Never Goodbye

Navigating the Journey through Dementia

Wild Times in the Roaring 90’s

This trip I just finished to Alabama was rather mild mannered. Not much new going on with pops—the same garden variety attempts to shake locked doors open and wheel away to freedom, all to no avail. We went for a few nice drives, the best of which was when I got him a chocolate milkshake. He was content to stay in the car and suck on the straw. I parked so we could enjoy the blossoming trees and budding leaves on a sunny spring day. I reminded him that his birthday was coming soon, April 1st. Although he spent his life as an April fool, he had no recollection of the many parties given for him where neighbors and friends played jokes and gave him gag gifts. Every year my mom would dream up a fake birthday cake, such as a pan covered with icing, a cake filled with sand and toy snakes, a talking cake, the cake that moved, etc. Dad enjoyed hearing the stories about his birthdays past.

Speaking of stories, while on my trip, I talked with a man who shared a tale few could top. His mother’s memory was failing, and so he put her into assisted living. She met a man there, and they became close friends. They started taking walks together, but would get lost because neither remembered how to get back to the assisted living residence. The staff at the residence was concerned and called the son about their walks. However, the son was not worried and figured someone would find them, and things would work out.

Next he got a call that a staff member found his mother sitting naked on her bed, in her private room. They assured him she wasn’t going out in public that way, so he figured she had the right to do as she pleased in her own room. Another call revealed that her new gentleman friend had started spending the night and was sleeping with her, in her bed. He told the staff that at 90 years old, his mother would never get pregnant, and if they enjoyed each others company to let them be.

If story were to have ended there, all would have been well. However, the son’s mother woke up one morning and wondered who that strange man was sleeping in her bed. Frightened out of her mind, she dialed 911 and reported the intruder. One incident might have been laughed off, but a routine ensued. Day after day, the gentleman his mother knew so well at night became a stranger by morning. The son searched for more a regimented lifestyle, without 911 calls and where each resident would stay alone in his or her own bed. Another assisted living chapter closed, ushering in a new life — a life of nursing home accommodations.

I’m sure many of us have interesting stories about our aging parents and the journey through Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to post it here on my blog.