Dementia Pandem(ic)onium

the-caregivers-companion300dpiAt six this morning, I heard it: the whirr of my mother’s chair lift coming up from the basement. She was fully dressed, and had her bags packed, which means she must have been up since at least three.

“It’s time to go to the train. Judge says I have to go to Vermont.”

That damned Judge — the one in her head, who keeps giving her these untimely messages — is getting on my last nerve. Now, some experts will tell you that when someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia has hallucinations like these, it’s better to go with them to their world, rather than force them back to yours. These experts have never dealt with a pandemic, so I try to find middle ground.

“Remember the quarantine, Mom? The governor says we all have to stay put … the planes and trains aren’t even running right now.”

“Your Dad says they want me there today. Then it’s off with my head.”

Her head is down, her expression angry. She is waiting for the next move. In this case, distraction. Time for the big guns.

“You know, Mom, we’ve been cooped up here for a few weeks now. I could really go for an Egg McMuffin. How about you? Would you like to go to McDonalds with me? We could wear those fancy masks I’ve been making, and take Sarah with us.”

“And orange juice? And hash browns?”

“Sure. Let’s get a little fresh air. We can’t go to the train because of the quarantine. But if we wear our masks, we can do the drive-through at McDonalds.” And, thanks be to heaven, she nodded her head and grabbed her cane.

I grabbed the car keys and followed. That Egg McMuffin was going to give us a stay of execution.

Has your loved one been experiencing a greater number of auditory or visual hallucinations in the last six weeks, since the quarantine began? How have you been coping? My friends Debra Kelsey-Davis and Kelly Johnson over at “Nourish for Caregivers” are putting the finishing touches on their new full-color journal, “The Caregiver’s Companion: A Christ-Centered Journal to Nourish Your Soul,” available in August through Ave Maria Press (you can pre-order the book here).

 

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