Reading the booklet entitled "Dementia" by the University of Western Sydney has been extremely helpful. Although my mother is awake in the above photo, she was sitting up with her eyes closed during much of my visit yesterday, looking and seeming very distant. Rather than just sit across from her and stare, I remembered the advice to touch the person with dementia. So I moved next to my mom and held her hand. She squeezed back and held tightly the whole time I was there. I also talked to her as if speaking to a healthy, responding person. To my surprise, she reacted with smiles, chuckles and more hand squeezes.
But yesterday was not a speaking day for my mom. She was without words and, only if pressed, answered questions with one word answers and uttered those with great effort. Just the day before, she had been arguing with me on the telephone about not being served what she wanted for dinner, using many words and speaking easily (albeit without logic.)
My mother's breathing was labored, even while on the oxygen machine. He levels were good, though, above 90, even after she clumsily removed the oxygen tubes from her nostrils. Then her chest heaved and she labored harder to breathe.
It seems now each day will be different and we'll never know exactly what to expect.