Remembering Who They Were, and Not Remembering At All

My visit this week was at the assisted living residences for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The main room at the first house was full when we got there. Before we even entered the doorway, my human and I saw the woman who pets me with heavy hands. She smiled, which was pretty nice since the first few times I saw her, she was barely conscious of my presence. She wanted to hold me, and my human let her briefly, but never let go of me the whole time.

The next person we saw in the room was the woman who loves cats. Although she has not been doing well for a while, she was up and walking around. My human held me so she could pet her. I’m on my leash for these visits, but there is no way any of these residents can squat down to pet me. So whenever they are not sitting on couches, my human holds me up for petting.

The woman who likes me to give her high fives was there, and she seems to be doing much better. I sat between her, and one of the men who is usually there when I visit. She chatted, asked for a photo and a high five, and needled the man a little. He always looks bemused when I show up, and although he pretends not to care, I think he likes when I visit.

The staff was handing out blueberry smoothies to the residents during my time there. One resident who hasn’t been around very long, spilled her cup and she was so embarrassed. It’s clear she’s more used to taking care of things herself, and even though the staff helped, she tried cleaning up on her own. Before we left, my human made sure to sit me down next to a man with white hair. He told her about growing up near the woods, earning a masters in psychology, how he lost and found his class ring in his 20s, and the cat he had at the time. Not a lot of people at these residences remember their past in that much detail anymore. A lot of them don’t even speak.

We stopped by the other house briefly but it was a lot quieter. Some of our regulars weren’t in the big room during our visit. One lady who always remembers me was happy to see me, although she was looking a bit disheveled this time. The staff was really happy to see me and spent time with me, which doesn’t happen often because they’re often so busy. The TV news blared, and it was all about bombings and people crying. So the mood was kind of somber. One of our regular visitors was looking especially sad, so my human brought me over to her. She petted me for longer than usual.

Here are other times I visited the assisted living residents:

Visiting My Favorite Residents at Assisted Living
Romance and Chaos at the Assisted Living Facilities
High Fives and Head Butts at the Assisted Living Houses

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​ I visited the assisted living residences, and I think I helped everyone have a better day, no matter how much they remembered.
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