Disinhibition

I spent lunchtime today watching my mom disrobe in phases, sit around pantless on her bed, study a bra to figure out what to do with it, and ultimately completely change her outfit for no apparent reason. This was funny and endearing, and I mentioned before that nakedness was no big deal in my household growing up. But it also is a bad sign that getting and staying dressed no longer necessarily comes naturally to Mom.

I know the assisted living staff is supposed to help her with getting dressed, but I’m pretty sure they want to reserve that assistance for people with physical disabilities. They also might not find out how much help she needs without some visible indication, and that worries me a bit. By visible indication, I mean Mom being inappropriately dressed, or undressed, in a public setting. Mom doesn’t know to ask that she needs help. The receptionist today handed me a jacket that had been left somewhere in the facility and sure enough, it was Mom’s. But Mom didn’t recognize it. What I want to know is, why did she take it off?

It seems Mom is skating on the edge of eligibility, I think – which isn’t disastrous, because her financial status indicates she is destined for Medicaid and a nursing home in a matter of months. But it’s just…another sad thing. That can be funny, as well.

We ran into the aide who gives Mom her weekly shower, and the aide said, “Are you still mad at me?” This was in reference to their weekly argument about the shower. Mom is difficult about it, but this aide seems to take it in stride. The night staff gave up on Mom’s showers, so I adore this aide for sticking to it. Mom says one of the reasons she doesn’t like being showered is because she has to be naked around someone she doesn’t know. That modesty does not apply to me – and I guess that makes sense. But I think there’s really something else she doesn’t like about it. She referred to it a long time ago, when it became clear to me she wasn’t being very hygienic. She said she felt uneasy in the shower – there must be some sort of vulnerability about it that she cannot articulate.

So she had called at about 10 a.m. I asked how she was. “Well, pretty bad,” she said. “I’m running out of clothes.” Well, if there’s one thing Mom doesn’t suffer from, it’s a shortage of clothes. She has tons of clothes. I suspect she was talking, again, about the disposable underwear. She doesn’t use that word anymore, underwear. So I went to see what was going on. Sure enough, her underwear drawer was empty. I had a stash in her bedroom and filled up the drawer. And I looked in her closet, and it appeared that many of her clean clothes had been recently folded and placed around the top of her walk-in closet. That could be confusing, because she tends to keep everything on hangers. So I started hanging up a bunch of pants, and when I turned around, she had taken off her pants and was showing me the inside, where she had placed a maxi pad “in case the pee came out.” Good thinking on her part. Then, naked from the waist down, she started lounging with her cat, petting him and visiting with him while I finished up in the closet. Earlier, while I was scooping the litter, I found her in her bedroom holding a bra by its straps, wondering what to do with it. She already had a bra on, so I told her she didn’t need it. I should have put that bra away, come to think of it, because seeing it made her think she should put it on. This is a common issue – she rifles through her things, finds something, leaves it sitting around, and later comes upon it – and thinks its presence means she must tend to whatever it is.

She eventually put on some underwear, but she wanted a new pair of pants. We picked out a pair and she put them on. And then she took off her shirt. This was sort of an autopilot thing, because I don’t think she had another shirt in mind. She had begun the process of changing, so she had to finish, I’m guessing. I picked out a pink T-shirt and black jacket to finish her outfit, and she was done. Of course, she also put on her adorable pink Crocs.

There are some things you don’t ever expect to say to your mom. One of those would be “You should probably put your pants on so you can go get some lunch.”

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1 comment so far

  1. IcedLatte on

    Oh, Lordy. Those random “Huh? How did I get here?” moments…If you’d tried to calculate the odds of sorting through your mom’s closet in an assisted living facility while she lounged half naked with a cat…Just the math gives one pause, much less the moment.


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