Read The Signs.

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“Mike’s Auto Shop. Krispy Kreme Donuts, hot donuts. Sears,” she said.

Vera* was reading every single sign we passed on the road. Vera’s dementia has progressed since I first met her, but, for the most part, is still able to carry on lengthy conversations and tell coherent, interesting stories. Her short-term memory is pretty damaged at this point, though, so she tends to repeat the same stories.

Ever since our first ride on the bus, Vera has read road signs out loud. I’ve never understood why she does that, but I have never asked. I almost find it kind of reassuring; while most of my residents are silent on bus rides, she is talkative. 

“Michael’s. Harris Teeter. Gold’s Gym. There’s a park we used to go to, my husband and me…we had such fun there,” she said.

There was a break in the road signs and she looked at me.

“I’m reading them out loud so I can remember them, in case I’m ever back here,” Vera nodded.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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