Independence without Direction

My trip to MD is always a highlight of my month, but this one was particularly interesting due to a phone collapse. Bricked is the tech term. It was evident first by the android image on its back with a belly flap open and legos showing through. Then Nidric from Google support confirmed, yep, brick. So my marketing efforts got interesting. Even visiting family got interesting. So much so that I thought it called for a blog.

I grew up in MD, have lived in FL for 15 years but have been a frequent visitor because of family and now business. But I have never had a good sense of direction. N, S,E,W—mean little to my brain, short of what’s South of MD. An example, I started the blog before leaving for the airport and got lost for 40 minutes on the way there. I had carefully written them down, but alas the directions I wrote were to an overflow rental car lot, not the rental car return lot. So I turned around and fumbled through. First reminding myself that I had been on 100 E, so now would need to go 100W. This after traveling far enough to feel very lost on Hanover Rd. All of these roads and directions were familiar, yet I was lost.

The same thing happened on my way home from family. I missed an exit, it was dark, I was so close, and yet. This must be what it feels like in early stages of dementia. So much is familiar and yet, not. I remember that, but not –what is that? I saw a bus with the company logo, I turned and followed it. Until it dawned on me that it was going away from the company. I would see a familiar landmark but then not have it in context to the journey.

And then the anxiety and the fear that accompanies feeling so close and yet missing the mark. The map I had was not focused on the area I was in. Even finding a pen and paper and writing directions seemed archaic and not trustworthy. I honestly limited my time on the road based on the lack of directional assist.

Is it any wonder that an individual with dementia is often more comfortable not leaving the house?

Is it any wonder that a caregiver becomes their anchor, their entire focus–their guardian angel?

They shadow us for safety. We are the GPS, the smartphone and Google all rolled into one. And yes, they forget that we need recharging to do it well.

On a positive note, I was far more outward focus. I peacefully sat at the Southwest gate with only people watching to entertain me. On the plane, I guiltlessly slept, with no call to do work or listen to meditation. Just a chance to be.

The bad news, no one to know when I was lost . . . or had landed.

A few days without a phone and without GPS gave me a window into dementia world. It is good to be home, though small and tight with need. I am purchasing a MD paper map to reside in my luggage for the next trip, just in case.

About Cate

Passionate about dementia care and quality of life throughout the last days of life----sums up Cate McCarty, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach. With close to forty years of long-term care experience in nursing and recreation, a Master's in Thanatology and a PhD in Aging Studies, Dr. Cate seizes every opportunity to translate research into quality of life for individuals with dementia and all of us who have the honor to "rub elbows" with them.
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