“Lady in the Waiting Room”

South County Hospital (Photo by Victoria Arocho/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 She was tiny. A frail, 5’ tall, older woman who entered the waiting room, looked around, and sat on one of the empty chairs. She never went up to check in with the receptionist behind the glass. Most of the chairs in the room were taken.

Over the next hour, those chairs emptied as each patient was called in to the doctor’s inner offices. Others left, after their own appointments and check-out.

The tiny woman? She never went anywhere….No check-in…No eye contact with anyone. Nothing.

Since I was one of the last still waiting in the room, I got to see the younger woman enter. When she noted the frail woman, she said: “There you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere (and since this was a hospital, she very well must have looked everywhere.)!! “Why didn’t you stay where I told you to, in the parking lot?”

This younger woman had apparently dropped off her charge at a corner of the parking lot where she directed her to ‘Stay there til I come. I’m just gonna park the car.”

Now, as soon as the woman left, the woman forgot the directive. Instead, she walked away and entered the hospital building where she began going into rooms. It was just chance that got her into mine where she decided to take a seat. (We were on the 2ndfloor, meaning she also had to take an elevator up.)

No wonder her driver was frantic. I couldn’t imagine how long she’d been searching.

Yep—Another instance of “Never count on a person with dementia to recall a directive—even one just issued.”

The driver didn’t know that cardinal rule.

But this incident demonstrates the 24/7 nature of the caretaker’s job, a job that demands they always be “on duty.”

***Colleen Kelly Mellor writes the stories of her 10 year experience as partner to her mate who has Alzheimer’s. Her accounts appear on colleenkellymellor.com, as do profiles of others who are caretakers. If you’d like her to tell your story, contact her at colleenkellymellor@gmail.com or sign on to her website to get future posts.







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