More on the move, with pictures
Things went downhill sort of fast after Wednesday, the day Mom started living in the nursing home. Thursday is sort of a blur. My brother arrived Wednesday night. So Jeff, Laura and I went to Mom’s old apartment as early as we could on Thursday to go through things, sorting items to save and items to trash, items that might go to Mom’s new room and items that could be stored in my basement. Laura tackled the closet, bagging up four bags of clothes to donate and one bag that she wanted her daughters to go through just in case they might find something of Grandma’s that they’d like to keep. Jeff and I worked in the living area. We decided to keep every last photo until we can go through them and divide them up. There were lots of photos, everywhere. We did meet our deadline of 1 p.m., when a hauler came to take away some of the furniture that wasn’t worth keeping, plus lots of bags of trash. We left behind a few bookshelves, two nightstands and a lamp that we thought another resident might be able to use.
I took Mom to get a haircut in the afternoon. She seemed OK when I took her, in a decent mood, maybe sort of quiet. Not really complaining about the move. We ran into an old friend of Mom’s at the salon. She was getting her nails done by the woman who shares a space with my hair stylist. That was fun, to catch up with her, and for her to see Mom and now know that Mom was making this move. After the cut, Mom and I got burgers at Wendy’s. I took her back to the nursing home and went to my house for a brief rest. I got a call at about 3:30 from my sister, saying the facility administrator – actually the administrator for assisted living and assistant administrator for the entire place – had summoned us all to his office. By the time I got over there, he was just finishing up telling Laura and Jeff that Mom had been awake at 4 a.m., had cut off the security cuff from her ankle, and had headed out an exit door. The door normally would sound an alarm, but without Mom’s cuff, that didn’t happen. A staff member was able to stop her and eventually get her back to bed. But this made Mom an immediate target as a potential flight risk, and the administrator was already talking about the possible need to move her to a secure Alzheimer’s facility.
This kind of talk set all of us off. We were all angry that evening while we ate dinner at a restaurant as the family vacation/staycation began. Laura’s daughters arrived from California, and my sister from Cleveland and her husband had arrived. The next morning, I emailed the administrator and asked him to increase Mom’s sleep medicine, Trazodone, to improve chances she would sleep through the night. He consulted the doctor and agreed to that right away, which I took as a good sign. I went to see Mom fairly early. She was wearing a Christmas sweater over her pajama top. I could already tell she was getting some assistance with hygiene and dressing, but this appeared to suggest she might have done some dressing on her own. She was hot, so I encouraged her to change into a new shirt that Laura had bought her during the shopping trip on Wednesday. I left at lunch and as I was driving back to see Mom again, the administrator called to tell me Mom had tried to escape about four times that day. She was agitated. She hit a staff member. I told him I’d meet him at the nursing station. When I got there, I found Mom in a lounge with a staff member. She hit me when I got there, too. She doesn’t hit hard. But it’s upsetting all the same.
The administrator took me into an office and said he wanted a family member to be with Mom through the weekend during the day, and that someone on staff would be assigned as her one-on-one at night. I had experienced something similar when Mom had made her one escape attempt at assisted living. But this time I got more upset, because I felt that she was being unfairly judged as a problem patient before she had any chance to settle in. At about this time, my sister and her daughters arrived, and then my brother and his partner Tom, and then Patrick. And I sat in a chair and cried. I was upset that everyone’s vacation was being ruined. I felt that the facility was turning on Mom. I was tired. I eventually calmed down, and we spent a bunch of time with Mom, looking at pictures and just hanging out. She had no idea that she was in any kind of trouble, of course.
Jeff, Tom and Laura visited with a social worker to talk about Mom’s behavior. The social worker was far more accepting of Mom’s issues, and said they were quite common. That it was way too soon to decide she is destined for a locked ward. That a team would decide this, not just the administrator. That they see this kind of thing all the time. The nursing supervisor assigning the one-on-one’s also was more flexible with expectations of family time, which I appreciated. But we were still on edge. I was supposed to go back to my house with Laura, Jeff, Tom and the girls to help them sort through some jewelry and pick out some items for themselves while Patrick stayed with Mom. But I had a hard time leaving Mom. She was doing fairly well, but I invest so much energy into trying to keep her as happy as she can be, and I felt like I was failing completely. So I just wanted to be with her. Patrick and I stayed with her, sitting over a puzzle for awhile and then sitting with her while she had dinner. She wondered why we weren’t eating.
Finally, we left and met up with everyone at Dad’s, where the family vacation/staycation was in full gear, with everyone present but our baby sister flying in from Oregon. I tried to keep my chin up. Jeff and Laura gave me the day off on Saturday, which was quite nice. I golfed with my little brother and went to a local pool with most of the family. Laura took the morning shift with Mom and Jeff and Tom spent the afternoon with her. For the most part, she did well. Laura sat outside in the courtyard and colored in coloring books with her. Tom and Jeff went to bingo. There were no reports of overnight problems. The family vacationers went to Cirque du Soleil that night – all 16 of us. The day had taken a toll, I think. Jeff was super-stressed and felt like he might be getting sick. Laura was trying to fit in a little fun time for her daughters, taking a late walking tour of the Short North. I was wondering if I would get a decent night’s sleep.
Sunday, I took the morning visit. We all broke for brunch and then I went back until about 3 or so, when Jeff and Tom stayed with Mom until she went to dinner. Laura and the girls came to say goodbye before they flew back to California. Laura was troubled, feeling unfinished about Mom. We had a big family seafood dinner at Dad’s. I went to see Mom this morning, and hung out with her for almost two hours. Some staff seemed to think she was doing well. One nurse seems to have a negative attitude about Mom, and it pisses me off. I heard that an aide took Mom over to assisted living for a visit last night, which didn’t turn out so well – that reminded Mom that she had moved against her will, and she repeated some things to staff there that she had said to me: she is not an idiot. She wants to die. Today, the administrator came by as Mom and I were sitting in the courtyard, where I had combed her hair, put lipstick on her and touched up her cheeks with some powder blush. He said he got all good reports about the weekend and that the one-on-one staffing would start to taper off. He and I agreed Mom should not visit assisted living again anytime soon. He acknowledged I will have to return to work. He seemed much more positive. When I left her, Mom was going to have a one-on-one for the rest of the day. The family staycation went to Zoombezi Bay and now are prepping for our last dinner together, a cookout.
I am off the rest of the week, and I am going to see if I can work on developing a pattern of visiting that works for Mom and for me. I am starting to feel some relief, and hope that everything will be fine sometime soon. But I know there could be a setback at any time, too.