Terrible Twos and Exasperating Eighties


Terrible Twos and Exasperating Eighties

After taking my mother (who has dementia) to a restaurant on Thursday, I swore like a sailor that I would never attempt it again in this life. It had been a while since I had experienced it on my own, and I had reservations after watching her recent daily dining "habits" at home. But she had actually brightened up when I said, "Go out for dinner", like a dog when the leash appears. So with hope in my heart, we settled in at a quiet diner and almost immediately I could see it was a huge mistake. She wants to get up and wander, she wants to leave, she refuses the food, she plays with the food, she uses the toilet but won't wash her hands, won't wash off the soap, there's something wrong with her butt, the floor looks interesting under the table, she wants to steal the silverware, wants to leave, won't leave when I have the food boxed up so we can leave, won't get in the car.

It's this constant oppositional business that is going to land her in the memory care facility permanently, not the minutia and stress of her daily hygiene and health.

So with that in mind, silly me, I have another brilliant plan which will allow us to get dinner out minus the stress. We will go to Boston Market and get their take-out. No table hopping for us! And then we'll take it home and eat with gusto.

When we get to the restaurant parking lot, she patently refuses to get out of the car. I try to be nice, cajole, then assure her I will go to jail if I leave her in the car. No luck. So I roll down all the windows, lock the car from the driver's side and go in the restaurant, standing in line where I can watch the car. On this day, the restaurant's steam table is broken, so each dinner and each side dish has to be prepared individually in the kitchen or in the microwave. Only three guests ahead of me, two wrapped in beach towels so they're probably in a hurry (it's Florida), no problem, I think. While they are being attended, I look out the window to see my mother exiting the car into the parking lot with a vacant look. Leave the line, go get my mother, bring her inside, sit her in a chair, back in line. Now she is undressing. Leave the line, button her clothes, back in line. Two guests are gone, one guest ahead who orders 6 meals! ACK!!! Each prepared individually. Thank God it's not busier, I have a coupon, I have already invested 25 minutes, is it worth all this??? There's a woman in scrubs, sitting in the corner. Do I see a smirk on her face, or it is pity and recognition, or just a piece of gristle? I turn around, my mother is gone. Out of the line, into the parking lot to fetch her, back in line (twice). While I'm outside the second time, it's my turn and I get passed over! Get back in line, put her in a chair in line next to me, and tell the server, "GIVE ME ANYTHING. I DON'T CARE WHAT IT IS."

Well, now that I've satisfied that little item of curiosity, I wonder what my mother can do to liven up the experience at the drive-through?


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Oh, your mother certainly is an little active ball of energy! Uhg.\r\n\r\nThis may sound terrible to say, but P and I knew how lucky we were that his mom was not mobile... and couldn't (verbally) complain since she had aphasia.


Oh, wow. That sounds so - as you say - exasperating! I wonder what conditions would make it possible for your mother to eat in a restaurant - even in a \"dementia-friendly\" place? I hope you had success at the drive-thru!


Ooooohh, Jan! Oh! What a nightmare.\r\n\r\nA colleague of mine is working with a Chicagoland suburb to create a \"dementia friendly city.\" It occurs to me that we really need to train everyone on how to interact with persons with dementia. Then, when you need an extra pair of hands (and an understanding comrade), you'll have one. Too bad Scrubs didn't pinch in and help. :(\r\n\r\nThe other side of this, though, is that I love that you shared this. Talking about what it's really like to venture out will hopefully, some day, implement the solutions we need to make these ventures doable rather than awful.