Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reality Check

For those who do not live with an Alzheimer's patient, denial of reality is not only possible, it's probable. Heck, I live with a patient and I still sometimes fall into the mistaken belief (and act upon that belief) that Mummy gets where I'm going logically or that she knows who I am in some consistent way. Neither is true.

This evening, I listened to my mother converse with her sister. This sibling is not a regular caller so Mummy's state is something of a surprise to her. I have to admit that it was fascinating to hear the conversation. Mummy has great covering skills, so it sounds like she's following you and going where you're going, but only some of that is real. The holes in comprehension and connection with you may or may not eventually become clear. Tonight, the holes only become apparent when Mummy began asking about her 'people'.

My aunt, in her attempt to avoid the word 'deceased' or 'dead' tried with this: "Well, if you are 76 today, Daddy would have been 111 and Mummy, 109." Silence. Editorial comment: Mummy really is beyond the point of inferring anything. If you want her to know something, you pretty much have to lay it out there. Of course, my aunt, not being in regular touch and being separated by much physical distance, didn't know this going in to the conversation. When it became clear from the tone of the silence that Mummy hadn't understood, she simply had to lay it out there: "They are no longer with us." My aunt is a mistress of delicate statements and euphemism, so in that moment, she was forced to confront a new reality. She knew she would have to say the words. So in that moment, Mummy learned (once again) that her parents were gone and my aunt learned that her sister might be too.

Reality check. Reality? Check.

Another check: she is conversing with someone now and assuring them that her children are not here. Well, I'm on the computer in the next room. Does that count?

Reality check. Reality? Check.

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