A Quiet Visit

A Quiet Visit           By Lori La Bey

Today as I sat and visited with my Mother I had to admit to myself I was struggling. 

Struggling to get her to engage me. 

To notice me. 

To react to me. 

As I felt a lump grow in my throat and my eyes begin to well with tears, I realized my focus was all wrong.  I had fallen back into one of my old patterns.  One of setting expectations of my Mother.   I wanted her to meet me where I was, verses me meeting her where she was.

Setting expectations is such a simple thing to do wrong when visiting a person with Alzheimer’s.  Depending on the stage of the disease they may not even know we have expectations of them.  If they do understand, they probably won’t know how to meet our expectations. Once I understood what was wrong I could correct the problem.  I could correct me.

I was able to adjust my focus back onto my Mother’s needs and not mine.  I could touch her and feel how soft her skin was.  I could see her briefly react to the touch of my cold hands upon hers.  I could look closely at her eyes and see her squint slightly, and sense she didn’t care for the bright light in the dining room where we sat.  I could watch closely and see she preferred the banana I was feeding her over the scrambled eggs by the way she chewed.  I could see her lips purse because she didn’t like the taste of the milk I gave her.  I could see a slight smile spread on her face when I told her we are planning her birthday party for New Year’s Day. 

It always amazes me what I see when I look for the right things. 

When I get out of myself and focus on her. 

When I engage her. 

When I notice her. 

When I react to her. 

When I accept the fact my visits are about her, but not just for her. 

When I take time to appreciate what I get from my visits with her. 

What she gives me. 

What she allows me to see. 

What she allows me to feel. 

How rich and fulfilling she makes my life no matter what stage of the disease she is in, or what type of day I am having. 

My Mother is a gift to me and always will be.

9 Replies to “A Quiet Visit”

  1. I read this post with such familiarity.

    In my journey through my mother’s dementia, I became very dejected about the lack of conversation, acknowledgment or feedback of any kind. I would leave the visits feeling empty.

    Then, I discovered that I could “talk” with her through feeding her. While she lost many other abilities, she was able to eat until close to the end. By feeding her I could illicit a response – pursed lips if she didn’t like something, enthusiastic chewing if she did. It became a way to actually interact with her. And it actually left me feeling better about my visits with her because we connected over one of our shared passions: food.

  2. The website I included is the blog that my mother is writing as she cares for my father, her 4th caregiving experience for Alzheimer’s. Your mother and my father are about in the same stage of this disease. I appreciate your candor as it relates to your caregiving, something that I know my mother would identify with, but as I live 2 states away, not so much.
    As such stories are shared, hopefully the ramifications of this disease will be noticed more, and more energy and funds can be spent on finding a cure. Thanks for your good works.

    1. HI Deborah
      I appreciate you comments and truly believe the only way we will make changes in how people deal with this disease is to totally be honest and open about our feelings. That means the good, the bad, and the ugly! We have to feel these emotions to move past them and create joy and find peace.

      Thanks for following!


  3. Hi, thanks for the conversation but most seniors can benefit from available technologies such as hearing aids to combat dementia and memory loss. Simple technology integration such as the ones in Starkey Evolv that reminds the patient to take medicines, or fall detector or so is not new technologies but a simple integration and extension of the application. Just mu 2 cents. BTW I’m an audiologist in South London. Thanks

    1. Hi Koorosh Nejad I appreciate your comment and I would love to learn more. I know Starkey is located in Minnesota in the US where I am located. I’d be very interested in Having you as a guest on Alzheimer’s Speaks Radio as well as someone from corporate, if that is of interest. Please let me know your thoughts. Lori La Bey

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