Today was a perfect visit! Mom was not hiding. I found her immediately in the party room where the residents had eaten birthday cake. When mom saw me in the doorway, she immediately jumped up and hugged me. She then took me over to meet a friend. She tried to introduce me but kept calling me the names of her sisters. Mom’s friend didn’t mind. He was not focused on us! It was sweet how mom kept trying to pull him into our conversation. Luckily, a family friend who resides there, Ms. Ellie walked over. She let mom hug her and they both talked. There was no real conversation, but both ladies were happy babbling!
I had brought a Reese Cup for mom. She loves sweets! I told her she would receive it once in the room. Walking became a challenge. Not because of her gait or being uncooperative. The problem was, mom started taking off her clothes! I insisted she keep them on or I would keep the candy. She partially obliged. We reached her room and only mom’s outer shirt and bra were off!
We made it back to her room with the rest of her clothes on. I was proud of her! She sat down on the bed and opened the candy!
After finishing the first piece of chocolate, mom had to wash her hands. She would not eat the second one because her hands were dirty! Mom has always had OCD with cleanliness. That remains a dominant trait!
Mom washed her hands and promptly returned. She grabbed her Reese Cup and went out to the hall where she heard voices. Mom being the social butterfly, was talking by the time I reached the group. It was a man, wife and their dad. They all knew mom. The daughter’s name was Mary Ann. She had spent several evenings with mom while visiting her dad. The first time she meet mom was several nights ago. Mom had been having an emotional evening. Mary Ann went to sit with her. Mary Ann shared with me that while sitting with mom, she felt prompted to go get a book from the bookshelf. Mary Ann grabbed one and took it to mom. Mom immediately calmed down and started talking as she touched and turned the pages. Without knowing anything about mom, Mary Ann had grabbed a fabric book. Mom was a renowned quilter and expert on fabrics before Alzheimer’s robbed her of the ability to continue. The book filled with fabric and Mary Ann’s kindness gave mom instant peace! I am thankful for this new friend who listened to the whispering in her heart! God sends His angels in many forms! (Psalms 86:12, Psalms 9:1, Galatians 5:22-23)
Yesterday Kincade and I picked mom up for an outing. Our first stop was Chick Filet. Mom loves ice-cream so I bought her a cookies and cream milkshake. Our second stop was Barnes and Noble because Kincade needed a new Bible and mom wanted something to read. Before going in the store, I told mom that she had to leave her milkshake in the car. She obliged!
Mom loved the store, especially the messy clearance table! She spent the entire visit stacking everything nice and neat! (1Corinthians14:33) She finally left the table because she had to go to the bathroom. Outings with mom is like having a toddler who is in the process of being potty trained! When mom says she needs to go, everything else is put on hold until she makes it to the bathroom! Yesterday she did well! She went into the stall and knew what to do without help from me. There have been times that I have taken her in and she stares at the toilet telling me she does not know what she to do! After the bathroom break, mom decided she needed to go to the car immediately! It scared me! I did not know what was wrong. I gave Kincade my credit card to buy our purchases and got mom to the car. Come to find out, NOTHING was wrong. She wanted her milkshake! The day’s outing was short, but I was exhausted by the time I checked mom back into AG! (Psalm 73:26)
Wandering in Alzheimer’s patients is caused by disorientation. Sometimes wandering occurs because the person is in search of something. Other times, the person believes they need to escape a situation. Mom has experienced all three of these reasons. She has become confused and kept returning to places familiar to her from the past. Many times she has tried to escape the house due to fear of someone killing her (hallucinations are common in Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s patients). The journal today is going to focus on her wandering to satisfy her need to find something like a bed!
The last few times I have visited mom, she was nowhere to be found. The staff laughed and said that she enjoys hiding from me! Reality is, she ‘wanders’ into other rooms. Sometimes she is there to organize closets. Other times she crawls into a bed and falls asleep. I think she is looking for friends and then she becomes distracted by closets and beds! Mom has always loved being around people. She likes being a friend to others. Her love is sincere though her actions are not always appreciated. (Examples are when she tries to help a person using a walker by guiding the walker. She will take peoples’ trash, even if it isn’t trash! Mom likes holding hands without understanding that not all people enjoys the affection. Sometimes she wants to push wheelchairs that she is too weak to push!)
