Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Something new

10 days in hospital getting meds adjusted, and now G is much, much better - some of his sense of humor has returned, and he can sometimes laugh and find pleasure in things. Better living through chemistry, to paraphrase an old advertisement. The restlessness and misery are just below the surface, though, if the medication starts to wear off.

Before G left the hospital, his doctors recommended he start attending an adult day program, as he had willingly participated in the occupational therapy programs held in the common room for the residents of his unit. Or, as one of the doctors put it, "He didn't say, 'Why are you making me do things with all these crazy old people?'".

A day program is something we have talked about over the years. All the literature strongly recommends "socialization" for people with dementia. (Also for people without dementia, for that matter.) Because those with dementia tend to become isolated, it's even more important to make an effort to be with other people. Joining a group, though, is not something that G has ever been keen on, even before the onset of the disease. He always was very social, but after he retired, didn't want to commit to a volunteer group or anything else that required him to be someplace on a particular day.

As it happens, G had brought up the subject of attending a day program on his own a few months ago, before he got sick. He was lonely being at home while I went to work. And all was ready to go - the interviews done, the paperwork completed - when he got sick and had to be taken to the ER and the whole cycle of illness and recovery began. More than 2 months later, here we are. Ready to begin the day program. Today.

When it came time to actually leave the house, instead of saying, "I don't want to go," G said, "I can't go down the stairs." "My legs don't work." "I have to sit down." "I can't walk." I don't blame him. I wouldn't want to go to a new place, either.

More than an hour of coaching and encouragement later, I left him with kind staff and a group of older adults in need of companionship.

I hate this disease.

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