I made a new friend today. She was in the activity room where I visited with my Mama after work. I spotted her right away – a new face. I noticed her watching us while I was chatting with Mama.
Looking her way, I smiled. She smiled back, and softly asked, “Are you her daughter?” Nodding, I resumed my ritual of applying Mama’s lipstick and folding a tiny, minty breath strip as small as possible and popping it into Mama’s open mouth. Mama enjoys her teeny-tiny minty treats, and since they dissolve quickly I can offer her something that I don’t have to worry about her choking on.
My new friend stuck her hand out towards me and told me her name. We talked for a moment as she shared with me that her son lives in the bay area but he’s busy and they don’t get along well, and she has a daughter who is a doctor and lives on the east coast. She was hoping that her daughter might be out to visit this weekend.
Since she was talkative, I ventured to ask if she would mind telling me why she was in the care home. She smiled sadly and said she was having some memory troubles so she called 911. I must admit, I was a bit surprised as she had a laptop and seemed to quite ‘in the moment’.
She looked at Mama – who loves a good conversation as much as anyone, but is at the stage where everyone else has to do the talking, and then back at me. Hesitating, she asked me if Mama had dementia. I nodded. She said she couldn’t remember the exact term her doctor gave her, but it was something like dementia.
With a troubled countenance, she quietly asked me what happens next, and if she would know that she was remembering less and less. Big questions that I have no answers for. I replied that everyone is different, but there might be things she could do to strengthen what remains. Since she had a pretty pink laptop with her, I suggested that she use it as much as possible. Also, I’ve read that being social and visiting with others is good for the brain.
My heart was sad for my new friend when we said our goodbyes today. The knowledge that you are losing bits and pieces of yourself throughout each day could be quite the struggle.
While reading through various news and research articles tonight, I came across a bright spot of hope for my friend and others in the same situation. It was an article in Science World Report that reported on a new vaccine: “Scientists in the US and Australia are now testing a new vaccine that can supposedly prevent and in some cases, reverse the onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases related to it.”
Wouldn’t that be fantastic! In the meantime, I will be praying for my new friend and hope to see her again during future visits with Mama.