Tuesday, May 24, 2016
All the S.W.A.G. You can Forget
What person in her right mind takes her mother to the Second Annual Hudson Valley Dementia Conference?
What is wrong with the above sentence? How many things are wrong with the above sentence?
And yes, I was the one who thought it was a good idea. After all, there was a special reduced rate for “Persons with Dementia”.
I actually thought my mother might glean something from the lectures, and might find comfort in the company of other likewise impaired persons. I had not figured on the ubiquity of SWAG.*
The conference got off to a slow start because of an accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge. An enormous tractor-trailer full of scrap metal tipped over and blocked several lanes; the entire bridge was closed for four hours, trapping speakers and attendees on the western shores of the Hudson. But remarkably, this did not make the evening news: Dozens of Dementia Professionals Stranded on the Wrong Side of the River.
Meanwhile, Mom and I were walking the halls of the DoubleTree at a pre-climate-change-glacial speed, stopping at every exhibitor table to admire and collect the pens, hand cleaners and pill boxes. My sister, back at the Orchard in her ongoing project to empty the house, texted to inform me that my mother had apparently kept every hospital bracelet of hers and my father’s, in a box in the top drawer of a bureau. And there were a lot of hospital visits in Dad’s final years.
At one table Mom was quasi-ecstatic to receive a Memory Boost package of tea bags and two purple ballpoint pens, purple being the signature color of Alzheimer’s. I have no idea idea why.
My sister texted a photograph of a pile of small crucifixes. A week ago she believed she had found all the crucifixes, rosaries, holy cards and religious bric-a-brac, and delivered them to her favorite monk at Glastonbury Abbey. So she was rather perturbed to realize that there were several more crucifixes and holy medals still lurking in the house. Perturbed on many levels. Obviously, there is the question of why there had to be so many crosses and stuff, even if you take into account the fact of nothing ever having been thrown away in all the years my grandparents, great-aunt, parents and other grandmother lived in the house. There still remains the question: just how religious were they? I didn’t think of my parents as religious; I would have said they were more pro-forma than anything else. So why the plethora of paraphernalia?
At the exhibit table for the Jewish Home for the Aged, Mom examines and then collects several brochures; she tells the lady sitting there that she is not taking this for herself, no, she taking this for her friend.
It is, of course, too late now to learn the whys and wherefores of our ancestors' religiosity; those that remain with wits are only my heathen generation and the youngsters.
Just in case you are wondering, or considering joining us for the Third Annual Dementia Conference, here is a partial list of the swag collected by my mother:
2 Collapsible water bottle (Somers Manor)
Multicolored 7-day pill box (Marquis Home Care)
3 Squeeze balls (Osborn Rehab)
8 hand sanitizers (Crystal Run Health; Somers Manor; First Light Home Care; Hamaspik Choice)
Magnifying glass w/Light (Somers Manor)
2 Silicone pedometer bracelets (Jewish Home Family)
Red plastic case with band aids (Putnam Ridge
Pill cutter (Osborn Home Care)
Stain remover (Centers Health Care)
First aid kit in green plastic (Jewish Home at Home)
Memory boast pack of tea bags (Home Instead Senior Care)
Gum (Centers Home care)
Lens cleaner (Hamaspik Choice)
Emery board (Interim Healthcare)
2 Lip balm (crystal Run Health)
Post it Pads (Centers Health Care; Hamaspik Choice; Life House; Interim Healthcare; Atria; United Hebrew)
Spiral notebook and pen (Willow Gardens)
11 Ballpoint pens (Alzheimer’s Association; VNA; United Hebrew; Home Instead Senior Care; Interim; Hamaspik choice)
2 Long shaped purple pencils (Bristal Assisted Living)
Neon green card holder to stick onto cell phone (Marquis Home Care)
Several carry bags (Somers Manor, Alzheimer’s Association)
*SWAG. An Acronym for Stuff We All Get. I thought that was the only thing it was an acronym for. I was very very wrong. There are so many others, including: Secretly We're All Gay, and Scientific Wild Ass Guess.