Monday, May 18, 2009

Mom's Alzheimer's Journey #4

Soon after my father died and Mom was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Mom decided she wanted to move into an assisted living community. My sisters and I realize how fortunate we are; many people who need such care resist moving. Not Mom. As a retired R.N., she was pragmatically aware of her disease and all it meant. In fact, she self-diagnosed her condition long before she was officially evaluated.

That hasn't meant, however, that her new living arrangement has been an easy transition. Yes, the place is very nice--and she knows she fortunate to be able to afford it. She loves not having to shop, cook and clean. Yet at first she missed her friends, her community, in her hometown. She (sometimes jokingly) complained about all the "old people" there--and also how little "sense" many of them seemed to have. She is aware of those in the locked-up unit at the other end of the building, the Memory Care section that is likely to be her destiny some day.

Mom became immediately involved in almost every activity, from attending Resident Council meetings, to attending the nightly movies and outings, and participating in the exercise classes. She began to make some friends, while at the same time often experiencing extreme frustration while trying to communicate (as her verbal skills declined). This didn't stop her from agitating for change when she believed there was a problem. For instance, she spoke up about putting Resident Council meetings on the schedule rather than expecting people to remember they were the first and third Tuesday of each month. Another time, she and other residents noticed that the servers sometimes handled the forks by the tines; others were hesitant to speak up, but Mom sure wasn't!

Also, the evening movies were starting too soon, in her opinion, because some people were still finishing up dinner. Again, she spoke up. Some of these interactions were especially difficult for all involved because of Mom's language decline. However, even though she says often in her journal that it's "easier to keep quiet," she certainly doesn't always do so (perhaps to the chagrin of those running the place where she lives!).

This entry continues the journal she began keeping when she moved. Previous entries are linked here:

Mom's Alzheimer's Journey #1
Mom's Alzheimer's Journey #2
Mom's Alzheimer's Journey #3

(Note: I've kept the spellings and grammar the way Mom wrote them so that readers can have a sense of her abilities but have included needed corrections and more information in brackets when necessary for clarity. I've also changed some names to protect people's privacy.)


Winter/Spring 2008

I think Bernice (a resitant [resident] here) has lost all of what she used to have--for instance, I think Bernice used to eat in restaurants but she has foggent [forgotten] that she did. For instance she forgot whach [which] questions. Whether she just fortgot [forgot] or or doesn't know it. I suspect she just forgot it. She has AZ.

I wonder what Tilly's -- a resistent [resident]--dignosis is. Something I wonder about sometimes. Probrbely [Probably] she's undiagnosed. She's an enimga [enigma]. She remembers songs from the past. But She forgets wahat [what] happened yesterday morning. She's good at the "word game"--the instructor put a long word--or sometimes two connecting words on the board (not a very good board). And she's very good at that, [at extracting] words from the long word. ...

My numbers confuse me. For instance, I can't tell time by the clock. Fortunately, I know what numbers come next [in a sequence]. I'm confused about numbers in other ways too. For instance, I could[n't] figure out how many dominoes I had the other day. I thought there were 7, but I was often wrong.

I repeat the last thing I heard over and over in my head.

I danced today because of a musical program here (I'm at [she wrote her new address here, correctly) the music was proded [provided] by a man who played ... It sounds like a piano and various musical instruments. We have [a] grand piano here & 3 regulars play it. ... Anyway, I danced a jitterbug. I received various comments ... My husband & I couldn't imagine life withoust [without] dancing ... We sometimes danced at home.

...

I communicate poorly. I leave out a lot of words. I just don't talk most of the time. It's easier than trying to explain what I mean. ... Except when I'm with Carole, who understands. A few other people understand my illness, too, and make allowances.

Certain things keep going through my mind--people and all kinds of things.

I'm getting more and more sleepy although my mind is active. I do a number of thing[s]--go for walks & I use the exercise room regullary (you can see what problems I'm having spelling & writing)

I got lost going to the senior center today [which is next door to the assisted living community]. It's not my usual "lostness" I'm sure it's a symptom of my disease I got lost coming back from my walk ... I not only got lost, I can't find my way around the senior center, too. I saw a program on Carmen. It was opera.

It doesn't make me feel any better to know people in "memory care" that I will be like them eventually.

Phyllis said I did well coming back from my walk today. I think I memorized my way back--maybe memorized isn't the word, at least I learned my way back.

I feel back for Phyllis. She's in a place she doesn't want to be. She wants to be in a [three]-level place--assisted living & a nursing home (In case she needs it) & independent living. She needs this place now for her sister who has dementia. They went to a place the other day that has all three levels but it won't be finished for 3 years. (That's good for me.) [Mom said this because she liked Phyllis a lot and didn't want to see her leave.]

...

I'm glad I'm not like one gal with AZ who can't even remember what she ordered for breakfast. ... It's Teresa that I have been the butt of jokes about but she forgets soon after & I don't know what to do about that. I blurt out answers I don't mean ... If I told her my diagnosis she'd forget soon after! She doesn't mean any harm. I'm probably too sensitive.

I want to give a copy of my books to the Senior Center [She's referring to the three books she authored]--also to the public library but I'm waiting for the rain to stop.

I find more & more difficulty making myself understood. I try but sometimes it's no use. ... I'm not good at m-power, a memory game which is sposed [supposed] to help memory. It doesn't help. ...

I've missed two council meetings & I don't want to miss another. I missed two of them because I went on Valentine's day with my daughter, Ann, to Yosemite. I forget where else when I neglected to go.

I spoke to the diatician the other day (I forget when) about handling the silvevar [silverware] and stacking unused dishes. I don't know when she will be back to do the training to show them how to do it. They shouldn't do that! She was concerned about it ...

...

I told Cathy, a woman who works here that she wasn't told that the movies should start at 6:45 rather than 6:30. The woman ... the assistant .. told me she didn't understand what I was trying to say. (It's not surprising since I have a hard time expressing myself.) I was trying to explain that the movies start at 6:45 instead of 6:30. As I say, she interrupted me & told me to calm down. She thought I was saying something else. Anyway, when ... I made myself clear at last, she apologized & said that she was sorry. I don't think these people have enough training to do what they do, but that would take a college education ...

I have another [doctor's] appt. to have my colon looked at. Oh, happy days.



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