BARRY’S NEW DIGS
After being kicked out of assisted living in Edina, Barry is now in a care facility (aka old folks’ home.) The first time I went there, I thought no, no, no — he can’t be in this place. But I have realized that this is the best place for him.
I want to hold your hand
He began in the rehab unit but was soon moved to the Alzheimer’s unit with lots of guys just like him. I am learning to love his new place. The nurses really care and nothing seems to bother them. As Barry walks the halls swearing, they all try to redirect him. I learned that term “redirect” — and it works! They told me not to grab his arm but to take his hand when trying to guide him. It works like magic. He loves to hold my hand, so he will walk and do what I want him to.
As Barry regained strength after the hospital stay, the doctors decided to cut back on his medications. They said that if the meds aren’t helping him, why continue to take them? This made sense to me! Then I started thinking that when Barry is off the drugs, he might be better and maybe could come home to live a somewhat normal life. Maybe it was the drugs doing this to him. But I realized this is the type of magical thinking that children do.
I remember being in kindergarten when my grandfather died. He was the first person I ever knew who died. I really loved my grandfather. He was teaser, and I remember being so comfortable around him. Although I was very young, I felt so worried when he got sick. After he died, for years and years, I would imagine that my grandpa was just pretending to be dead and that at any moment would pop out, tease me and, well, not be dead! Funny, to this day if I see a man that looks like my grandfather, I still pretend it is him — and I am 60 years old!
Now I am doing the same thing with Barry. I keep thinking that maybe the nurses will call and say, “Good News! Barry is well now. Taking him off the medications did the trick, and he is ready to go home and fix everything.” But sadly that is the 6-year-old in me still trying to pretend. In real life, taking him off his medications did nothing except to increase his agitation, swearing and constant pacing. He also refused to shower and hit the staff. The doctors have put Barry back on his old medication regime.
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how loved ones find a way to cope with someone who is so sick. I realize now that it helps to think like a 6-year-old.