Always Learning

I have come to realize that my sister does not see herself as having dementia. I look at her and see an elderly woman who definitely has dementia, yet is still highly functional. She thinks of herself as having memory problems but not much else is wrong. I took her to visit a place not far from here that offers respite care, but when we looked around we saw elderly people who lived there that were depressed and self-pitying. It was totally the wrong place for her so we did not stay long. She used to work in places like that taking care of people with those needs. She was horrified at the thought of being place among them and I agreed.

She can’t exactly express what she wants to say with words so I have learned to become an interpreter. For instance, her persistent agitation about money, I came to realize, was that she wanted to get out of the house and go shopping. I hadn’t tumbled to the fact she was missing that because I am a reluctant shopper at best. So we went off to Augusta to a strip mall with a series of dollar stores and a Big Lots. She perked right up although she bought very little. I, on the other hand, surprised myself by really getting into it and loading up my cart.

I cashed one of her checks for $100.00 and gave it to her. My husband questioned the wisdom of handing it over to her since she tends to stash things and then not be able to find them. I told him it was her money to lose if she wants and that she needed the sense of power that having cash conveyed. He agreed. There is a fine line between seeing that she is cared for and not micro-managing. Usually, I do the latter and then realize I need to back off and “chill”.

Harriet Vaughan

About Harriet Vaughan

I am a Senior Move Manager, working with Senior Citizens and their families when it is time to downsize or just make the home safer and more comfortable for aging in place. I help these people make decisions about what to keep, throw out, donate, or sell. I also offer workshops on "Getting Things Done When You Are Over 60". I write about how to overcome memory lapses and how to use your physical energy well. I have a degree in Home Economics from the University of Maine. I live in Coopers Mills, about 14 miles east of Augusta. I have been married for almost 50 years to my husband, Chuck Vaughan. Our business is called Legacy Years Transition Services.