During the Covid-19 social distancing, Mom’s activities were severely restricted and she was not able to go for dementia group activities. As those activities have been allowed to resume, she was invited back.
She’s not so happy about it though. Her whole demeanour conveys, “What’s the point?” She leaves home for those activities looking glum. But she smiles again when she’s back, cleaned and settled. So I know she’s not totally oblivious to her surroundings although she is sleeping and has her eyes closed most of the time.
She doesn’t complain, probably because she has no urge to speak or express herself, or has lost the ability to do so. But I can read her expressions and I do try to update her what’s going on. She pays attention, and sometimes she rewards me by replying with one word or three. Mostly she simply nods or shakes her head ever so slightly in response to direct questions.
I wish she could say more. She’s obviously thinking about something. We can only guess what she’s thinking.
During the CB, or circuitbreaker which is what our lockdown was called, there were strict restrictions on contact with the elderly, particularly in care institutions. To protect the elderly, no visitors were allowed at nursing homes and elderly day care was suspended. These restrictions extended into Phase 1 after the CB.
Mom’s dementia is so advanced that she doesn’t miss dementia daycare. But perhaps daycare misses her. In any case, with the centre closed and the staff still on payroll someone probably thought something still had to be done for the patients by the staff. After all, the whole idea of dementia daycare was to stimulate the mind and slow dementia progress. And that should go on, CB or not.
I think that’s the idea behind the one-hour WhatsApp meeting. Every now and then the centre would call and make an appointment with Mom. During the call, Mom would sit facing the handphone, looking at three animated faces of the daycare staff and one vaguely familiar one (her own).
They would cajole her to speak and to sing. Sometimes they would speak the wrong language to her, which is not her preferred language, and Mom would struggle to respond in that language. Maybe they think that struggle is due to dementia, not realising their error.
Sometimes they would call her the wrong name and she would stare back at them. Maybe they think that’s due to dementia too. In actual fact she didn’t know they were talking to her, and if she did, she didn’t know how to correct them. Maybe she was offended. I would be offended too.
But it’s good that they tried some form of contact during CB and in Phase 1. Now that Phase 2 is here, elderly daycare is allowed to operate again, so things will be back to “normal” except plus face masks and social distancing. I wonder how the new changes will be accepted amongst the persons with dementia. I hope there are no covid breakouts amongst the elderly care centres.
Note: CB started on Apr 7, Phase 1 on Jun 2, Phase 2 on Jun 19.