We went over to my mother’s Sunday to bring her a new remote control for her TV. When I visited her the day before she did not have her television on. She always has it on. When I asked her about it she said, “I don’t watch it all the time. I have so much to do I usually don’t watch it in the daytime.” I noticed her remote wasn’t on the table by the chair where she usually sets it. “Where’s your remote?” I ask. “I don’t know. I haven’t been able to find it,” she responds. With someone with dementia it is futile to ask them to retrace their steps or think about where it could be. So I begin my search with a “It has to be here somewhere.” I searched the closet, every drawer, under both chairs and the bed. I even looked in her suitcases. No remote. Did it get thrown out? It was a real mystery. When I told my mother I would get a new one for her I got the usual objections. “Don’t bother. I don’t want you to take time to do that. I’ll be fine without the TV.” This last statement was not true. Television is important to my mother. She doesn’t go out of her room and can’t enjoy books anymore. It is her link with reality.
That is why Sunday afternoon found us at Radio Shack purchasing a remote with large buttons that would be easy to use, and driving over to Atria to see my mother. While my husband was busy adding batteries and programing the remote I talked with my mother. “The toilet roll holder fell down and I can’t reach it,” my mother told me. I went in to retrieve it. “You’re out of toilet paper too,” I said, opening the cabinet door under the sink where I scrounged around looking for some. No toilet paper. But what I did find was her purse. I had never seen it there before. She usually hangs it in the closet behind some clothes or in the drawer under her nightgowns. I picked it up. On a hunch I unzipped it. Yes, there, sitting right on top was her remote control. I held it aloft to show my mother what I had found and then sheepishly went to tell my husband who had just finished programing the remote and was flipping through channels. All I got was an eye roll. I put the old remote in the top dresser drawer and we got ready to leave. Oh, first I called the front desk. “Room 16 is out of toilet paper. Could you please send someone over.”