Monday, November 15, 2010


It had been a busy day. Two of the residents in our home sat smiling at morning visitors who arrived full of voluble bonhomie. From out-of-town they were rightly pleased to have made the effort. With more kissing and laughter, they finally left.

Grace’s daughter visited in the afternoon with new shoes. Grace’s dementia had been shaken and stirred beyond her comprehension. Her eyes were hard, expressionless buttons.

She rejected the shoes by throwing them and shouting “No!”  Her controls, stripped by the loud morning activities, reduced her to brain stem-reactivity with bad language hurled at everyone.

The daughter left in tears.

When dementia is upset, everyone pays. Her anxiety and anger caused her to physically resist toileting and any bed preparation. For more than twenty minutes I stood beside her bed waiting her out.  She finally pulled her feet up onto the bed, lay down fully clothed, and grabbed the covers from me. Holding her head with her right hand she muttered, “I will kill you.”

I tried one more time. Before closing her bedroom door I blew her a kiss. Without changing facial expression, she took her hand from her head and “caught” the kiss.

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