Meanwhile at the VA Dementia Ward

Confusion

It turns out that his family’s interpretation of my guy’s wishes may have been wrong.

And my interpretation of their wishes was also wrong.

I thought they asked me not to see him at all, and that he didn’t want me there, but that seems not to be true, or not exactly.

So I have been visiting twice a week again, but in a different way. I only stay for half an hour and don’t wheel him into the extra lounge and play music because I have at least some evidence he doesn’t want that anymore.

The last time I did that, he put his foot against the table and pushed himself back, strongly, in his wheelchair. When I asked if he wanted to go back to the dayroom he clearly said Dayroom.

He is now in a state where he struggles to communicate at all, verbally. He mouths words but I simply can’t grasp what he is saying. His hands have been paralyzed for over a year, so he can’t write me a note.

Sometimes he will repeat one word aloud, over and over, but it is usually not a word that makes any sense to me.

So we are in a situation familiar to anyone who has dealt with those unable to communicate: guessing what they actually want.

Rather than bluegrass music videos, I have tried showing him photo books thatI think he should would like, but he is often closing his eyes or staring off beyond the book across the room.

Do I continue giving him our traditional goodbye message, “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” which even a month ago produced an unmistakeable smile, but now, nothing?

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