A Glitch in the Matrix

The fam recently got a shiny new car to make traveling with Grandma easier. It was so hard taking her out with the Dodge truck – had to use a step stool to boost her in and out because who believes in running boards 🤪. The car is perfect for her, easy to get in, comfy seats, all the bells and whistles and her wheelchair fits great in the trunk. 

So Grandma and I are on a lil road trip traveling to my lil sisters wedding. It’s about an hour and a half away and I can tell you it felt like I was trapped in a time loop the entire time. I had brought Grandma out to the car in her slippers as her dress shoes aren’t as comfy, but they are packed along with all manner of things that one needs when taking a trip away from the house for a few hours (meds, water, first aid kit, inhalers, jacket). 

This was our conversation, repeated every 5 to 10 minutes:

“Oh no, I’m still wearing my slippers,” Grandma. (In a very defeated way, like she did something horrible 🥺)

“It’s okay Grandma, I have your dress shoes in the back,” Me.

“Are we going to your house?” Grandma. (This actually kind of makes sense, I used to travel 6+ hours to pick her up to come visit us for a while, so she and I have had many long road trips together.)

“No Grandma, we are going to “sisters” wedding today,” Me.

“Oh, we share a birthday,” Grandma (My sis and Grandma share a birthday), 

“I know Grandma, she was your best birthday present,” Me. (It makes me happy that she remembers this.)

“What time is it at,” Grandma (When there is any kind of appointment, she worries greatly about that time.)

“It’s at 3:30 Grandma, we have plenty of time. We won’t be late.” Me.

“It’s so pretty here,” Grandma (the area we are traveling in is BEAUTIFUL Minnesotan country)

“I agree, it’s very pretty,” Me.

…. A few moments of silence…..

Repeat the above conversation. Almost word for word. Over and over until we arrive. 

While there she’s obsessed with getting a photo with my sister (I assure her over and over again that we have gotten some photos) and having some of the pretty paper flowers. She kept trying to “steal” one out of the arrangement in front of us. It was kind of funny 🤣. My sister assured her that she could have the whole arrangement. Also, if there had been any more lil “souvenir trinkets” within reach she would have ended up with more than the two I found later. We had quite an assortment of leaves and things in her wheelchair and pockets by the time we left. She had a blast with the bubbles, which was lovely to experience – such happiness 🥰!

Back in the car and our above conversation starts up again but this time it’s a lil different as it’s getting dark and I just left her in her dress shoes for the ride home. I was saved by the ice cream stop that appeared about 30 minutes down the road. I ordered her up a large strawberry shake and it kept her occupied for most of the remaining drive. 

This was one of the more interesting and easiest experiences to share about what it’s like living with someone with dementia. Grandma has been with us for over a year now and yet she is convinced she just arrived. We can have the same conversation repeatedly throughout the day. If she hasn’t seen my mom or me in the past five minutes, she believes she is alone or my mom is on vacation or I am out of the house getting groceries. 

When she first arrived, she was obsessed with the Date and Time. She’d ask what day it was at least 5 times per day. It’s like taking a road trip with a car full of kiddos asking “Are we there yet?” Over and over again. Survivable but you reach a point where it gets uber annoying and you just want to SHOUT in frustration.

I had no prior experience of dealing so closely with dementia before and this repetitive behavior and questioning is what really tipped me off to how much of my Grandma I’d lost. I found an article through a Pinterest search that really helped me out (see below).

There are some things that are helpful in preventing how many times little things turn into a loop. We’ve invested in some fancy clocks and I have a giant bulletin board that if she remembers to look at it will let her know what Month and Date it is, where my mom is and where I am if one of us is not within sight at the time. 

I also learned that the best way to cope with some of the harder glitches in the matrix is with redirection. Like with the ice cream in my story above – that gave her something positive to focus on and got us out of the time loop. Even though every day is very much the same, it’s still an adventure and I am just so damned thankful that my beautiful Grandma is still with us in her own way.

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

Further reading:

This is the article that really helped me: 5 Tips To Cope With Answering The Same Questions Over and Over – Dealing With Dementia Symptoms

Another great read: How to talk to a person who has dementia

My favorite clock purchase from Amazon:

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