An Experience I Couldn’t Handle

This morning I ran into a problem with Kate that had me stymied. She had just sat up after a short rest. I sat down beside her with the intent of looking at one of her photo books. It turned out that she believed she had to be someplace about that time. She said she was supposed to meet a group of women at her house. I didn’t think much of it because I am usually able to distract her so that she forgets whatever she has imagined.

This time was different. She thought she was running late and had promised “people” she would be there. Knowing that she didn’t have any obligations, I told her I didn’t think her meeting was today but tomorrow. If she accepted that, I was confident the whole issue would have been forgotten; however, she was sure that she was right. It was about time for lunch, so I suggested we order a takeout lunch and then I would take her to her house. She was fine with that and off we went.

On the way, she forgot that we were going to pick up our lunch. She became increasingly worried about being late. I assured her we would go directly to her home after getting our lunch. When we arrived, she didn’t recognize our house as hers. I mentioned that she might be thinking of her house in Fort Worth. She was adamant that I was wrong. I said, “I do remember that you have a meeting tomorrow, but I didn’t know about the one today.” She remained sure that it was today.

I told her we had lived in the present house for twenty-three years but that we had lived in two other houses in Knoxville before that and suggested she might be thinking of one of those. I added that other people were living in both of those.

She was almost in tears as we ate our lunch. She told me that she didn’t know what to do. I told her I wanted to help her but was in the same boat. I didn’t know what to do. Then she surprised me by saying, “It’s not your fault. You are trying to help me.”

Again, she asked if I would take her home. It was only thirty minutes before the sitter was to come, and I hesitated leaving but told her I would take her. I drove her by each of our previous homes. Fortunately, one was just around the corner and the other only two miles away. She didn’t recognize either one as her home.

She began to calm down as we drove. By the time we returned home, she was fine. The sitter arrived shortly thereafter. When we saw her, I said, “Look who’s here. It’s Mary.” Kate beamed and greeted her. They began chatting, and I got my things together and went to my office. She had suffered for almost two hours, but the crisis was over. I think the only thing I did that was helpful was to convey my desire to help her. None of my specific efforts to solve her problem was successful.

2 Replies to “An Experience I Couldn’t Handle”

  1. I have this experience regularly with my mum. It’s really hard to know how to help and distraction techniques don’t work with mum if she’s in an anxious mood like this. I think all I can do is be there and try to reassure. It makes me feel pretty useless though …. I hope you don’t experience this too often. Take care of yourself.

    1. Thank you for your comment. This particular experience was unusual; however, Kate frequently has other experiences for which I find just being there and reassuring her is helpful. Wishing you the best with your mum.

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