going home, and it breaks my heart each time. I know for many moving into dementia, even home might not be “home” all the time. Shared.

Thanks for breakfast mom!

bacon and eggsI had a business appointment down the street from my parent’s retirement community so I told my parents I would join them for breakfast. I planned on meeting them at 9 a.m. I call in route and my mom says she’s looking forward to seeing me.

When I arrive, my mom is walking to her apartment with a piece of toast and bacon in her hand. She tells me she wants to drop it off and we need to hurry to get to breakfast. We drop off her bacon and toast and join my dad in the dining hall. I don’t ask any questions, I just follow her lead.

Apparently, breakfast stops being served at 9 a.m. My mom has a place ready for me with a plate of eggs, bacon and toast and tells me to sit down and eat. I start to decline and she tells me she already had some breakfast and that this plate of food is just for me.

There have been so many changes we are all adapting. Today, it was nice to have my mom serve me breakfast — it’s been a while. Touched. 

Where’s Mom?

duplicate bridgeI call my dad to tell him I’m on the way. He tells me my mom isn’t in the apartment, she’s playing bridge.

I’m surprised. My mom has never played bridge on a Wednesday at the retirement community.

When I arrive, sure enough my dad is sitting alone reading. We have a good chat and then decide to go get coffee in the community center. He suggests we stop by to visit where my mom is playing bridge. Sure enough, we find her playing duplicate bridge with 15 other women.

When my mom returns she tells me it’s the first time she has played with this group on Wednesday. She told me years ago that she could play bridge every day she wanted, there was always a game.  To my knowledge, she wasn’t pursuing any games outside her Tuesday game until this week.

I’m encouraged that she is trying to adapt and get involved at the retirement community. Hopefully, because playing bridge has been a passion of hers for so long (she is a Life Master), I can only hope she is managing at the table, and the others continue to encourage her participation. Celebrated.