Friday night –
- Conversate and engage my grandmother. One would think this is obvious but I could easily just sit on the couch and zone out to decompress from my full day at the office. So why is it important to talk with my grandmother? Well, because she is there waiting and wanting to be engaged. I need to make sure her mind stays active and prolong the affects of dementia and her dying mind. And who doesn’t want to be acknowledged? So of course I talk with her about her day.
- Exercise. This can be in the form of structured exercises or putting on some music to get her up to dance and move her legs. She sits for over 90% of the day. Who could possibly sit that long and not go stir crazy?
- Bathroom break. This can take anwhere from 10 – 20 minutes even on a good day. There have been days when this takes even longer. Because my grandmother is also incontinent and suffers from dementia, she either cannot feel the sensations most of us do signalling the need to go to the bathroom or she does not know how to interpret those signals. Now this takes time. I have to help her undress from the waste down, help her sit down and I patiently wait. Sometimes, I even have to remind her of what to do so that she can fully go to the bathroom and relieve herself with minimal pain. Most times, she doesn’t recognize the discomfort as her body wanting to relieve itself so she holds that discomfort in. When done, I have to help her stand, clean her, put her clothes back on, assist her in washing her hands and then lead her out. Note that after every time she uses the bathroom, the bathroom is cleaned from the floor to the toilet to the sink.
- Get ready for bed. Now this doesn’t mean my grandmother actually goes to bed. Anyone who cares for someone with dementia knows that (s)he hardly ever sleeps through the night so having my grandmother sleep too early means she’ll be up earlier than the rest of us the next morning. Getting ready for bed means soaking the dentures, giving her some relaxing “Zzz tea” as we call it and taking her away from her drawing so that her mind has time to relax a bit.
- Time for bed. I help her get into bed as she has problems getting her body in the middle of the bed and tends to sleep right on the edge. Definitely not a good place for anyone to sleep during the night. I stay with her until she falls asleep. My leaving the room before she actually falls asleep will keep her up as she is frightened to be alone and waits for me. I wonder if that’s the case for most folks with dementia and that’s why they can’t sleep through the night?