Parental Journal 105 from Planet Elderly: Christmastime 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

It’s Sad

Looking back on the past week or so, it’s sad to know that Mom isn’t remembering any of it.  Not the area Christmas party with gifts, snacks ,and music…not the Christmas dinner we enjoyed yesterday.

She still remembers me, though, because I tick her off, annoy her, and seem to be a bother until I get ready to leave.  Then she gets huffy.

“Don’t forget that I’m here,” she said last Sunday.  Guilt trip, guilt trip, guilt trip.

New Pal

A few weeks ago, staff introduced Mom to “the cat.”  It’s a life size toy cat that can purr, blink its eyes, meow, and raise its paw.  The family of another resident left it here after their mom passed away.  Such mechanical cats and dogs are quite popular with people living with dementia.  And Mom loves, “My baby.”

Mom and cat dec 2019


It’s been effective in lessening her anxiety in the evenings.  She pets it, talks to it, and sometimes takes it to bed with her.  It also keeps her company when she falls asleep on the love seat.



Here’s the irony.  The entire time I was growing up, I was never allowed to have a cat or a dog.  One time I tried to bring in a caterpillar for whom I created a home inside a glass jar and poked holes in the lid so it would get air.  Nope.  Never made it past the front door.

I made up for not having pets, though.  I’ve had dogs and cats my whole adult life, so  now I’m delighted that Mom is enjoying and benefiting from the comfort of a creature with four paws.


Holiday Party

Lenoir Woods brings together folks from a few neighborhoods and hosts a lovely holiday party.  There is plenty of food, music, and a small gift for everyone brought by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Lenoir Xmas 03 2019


Lenoir Xmas 02 2019

Princess, the neighborhood Queen of Sweetness


Lenoir Xmas 04 2019


Lenoir Xmas 05 2019


This year’s party was just as festive as last year’s.  Mom only lasted about thirty minutes, though.  She ate a cookie and had some water.  Then she received her present, which came in a small, square box decorated with lovely wrapping paper.

That’s when I did a huge “NO-NO.”

Mom got the wrapping paper off easily, but when it came to opening the box, she tried to open it from the bottom.  My no-no:  turning the box over so she could open it “the right way.”

What I should have done was just let her fiddle with the box and open it in her own way.  She would never ask for help and was highly insulted by my gesture.  I don’t blame her.

She pushed the box away and wore her my-daughter-treats-me-like-a-child face.

I apologized, but she ignored me.

She finally opened the box and found a cute pair of socks but did not recognize them as socks because of the fluffy material and the style.

Looking around the room, she announced that she was going to leave, and she started pushing herself away from the table.  She was in a wheelchair which we use when she attends activities outside her neighborhood.

The area was packed with people in wheelchairs, so I asked her if she really wanted to go back, and she said yes.  Then she let me drive her back and was happy to see the cat waiting for her.

She was still pissed off with me, so I just sat next to her for a while and watched TV.

Christmas Dinner

Well, it was served at lunch time, but it was delicious: pot roast, roasted tiny potatoes of different colors, asparagus, and a yeast roll.  Everyone was given two desserts…a slim piece of sweet custard pie and a dish of strawberry pretzel jello.

As usual, we were a lively group with staff wearing various Christmas hats, earrings, socks, etc.   A chorus from Peace Works popped in and sang some carols.  A few spouses of former residents came by to wish the staff a Merry Christmas.

It was delightful with people talking, joking, laughing, and enjoying a delicious meal served by some terrific angels who are always so attentive and kind to everyone.



Lenoir Xmas 01 2019

Christmas Tree wall art made from cut out hands of residents and staff.  Thank you, Wendy!


When I arrived at 10:40 Mom was sound asleep, snoring with her mouth open.

I sat in the recliner she and Dad used for years and read some CNN news articles on my phone.  She woke up about 11:10.

When it was time for me to assist her in getting up and dressed, she was fine until she stood up and tried to walk.  She talked about having pain on the top of both feet.  I gave her the option to use the wheelchair to go to lunch, but she soldiered on with the walker and my guiding her.

She didn’t each much…a small slice of pork tenderloin, two cups of coffee, and a few mouthfuls of bread pudding.

After lunch, it was back to the love seat where she enjoyed time with her cat, I read the newspaper, and we both tried to figure out what the science fiction movie on TV was all about.


*She complains more about various pains when she gets up in the morning…legs, arms, feet, the side of her head.

*She is up quite late…often not agreeing to going to bed until 2 a.m. or later.  If she naps in the afternoon or early evening, it’s her nature to be up late, and I’ve shared that with staff.

*She cannot see things at a distance clearly but seems to do okay with the TV.

*She is using her hands more to eat the noon meal.  Fine for tater tots, but she’ll pick up carrot slices with her fingers, yet tries to use a fork to eat her dinner roll (and I’ve learned not to correct her).  Today, she used her hands to eat a few bites of bread pudding.

*When she sleeps in, she doesn’t have breakfast, but usually eats a good lunch.

*Her hands, arms, and legs are extremely thin.

*Taking pills is more of an issue these days.  She tends to keep them in her mouth and sometimes takes them out.  Hers are tiny, but she’s beginning to dislike taking them and often makes a face. Sometimes she says “No.” The staff have a variety of techniques to assist with that.

*She still loves to have her hair put into a ponytail.  “Everybody likes my ponytail,” she beams.  Yep, we do.  It’s easy maintenance for me when I assist her.

*She never mentions Dad…her condo in Grayslake, Illinois…driving…friends or relatives…anything about the past or the future.  Her world is very narrow…just what is happening now.

*She always compliments me on what I’m wearing.  She was a great shopper and enjoyed the thrill of bargain hunting. That appreciation for nice clothes on sale carries on.

*She likes using lipstick.  I brought her a tube of mine that is a nice, neutral color, and when I ask if she wants to put some lipstick on, 90 percent of the time she is delighted to do so.  She can’t find it on the bathroom sink, so I hand it to her.

*She continues to become more and more unsteady with the walker.  She is never allowed to use it by herself. These days she is not able to get up off a chair by herself, so it’s unlikely she’d be found using a walker by herself. In her mind, though, she believes she walks a lot, cleans the floors, needs to pick up after others, and that I make terrific coffee.

Sure, I do.

coffee cup


About jjmummert

This blog was originally titled "Drifting Toward Planet Elderly," and it shared a journey I had with my elderly parents as they both finished their lives battling the complexities of dementia. After both passed on, I changed the title to "Living on Planet Elderly." I am a retiree who is reluctantly adjusting to the reality that she is now elderly. In July of 2021, I relocated to Middleton WI after living in Columbia MO for over 40 years. I decided that I want to experience a new and vibrant location in a cooler climate with lakes...a bucket list item of mine. I have a first cousin who lives in Madison. We have nice childhood memories, and I thought it would be wonderful to spend some time together as elders. It was. AND March 2023, I returned to Columbia. I had a wonderful time experiencing the Madison area of Wisconsin, spending time with my cousin, and making some wonderful friends. No regrets.
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2 Responses to Parental Journal 105 from Planet Elderly: Christmastime 2019

  1. Dorinda Derow says:

    Always enjoy reading these posts but also find them very touching. Was so glad to see you at g & d and look forward to getting together either by phone or in person in 2020. Catch me

    Sent from my iPhone



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