Family Caregivers, Gram Helen's Story

You Always Have Another Chance

Last night, after a perfectly lovely evening with Grandma, I helped her get ready for bed.  I retired to my room to work, and felt so proud that our living arrangement was going so well.  Pride…it’s a fleeting feeling!!

One hour after going to bed, Gram got up, went to the top of the stairs and called down to my husband “Jim, what’s going on?”  I went to calm her and put her back to bed.  She was MAD.  She was sure that Jim must have been rude to her…and this was HER house.  When I assured her that Jim would never be rude to her, and I reminded her that it was my house, she really got mad.  She questioned me repeatedly about who was paying the mortgage.  Had she not put any money in?  Well, she’d pack her things and be out tomorrow…after she goes to court to make sure what I am saying is really true.

Where did this evening go wrong?  I have no idea what woke her from sleep.  I don’t know what dreams she was having, or what she was “seeing” as she walked from room to room.  I only know that she was mad and not reachable in the moment.  Did I handle the conversation appropriately?  No.  I actually said at one point “Now think about this, Grandma…”  Really, Marcie?  You’re reasoning with a person with dementia in the middle of an hallucination?  Brilliant move.

Of course when she woke up this morning, all was well.  She didn’t remember the incident at all.  The beauty of dementia…when you screw up, you always get another chance!  So tonight after she’d been in bed for an hour, she came into my room to see when I’d be going to bed.  She was just checking to see if I’d like to spend the night at her house since it was so late.  I smiled and said, “Thanks, Gram.  I will.  Love you.”  She said she loved me back, and went happily back to bed.

Now was that so hard?