- Aging & Longevity
Excerpt: Give Us This Day: A Journey of Trust
This is a chapter of my inspirational self-help book about dementia and nursing homes. When I look back on the happenings of this time of my life, I thank God we made it through this difficult period. Please know that if you are in this place, things change and hopefully, get better.
Dream World or Physical Causes
“There were these robots outside and they had big
“Well, Mom, that was a really weird dream.”
“It wasn’t. I got up and looked out of the window
and they were really there.”
“What? You know that can’t be. What do you
think, you’re in a sci-fi movie?” I laughed.
“It was very real. It seemed real.”
“Mom, it must have been some cars out the window
that you saw after a dream. The lights would have been the
“Maybe. But sometimes there’s a man, too. He just
stands out there and stares in at me.”
“Are you sure? Maybe he’s waiting for a bus or
“I’m sure. He looks right in at me.”
Now, I was extremely concerned. What if someone
was trying to intimidate her somehow? I didn’t know
whether to call the police or if she was dreaming. She was
still sleeping a lot.
“Debbie, I think she’s living in a dream world.”
“Yes, but what if there’s someone really there.
Should we call the police?"
“Last time she said she called the police, and they
“Yeah, and she just said they didn’t find anything.”
“How do we know this really happened?”
“I called and they said we could get a copy of the
police report for that night.”
“We don’t even know what night!”
“Yeah, all the more reason to get her moved to a
“Judy, I just thought of something... maybe it’s just
her eyes! We should get them checked.”
“It probably is! Her mom had cataracts. Of course,
you would see things funny, if you had cataracts. We better
do that before she calls the police again."
Assisted Living Can Be Fun
“I feel like I’m doing something bad, Rod, like I’m
trying to put my Mom in a home”
“No, I’m not! I’m just trying to find her a nice
apartment where she’ll be safe.”
“You know, I’m just kidding.”
“I know, but I do feel like I’m doing something
wrong. She’s my Mom and I feel like I’m pulling the rug
out from under her, conspiring with my siblings against her,
as if I were a naughty child.”
“You aren’t alone. Your brother and sister are going
along with it, because they think it’s necessary.”
“That’s just it! Going along. It seems like I’m the
one doing it, just because I’m doing all the research, and
feel the strong need to move forward. She shouldn’t be
alone in that apartment. Who knows what might happen to
her? Besides, if she gets around people her own age again,
she might perk up and want to do things. They have all
kinds of fun things to do at these retirement communities.
It’s just going to be very hard.... to get her moved and all.
And, I don’t want to be the only one, so she thinks it’s me.
Debbie and Ed Will have to be in on this.”
“You’ve always been able to get her to do things...”
So I did. After compiling information on retirement
“villages” in the area, Debbie and I looked at a couple and
actually tried to picture Mom in them. We wavered back
and forth on them, and tried to get my brother’s input, but
he said whatever we decided was fine. He even came up
and looked at a couple, which really helped ease my mind
because making serious decisions about our mother’s life
was something for which I did NOT want full
responsibility. What if we picked one that was horrible?
And, Mom was mad! It was a gamble. But we could move
her again...and again ...and again.... what if it turned out
like the housekeepers she never liked? We went through
three of them.
The trick was to make Mom “want” to go. It’s not
like these places are “old folks homes”. They actually seem,
for the most part, like apartment living with older people
and more staff. There’s also a main dining area for the
resident who want to use it, and other convenient services
like a hair salon, and a little store, and some transportation
to events and activities. We thought it‘d be great for Mom
and she might even get more socially active again.
"Descent into Madness" or Dementia
“I’m mad at Ed! He wants to put me in a nursing
“I don’t like him anymore!”
“Mom, we all just want you to be safe. I asked him
to take you to see some places and they AREN’T nursing
homes. They are just apartments. You can just stay in your
apartment like you do now. But, if you wanted some help
with something or needed something at a store, it would be
right there for you. We just want things to be easier for
“You all just want to get rid of me.”
“Mom, I’d still come all the time, but instead of
always having to spend our time doing laundry or cleaning,
you’d have people doing that for you... And, you could just
go to the lobby and get your hair done when you wanted
to, and not even have to go outside. It would be easier for
The quintessential mother, she admitted it would be
easier on me and that I wouldn’t have to do so much for
her. This was exemplified by the problems we had when
she had her cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery on the first eye went well. The
hardest part, besides arranging all the appointments and
going to the eye doctor a lot, was getting her to put the eye
drops in her eyes several times a day. There were four
different kinds of drops, too! I spent much time on the
phone, and was totally stressed, because I was never sure if
Mom actually got the drops in her eye, or if she was going
to go blind from an infection. We had hopes that after the
surgery there would be no more robot visions.
“Those people next door are out to get me. They say
mean things to me all the time.”
“Like what, Mom?”
“They said I left dirty laundry in the laundry room
for days and stunk up the whole place.”
"MOM, I’m supposed to do the laundry. Why were
you down there?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think it was me.”
“Well, don’t let it bother you. They were probably
mixed up. Just tell them that you have your laundry done.”
“They look in my window and make faces at me,
“They’re probably just going by, and don’t mean to.
Just pull the blinds. You shouldn’t have them open all the
time, anyway. Strangers might look in.”
“There’s a nice, kind, man who looks in all the
“You mean, like God?”
“No, a real man. A handsome, very kind man who
likes me. I see his face all the time.”
“Mom, it’s in your dreams. And, it sounds like God.
He’s a nice kind man who loves everyone.”
“No, Judy.... I know what I see.” She sounded
condescending, like I was crazy. “He looks in with big eyes
and his face is so kind...”
“Where, Mom? Show me which window.”
“Right there. The big window. See? He’s there
God Almighty! Her mind’s gone! I can’t believe
this. There was nothing there. I guess she had hinted
around about this, but I just thought it was her eyes, or a
“Mom, there’s trees and shrubs. Look, that one kind
of looks like a man. Your imagination is doing the rest.
You’re probably communicating with God.” I thought sure
she’d buy that.
“NO. It’s a real man. He’s very kind, and he visits
all the time.”
Siblings Must Act for Aging Parents
“Debbie, I’m really scared. We’ve got to get her out
of that apartment, where she’ll be safe.”
“But Judy, they won’t want her in anywhere, if she
says those weird things.”
“She doesn’t say them all the time. We go out to
lunch and she seems perfectly normal.”
“Well, that’s good. But I still think we need to have
her tested, or at least tell her doctor and he can do tests.”
“Debbie, you know how she’s been living, and how
she probably misses her old boyfriend. If she gets with
other people and starts doing activities and such, she’ll get
right back to normal. She has a vivid imagination like me,
and right now, she probably feels like she needs a friend.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“There’s a move-in special this month at the Village.
They will move her for free and give her a month’s rent.
Let’s show her the apartment, and let her see the men there,
and she’ll want to move. I’ll tell her we’ll take care of
everything, so it’ll be easy for her.”
“Okay, call Ed and let him know.”