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Alzheimer's and...wait, what was I posting about? submitted 2009.08.05 10:46 AM by Thornicus viewed 1939 times

Over the course of the past eight plus years of being married, I have learned that retirement homes are not merely functional, but entertaining on many occasions as well.

Especially the Alzheimer's ward.

Now, there's nothing funny about Mrs. Thorns's grandfathers having this affliction...no sirree, bob. It was a sad day when we had to move them out of their retirement center duplex and into assisted living several years ago, and it was very depressing at times to see them go downhill so quickly, knowing that each passing day might be the last that we would see him. (Side note: grandfather #1 passed away a few years ago - grandfather #2 passed away two days ago.)

But oh, the things that Alzheimer's will make you do...

...yup, some of the harebrained action that goes down in these wards is just downright mirthful. And I don't mean just Granddad's stunts, either.

Let's see...in the past three years I have walked into the lockdown wing and witnessed:

- water flooding out of an apartment and into the hallway, because the resident had fallen asleep in their shower. Standing up, amazingly. Incredible that they didn't slip and break something.

- people urinating in closets, with their doors open for all to see.

- people urinating in clothing hampers, with their doors open for all to see.

- people urinating on the dining room table...while other people are eating.

- people defecating in the kitchen trash can. (Nothing says "Welcome, Guests" like seeing Ruthie sitting on the trash can in the kitchen with her pants around her ankles.)

- old Colonel Clink sitting naked on the back porch, "watching the corn grow," and yelling "Don't you touch me, you putrid bitches!" at his wife and the caretaker as they tried to drag him back indoors before the director walked by and saw him.

- people urinating on anything else they can squat over. I don't know why I think peeing on things is funny. I just do.

- Arthur Pruneswift INSISTING that I go pick up his car "parked around the corner" for him (which is really his oversized wheelchair), and then looking like a confused emu when he can't locate the gas pedal next to the parking brake.

- dining room riots near the level of those in prison cell blocks. One evening we walk into the home hearing a gaggle of seniors pounding the table with their silverware chanting in gravelly, unbelievably forceful voices, "New grits now! New grits now!" All because one lady's grits were about five degrees warmer than she liked them, and so she started hollering at the cook. Funny how chants catch on so quickly.

- old women recoiling in horror and hollering at their spouses "Mercy Lawd, the Grim Reaper's here for you, sugar!" on the Saturday evenings when I've come straight from a play or music production and am dressed in all black. Being that I'm about two feet taller than most of the residents due to their hunching, I guess this shouldn't surprise me too much...although one of these days I should walk in with a hood and sickle and see what happens...

- people being bribed back to their rooms with candy bars. This actually disturbs me more than anything else because it gives the appearance that the caretakers are treating them like dogs or young children. "C'mon Elena...be a good girl and come back to your room and I'll give you this piece of chocolate...mmmm, yummy chocolate!" (Elena shuffles back to her room in robe and slippers, her arms reaching in front of her like a zombie to snatch the Snickers bar) Maybe it's just me, but bribing with candy is kind of degrading. But seeing Elena walk like a zombie was funny.

- being referred to as "the cute young hottie with the guitar" by the oldest woman in the wing. This is hilarious to me for a variety of reasons, but there's never any doubt about who she's asking for when she says it since I'm the only person that provides live musical entertainment on any regular basis to the residents.

I guess the best part about Alzheimer's is that no matter how much crazy shit you do, you will probably forget 90% of it, and the 10% that you DO remember doing, you can feign ignorance and no one would be the wiser.

But, sharing the stories after the fact always elicits an "I did THAT?!" and a hearty chuckle from most of the residents, and so I suppose that learning to laugh at themselves is at least partly responsible for their long lives, no matter what they do.

rating: 8

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