Casual Fridays: Shining light on Alzheimer’s –”Need to Get Back to Clay City, Iowa”

Intimate stories about dementia

Casual Fridays are a series of real stories about people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. They are positive, slightly sad but enlightening. I want to show that you can still have intimate personal connections with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Additionally, I hope that readers can relate them to their own experiences. While some of these stories may be funny my intent is not to make fun of people with Alzheimer’s. I intend to change the way that people perceive the disease by showing some positive aspects to aid in accepting Alzheimer’s for what it is.

It has been incredibly important for me to understand my personal relationship with Alzheimer’s. My hope is that these stories can help those additionally affected by Alzheimer’s disease come to terms with how it effects their lives.

A colleague of mine worked in the eldercare industry for seventeen years. He worked in nursing homes and residential communities as a Nursing Assistant, an Activity Coordinator, and a Life Enrichment Director. He currently works with a non-profit organization that assists people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. He told me these stories and shares my views on how important they are. He asked me to share them with you. Please enjoy, I will post a new story every Friday.

-Carlos Barrios, Founder of Endear for Alzheimer’s

 

“Need to Get Back to Clay City, Iowa”

Intimate stories about Alzheimer's and dementia

In the early 1990’s, I worked on an Alzheimer’s unit at a large nursing home in Colorado. One of the residents on that hall was a tiny, alarmingly thin woman named Mary. She was originally from Clay City, Iowa, and any five-minute conversation with her would reveal that fact, as well as the fact that she was trying to get back there. Mary would spend a good deal of her day wandering the halls wringing her hands with a worried and stricken look on her face, eyes hollow, mouth drawn.

Once, when I was talking to her in the hall, Mary’s particular crisis of the moment happened to be that she was very upset that her daughter was not aware (in Mary’s mind) that Mary had Alzheimer’s. She was asking me what she should do about this dilemma, how she should break the news to her. I will never forget the way Mary phrased the statement about her daughter’s lack of knowledge about Mary’s situation. Speaking about her daughter, Mary said, “She doesn’t know that I don’t know as much as I don’t.” This statement was a revelation of sorts for me, because as I thought about it, I realized that although it was an unusual way of putting it, using a triple negative, the statement made perfect sense. I assured Mary that her daughter did indeed know that Mary had dementia and came to see her there several times a week.

Later that day, when it was almost time for lunch, Mary approached me with the same worried look and asked me, “Excuse me, does this train stop in Clay City?” Thinking fast, I replied, “Yes it does, Mary, and let me escort you to the dining car for lunch.”

Catch up on passed episodes of Casual Fridays. Here are some you may have missed:
“Coffee Break”
“Elvis’ 65th Birthday”
“The Silver Key Club”
“Pinto!”
“Laughing and Singing”
“The Task Master”
“Our 3 Floors of Memory”
“Toilet Talk Time”
“Fleas and a Feather Float Together”
“Once a Politician, Always a Politician”
“Positive Post-It Notes”
“88 Keys of Past Memories”
“Fathers of Daughters”
“Distinguishable Gentlemen”

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One Response to “Casual Fridays: Shining light on Alzheimer’s –”Need to Get Back to Clay City, Iowa””

  1. […] Club” “Pinto!” “Laughing and Singing” “The Task Master” “Our 3 Floors of Memory” “Need to Get Back to Clay City, Iowa” “Toilet Talk Time” “Fleas and a Feather Float Together” “Once a Politician, Always a […]

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