The first few days with Gram at my house were not as easy as I thought they’d be. The plan was that Gram would stay with me during the week and attend Gentog. Perfect solution. She’s an elderly woman with dementia and an injury that needs healing…I own an adult daycare. What could be more perfect? One little hitch…she’s also a woman with a strong independent will who has lived alone for 20 years. She did NOT appreciate having to stay anywhere else at night or during the day. “I’d like to go home” is her mantra.
And so we spent the first couple of Gentog days explaining why she couldn’t go home. One afternoon that first week she put her purse on her arm and marched right out the front door. Now I’ve had to take a walk with dementia clients in the past. It happens sometimes. But when it’s your own grandma being angry and marching outside, it’s a little embarrassing. I walked beside her as she headed towards the highway. I didn’t initiate conversation…she insisted that she could walk alone, thank you very much. I told her that wherever she went, I’d tag along. As we neared the corner I worried about how far up the highway we were actually going to walk. As we reached the intersection she looked towards me and said, “They’ll be looking for you soon. We’d better turn back.” I told her she was right, and we rounded the corner and headed back to Gentog.
Thankfully that was the one and only escape attempt. After several weeks she still asks to go home in the late afternoons. Oddly, though, she becomes calm and happy as soon as we get in my car to head home at the end of each day. Even when she’s been anxiously and impatiently pacing and waiting to go. No more anxiety, just good conversation as we drive home…to my house.