Monday, October 23, 2006

How To Deal With An Agitated Elderly Parent in a Fantasy World

“Helen! Will you come down from there?”

Bea’s tone is sharp. If I did not know better, I would think my aunt was in the bedroom, swinging from the rafters.

Sven and I are about to start dinner. We exchange glances.

“Martin! Do hurry. We are all going to be late.”

Bea's loud voice is easy to understand. Suddenly she starts laughing, a girlish trill of pure delight. I smile, but Sven feels uncomfortable with the situation, so I get up and close the door.

After dinner, I go to Bea, by now frantic. The ship is ready to sail and no one is on time. “I have to get up and tell those men to wait!” she exclaims and leans forward, grasping for my hand.

“Where’s Helen?” I ask.

“She’ll be right back. We are all going to miss the boat!! I must get out of this bed. Oh, please help me.”

I have already given Bea a sleeping pill. I take one look at her red-rimmed eyes and administer half an Ativan, as Nurse Jane suggested.

When an elderly person is upset about an event in a fantasy world, if one plays along, sometimes it relieves the anxiety.

“Now, don’t you worry,” I say. “I will go right away and give the men your message.”

“Will you really? Oh, thank you!” Bea relaxes back into the pillows.

Five minutes later she is sound asleep.

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