‘I’ll get to her outfit later’: Daughter’s humorous attempt getting her mom with dementia to the doctor

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“(I’ll get to her outfit later).

This morning she is scheduled for a CAT scan of her brain. Oddly enough, she has never had one. I brought her to her appointment and my sister Mary Ann stayed home with dad. Her scan will tell them if her dementia is hereditary or could have possibly been caused by an injury from years ago. I am slightly unsettled to hear the results. I am one that prefers to wear earmuffs and hum loudly rather than hear bad news (it’s a little bubble I live in and personally, I like it there). If the results are that it may be hereditary, I will now be panicked every time I forget anything, which is all the time. Right now I tell myself it’s because I am so busy. I’d like to continue believing that. I wonder if they can seal the results and someday when I grow up and mature into a big girl that can handle facts — I’ll open the envelope. I may talk to the doctor’s office about that option.

OK, enough about that. Let’s move on to her outfit. So, I stop in this morning to pick her up and she is waiting inside their door ready to go. First question I ask her is, ‘Why are you wearing capris?’ She says, ‘Because it’s all I have.’ Hmmm… interesting since I bought you four new pairs of long comfy stretchy pants last week to add to the four I bought you about a month ago but we can never find.

Let me back up a bit. My mom always dressed nicely. Not fancy, over the top, but nice and always put together.

Side by side of married couple when they were young and then today and wife has dementia
Becky Gacono/Our Journey Through Our Mom’s Dementia

She loves her pants that have a button and zipper, but without going into too much detail — they are harder to get down when you need to get them down in a hurry. We’ve tried to remove all her pants with the buttons and zippers and replace them with soft, comfy, stretchy pants. Once a week (or more) over the past few months, she will be sitting in a pair of pants with a button and zipper (that won’t close).

Me: ‘Mom, where did you get those pants?’

Mom: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I just found them.’

We search through her closet again and find a few more button/zipper pants stuffed in deep dark corners that amazingly she can find and remember to go back to when she wants her dressy pants. Once again, we sneak out with her dress pants and pull her soft, comfy ones to the front, and even hang outfits on her closet door so she doesn’t need to make any clothing decisions in the morning. We found her new soft pants in another closet, all hanging together, so we moved them to the closet of her everyday clothing. Can’t wait to see what she has on next visit.

So, as you can see in the photo, she has her capris with her nice soft snowflake socks on. She is also wearing a fleece top and a soft fuzzy vest. Before leaving the house, I go for her coat and she says, ‘I don’t need that, I have two things on. I’m warm enough.’ Did I mention it’s snowing outside? But OK, you know me — I’m a pushover if she doesn’t want to do something. Mary Ann would have had that coat on, zipped up and scarf around her neck before she could say another word. I grab a blanket for our trip to the doctor’s office 2 miles away.

Woman with dementia smiling in wheel chair wearing capris and tall socks with snowflakes on them
Becky Gacono/Our Journey Through Our Mom’s Dementia

I park, get her wheelchair and head to her car door. She is trying to put up her hood on her coat she is not wearing. I told her she doesn’t have a coat on. She says, ‘Why not? Who would let me leave the house without a coat on? It’s snowing!’ I hesitated for a split second, almost declaring, ‘Mary Ann!’ But instead, I braced myself and said, ‘I did!’ Without missing a beat she said, ‘Well that was stupid.’ A sentence usually reserved for Mary Ann was just laid on me. I laughed and said, ‘Yes, it was.’ I threw the blanket on her and off we headed through the snow into the doctor’s office.

She had to sign her name as we registered. It took her a moment, but she did it. She wrote Mary Jane Bowman (her maiden name). I laughed and said, ‘That is correct Mom, that used to be your name but you got married a while back and now it’s Gacono.’ She laughed and said, ‘That’s right, I did.’ She looked at the paper and wrote Gacono right over the top of Bowman.

We picked her music she wanted to listen to during the scan and she went in like a trooper. The technician (who was wonderful) brought her back when she was finished. She said, ‘She did great.’ I bundled mom up as she was telling me how loud it was and that she didn’t like the test at all. I get her in the car and I said, ‘Good job mom, you did a great.’ She replied, ‘It was loud. I know they heard me yelling, ‘Get me the hell out of here,’ but they didn’t. I appreciated the technician even more for saying to me, ‘She did great,’ and smiled. I love that kindness can be shared in such simple yet impactful ways. I love that she was nice to my mom.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becky Gacono of Annville, Pennsylvania. She is chronicling her mother’s dementia journey on their Facebook page and in a series of posts for Love What Matters:

Family combats mom’s painful dementia journey with humor

‘They are two that have become one’: A day in the life of my mom’s dementia journey

‘It was my birthday when she no longer knew my name or who I was.’

‘His love for her is palpable’: Doting husband’s explicit instructions for wife with dementia’s morning routine

‘We finally get to the kitchen table and their sandwiches are out and ready to eat. Then this happened.’

‘I never thought I’d get to kiss an angel’: Daughter overhears midnight whispers between mom with dementia and dad

‘I realize love is the most powerful, the most exhausting, the most incredible way to live your life’

‘I tell her I have her ring and she starts crying’: Daughter recounts mom with dementia’s anguish over beloved ‘missing’ ring

‘She used to do puzzles, she can’t do them anymore’: Daughter’s tearful realization about her mother’s dementia 

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