For Mom to be awake and alert and stimulated by an exciting P.E.O. meeting is good, but as we drove home I realized the excitement had spun her into a kind of hypomania expressed mainly in wild hallucinations.
"I want those earrings," she kept saying as we drove to her residence.
"What earrings?" I asked.
"Those right there," she answered, looking and reaching to a place near her on the dashboard of the car.
"Where?" I asked.
Finally rather than argue with her that nothing was there, I took her hand to touch the spot and said, "Then get them."
Her fingers scrambled at the smooth surface, but she continued to see them. "I can't get them, " she said.
I tried to distract her to another subject.
As we got out of the car, I was helping her to get into her wheelchair.
"No! There's a pin there," she said.
"Oh? Okay, here, I took it away," I answered.
That seemed to work.
But when we were back in her room and I had positioned her in her recliner for a little nap, she was still seeing things.
"There's a cat in my clothes closet," she said.
"Oh, really?" I answered. "I'll chase it out. Scat! Get out of there, you cat." I dramatically chased it out and tried to leave.
"There's still a cat in there!" she cried suddenly.
"Oh dear!" I sighed. "I'll chase it out."
But I also took her out of the recliner and put her back into her wheelchair.
"Let's go see if there's a snack we can find in the kitchen," I suggested.
There was no way she could take a nap. Her mind was racing, so I took her into the kitchen and gave her some grapes to munch on while sitting at a dining table.
"I have to bring her in here," I explained to the caregivers. "She having hallucinations, and I can't leave her alone in her room."
"Oh yes, they do that a lot," Susan said. "Verma always thinks there's someone in her room. She's afraid to go in there."
I made a quick exit, exhausted by the unending stream of caregiving tasks.
I do think she enjoyed being part of a P.E.O. meeting, a relic of her normal life after retirement from teaching nursing.
Going to church, attending these P.E.O. meetings, and being a part of holiday family gatherings in my home are the only vestiges she has of her earlier life. They make it possible for her to endure the long, boring hours spent with strangers and caregivers in her assisted living residence on the memory care floor (locked so the residents can't leave).
But these pleasant gatherings for her come at a high cost for me.