When a normal day with your demented parent is alarming

I visited with my parents yesterday. They both have moderate dementia but fail to recognize it in themselves or each other. They are now my “Gang of Two.”

Many parts of the visit felt normal. Then I get home to tell my husband and start with “Well, they were at the townhouse because they thought my brother was flying in today.”

I am very sure neither brother was flying in. My parents can’t recall why they thought that. I rearrange my plan for the day by taking them with me to a tennis match. They sat in the stands and cheered me on. We then went grocery shopping and I took them back to their retirement community.

As I’m leaving a tornado warning is announced and the power at the retirement community goes out. We light candles and chit-chat as we watch the storm clouds roll through.  When the storm subsides, I head home. It was a nice visit with my parents.

We had a few contentious moments when they bring up the car issue but it quickly passes. I stick to the minimal facts, tell them we love them and I understand how they must feel frustrated.

I realize the day only seemed like the old normal because we had a pleasant time together. I didn’t leave in tears, frustrated or totally depressed. The advice about keeping busy is true for both care giver and someone with dementia.

I love the expression “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and have seen how true that is when it comes to spending time with my parents. When in motion, my mom doesn’t have time to focus on her broken record topics.

Getting them out of their home and having an activity to watch or a task to accomplish makes a world of difference. Fascinated.

Watch out for the Goose Poop, Honey

I continue to try to enjoy the people my parents have become. My husband and children and I visited my parents at their retirement community today. I found remote-controlled boats to use in the lake by their apartment and thought that would be a fun activity to share with my dad.

After brunch, we went out to the lake. One of the hazards is the goose poop. I was surprised when my dad chose not to even touch the boats or participate, but to go sit in the shade and just watch. This is the man that would take us outside to see how high the soda can flew when he put a firecracker underneath it – he doesn’t want to race remote-controlled motorboats?

I have a 14-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl – so they quickly pick boats and plop them in the lake. Within the first ten minutes, one is caught in some bushes on the shoreline. We get the boat out of trouble, only to quickly need to rescue the boat again from another bush.

My daughter goes down and pushes the boat from the shore and I gun the remote. The boat is in shallow water and unfortunately, the boat sprays mud and goose poop right back into my daughter’s face. It was so inadvertent and so sudden it was funny. Even she laughed as I wiped mud from her face.

She was trying to help and I end up shooting goose poop at her. It certainly wasn’t my intention.

My siblings and I are bracing ourselves. For as hard as this has been, we know there is a lot more goose poop in our future. Expected.