May 31, 2011

Finding Love at the Assisted Living Center

While my mother lived at the Alzheimer’s wing of the assisted living facility, she fell in love with one of the residents...

By Celia Pomerantz
Excerpt from Alzheimer's: A Mother Daughter Journey

Celia Pomerantz
She didn’t know his name. He didn’t know hers, but they held hands during the day and spooned in bed at night.

My mother’s new ‘husband’ was incontinent. It was problematic because he usually didn’t wear his diapers when he spent the night in her apartment, and the smell of fermenting urine overpowered the air freshener that I dumped onto the rug, upholstered furniture and even her bed. The aides would be tell me that they would walk into my mother’s apartment in the morning to find them walking around naked, smooching in the bathroom and giggling while they rummaged through the drawers to find something to wear that day.

When the smell of urine became intolerable, I went to the local bedding store to buy her a new mattress. I was greeted by an overly zealous salesman who was eager to tell me everything he thought I ever wanted to know about mattresses but was afraid to ask. He sputtered words like firm, soft, oversize, hypoallergenic, luxurious, damask, American-made and then with a big smile he announced that all of his beds came with a 20 year warranty.

“I don’t need a 20 year warranty,” I told him. “And I don’t need an expensive bed. My mother has Alzheimer’s disease. She may last another year, or perhaps two. She believes that she’s married to a resident at her assisted living facility. They sleep together every night. I’m happy for her. Wouldn’t you be? The only problem is that my mothers’ new ‘husband’ is incontinent and he doesn’t always wear his diapers, if you know what I mean. Of course, I’ll be covering the new mattress with plastic protection, but the smell of urine will undoubtedly seep through the mattress. What do you have that’s cheap and low to the ground? If they fall out of bed in the middle of the night, I don’t want them to get hurt.”

I took every bit of wind out of this poor salesman’s sails. He waked to the back of his shop and flatly said, “This bed is $189 plus delivery,” and I said, “sold.”

*Alzheimer's: A Mother Daughter Journey is a photojournalistic memoir about Celia Pomerantz's experience as the primary caregiver for her mother who had Alzheimer's disease.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,680 articles with more than 512,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

The Alzheimer’s Action Plan: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Diag­no­sis and Treat­ment for Mem­ory Prob­lems   The 36-Hour Day A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room