My mom had made some friends at the nursing home. She always sat at the same table and the same people always sat with her. At this point she had decided I was her sister. In her mind she had never had children. The resident that originally she thought was my stepdad was now our father in her mind. She had started taking care of him. He was now going willingly and happily along with this delusion. I played along with it. What else could I do? 

When I would get there and say hello she would always say, “Look, it’s Daddy. You need to say hello.” So I would go over to him and give him a hug. He seemed to enjoy spending time with her. It was nice. There was another resident who sometimes spoke English and sometimes spoke Italian. He had owned a restaurant in the North End of Boston when he had come over from Italy in the 60’s. He was a wonderful guy. I would interact with all of them. 

Marcos, the activities director, had now bonded with my mom. She loved him now when she demanded I keep him away from her the first day she was at the nursing home. He gave her little jobs to do during the day. He gave her projects to work on. He involved her in projects he was doing. He gave her crafts and activities to do. She loved all of that and I loved him for engaging her like that and picking up on her strengths. 

My mom now had a series case of “Look! A squirrel!” syndrome at this point, though. It was very hard to follow her when she was talking, but the constantly getting distracted thing made it even harder. Everything made her look around. She wanted to know every single thing going on at any given time. It was exhausting. Perhaps there was a bit of over-stimulation going on. 

It seemed to be causing some anxiety in her and I was concerned about that so I spoke with the nursing staff about it and they said they would take a look at her meds and see what they could do. Hopefully they could do something. I wanted her to be comfortable and as happy as possible. 

Dealing with a dementia patient is similar to dealing with a toddler. I found myself utilizing all the tricks I used when parenting my children. It was working, too! I felt like maybe I was finally starting to adjust to this new life. I don’t know if anyone fully adjusts, but it felt like I was starting to come to terms with it. There were less days that I cried before being able to start my car, so that was progress. 


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