Why Thanksgiving dinner was late

“Dinner will be in another hour or so,” my sister Diane greets us as we walk in the door.

“Oh! Are we early?” I ask, checking my watch.  I’m the drum major,  leading the parade into her kitchen.

Diane faces me, smiling.  Ginger Rogers-style, I take three steps backward, out of the conversation circle. Diane is Fred Astaire, stepping forward in time with me.

Diane whispers through her smile. “At some point today, Mom turned the oven off, with the turkey roasting in it.  We think it was around noon.” Diane smiles and shrugs lightheartedly.  “She was helping.”

I smile nervously and give Diane a hug.

“Our best guess is that an extra hour is enough to thoroughly roast the turkey,” she continues.  “We just need to be flexible on the actual dinnertime, OK?”  I marvel again at my sister’s calm.

I step into the living room to find Mom sulking, having been asked to excuse herself from the  dinner preparation. Dad is pacing back and forth, brow furrowed.  I take a deep breath.

“Looks like we have time for a game before dinner!” I say with enthusiasm. “What’s it going to be?”

Since our lives are simple compared to what each day as a Caregiver asks of our Dad, my sister and I were able to take a breath, chose a calm response, and flavor our response to this twist with humor.  What we found is that this approach opened up possibilities for us to love-each-other-through-it-all.  

Think about it.  You could give your Caregiver a precious gift by reminding them that a response like this is available for them to use too.   One good demonstration from you could be enough to show your Caregiver how they might approach some of the surprises that come their way each day.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Friend on the Journey,

Barbara

Walkin’ After Midnight

ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND WANDERING


“Can I help you find something?” my husband Randy asks Mom as she comes out of our guest room and starts down the dark hall.

The clock on the wall reads 12:14 AM. Mom shuffles on straight ahead.

Randy rises from the couch and calls again to Mom across the kitchen. “Chris? Do you need something?”

Mom continues on her way.

Randy dashes through the living room to intercept her. He meets her at the front door.

Mom’s eyes are wide, frightened, lost.  She tries the doorknob.

“Chris, your room is this way,” Randy says, gently redirecting her back toward the guest room. And back she goes.

The next morning, we query Dad about Mom’s wandering. His response?  Mom has yet to ever wander.  So we present last night’s evidence to Dad: Dad’s sound sleep; Randy’s eyewitness testimony; Mom testing the door knob.  But the facts fall on deaf ears. Dad dismisses the evidence as circumstantial.

Case dismissed.

Sophocles wrote in Antigone, “No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” This is as true today as it was then. 

How are you managing your role as the bearer of unwelcome news?  For Alzheimer’s Kids who are also people-pleasers (like me), this can require triple measures of effort.  What effect is this role having on your relationship with the Alzheimer’s Caregiver in your life?