Lady Alzheimer’s Not Happy

April 6, 2009 at 9:21 am (Uncategorized)

Team, I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a long day, spent mainly on public transport getting to and from Nana’s. And now I am in the midst of dinner preparations, but my puree is pissing me off, so I’ve left the kitchen and that unwatched pot can really do whatever the fuck it likes, I’ve stopped caring. Burn, baby, burn. I thought I’d post quickly instead.

Nana’s was interesting. I got a call from Julie from ACAT as I walked down Nana’s street. She’d already been up to Nana’s and left.

“She got a bit hostile,” Julie said. “And was pretty upset about some books on the floor.”

“I’m nearly there,” I said. “She should be okay if I’m there with you.”

“I’ll wait for you outside. I want to talk to you  before we go in.”

We briefed each other out on the street, and I signed a couple of forms that basically mean Nana qualifies for high level care should she need it.

“I asked her about Ballina,” Julie said. “She wasn’t too happy when I said she’d been there for a number of weeks. She was very insistent that it was only for a few days and then she brought herself home.”

“Oh yeah,” I said. “She doesn’t have a clue. She’s just making it up as she goes along. But I do find she gets pretty aggro if you challenge her version of reality. I think it’s better if we just go with whatever she thinks instead of trying to insist on something she clearly doesn’t remember.”

Julie agreed, and she’s a nurse, so up we went. 

Well. It was immediately obvious that Nana was not going to take a shine to Julie. No way, no how. She all but hissed through the door at her. What’s more, Nana’s decided I’m responsible for the book towers. She thinks I planted them there while she was away. 

“Actually I tried to remove them,” I said. “But I don’t have a security key so I couldn’t get in.”

“You’re the only one with keys,” she said. “I assumed you put them here.”

“Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, I didn’t.”

Julie tried to do a few tests to get an updated appraisal of Nana’s deterioration, but Nana wasn’t having a bar of it.

“This is stupid,” she said. “I’m not doing this. This is a total waste of time. I’ve got things to do.”

And then she rounded on me.

“I must say I’m not very happy about this and the fact that I didn’t know she was coming.”

“Nana,” I said, “I called you this morning on my way here. I told you I was coming, and I told you Julie was coming. I reminded you that Julie’s been here once before, and that she wanted to have another chat with us, but you said you didn’t remember, so I said oh well, I’d be there too. And here we are.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“No,” I said. “Clearly. But I did call, and we did speak, and I did tell you.”

“I came home and all these books were here,” she complained, throwing out her arm in the direction of the books.

Julie and I exchanged glances.  

Oops. My puree really has become soldered to the bottom of the saucepan. I must try and save dinner, since it’s too late to do much about saving the day.



  1. litlove said,

    All I can really say is that you have my complete and heartfelt sympathy. I have no idea what anyone does with an elderly lady so divorced from reality. Poor Di. It’s you I feel for, as your nana is clearly still getting more or less what she wants, even if she doesn’t know it.

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    My sympathy, too!

  3. Grad said,

    We’ve seen this with Shorty’s sister. Anger (at who knows what), suspicion of everyone, denial of a problem…they are all symptoms of this disease. It doesn’t make it any easier for the caretaker, however. Hang in there, kiddo. I thnk your Nana is very lucky to have you there for her.

  4. kate said,

    Nana is very lucky Di, and I know that Granddad would be very proud of you too.

  5. doctordi said,

    Thanks, ladies. Kate, have you managed to send the security key?? If so, it hasn’t arrived, which is not ideal!! But send me an email and let me know – I should be able to order one from management if it’s gone astray care of Australia Post.

    Grad, you have nailed it. That’s exactly what her temperament was like yesterday, and apparently she started shouting in the chemist last week (where they are so, so unbelievably kind to and patient with her) about someone pushing in. She said yesterday ‘I’ll tell you one thing, I want to know about every decision, I’ll be making the decisions around here,” and I said “Nana, I have not done one thing without discussing it with you first, I haven’t made a single decision without you,” but the truth is, that may have to change as she worsens, and maybe some still-lucid part of her recognises that and is fighting it. Which, let’s face it, is totally fair enough. The future must be more terrifying for losing a grip on your past.

  6. davidrochester said,

    Oh, it’s so hard to take this kind of thing with a grain of salt … as Grad says, the anger and hostility and paranoia are all symptoms, but they feel so personal when they’re directed at a caretaker. There’s a special place in the Heaven I don’t actually believe in for the caring family and friends of Alzheimer’s patients … it’s a unique form of pain, I think.

  7. couchtrip said,

    Is it totally insensitive to mention Lady Gaga at this point? But on a more serious note, I had mixed reactions here. I can understand that anger almost seems to be her last resort but it’s obviously really tough to deal with because it’s largely not grounded in reality. I also think you’re doing an excellent job.

  8. doctordi said,

    Who’s Lady Gaga?? And no, I say send in the clowns – I’ll take laughs any day.

    I don’t believe in that place either, David (but thanks!), but I think you’re right about the uniqueness of the pain – it’s a pretty crazy disease. I’m kind of inured to some of what Nana’s flinging my way simply because we weren’t close traditionally, so it makes some of this easier, not harder, because the capacity for hurt is totally mitigated by a lifetime of general indifference. I stepped up a number of years ago because when the family *imploded*, she was dumped by my “mother” and three of my four other siblings, all of whom were also living in Sydney at the time. Kate wasn’t, so it was really up to me to make sure Nana was all right. Which is fine, and our relationship has certainly improved for it. But it’s water off a duck’s back mostly – I’ve had worse!

    But thanks for the props, guys, it does help knowing I can check my reality against some sturdy pillars and come out of the dementia cave feeling right way up.

  9. Pete said,

    Lady Gaga is an American singer (Just Dance and Poker Face). Pretty dire actually.

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