Mom is 91 years old and resides in an assisted living center in the valley. She has dementia/Alzheimers as well as a number of TIA's that have reduced her ability to form sentences as well as forced her into a wheel chair. She is - lately - very sleepy, quiet, and has lost a lot of weight, so much that she is now on hospice care.
Despite all of this, there are times when Mom shows up completely present. Underneath all the other stuff her essence remains and exhibits itself in wonderful ways (not always in the way you want/expect). Yesterday, she was in the circle playing the game that the residents play - someone in the center bats a lightweight big ball around and the circle folks bat it, well, somewhere and sometimes. Sometimes they fall asleep and the ball bats them. The aides try to keep the residents sufficiently apart to keep them from batting each other.
Mom was intensely interested in the game yesterday so when I leaned over her chair and said HI she just glared at me! I asked her if she knew who I was and she said yes. I asked then if she wanted me to leave her alone and she said yes! So I did. She was more awake and alive and interactive with the game than I have seen her in a long time.
I walked around the circle, got a couple of photos and then walked back by her. She glared at me again as I began to take a photo, so I asked her if she was just going to be a grouch or if I could get a smile? She gave me the slightest grin.
Despite the many, many times when it seems like no one is at home, I believe that someone is at home all the time, just not always available. Our job is to be available and patient and put aside our needs and wants and just be there for the the person. Easy to say and not always easy to do. But very rewarding for me.
Remember - none of us ever think we will wind up here. Yet here many folks are.