When I was finally able to have limited, PPE-clad visits with Mom, after so many months apart, she didn’t seem to really realize that it was me. I think she understood the words, and knew, in a kind of abstract dementia way, that it was me and that I was her daughter. But I think she had forgotten the feel of me and could not muster an emotional reaction or connection.
She essentially dozed through my first three visits, and since she didn’t seem to be getting anything out of it, and I was just getting depressed, I told the director I was going to take a break from visiting until Mom’s birthday, which was about a month away.
In the lead up to the birthday party, it occurred to me that after all the time we couldn’t visit, I needed to figure out some way for us to bond again, to build up some positive new memories for Mom related to interacting with me. And so was born Operation Reconnect.
Mom has a healthy appetite and is pretty snack-oriented, so an easy way to make our visit memorable was to bring food! I put together a bag with all the stuff I thought might contribute to a pleasant visit: pudding and spoons, cranapple drink and a cup, a damp washcloth in a bag for after snacks, nice flower-scented hand lotion, tissues, paper towels, and a plastic bag for trash. After I took this picture, I added fruit-flavored lip balm, and a soft-bristle hairbrush. I was ready to go!
When I arrived, the staff person told me that Mom had been happy to hear I would be visiting. When they brought Mom into the visitation room, she was alert and happy to see me, when she realized who I was. Yay!
She can’t really see very well, but she still enjoys flipping through a magazine. And the pudding was a great hit, too. I put lotion on her hands and brushed her hair just for the doing of it. She asked when I would be visiting again, and I told her I would be back in a few days, I just wasn’t sure which day. She said, “Well, I’ll be here!”
All in all, a successful visit that made both of us happy.