Lady Alzheimer’s Dance Card is Full

November 13, 2009 at 6:54 am (Uncategorized)

In case you’re all wondering why there’s been a lack of Lady Alzheimer updates recently, Grad’s last comment reminded me to let you all know that, damn it, I’ve tried calling – several times today, and several times this week since we got back from the Happenin’ ‘Hai. The fact is, I can’t ever get Nana in her room these days. No, she’s too busy yucking it up as a lively member of the St Andrew’s Follies to ever be available for a simple phone conversation with her poor forgotten granddaughter – sheesh!! Kate says that whenever she visits and tries sitting Nana down to a caramel tart (because the best way to any of our hearts is straight along the pastry path), Nana’s always craning her neck to see what she’s missing.

“I think I’m supposed to be over there,” she says, gesturing madly in the direction of whatever hijinks are afoot.

Kate has to food bribe her just to get Nana to sit with her for ten minutes. The caramel tarts are especially effective because Nana never thinks she’s had one before.

“This is nice, this thing,” she apparently says. “What is it?”

And then she’ll swivel around in her seat to let Kate know she’s got places to be and people to see. There may be a baleful stare or two thrown in for good measure, the type children who want to play outside tend to give their long suffering mother over the dinner table. Kate regularly updates her photos on Facebook so I can at least see Nana more regularly than I can speak to her. There’s a new photo up and Nana is positively beaming. She just looks so happy. And healthy. So healthy, in fact, that Kate’s had to go out and buy Nana some new clothes – she’s put on enough weight that her clothes are too tight! Fantastic! There she was not so long ago practically off her food – a crisis if ever there was one. Kate and I both nearly cried when she told me. It just means so much to know Nana is not only being well cared for but is genuinely enjoying herself.

She’s never in her room because she really does have much better things to do than sit alone in her room waiting (in that three-second-memory kind of way…) for the phone to ring. This is of course the best case scenario, but, you know, can’t she pick up the bloody phone once in a while?



  1. piereth said,

    GREAT to hear your grandmama is so happy and is eating so well! There’s been a bit of a dust-up here in the UK this week as it appears doctors have been routinely prescribing antipsychotics to Alzheimer’s patients just to keep them quiet. Although studies show that a full program of inclusive activities involving music, dance, reminiscence, cooking, singing and gardening and so on has far more effect and a far more positive outcome.

    The home Lady A is in sounds fantastic. You’ve done so well to protect her – brilliant.

    • doctordi said,

      Piereth, it really is an amazing place – so amazing I have had actual nightmares about something going wrong – Kate and I still can’t quite believe our luck getting her in there.

      That story about drugging out patients just to keep them quiet is GRIM. And Nana is Exhibit A of how well Alzheimer’s sufferers respond to stimulating environs.

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    awww, but that is wonderful to hear! thanks for the update.

    • doctordi said,

      Lilian, every time the phone used to ring out at Nana’s flat, I’d be gripped by the fear that she’d fallen, or gotten lost, or met with some serious misadventure. Now, whenever the phone in her room rings out, I sigh happily and think, “Nana’s off doing something fun.” It’s incredible.

  3. davidrochester said,

    Oh, that’s fantastic! A lot of older folks *without* Alzheimer’s just give up on life, so it’s particularly wonderful that she’s so involved and interested … what a blessed relief that must be for you and your family, esp. after you worked so hard to get her into this facility.

    The bit about her needing new clothes reminded me that my Alzheimer’s aunt has reportedly begun wearing her pants backward. Looking at my own pants, I simply cannot imagine how this departure in fashion is physically possible. The caretaker aunt had the same question, but Alzheimer’s aunt assured her that “It’s perfectly comfortable … I just have to be careful about what I put in my pockets.”

  4. doctordi said,

    Blessed relief. That’s exactly how I’d describe it, David.

    Your aunt’s back-to-front pants again show how much unintended humour there is in the world of Alzheimer’s – and it also reveals that odd lucidity, whereby your aunt can discuss quite sensibly the strange things she’s doing.

  5. Grad said,

    This is just the BEST news!! I’d have shouted out loud, but I’m at work and it may have jolted my assistant awake from her hangover-induced nap. All I can say is my old friend, Viola, would applaud Nana with great gusto.

  6. woo said,

    Wonderful news about your Nana. I still have vivid and painful memories of my own grandmother in a hospital with Alzheimers: not good. I’m delighted to hear that the place where your Nana is has such a positive therapeutic environment – so many places seem to have the attitude that “well, there’s nothing that can be done” which infuriates me beyond belief.

    Way to go Nana!

  7. doctordi said,

    Woo, I’m sorry to hear your own grandmother had Alzheimer’s without the sensitive care – I can’t figure out if it’s simply St Andrew’s, or if things have markedly improved in Australian nursing homes in general. Certainly Ballina seems a geriatric wonderland and gets my vote – I’m still chilled by early childhood memories of visiting my great-grandmother in a grim place in Sydney that became her last address. Brrr.

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