"Dave's not here." "No, man. I'm Dave, man."


"Dave's not here." "No, man. I'm Dave, man."

phone-381288_640They were still dancing the macarena when my mom and I had our last intelligible and appropriate conversation.

Well, not really. But it feels like that. At first I blamed it on her hearing aids, but they checked out fine. I had to admit it was cognition, or maybe both, that was causing the utter confusion and lack of communication. All day, every day, almost 100% of our conversations go like this:

Mom emerges from her bedroom. I say, "You look nice." She says, "No, not that. The guy wasn't going to stop." I say, "It's 75 degrees out." She says, "If she did, she did it on her own because I woke up alright."

All day, every day. A one-way ticket to The Mad Hatter's Tea Party. She has an incredible vocabulary and perfect diction. So something is still attached in there. I lean close to make sure she hears, or raise my voice and she thinks I'm yelling.

In the winter I got one of those dry erase boards in case the reading parts still worked while the hearing parts failed. Then I caught laryngitis. I resorted to the Board, then just kept using it well past the time I should have stopped playing that card. I would just make that slash sign across my throat and shrug my shoulders helplessly. I admit I did it for over a week. It was such a guilty pleasure and so satisfying. I didn't have to try to communicate, because that is all you're doing, "trying" to keep things going.

I spent two months trying to secure her a free phone for the hearing-impaired. It has all kinds of bells and whistles that can be fine-tuned to her specific needs. When we got it, I set her up in the kitchen with the new phone and I called her on my cell phone from the living room. I said, "Hi, Mom, can you hear me okay?" And she said, "Let me get Jan to help you. Hold on a minute." And came and handed me the phone, refusing to try any of the special features.

This week I'm trying to speak lower and slower (she is "sort of maybe" getting it by the third time) but hand signals have become my solution. Point to the chair: get in. Hand shaking wildly in her face: stop wiping the platter with raw turkey juice on it with a dishtowel!

Her dog Ditzy is great with "sit" and "stay".



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The geriatric specialist declines to call it Alzheimer's. I think it is run-of-the-mill vascular dementia (\"hardening of the arteries\"?). Her high-functioning in so many areas makes it a challenge to cope with the ones in which she doesn't. Thank you for asking!


What kind of dementia does your mom have? How strange and difficult it must be to deal with someone who can't communicate.