Caretaking for Dementia

Working her way through nursing school, Heather saw an ad posted in her church bulletin for a “Compassionate Companion” for an elderly widow who was also a parishioner at her church. Knowing this would be a wonderfully reciprocal experience for them both, Heather eagerly accepted the position.

Mabel is the wisest, most inspirational person I know, and spending time with her is a gift,

Heather told us. Mabel was suffering from dementia, a term used to describe the steady loss of intellectual and social function, when Heather first began spending afternoons and evenings with her. Mabel had forgotten she was cooking a couple of times and it resulted in a small kitchen fire and a fire truck visit before Mabel made the decision to reach out for help. It wasn’t long before Mabel needed around-the –clock assistance due to the progression of her condition, so eventually Heather began spending the night and leaving Mabel’s house for school Sunday through Thursday while another woman picked up the hours that Heather could not be there. Sadly, Mabel had no family and was completely dependent on the care of hired help.

As the months passed, Mabel shared her wisdom and advice with Heather, telling her stories of how things were “back in her day” and encouraging Heather to pursue her dreams and aspirations. Mabel’s stories are vibrant and funny, telling of heartache, faith, and determination. Heather’s favorite ‘Mabel Lesson’, as she calls them, is of how Mabel met her husband. She had been set up for a blind-date by her boss. She had dated before and had developed what she called a “yardstick” as her standard for a potential husband. With her dry humor, Mabel describes every component of the date as if it were yesterday, detailing the gentlemanly way her soon-to-become husband held her hand nervously and tripped on the curb as he walked her home.

There never was a doubt that he was the one,

-Mabel would tell Heather.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

Heather began recognizing signs that Mabel’s condition may be progressing to a specific type of dementia, called Alzheimer’s disease. She began observing Mabel fumbling with her purse, seemingly unable and unaware of how to open it. Mabel also began losing items more frequently and Heather would find them in odd places; once she recalls that Mabel lost her glasses and they didn’t find them until the next day when they opened the freezer for sorbet. There the glasses were, in the ice tray. At a doctor’s appointment, Mabel and Heather learned that Mabel did in fact exhibit strong signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and the prognosis was grim.

Some days were very difficult, physically and emotionally, as Mabel began to wander her home and scream out in frustration that she was lost and struggle to get away as Heather tried to comfort her. Some days were very quite as Mabel sat in silence; Heather sat close with Mabel on those days feeling as though Mabel may feel frightened and confused by what should be comforting and familiar. Despite Mabel’s decline, there were bright, lucid moments in which Mabel enjoyed looking through photo albums or listening to Barry Manilow on an old record player. Those moments made Heather’s job as Mabel’s caretaker worth every minute of the hard days.

It wasn’t until Mabel fell in her bathroom that Heather agreed with the doctors that Mabel needed 24-hour nursing care in a specialized facility. Heather was the one who comforted Mabel and shielded Mabel’s dignity in the bathroom that morning when the ambulance arrived, arranged for cleanup of the bathroom using our services at Advanced Bio Treatment, and even helped pack up some of the things that would remind Mabel of home and the beautiful life she had lived. When we asked if we could share Heather’s story of Mabel and the small part we played in helping to prepare Mabel’s home for resale, Heather insisted that we acknowledge and revere Mabel’s influence on her personally and professionally. Heather tells us that she still visits Mabel every Thursday evening in the nursing care facility where Mabel now lives. And even still every once in a great while, Heather smiles,

I get to hear a ‘Mabel Lesson’

That drop of sweetness goes a long way.

Posted in Blog
Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment