Not quite the plan

on finding my groove as a 30 something single girl and caregiver for mom with dementia


When I get dementia.

Okay, my plan obviously is to try my best to avoid getting dementia in the first place.  And I have learned plenty about diet and exercise and lots of other factors that may reduce my chances.

But you spend this much time with someone struggling with it, and you cannot help but consider.  What would I do?

I notice that Mom does best with habit, so I would be focused on setting up a life that could become as habitual as possible to have some life quality for as long as possible.  It seems that people become increasingly complicated, so anything too social is likely more stressful.  But, getting out and interacting or having some significant stimulation on a regular basis is a good thing.

After some consideration, I decided on my plan.  At the first signs of serious memory loss, I would move across the street from a really good zoo and make a daily habit to walk there.  Every day I could see elephants and frogs and tigers.  I have always loved animals so this I think would keep me well entertained for a long time into dementia.   My dad always said that he thought I would grow up to do something with animals from how much I loved them as a kid, so the childhood regression that seems to happen would fit nicely.

So that is the plan.  Obviously there will be steps after that but from what I have seen of these years with Mom, there is some living to fit in.




Table settings.

Mom was always proper.  I was trained from a young age to have full table manners.  Any elbow on the table was commented upon.  Napkins were placed on laps.   And table settings were perfect; the knife, fork, and spoon were correctly placed in our house for every meal.  At one point in high school, a friend of mine was over eating with us and she was delighted to learn how to set the table correctly.  My mother taught her.  My response to that was vague amazement that my friend had lived to 17 years old without having that skill down.  I am pretty sure that I learned about 10 years earlier.  Mom’s training ensured that I never had to wonder which fork to use in a restaurant.

Tonight, I had a friend over for dinner, a friend that Mom gets on well with so we were all going to eat together.  I asked Mom to set the table, a task that just a few months ago would have been well within her functioning range.  I walked over after she had been working at it for a while to make sure that we were all set.

What I found was a table covered with a jumble of silverware — many more pieces than were needed.  It was all in a pile in the middle of the table.  I straightened it out into the settings for each person and returned about eight spoons to the drawer.  It was such a visual of just how chaotic Mom’s inner world must be.  At this point, to simply count the correct four spoons for dinner is too confusing of a task.

Happily though, in spite of the table setting challenges, she can still feel the happiness of good company and humor.  And since I don’t feel terribly strongly about table setting perfection, it was a lovely dinner.


Lost in Target.

So, I am in Target, frantically running through the aisles looking for Mom.  Just a moment ago, she was hanging out near me while I looked for a couple of new t-shirts for the summer.  And, then she was gone.  It took me a few minutes of looking before I started toward full scale panic.  I kept expecting to see her right around a corner but she apparently can move faster than I realized.

One of the clerks tells me that she can page my mother but I would give her all of a 2% chance of responding correctly to a page.

And mid-run, I realize, I have never seen anyone else running like a wacko through the aisles of Target looking for their mother.  Clearly, I lack all competence at this project.

Mom turns up a minute later near a bunch of beach towels.  Naturally.  She has found a new beach towel and is very pleased since we are going to the beach.  I appreciate this since I took her last weekend to the beach for mother’s day, so it is satisfying that it made enough of an impression that Mom remembers the trip a week later.  We will be going to the beach again this summer since it seemed to be a great outing.

We are home safe now with a Pierce Brosnan movie playing, but with a new level of awareness for me to watch Mom as closely as possible.



I haven’t written for a couple of weeks since I have been in the midst of the rather overwhelming process of buying a house.  It’s been several months coming but I was not really certain that I was ready to take the plunge until I made the offer.

I went and signed Mom and I up for living the foreseeable future in a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a rather nice patio.  It’s something that I have been considering since I sold Mom’s house to have her come live with me.  She has not been the biggest fan of the city apartment life though she has enjoyed some aspects, like when the St Patrick’s Day parade flowed by our windows a couple of months ago.  She talked about that for days!  But here we have street noise and not a spot of green out the windows and I question whether it’s the best place for a woman who lived most of her life in a comfortable house in the suburbs.

So, we are compromising between what I perceive to be her preferences and my own with a modest house on a cul de sac that is still central to the city.  I will be able to bus to work and walk to a farmer’s market, hardware store and a couple of bookstores.  Mom will be able to take walks around our neighborhood with me in the evening by trees and elegant houses… and possibly make it as far as one of the local ice cream shops.  And we will be able to fix up the house a bit which should tap into her previous life as an interior designer.  She already had comments on the house’s curtains so I know we are in for an adventure on house decorating!

Buying a house would be a big enough commitment under normal circumstances, but in this particular moment it feels all the more complicated.  Is this really the right place for Mom to do the rest of her aging?  I cannot know for sure, but it’s the best guess I have right now.  So, I plopped my money down and committed.