Thursday, 28 January 2010

the happy place

I walk over to the physical therapy department to retrieve a woman who attends our day care center. 75 y/o *Pauline has PT a couple of times a week, and though she really can't recall any of it, does enjoy the treatments, at least for the time being. It is hoped that therapy will alleviate some of her back pain and accelerate the healing process.

As I wait for her to be brought to the front office, I recall how difficult these first few weeks of adjustment to day care have been. Pauline's constant repetitive questions are exhausting. Life is like Groundhog Day for her. "But why am I here?" is her main concern.

We have discovered that in light of her severe short term memory deficit, any answer is futile, producing more anxiety, and often provoking her to tears. Still we try to comfort and redirect her into activities. " You are here to have FUN!" It's true. The golden years are supposed to be fun, right? Aging in itself, with the deterioration of mind and body isn't much fun, in fact it can be quite painful, lonesome and depressing. It can also be hazardous for obvious reasons. Assistance from family members who have other obligations is often limited, and is some cases completely absent. This is why Adult Medical Day Care exists, to provide a safe cost effective comfortable home away from home, where needs are met and fun is had, a nice 5 hour day program, and then it's home again. A nice way to go when you just aren't ready for assisted living or a convalescent center, but also not really okay to be left at home to fend for yourself all day.

And so we hold out hope for Pauline, that her doctor, a highly reputable gerontologst, will be able to find the right combination of medications to decrease anxiety and increase short term memory, so she can get on with it. We hope that this will be accomplished as soon as possible. She was started on something new this morning so...

My thoughts are interrupted. Pauline's greets me with a smile, and asks if I know her. I assure her that we have known each other for a few weeks now and that we are going back to the center for lunch.

In her thick italian accent- "Are we going back to that 'HAPPY PLACE'?"

The happy place?! Amazing. She remembers something, and it's something good! Tiny steps in a positive direction makes for happiness, especially in the case of a disease known for it's ravaging downward spiral.

"Yep! We're off to the Happy Place."

To think that something so simple as a change in medication could bring this woman back to earth with a concept of time and memories is a cause to celebrate. All in a day-the happy place.

* name changed

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