Three Important Things to Practice When Visiting a Parent With Dementia

This experience is constantly teaching me new things. I am learning to appreciate that aspect of my journey since I believe you either expand your mind or it begins to contract. Every day I see my parents, I stretch my grey matter.

Three things I’ve absorbed and practice with my parents include:

After lunch with my parents at the retirement community, my whole family goes to visit in their apartment. My mom has written up several questions she wants to cover with me: “Have all the kids claimed the items they want in the townhouse?”;  “Should they put up the wall between the two townhouses?”; “Can we pay you to drive us instead of calling a cab?”

My mom asks me the questions, but doesn’t take notes. We go through each item and I work very hard to avoid using “Remember?”  I also keep my answers simple and short.

When my mom hits the last question on her list, she goes back up to the top.

By the end of the second cycle, my dad starts to get agitated. He’s slapping his hands on his legs in what feels like “hurry up” in his own sign language.

I work very hard to keep a smile on my face and remain patient. My husband and son are watching this entire exchange and I can feel their eyes on me. I know in their heads they are begging me to end this conversation, but they are both sitting still and quiet.

My brother told me over a decade ago that when you want someone out of your office, stand. I’ve used it for many years in the working world. Today, I used it at my parents house.

I wait until my mom takes a breath and before we enter the fourth round, I stand and thank them for the lovely brunch. My dad, husband and son all immediately follow my cue and we move into the good-byes. Celebrated.