As I mentioned previously, my mother now lives at the Village, an assisted living facility that specializes in the care of patients diagnosed with dementia.
This disease has caused my mother to perseverate on certain things. One of them is the telephone. Every day, my siblings and I would receive hundreds of phone calls from our mother. She would call, leave a message and then, one minute later, call again, since she would completely forget she had just called us. We all adapted to life with the constant ring, ring, ring of the telephone and our need to delete, delete, delete the hundreds of messages we received from her each day.
Needless to say, for the good of the community, the phone was removed.
It seemed like a good solution at the time.
Unfortunately, it was not.
My mother, now in extreme anxiety since she could not reach any of us, proceeded to wreak havoc on the peaceful, little Village community. She wandered the hallway of the memory support unit searching for an accommodating fellow patient who still had a phone.
"Excuse me but do you have a phone I could use?" My mother would ask again and again and again.
I have discovered recently that being the parent of a child with special needs is all about acquiring an ability to solve unusual problems.
Well, I can tell you, without a doubt, that being the child of an adult diagnosed with dementia, is exactly the same thing! Creative problem solving becomes a necessity to those whose loved ones have been diagnosed with dementia.
After we received several phone calls from the Village, expressing concern over our mother's need to terrorize even the most passive of patients, while she searched continuously for a phone, my siblings and I decided we needed to think of something, and fast.
My brother, John, ironically a telecommunications professional, came up with a beauty of an idea. Why not get Mom a phone and glue down all the numbered buttons? Then we could program just our phone numbers on the speed dial buttons so that she could still contact us.
He quickly purchased the phone, glued down the buttons, programed the speed dials and reinstalled it into her room.
It worked like a charm.
Our mother's anxiety has been reduced, she no longer wanders the halls in search of that elusive phone.
Life at the Village has returned to its calm, peaceful routine. The patients, no longer threatened, enjoy their quiet games of Scrabble.
And once again the four of us siblings endure the sound of a telephone ringing and ringing.