I had a chance to observe Grandma's daily activities. If you were to see her, you wouldn't think anything is wrong. She is just an elderly woman living a normal life. According to demntiacarecentral.com, 24% of those age 80-89. The other 76%, I am guessing, suffer from old age. Grandma does typical things around her home and just seems normal.
After reading further on dementia care central, I found that you can slow dementia down with exercise and mental activities, and that is exactly what keeps my grandmother going. She has Moderately Severe Cognitive Dementia which usually lasts around one and a half years. Well, we are going on probably around three years with grandma. Here is her schedule after I did some surveillance.
7:00 AM-She wakes up. Locates her shoes that she hid the night before. Doesn't even give a thought to her teeth.
7:30 AM-Daddy shows up with her breakfast. (Biscuits and Gravy) He fixes her a cup of coffee from which she will drink less than half. He usually gets her teeth for her at this time, if she hasn't hidden them in one of her top secret hiding places such as under the bed, under the sink, in the pots and pans, or in a even crazier place like the dishwasher.
8:00 AM-After Daddy leaves for work. She decides to lay down for a bit.
8:10 AM-She gets up and starts her busy day. She may start packing in her room. She goes where the suitcases are. If the suitcases are in the back bedroom, she moves them to the front bedroom and starts unpacking. She goes through each item as if she has never seen it before. She packs pictures, notes, books, and anything in her dresser that she feels is important. If she finds something that looks as if it my be worth something because it has a little gold painted on it, she hides it. Apparently, gold is worth more than anything else -- and that is what the imaginary people want. Yes! They want the perfume bottle with a gold cap, because no one wants a thief to smell bad. She will literally pack up everything in a bedroom and move it to another bedroom and unpack it. She will spend time rereading everything again and hiding items in that new room.
8:45 AM-She heads outside. She pulls her lawn chair out of the laundry room and sits on her carport for a few minutes watching and observing what needs to be done in the yard.
9:00 AM-She locates the tools she will need to take care of the yard: rake, broom, and pecan picker!
9:05 AM-Time for another little nap.
9:15 AM-She gets up and heads outside. She will rake and sweep and pick up pecans for two or three hours. She bags them up and sits them on the curb. During this time, she will have a bowl to pick up any pecans she may find.
11:45 AM-She heads in for a small nap.
12:00 PM-Daddy shows up with lunch and her medicine. She visits with him and wants to know if he is working.
12:30 PM She lays down for a small nap again.
12: 50 PM We start all over..... and repeat this entire cycle. Only, she may go in the back yard and rake leaves.
If there are no leaves to rake, then she sweeps every corner of the garage, the driveway, and the sidewalks.
She has the best looking yard in the neighborhood!
I have found that she hides particular things. For instance, the gold bowl with pitcher. She says these things are high valued items. Evidently, the lady or man that sneaks in every night wants the gold pitcher. It has to be hidden in the best hiding places in the house. For example, the gold pitcher has been found behind the toilet many times and has been hidden in the closet under the towels.
She hides the pecans. The woman probably has every last pecan from those crazy trees hidden in every corner of her house. She doesn't have a single bowl in her kitchen because those are being used to best conceal the pecans in the closets, drawers, dishwasher, or under the sink or couch. We still can't get the bag of pecans out of her grandfather clock in the dining room. She reminds me of a pirate; she finds her treasure in the front yard and then hides it. She hides it in her top secret places so no one will steal her prize.
She hides her shoes. Why? we can't figure out. But she makes my middle daughter hide them all over the house, and she can't hide them together, either. She must hide one shoe in the living room and one shoe in the dining room. If the thief is going to steal her shoes, he is going to have to work for each and every pair.
Around 5:30, the sun starts going down and Grandma starts getting agitated and starts calling Daddy. She wants to know when he is going to come home and stay with her. She is over there by herself and needs someone to stay with her. He usually heads out the door between 5:45 and 7:00.
Lights are out around 7:30, unless she really gets upset and frustrated, as she did with me last week. "OMG!" was all I could say. I got a new purse and decided to clean it out. She came in around 8:00 PM and said "it's time to go to bed, and you're charging the electricity up and I don't have the money to pay for you to come over and just sit in the bed with your pajamas on and not even look like your sick and all." How dare I wear pants to bed?! I have no pride in myself, and I'm not even a decent girl! I laughed. She said it wasn't funny. I tried to pull myself together, but when your grandmother is yelling at you to go to bed and telling you aren't decent because you have on pajama pants, then you have to laugh. I was also laughing about how I would never forget this night because I was secretly filming her with my phone. Then, she got fired up about telling Gary (my dad) how I come over there and use her stuff and all the electricity. I told her to go call Gary. She told me to call him. I said I didn't have her phone. She said it was a good thing because I would probably run that bill up, too!!!
I called my parents. My mother told me to get tough and put her to bed, so I took that approach. I told grandma she was tired and needed to go to bed. She said she would go to bed when I go to bed. She went and called Daddy. She told him that I was over there using up the electricity. He told her that I was his granddaughter and that I loved her. She said I didn't know what love is. She wanted me to go on and get out. During the phone conversation, she asked me if my mother knew that I acted this way. I said "yes." (MOM WAS THE REASON FOR ALL OF THIS! She told me to get tough.) Daddy told her to go to bed. She hung up the phone, but you could tell she was still upset. I told her to go to bed. She said she will go when I leave. I asked her who was going to take care of her if I leave. She wanted to know who was going to take care of me. I told her that I had muscles and plenty of sticks in the back room to defend myself. She held up her arms and flapped her muscles and said, "Sure, you got muscles." in the most sarcastic tone she could manage.
I told her once more to go to bed. That is when she turned and said, "I'm going to slap you to bed." I literally laughed out loud, but I had to stop myself. She said a few more things and slammed the door.
So, here's a summary of what I learned from observing Grandma:
1. If you have a loved one with dementia, they have to follow a routine. They will continue with something that they have done all their life. My grandmother has worked hard in the past. She has always worked in the yard. Now she spends her days raking leaves and picking up pecans. When I get in my 80's and have dementia -- my chances are higher because of genetics -- I will probably spend my days scrolling through Pinterest and stalking Facebook.
2. Do NOT tell them what to do. They will get pretty upset and call your Daddy.
3. Don't laugh because if you laugh then they will tell you that you need to grow up. They will ask you how old you are. When you say that you are in your 30's, they will reply with "Oh, Lord." or "Lord, have mercy!" Then they will accuse you of lying.
4. The best way to steal her pecans is to put them in a sack and tell her you need to take them to sell or have someone get them ready to eat for her. She will let you walk right out the front door with them. Hmmm.. I guess I should give her money for the electricity and tell her it is from the pecans.
5. Finally, remember: no matter how hard it is to deal with all of this, she will forget it by 7:00 AM and start all over.
Rinse and repeat!