Mom’s wandering has caused a disturbance amongst the staff. The first two times she disappeared, it took around 10 minutes to find her. Each time she was in a different room. The last time mom disappeared, it took closer to 20 minutes to locate her. The staff ended up conducting a sweep of the facility. Staff members took one side of each hallway and entered all rooms. After a thorough search proved mom was not there, a pillow was put outside the door. Of course mom was not found until the very last room was searched. I was impressed with the efficiency and calmness of everyone involved. When found, she was not happy about being awakened. When she was brought to me, she was grumpy and kept walking to get away from me! Eventually she calmed down and was happy hanging out with her daughter.
I got to mom shortly after breakfast. After fixing her hair, we strolled through the hallways. This sign was posted in one of the activity rooms. ‘Perfect’, I thought. Exercise from a chair!
Mom and I walked in and mom chose a seat. I pulled a chair up next to her. She was happy. While waiting for the class to begin, mom told me that her words were coming back. She was right. This morning she had been relatively coherent. It made me happy seeing her happiness.
Mom did well raising her legs simultaneously. She struggled alternating her arms. I had to place one arm on her knee while raising the other arm. Eventually she understood and could do it. After 15 minutes, I noticed that mom was beginning to ‘zone’ out and loose her enthusiasm. I asked her if she wanted to Face Time Ali. That perked her up. We walked outside and sat. I FT her husband. It took her about 2 minutes to understand that she was seeing him on the phone, but when she realized who she was talking to, her face lit up! She told him that she loved him!
When the conversation ended, I took her back inside. It was time to play Bingo. She loves this game. She was given her card and began reading it. She was very proud of herself! (I am trying to figure out how to upload videos to WP via You Tube so I can share with you.) To say I was proud of her was an understatement!
Mom was giving her chips to mark her card. Before she even touched them, she told the lady sitting with us that she could take her favorite colors. (The lady was not interested. She was ‘lost’ in the oldies music playing on the speakers.) Mom’s compassion towards her friends was evident! It is hard for me to witness when the friends don’t respond to her kindness! I understand that this disease does not always allow positive responses. I have witnessed mom and her negative responses towards kind gestures. Understanding that this is normal behavior, does not eradicate the hurt. We want kindness to be reciprocated by kindness.
Mom wanted to walk so Grant helped her stand up. As we started walking down the hall I became alarmed! Her gait was strange. She had to hold on to Grant and Lisa for support! I had her sit down so I could find a nurse. As I was explaining to her that she needed to sit because I was worried about the way she was walking, I noticed that one of the shoes had a lift! No wonder mom couldn’t walk. I told her we were taking those shoes off and walking back to her room. Instantly her gait returned to normal. Unfortunately her OCD kicked in. She did not want to walk on the carpet because her feet kept getting sandy! (OCD with Alzheimer’s can test the strongest of patience…)The three minute walk turned into a 7 minute walk, but it was a success. We made it to her room! Her face lit up like a little kid when Grant gave her a little bag of orange slices and chocolate covered almonds. (Those are happy childhood memories for me. When I was a little girl, shopping days would include going to Sears downtown. Walking through the front door, the first thing we saw was the candy counter. Mom would always get orange slices for her, chocolate covered raisins for me and Michelle and if I were really good, when we left, I was allowed a few pieces of candy corn!😋)
Riding in the car to visit mom, I had some apprehension. The ‘naughty’ reports (she had struggled the last few days, but the staff reassured me her behavior was normal and to be expected) made me nervous. As the children (today I had Grant, Lisa and Lucy) and I entered thru the front door, mom was the first person we saw. My heart sank. She looked awful (tired and unfocused). I asked the nurse how she had been. He told me she had a really good day! “Yay” I silently whispered. I knelt down in front of her and said, “Hi mom!” She refused to acknowledge me. She was fiddling with buttons on her blouse (I thought I had removed all of her clothes with buttons. I guess I missed this one). After I helped her with the buttons, she focused on my voice. It wasn’t my face that caught her attention, but Grant’s. She was so happy to see him! As Grant hugged her, I looked down and realized she had someone else’s shoes on her feet! It looked like she had been shopping! (Shopping is the term used when Alzheimer’s patients wander into other patient’s rooms and takes stuff they like.) The children and I giggled. I made a mental note to return them to the front desk.
Back in the room, mom finally had her feet clean and shoes on. We walked outside. She loved sitting and eating her candy. Suddenly, she was overtaken by emotion. She jumped up hugging each one of us. The simplicity of her love brought tears to my eyes!
After eating candy and hugging everyone, we went back inside. We helped mom complete a puzzle. She also had a good FT call with Ali and told him she loved him. It was a great visit!