Hide and Seek

Back in the day when I was a young lass, I used to enjoy a game of Hide and Seek on a breezy summer afternoon. I was a good Seeker, since my neighborhood playmates would usually hide in the same places, which made them easy to find. There was a sense of comfort to their predictable strategy in playing the game.

I was also a good Hider, since I would never hide in the same place. There was a sense of adventure to my non-conformist strategy in playing the game. Yet I do admit, I would become bored after a few rounds of a game where the outcome always seemed to be the same. And I would look for a more amusing form of entertainment elsewhere. Much to the chagrin of my playmates.

As my elderly mother falls deeper under the spell of the nastiest playmate in our current neighborhood…our nemesis, Missy Dementia…I have rediscovered the game of Hide and Seek. With all its predictability and its non-conformist strategies.

The first round of our game started a few months ago, when I entered my mother’s room at the assisted living facility where she now lives and she claimed she could not find her address book. She was frantic, because this book contains all the phone numbers she needs, including mine. After looking through the piles of magazines and birthday cards scattered next to her phone on the table under her window, I realized I was looking in the most predictable of hiding places. I was looking for her address book where it had always resided since she had moved there.

So, I put on my Seeker Hat and started my search. I poked around her nightstand and I located her address book on the bottom shelf, stashed under an empty box of Kleenex and a pair of slippers she never wears. For some reason, known only to my mother at the moment she did so, she had put the book there for safe-keeping. Only to forget she had done so, a few moments later.

As round after round of this game of HIde and Seek continue, I have been the Seeker for a multitude of items. Pens that magically disappear and reappear in the top drawer of her nightstand. A new box of hand soap that is right in front of her on the shelf next to her bathroom sink. And my personal favorite: dirty underwear that changes its hiding place with every dirty laundry pickup I make.

Because of her dementia, my mother’s patterns of behavior are predictably unpredictable. Good news is that I am rarely bored. Bad news is I now find myself craving a sense of comfort bred by predictability.

And while I wish my mother could remain carefree and enjoy a game played on a breezy summer afternoon, I know Missy Dementia has her own strategy. And in the end, it is she, not my mother, who will be the victor.

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6 thoughts on “Hide and Seek

  1. This all sounds so familiar, but you write so well about it….

  2. This sense of familiarity inspires camaraderie for those of us who are traveling this same road. I wish you safe journey on yours. And I thank you for your kind comments. I write as I think and speak, which can sometimes put me in an amusing, albeit scary, place! Ha!

  3. Once I found my mother’s bra in the antique dry sink next to her chair. (I doubt if it was from some wild nursing home party.) And I found an open vanilla pudding cup, with spoon, stashed in the drawer of another piece of furniture. And a blackened banana… I never knew just what I would find. Kept me on my toes, that’s for sure.

    • Oh my gosh! The bra in the antique dry sink is a wonder! Fortunately, I don’t find food in my mother’s room, since she is not allowed to have it there. Although, I do find stacks and stacks of those little plastic cups the nurses put water in for her to take her meds. My mother thinks she will find some use for them some day, and I do admit…every time I throw a stack of those empty cups away…I wonder myself if I should be keeping them handy!

  4. I worked years on a hospital unit that specialized in Dementia behaviorally unmanageable where patients currently lived. Often folks did just fine, despite dramatic histories, from day one with us. With Dementia caregivers need to do what you did – forget what should work, and figure out what does work. Creativity and openness to learning as you go are essential.

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