One day, I decided to be brave and brought Mom out to lunch. It was special because Mom only heads out for medical appointments nowadays. (How did it come to this? Let me think about it and cover this in another post)
Anyway at lunch I put her to the test – and asked if she could still count. Yes, she could! From one to ten, and then backwards form ten to one, more slowly and with slight errors. She could add single digits, but when I asked her to minus, she couldn’t do this anymore. Ten minus eight is “I don’t know, eight?” Three minus two is… “???” She just couldn’t do it. She knew it sounded easy and was just as puzzled why she couldn’t manage it.
About 6 years ago, when I first brought Mom for screening because I thought she had early dementia, Mom could minus 7 from 100 all the way down. The tests pronounced her normal, but we knew she was already different.
She can no longer tell her own age nor understand who’s older or younger. But she loves a birthday cake and song, and happily joins in no matter whose it is.
Early in the flight I heard the stewardess checking on the dietary requirements of the passenger in front of me. “Hello, Mr K, I’m confirming that you requested a vegetarian meal?” “No no,” he said, “I didn’t make any request.”
“Are you Mr. K? It says on your ticket you need a vegetarian meal?”
“No no, I didn’t make any request.”
“Okay, can I bring you a vegetarian meal? Will you have that?”
“No, no. I don’t want vegetarian.”
“Are you not vegetarian, can you eat meat?”
“Yes, anything is okay”
“Would you like me to cancel your vegetarian meal and get you a normal meal then?”
Half an hour later the lunch cart came round and a different stewardess asked, “Pork or chicken?”
“I can’t take that”, he says, “I’m vegetarian!”
And the stewardess says, “Did you request for a vegetarian meal? There’s no sticker on your seat for a special meal. Ok, let me check with my colleague.”
As she goes off to check (thus delaying MY lunch), I was incredulous at the behaviour of the chap. Was he forgetful or plain bad at communicating or a sociopath out to create trouble?
I started this blog over 3 years ago, to have some sort of record of Mom’s progression with dementia. Nonetheless, if I were to look back and read through what I’ve written, the progressive losses would not be obvious at all. Most times things change very little from day to day or from week to week. The pictures tell a different story though. Just looking at the pictures from a few years to a few months ago, and the contrast with reality today is stark.
4 years ago –
Mom is still living on her own, quite independently. She tends to overpack for her holidays, perhaps because she cannot quite remember what the weather will be like.
3 years ago –
Mom is living with me. She needs reminders to take her medication. She is over-friendly with strangers, and sometimes very fierce towards little children. Long walks start to tire her out.
2 years ago –
Mom is super observant, because she is now watching and copying what to do. At mealtimes, she copies my movements. She can still hold a conversation with some of my friends, and ask questions. She enjoys Dementia Day care. She tells me off, “I don’t like what you said just now”.
1 year ago –
She starts to be physically unwell. Climbing stairs becomes quite difficult. She starts to lose her appetite. Arguments start because she has forgotten what she did earlier in the day. Says, “Why do you ask?”
She is housebound, needs help with bathing. Eats with one utensil and one hand. Doesn’t like to go out, but smiles a lot. Says, “What to do? Life”. Frequently says, “I don’t remember already, so long ago.”
4 years ago, she was independent.