One of my oldest friends (not old in age…,) called me day before yesterday to tell me she was moving out of state. We talked about the move, the job, etc…, for a bit and then started catching up on family and friends… I was telling her about Mema and her dementia. Her grandmother-in-law also has dementia, and has for a long time, so I inquired about her.
Her grandmother-in-law is terrified of all things and people foreign, or just foreign to her. (Dementia does crazy things… No pun intended…) So, when they told her they were moving to Colorado, she got all nervous and said, “Honey, do you think it’s a good idea to move that far away?” M, my friend, just laughed and said, “Grandma, it’s fine!” The grandmother asks if M thinks her son will handle it well, M says yes, that he’d be fine… “But, isn’t it going to be hard for him to learn a new language?” M just stared at her, I’m sure stifling a laugh (good thing Grandma’s blind…,) “No, Grandma he won’t need to learn a different language, they speak English there.”
They explained to her that Colorado was, in fact, part of the United States and there was no need at all for her worry. That the people there were just like the people here and no, they didn’t have to worry about catching strange diseases or being taken hostage or anything like that… That it was only a few states away… Apparently, it still didn’t register, though, because as they were leaving Grandma called out to them “Well, I hope you like it all the way over there in that new country of yours. Good luck. But, I still don’t think it’s safe.”
It’s sad what dementia can do… This weekend at Henry’s party, Mema wouldn’t come down off the in-laws’ porch when we were all swimming, etc… Their house is up on top of a hill and you cannot see the swimming area at all from there… Every time anyone asked if she wanted help down the hill, she said “Goodness no, I don’t want to be near any big, open water like that!” It’s a private lake… About 200 acres… Hardly big, open water… She also acted that way about the golf cart and the mule (not a hee-haw donkey, it’s like a four-wheel drive golf cart,) saying, “No thanks. I don’t want on one of those contraptions, for Heaven’s sake!”
We tried repeatedly to get her down there to sit in the shade on a swing. We told her that she wouldn’t have to get near the water, she could sit far back from it. My father-in-law finally got her down and onto the swing, where she fretted and worried about the kids playing in the water for about forty-five minutes before she asked my uncle to take her home… Before lunch was even served. It’s an hour and a half away… She was a wreck! She kept wringing her hands and saying, “Ooh, ooh, where did Avery go???” “Oh my goodness, that little boy is too far out!” “OH NO! Where is that kid walking off to???” It was probably a good thing she left, or else she may have given herself another stroke. Poor thing.
We still haven’t gotten a proper diagnosis for her. They say that it is probably dementia, but they can’t be sure… She has to go back in about six months for another round of tests. She went in and rocked some of those tests… Others, notsomuch… But, the ones she did rock, she blew out of the water… My uncle called the doctor and set them all up, saying that she was much worse and he didn’t feel comfortable with her staying at home alone. He said he felt like a complete dumbass when they got there.
He sat in with her on the first round of questions… They asked her where she was, which she answered correctly with a “hmph” and a look of contempt. Same with her name… She told exactly what floor she was on, who the president is, what year it is, etc… When they asked her to repeat the words red, table and clock, she said, “Red, table, clock. I remember those from my test last year.” My uncle sat there dumbfounded. This is the woman that cannot carry on a conversation anymore because she is so confused… And, here she was scoring a 100 on the Cuckoo Test. Figures.
Anyway, you never want to see your loved ones get old, or sick or hurt. It’s very hard to watch her like this. And, I know it’s hard for M’s family to watch it, too. At least we aren’t moving to a different country, Mema would probably drive herself crazy with worry. Although, I would hope that she isn’t so far gone that she would think that moving to Colorado would require one to learn a new language. Now that’s scary!
I wonder if Rosetta Stone offers Coloradonese?