The cat food is missing

I’ve made two quick visits to see Mom before lunch today and on Friday. I have switched the cat to canned food with hopes he will eat more, so I have to return more frequently to change that food. I also realize I should visit more frequently to coax Mom into a new outfit every couple of days since it’s clear she won’t change without the suggestion, and the facility staff won’t pick out something new for her to wear, even on shower day.

I hadn’t been to visit since my sister and I dropped off Mom on Tuesday for dinner. When I arrived Friday, I could see that she hadn’t yet gone in to the dining room, but she also wasn’t in her room. I worried for a bit, because her purse was in her apartment. It’s very rare for her to go anywhere without that purse. But I figured she was in an activity somewhere. She also had not been with her pals in the lobby. I found the canned cat food bowl on the bathroom counter, covered with a layer of dark mold. I was glad to see Mom had thought it wise to move the bowl away from the cat when it got gross like that. (Or I suppose it could have been a staff member.) I cleaned out that bowl and put in half a can of fresh food, leaving the other half in the little mini-fridge Mom has in her kitchen area. I went out in the hall to see if I could locate Mom, and I saw her in the midst of a small parade moving from the first-floor lounge into the dining room. They must have had the news activity, where the activities director reads the paper to the residents. I caught Mom before she sat down and asked her to come back to her apartment with me. She was wearing the clothes I had put on her on Monday – beige pants and a turquoise shirt – plus a gray sweater and a red fleece jacket. It was a little cooler than usual, but I was shocked at how bundled up she was. I took off those two jackets and put the sweater in her laundry. I’m not even sure it’s hers. I don’t recognize it. I told her I thought she’d feel better if she changed her outfit. I don’t really ask her permission now – I just started taking her clothes off, shirt first. Then pants, then two pairs of underwear. Sigh. At least the inner pair didn’t look as … used, I guess you could say, as the last pair had that I had removed earlier in the week. I picked out white pants and a cute long-sleeved striped T-shirt, sort of greenish-blue, for her. She looked nice and springy. I combed her hair and shuffled her off to the dining room, where residents were already eating their soup.

Today when I arrived, Mom was sitting the lobby with one of her friends. I could hear her muttering that she hadn’t seen me in awhile. I told her it had been just two days. I told her I wanted to check on the cat and asked her to come with me. In her apartment, I found the dry cat food bowl partly empty, but the wet food bowl was not on the floor in her bedroom. I looked on the bathroom counter for it. Not there. Not in the kitchen area. Not in any drawers that I checked. Not on the bench by the window. Not in the fridge. I have no idea what she might have done with that bowl, and I have no idea what the food within it might look like at this point, but after only two days I hoped it wouldn’t be too nasty. I picked another bowl from her kitchen counter and put the remaining half of canned food in it. I held it under the cat’s nose to encourage his interest in it. Then I put it on the floor and also freshened the dry food bowl and put out clean water. Mom didn’t know what I was asking about regarding the cat food bowl.

She paused to pee in the bathroom, and while she was at it, I decided to at least change her underwear. Her clothes looked pretty good. As I was pulling her pants off with a new pair of disposable underwear in my hand, she said, “I just put this pair on this morning,” like I was some kind of fool. She normally wouldn’t remember such a detail. I chose to believe her and left it at that. But then I suggested she put on some deodorant just for good measure, and she agreed to that. I combed her hair, which was a little wild. “I feel so much better,” she said. She meant just because she was seeing me, if only briefly. But overall her spirits seemed quite good; she was not saying anything negative about her living circumstances. She did say in the lobby that nobody there knows her. Her friend playfully punched her in the arm and said, “Come on, Bon, I’m your next door neighbor!” I told Mom everybody there knows her and that she’s popular. And she sort of did a little cheesecake grin and pose at that suggestion.

I have been watching the mail for the money from her annuity, which has not yet arrived and which I need to pay her June bill. This week I will be tending to that and starting the process on the last annuity. I believe this week starts the Medicaid application process as well. Should be interesting.

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