Dementia complicates even the simplest shopping trip

sunglassesEach week Mom and I will run errands together which is usually just a trip to the grocery store. My Mom is able to put together a list and she enjoys these trips.

The preparation for the trip takes longer now — and it wasn’t a quick task previously. Before the new medication, my Mom would be a frenetic whirlwind of activity and she needed small reminders about the task as she searched for a pencil, paper, got off-task and started looking for something unrelated, got redirected and then searched for her purse, lost the grocery list … and we repeated this cycle a few times until we were ready to walk out the door. Now, she just moves slower and forgets what she was doing and a gentle reminder gets her back on task.

Today was a sunny, hot day and as we emerged from the building to walk to my car, my Mom staggered as if she were struck and shielded her eyes. She tried to stand still with her eyes closed but was teetering so I gently put my hand on her back to steady her. “It’s too bright out here!” she exclaimed. I offered her my sunglasses, but she declined and slowly opened her eyes to adjust to the bright light. She agreed that we should stop and buy sunglasses today.

I’ve shared how difficult it has been to execute any purchase. When we arrive at the store, I am surprised how quickly she found a pair of sunglasses. They were a great color for her and would do a good job of shielding her eyes. After we purchased them, my Mom dropped them in her purse. We stopped by the food court before we left the building and as we walked outside, I suggested my Mom put on her new sunglasses. She opened her purse and was surprised to find them there — but immediately put them on.

I told her the color was perfect on her and I thought she would be pleased to check them out when we got to the car. She looks at herself in the mirror and comments that while they look nice, she’s surprised to see such big glasses on her face — “I hardly recognize myself, ” she comments.

It was great to have such a successful trip. I’ve shared a picture of my Mom in her new sunglasses. Thrilled. 

How did you get Dad to buy the small bottle?

bigvodkaToday my 15-year old son came with me on my visit with my parents. Both of my parents were interested in running errands. Usually, my mom comes with me while my Dad takes a nap. Today, my Dad is excited to go to the store.

We had to park in the auxiliary lot, which means we had quite a walk to get to the car. I was glad to see my Dad moving so well. He shows no signs of a limp and the dance with the wheelchair two weeks ago is just another odd-ball story from this journey we are on.

For the third visit in a row, my mom wants to go look at “lollipops.”  That is what she now calls cotton underpants. She is only willing to buy one pair, so when we find the package of 3, she refuses to make the purchase. I calmly attend to my mom’s questions and let her make her own choice on this. I know I will have to buy them and sneak them in her drawer to get her to accept replacements.

While we are off on that mission, I asked my son to help Pop-Pop find the section with the alcohol. My dad wants to purchase some Vodka for him and Bourbon for my mom.

The drinking has posed some issues for us over the past few years. However, I’m more concerned that my parents have some things that keep them feeling independent and allow them to follow the same 5 pm “Quiet Time” ritual they have had since I was a small child. We run into trouble when they don’t realize they have already had their drink and return to the bottle for a second. Thankfully, they are now in an environment that can manage and care for my parents should they need help.

Typically, my Dad will grab the biggest bottle he can find. When I return empty-handed with my mom and we rejoin my son and Dad at check out, I’m surprised to see two quarts instead of two gallons.

As we are driving home, I ask my son how he managed to guide my Dad to the sensible choice. He chuckles and just mentions that when my Dad grabbed the first bottle, he was surprised at how large it was and just said, “Wow, that looks like a really huge bottle.”  My dad agreed, put it down and followed my son’s advice on which bottles to buy.

Out of the mouth of babes!  Blessed.