I often think that life in a seniors’ residence must be routine, maybe even boring. And perhaps it is. If you have Alzheimer’s, the schedule is probably soothing—a predictable morning, the same faces every day, the same walk to the dining room—despite not remembering what the schedule is. And yet, we miss so much of what happens to Mom on a daily basis, even though between my dad and me, we visit her every day. For the past few days, Mom has had a bandage on her right ear. Ho
“Should we wake her up?” I asked my daughter. Mom was sleeping soundly, her earphones planted on her ears playing her special mix of show tunes and Klezmer, her eyes tightly closed. How tired she must be, I thought, not to hear all the noise around her. The TV was babbling in Russian. Residents were talking in their intensive nonsensical ways. Two of the nurses were trying gently to extricate crayons from the mouth of one fellow. Another resident was calling loudly for lunch.
Why don’t any of the Alzheimer’s books or websites prepare you for the rage? Or your helplessness and guilt when you can’t defuse it? We’d already walked out and come back twice. I’d even called her on the phone from the privacy of the study, pretending I was somewhere else to see if I could calm her. She stood by the door for two hours. Two hours! She tried kicking it, using a nail file, even a wet rag. She gathered things for her journey—a book, her nightgown, four bras—and