Even in the End Stages of Alzheimer’s disease – Beautiful Surprises
By Lori La Bey of Senior Lifestyle Trends
Yesterday I went to go visit my Mother. It was around 4pm and she was having dinner in the dining room at the nursing home. Mom wasn’t too talkative today so I just stood next to her and massaged her head. Normally I would sit down and feed her, but she is almost done and staff was doing just fine getting her to eat. Mom seemed content so there was no reason to change things around.
The table where my Mother sits has a couple of my favorite residents. I will not say their real names. Betty, who is old and frail, is one I adore the most. Betty is thin with grey hair. Her skin is somewhat opaque and you can see her veins, skeletal, and muscular structure through it. She has a comfortable padded wheel chair with a table top which sits over her lap like a high chair. The table top I believe is so Betty can tap. She loves to tap in patterns. Her hand is usually beating to the rhythm of her voice. Betty speaks is repetitive phrases constantly. Her eyes are crystal blue and make me want to melt when I look into them. Betty always put a smile on my face.
Jane is another sweet woman who usually has a baby in her arms as she motors around in her wheel chair by her feet. She does not speak but yet her communication skills are strong through her non-verbal signs. Jane has this innocent and inquisitive look on her face at most times. Her smile too can make you melt. Her eyes always connect directly with yours and there is this loving calmness that flows from her, and when she smiles. I can’t even put into words how she makes me fees. Some days it makes me want to cry. In her smile she shares this pure joy which just beams from her presence. It is awesome to say the least.
Both of these women are gifts to me when I go visit my Mother. Today I saw something I’ve never seen my Mother do in the stage she is in now, her end stage of Alzheimer’s disease. As I stood next to Mom rubbing her scalp and talking gently to her, she spoke out. I don’t remember exactly what she said as it was so foreign for her to say this and the way she said it shocked me, but it went something like this,” Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Yada, Yada, Yada, Yada,” and then she smiled and giggled briefly.
Mom was mimicking Betty. She was looking directly at her and had been taking in everything Betty had been saying. She was teasing her. When my Mother stated these words in a rhythmic pattern, Betty lifted her head up and looked directly back at Mom. There was silence for a moment as the two women connected. The staff and I watched in amazement at this unusual interaction. It was quite beautiful although brief it once again showed me the powers that lie within each of us when we chose to grab a hold of them and reach out. Even in the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease when communication is minimal, there are surprises to be had if we watch for them.