Dementia: A Loss For Everyone

Jun 6th, 2010 | By Jeannine Becker | Category: For Senior Women

Agendas…as my sisters and I were taking our hospice-expert sister back to the airport this morning, she commented, “I wonder if I’ll ever come here without an agenda.”   She’s the one who, a year ago, started talking with Dad and his wife about ‘dying’.  Each time she makes her monthly pilgrimage to spend a weekend with Dad and our second Mom, she brings with her an agenda of what she wants/needs to talk over with them.

Her agenda this trip was solely about Dad’s jewelry.  I say solely, because she has started reducing her agenda to one item… that seems to be the limit that either Dad or Mom can handle.  It was not until late afternoon yesterday that she found an appropriate time to bring up this subject.  We four sisters were sitting on our parent’s patio when she said that she was going in to talk with them about the jewelry.

The jewelry has become an issue with us, Dad’s four daughters.  About three months ago, I went to their home early morning as I do daily, to make sure that both of them were up and breathing.  I usually enjoy a cup of coffee with them, make their bed then return to my home.  This particular morning, Dad said to me, “I can’t find my ring.”  He was rubbing his hands and looking at his ring-less right hand.  The ring that he couldn’t find was a family heirloom.  I asked about it and all Dad could say was that he couldn’t find it.  He had taken it off to put some medicated salve on his hands.  He said that he always puts it on the table, then back on his finger when he has salved his hands.

We sisters have been concerned about the loss of more of Dad’s jewelry, hence, an agenda item.  Not that his jewelry is worth that much… we are sentimental, and it has sentimental value of great worth to us.

Yesterday we three sat on that patio about 45 minutes before she came back out with Dad, Mom and the jewelry in an envelope.  He/they agreed that it was time to put it into ‘safe keeping’ and if he wanted to wear any of it, he needed to let us know and we would get it to him.

This morning as the four of us went together to the airport, my hospice-expert sister told us, ‘the rest of the story.’  She had to do some convincing to get them to part with this jewelry… she told them that she wanted each of her children to have a piece of grandpa’s jewelry and she knew that her sisters felt the same way.  She told us that Dad’s dementia was severe enough that he didn’t know that he had any jewelry, he asked what his jewelry box was and he had no memory of the lost heirloom ring.  He didn’t know anything about that ring and when she explained that it was lost, he asked, “What is lost?”   She quietly and patiently persisted in this tangled conversation and Mom began slowly to bring out a few pieces.  She seemed as reluctant as Dad seemed confused.  However Mom finally said that he had not worn any of this jewelry for at least three years and she was surprised this subject hadn’t been brought up before now.

We believe that before we got to the airport, this jewelry conversation with Dad had gotten lost in that mysterious place where everything else is getting lost.  And we felt like four sad little girls.



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  1. Dear Jeannine,
    Have just read your article about pa´s forgetting “things” and “moments” and I want to add…. ” And we felt like FIVE sad little girls”…. May I be included?
    Sílvia.

  2. Silvia,
    Yes! We FIVE sisters hang together! Love you!

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