Monday, May 25, 2009

I'm ba'ack.

I haven't blogged in a while. I think because nothing really amusing or life changing has happened.

My life is a small world that evolved around my family, church and writing.

My dad being confined to the nursing home has changed my life, though. They haven't given us a clear diagnosis, but the thought is that he has alzeimers. He typically knows me and my kids, but he loses track of time and he really believes he works at the nursing home. There are days that he even points out his boss, and tells me about the work they've done on the outside of teh building. On other days he believes he's in jail.

Maybe our experience with this dreadful disease is something to share, because there is such a fear associated with it. What I've seen is that so many of these dear people are just looking for someone to talk to, someone to connect with. My dad is still communicating, still aware, still Grandpa. We sit outside, he smokes and teases the kids. He likes to go fishing, even if he doesn't catch anything. He can still play his banjo. He still remembers the words to the song, "I won't go hunting with you Jake, but I'll go chasing women."

Some of the residents appear to be in their own world, but if you stop and talk, they are still in our world, too. They're just looking for someone to step into their world with them. All too often, though, they seem to be forgotten. Few people visit. Fewer people stop to talk to them. They connect with the staff, the people who see them every day.

So maybe the greatest tragedy of alzheimers is that these dear souls are stuck in a locked ward with each other, the staff, and one sweet little dog for company. They ask if their families are going to visit. They ask when they'll get to leave. They sleep or walk the halls because they have nothing better to do. This is what their lives have become, but photographs hang on the walls outside their rooms, to remind them who they were. They were mothers, fathers, soldiers, teachers, nurses, police officers. And now they are forgotten.

The other day one of the ladies walked up and asked if she had my permission. I gave it, not knowing what she really wanted, just that she wanted permission. She took hold of my hand and stood next to me in the hall, smiling, holding my hand. She wanted permission to share a moment. After a few minutes she smiled and said, "That was very nice, thank you. I have to go home now and get some sleep. I never know when they're going to call me into work."

In her mind she has retained who she was, who she still wants to be. And what she, and all of the residents want, is someone with whom they can share those moments of remembering.


Jessica said...

That's so sad! I wish I knew how to go and visit older people. I don't have any family old enough yet (or close enough) but I visited my MIL's grandma a few times.
I'm sorry to hear about your dad. This is such a touching post and I think it's wonderful that you're willing to step into their worlds.

brenda minton said...

it has been a good experience for us, including my kids. Of course, seeing Grandpa, number one priority...but it's great to see them reaching out to other people.

If you have a nursing home, residential care facility in your area, they're usually thrilled to have people visit.