The Zombie Shuffle

If you are around the corner or in another room, you would think my grandma was a giant trying to navigate inside of a dollhouse when she is on the move. It sounds funny but she’s a tiny little person who barely weighs 96 pounds (the struggle to get her to gain weight since she arrived is real 😑, I throw snacks her way all day long and she’s slowly gaining) but she shuffle walks like a zombie and she looks like she has the weight of the universe pushing down on her shoulders. 

Since our move, there have been a few times when I will be dead asleep only to be awoken by what sounds like someone falling down the stairs. I rush awake and out of my bed to make sure that is not what is happening. It’s just grandma going down the hall with her walker, banging into walls on her way to the bathroom (which is 8 feet from her bedroom door). She does this 3 times every night like clockwork. 

Having grandma is like having a toddler in the house again. I have so many nightmares about all of the shenanigans she could get into and all the ways she could hurt herself. Her nightly excursions put me in what I call mom panic mode (shaky, heart racing and the need to rush in to or away from danger – like a really good part in a scary movie only without the fun knowledge that it’s not real).

Thankfully she hasn’t had a fall since last winter when she went out on the back deck alone to smoke at night. We didn’t have a light available out there in the apartment we lived in. She misjudged standing up or something, not really sure. I’ve been standing by her when she just kind of crumbles down to the floor like a marionette with the strings cut. It’s a scary experience and it’s like trying to lift uncooperative concrete buckets back up. 

She’s sneaky fast sometimes, like when it’s time to use her nebulizer. Alexa will announce it and if I’m not in the same room at the time she zips out to our new deck super fast to have a cigarette instead. That’s where my comparison to the zombie shuffle comes in. She shuffle walks and has 2 speeds – ultra slow shuffle stomp or the speedy fast eat your brains shuffle run 🤣.

I’ve taken training that has prepared me to be a caregiver for her, but I always search for more information so that I can understand things better. Why is this happening and what can I do to help her? What it boils down to is dementia inhibits the ability to walk. Right now she uses her walker in the house, cane for stepping outside and a wheelchair when we go out shopping or to eat. In the future she will spend the majority of her time trapped in a wheelchair 😭. It’s heartbreaking for sure. To prolong that time, daily exercises will hopefully help.

Finding the comedy in the midst of this maddening disease helps me keep going.  


Further reading:

Balance Exercises for Seniors

After that horrible night fall while outside smoking experience I picked up some solar deck lights, they are pretty awesome and can be clipped almost anywhere:

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