Adventures in Alzhiemers – TV people edition

by Julie Frayn on June 12, 2015 in  Adventures in Alzheimer's,Mama Bird

“Why do they watch me? Everywhere I move, they watch me.”

“It’s like the Mona Lisa, Mom. Just an illusion. They can’t see you.”

She wrings her hands and shifts her eyes from me to the TV and back. “Do you think so?”

Yes. Yes I do.

Mom has always loved her television time. Now there’s something I did inherit. The TV people are her constant companions. She leaves the set on all day and night and has done for years. Before Dad died 20 years ago, he was quite ill and would sleep in his recliner. Mom would sleep on the couch to be near him in case he needed her. After he died, she stayed there, couldn’t bring herself to sleep in their empty bed.

Now that Alzheimer’s has taken hold of her, she believes the news people can see her. Hear her. Now they talk to her, have full-on conversations. When Kelly Ripa enters, stage right, and waves at her audience, Mom beams and stands and waves back.

At one time, she said it was only on the right side of the screen – that side is a window through which they can spy on her. So when she didn’t want them to see her, she moved to the left.

I long for the days when she could just move to the left.

tv messages2Anything on the TV is the truth. If it says to call, she must call. If it tells her she needs something, she must have it. If it says buy, do, go – she wants to buy, do, go. She writes down all the 800 numbers and makes notes (that are becoming increasingly hard to read and nonsensical) about what she must get and how soon. Whenever we come across those notes, we slip them into our pockets and steal them. Awfully glad she usually can’t figure out how to use the phone, and has no access to her credit card. tv messages

On one of oh-so-many days that her TV broke (this particular time the batteries in her remote died and she couldn’t adjust the volume), the TV people were upset because they couldn’t hear her and she couldn’t talk to them. Another time, the news guy gave her the evil eye, but the woman beside him winked at Mom, pointed to the man, and gave Mom the throat-cut signal. Mom was convinced the woman was going to murder him because he was being mean to her.

I got a phone call asking how to fix her phone. That was new. So I asked what was wrong with it (since she was speaking to me through it, loud and clear).

“Those crazy women keep talking on it and I want them to shut up.”

After much back and forth, I figured out she meant the TV, and she was watching The View. I told her to turn the channel. She said she was going to turn it off.

Dang. That means she’ll unplug it and will call later to ask someone to fix her TV.

Sure enough, she called later. But, hey! Not what you think! Her TV was fixed. How did this magic happen? She turned it to channel 2 (her favourite all-day news channel).

I miss the days when she knew how to turn the channel…

On channel 2 she spoke to the man. You know, the one who owns channel 2. He said, when those women start talking to just. Hang. Up. The. Phone. So that’s what she was going to do. She asked him if those women were going to be arrested for doing this to her. He said he couldn’t tell her that right now, but maybe next week.

“Isn’t that bizarre?” she asked.

Yes mom, it is very bizarre.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathi June 12, 2015 at 3:22 pm



Julie Frayn June 12, 2015 at 4:33 pm


Mary Smith June 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm

It doesn’t get any easier, does it? We never had people on the television talking to dad but so many times we had to ‘fix’ the tv because it wasn’t working. Feeling for you. x


Julie Frayn June 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Yes, it breaks almost daily. As does the phone (she unplugs them) and the microwave (she unplugs it). She has this paranoia about electricity it seems… Thanks, Mary

Carolyn Frayn June 12, 2015 at 11:19 pm

It’s so hard. The other day she asked me why I wasn’t waving to the kids waving at us. It was a commercial. Yesterday she asked me what I’d do if that were my kid, as she pointed to a kid on a commercial. I told her it was a commercial. She said, I know, he’s on all the time getting into mischief. Easy stuff, the kids and the commercials… the constant threats and fear from the news people, not easy. You handle it well. I flounder. LLL


Julie Frayn June 13, 2015 at 11:57 am

I’m not that good at it. I try to convince her that she’s wrong. Which is stupid. But I can’t figure out how to let her have her reality and make her feel better when her reality includes her imminent death at the hands of these damn people on the tv. Argh…. LLL

Susanne Kraus-Dahlgren June 15, 2015 at 9:28 am

My heart hurts for you. I’ve worked with Alzhiemers patients before, and it’s hard, watching that decline into a stranger. Like I told Carolyn earlier, I wish I could teleport out there and hug you.


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