Archives for posts with tag: Alzheimer's

old woman michael tsinoglou
Good News
by Evie Groch

Every Sunday, a one-hour visit
one hour to watch her wrestle with truth
one hour to convince her she is wrong
to listen to her fears, fail again to reassure

Where are my parents, she asks,
she, a woman in her eighties.
Will they be here soon?
I need to get dressed; help me please.
What time are they coming?
I’ll need to leave.

Mom, you parents won’t be coming
They’re not around anymore.
This is where you live now.
I come to visit you every Sunday.

I watch her heart sink with the news,
it does so every week.
Devastation, shock, denial, sadness,
offers of But I’m here don’t help.

Next Sunday I return to hear
Where are my parents
Will they be here soon?
I need to get dressed; help me please
What time are they coming?
I’ll need to leave

Weary of fighting, I say
They’ll be here soon.
You look nice in what you’re wearing.
Shall we have some tea
in the dining hall while we wait?

A warm glow bathes her face,
she smiles and looks at me anew,
touches my face as angst leaves hers
and tea flows down her parched throat
while tears flow down my cheeks.

PAINTING: Portrait of an old woman by Michael Tsinoglou. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Before the ravages of dementia became so apparent, we, the daughters and sons of parents who were suffering from it, were left on our own to figure out how to support them. There were no support groups, no specialized facilities for them, no advice columns on how to interact with them. This poem captures one good day when I learned to stop correcting my mother and instead entered her world and learned so much from her tenderness and body language – a lesson I never forgot.

evie groch 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Evie Groch, Ed.D., is a Field Supervisor/Mentor for new administrators in Graduate Schools of Education. Her opinion pieces, humor, poems, short stories, recipes, word challenges, and other articles have been widely published in the New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Contra Costa Times, The Journal, Games Magazine, and many online venues. Many of her poems are in published anthologies. Her short stories, poems, and memoir pieces have won her recognition and awards. Her travelogues have been published online with Grand Circle Travel. The themes of travel, language, immigration, and justice are special for her. Her book of poems is titled Half the Hurricanes  and is available through

mystical-conversation redon
How to Lose Your Mom Over and Over
by Lylanne Musselman

After her hard falls, more messy accidents,
you give in to the reality mom is too hard to handle
at home, since dementia has deteriorated her health
in these two years you’ve been sole caregiver.

Confined to her wheelchair, it’s a mystery how
she escaped the first nursing home you thought
extremely secure. You’re thankful she didn’t become
a statewide Silver Alert in that chilly October air.

With mom settled into a new facility, you make it through
a first Christmas without her at family gatherings. Visit her
four or five times a week. Adapt to other’s well-meaning phrase:
“You’re so lucky! At least you still have your mom.”

Never expect a pandemic lockdown of nursing homes,
or that her hugs from last March will have to hold you.
Call her often, she doesn’t understand why you’re not visiting,
she cries hearing your voice, you never know how to hang up.

Summer, a reprieve of outdoor visits, with masks, six feet apart,
no hugs, no touching. Hard for her to understand the need
for distance, she accuses you of not caring whether she’s dead
or alive, then begs to drive. So much for happy visits.

In autumn, her nursing home locks down again. You’re thankful
they have no Covid-19 cases. Until they do in late October,
then the call: “Your mom has a fever spike.” Nurses assure you
she’s tested negative twice. In November, she’s isolated

in the Covid unit, afraid and alone. Her nurse calls several times:
“Your mom is yelling nonstop! We don’t know how to calm her down.”
Upsetting since no visits are allowed. That Monday, go stand outside
her window. She recognizes you, but she’s a shell of herself.

Her death glares you in the face. Hospice needs to be called.
On Friday the 13th: “Honey, your mom is going to meet Jesus.
It won’t be long.” These words are hard to hear anytime,
but when you can’t be there, it’s cruel. You’re isolated, lost.

You hope she’s in a better place. Know she hated the rest “home,”
being forced to play Bingo, being limited to that wheelchair,
never knowing why her parents weren’t visiting.

PAINTING: Mystical Conversation by Odilon Redon (1896).

Musselman2 copy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw the call for a “How to” poem, I knew I had to write about what it was like to deal with my mom’s dementia, the nursing home, and then her death. 2020 was a hard year. I felt by writing about the experience in this way, it would not feel like such a heavy poem, and it would be one that I could write without feeling that I couldn’t deal with the pain of it all over again. Anyone who deals with a loved one with dementia knows what a hard thing it is, and then when a pandemic hits and puts so many limitations on everyone, it makes a hard situation harder. My mom didn’t survive the year, and I’m still processing all that’s happened. Being a poet helps, as most of us know it’s how we process our feelings.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: I had to include a photo taken last summer during the few months that I was able to visit my mom, outside with a mask, and at a distance. She was not one to keep her mask on. I miss her, and those hard visits.

Musselman1 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lylanne Musselman is an award-winning poet, playwright, and visual artist, living in Indiana. Her work has appeared in Pank, The Tipton Poetry Journal, The New Verse News, Rose Quartz Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and The Ekphrastic Review, among others, and many anthologies. Musselman is the author of five chapbooks, including Red Mare 16 (Red Mare Press, 2018), a co-author of the volume of poetry, Company of Women New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and the author of the full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately (Chatter House Press, 2018). Musselman is currently working on another volume of poetry. Visit her at and on Facebook