A week later, for our next 30 minutes, he is shaking and scared. He just got up, they say. And he has no idea why he is being brought here to a strange place and it scares the heck out of him, at this point in time today. He is really out of it.
And it is so cold in the visiting room that i am cold too, but that is a good reason to hold and rub his hands and give him a neck rub and vow to myself to bring a blanket next time.
Anyway after a long time in his perception and mine, he calms. We explore the room a bit, and suddenly he gets a smile in his eye and swoops down and kisses me. He says things for which i have no comprehension.
Then almost instantly the moment is gone and we go back to walking around. No music. Nothing much there just walking around a pretty boring (to me) room. To him there is lots of stuff to explore.
Especially the floor. For years he has seen and tried to touch things on the floor. I have seen this many times before in many other residents of his dementia ward. Must be a … symptom or something? but i can’t find it in the literature. And i notice this floor has little bits of this and yucky that, so i steer him away from those. One does learn a few skills in a dozen years of dementia experience!
I stay close partly because the ancient body magic remains and just touching and feeling him is wonderful. I feel alive and i know he does too. I wear his old shirts when i am alone because i can imagine they still hold him in them.
Also he is still a bit shaky on his feet so i have an excuse.
So we go round and round and round, and sit down, and he picks up and pulls at the mask they bring with him. Trying to put it on him when he was shaking and scared would have been disastrous so they leave off.
Then about 15 minutes in, to my amazement, he picks up the mask and puts it on his head trying to make the elastic fit around his head. A darn good guess if you ask me!
I ask if i can help? and loop it around his ears and put it on over his mouth (figure the nose would be pushing it – you never know when you push the limits and you might get … to be honest, hit, in what to him is self-defense– reality check! That IS the life of the care side) and… OOOH he accepts it! I tell him it looks great and he smiles proudly.
Everyone around him has been wearing masks for weeks, so i suspect he wants to fit in. No one pays much attention to learning in dementia patients, or even pattern language.
But i just don’t know. Could certainly be. And he does seem to indicate that my mask and his are together. Hmm who knows? Who pays enough very close attention over years and days and hours to the subtleties of communication with dementia patients except families? Researchers? Not. Care staff, Not. They have dozens of other people on their shift.
And a couple more times unpredictably I see him smile suddenly in his eyes and he hugs and kisses me. And each time then the moment is gone, and we go back to round and round.
When the aide comes back, she says, Oh, he is calm now.
I say, could he have a sweater please? he is cold.
I wish i had remembered to suggest a warming blanket. They took the warming blanket device away from his unit a year ago, but they would have walked right by it to get back to his room.