For the last six days Lynne’s memory care unit prohibited face-to-face conversations because one caregiver had Covid-19. All tests since have been negative.
She has been busy and happy with activities. I am happy she’s happy. However, I miss the fun chats we had so I have tried to cheer me up by finding ways to chat with her more often. I’m struggling.
Ten times over the last six days I spontaneously called, hoping she’d gleefully call me back by tapping my face on her Facebook Portal to return my call. After all, she’s told caregivers I’m the greatest dad in the world.
She might not believe that anymore because she never returned my calls. Maybe she needs to be reminded to check the Portal. Maybe I could program the Portal to sense Lynne’s presence and say, “Dad called. Tap his face.”
One day she sat by her window and I called up to her to chat. She was excited and stood up. She turned away from the window and never returned. I yelled louder, called her Portal, her phone, the concierge. Nothing. Apparently she found something better to do and forgot about me.
The last three days I threw a pickleball against her windows. She was busy elsewhere.
The Portal and Alexa were supposed to increase chats by eliminating problems with video calls. Calls need to be scheduled a day ahead. Caregivers need to be by her side. They need to locate Lynne. They need to complete more urgent care first, so they often call late. Sometimes they never call.
Hoping Lynne would call on her cell more often because she enjoyed lively conversations, I reviewed ways to make conversations more fun. I got my chance on the 4th when a frustrated caregiver called. She tried for half-an-hour to set up a scheduled video chat on the Portal with Lynne’s friend. I couldn’t help her. I used an energetic voice to ask an open ended question, “How was your day?” It worked. Her day was good. She was cheerful.
“What’d you do?” Immediately, I knew it was the wrong approach. Alzheimer’s began erasing her short-term memory years ago.
“Oh, we had, you know, it’s, .. ah, … we, ..um, the thing, ….. I can’t remember… I can’t remember things, and it scares me.”
I agreed it’s scary, and don’t remember anything else except we agreed she’s on a better floor. Her long term memory works. She remembered names of high school friends. Why can’t I remember to share memories from family and friends after years of care for my mother and her?
Monday night Lynne and a caregiver called for a video chat. I shared memorable images from an interview with a friend. She remembered most of them and laughed a lot. She said, “I love you, Dad. I’m doing things, you know. Lots of things.”
Determined to improve video chats I set up my new Alexa Show in my office and contacted Amazon about how to link it to Lynne’s Alexa dot. Aegis scheduled a time with a caregiver so we linked up at the same time. We did it. A few minutes later, Alexa told me Lynne had dropped in. She was excited. We chatted and then she had to go. She was busy.
I’m happy she’s happy. I miss her. I keep busy because I have lots to learn to feel like the greatest dad in the world.