Archive for July 26th, 2009|Daily archive page

Visits after lunch

My new pattern seems to be visiting Mom after her lunch instead of before. I guess I have been burned enough by her exercise classes and church service attendance before lunch that I now don’t risk missing her if I am going to make the trip to her place. It’s nice to visit her after lunch. She is usually just sitting in the lobby with her friends, who tend to talk to each other now much more than they talk to her. So I join her on a lobby couch and hang out with the gals for a half-hour or so.

I went on Friday, the first time I had actually seen Mom since the Sunday before. I stopped in her apartment upon my arrival because she was still in the dining room, probably eating some dessert. Her apartment had shown signs that she might be starting to move things around again. There was a puzzle box on her bed, with all the pieces still in a plastic bag. Probably a puzzle we bought her when she moved into assisted living, when she still had some ability to work puzzles. But the lid was not on the box. When I went to the dining room to let Mom know I was there, she was holding the puzzle box lid while sitting at her place in the dining room. It was full of miscellaneous items from her apartment, mostly pictures. It’s hard to guess what might have prompted her to fill a box with things and carry it to lunch with her.

She wasn’t wearing the outfit I had put out for her on Sunday in anticipation of her Tuesday shower. I do wonder what goes on when the aide helps Mom get dressed after the shower. If she doesn’t assume the clothes hanging on the actual shower rod are a new outfit for Mom, what can she be thinking?? Of course, there is always a chance Mom moves these clothes around after I hang them on the shower rod. I found the clothes I had put out hanging on the bathroom doorknob. Mom was wearing pink pants and a pink T-shirt. The outfit was fine. But since she had probably had it on since Tuesday, I decided to change her clothes for her. I put her into gray pants, a striped T-shirt and a brown jacket. Blue socks, pink Crocs. I put deodorant on her. It does seem to be doing the trick at keeping her B.O at bay. I noticed Mom had on quite an assortment of bracelets, so I took a picture of her wrists wrapped around her beloved stuffed dog. I told her she is quite in fashion these days with her stacked bracelets.

These days, if Mom comes across some jewelry in her apartment, she puts it on.

These days, if Mom comes across some jewelry in her apartment, she puts it on.

I didn’t stay long because I had to return to work. I frankly don’t have any particular memories of the visit, such as anything funny Mom might have said. Or anything charming she might have done. After my obsession last week with my past, I have fast-forwarded to the future. When I am in Mom’s apartment these days, I find myself scanning her belongings, mentally deciding what can go with her to the nursing home, what should come to my house for storage, what my brother and sister and aunt might want, and what is just destined for the trash. I don’t think I have ever clarified here that the moving date has been pushed back to mid-August after all, my original expectation based on Mom’s funding. Laura was certain she wanted to come here to help with the move, and my brother is hoping to come, too, but has been at a summer job in Massachusetts and unsure about his ability to get away. Laura and I had trouble getting our July schedules coordinated. So with our annual family vacation/staycation coming up in mid-August, and knowing we had access to most of Mom’s money (the check from the last sizable IRA arrived about a week or so ago), we opted to time the move just before the family gathering so Laura can make a single trip. And hopefully it will work with my brother’s schedule, too, whose summer job ends Aug. 11. I actually just got an e-mail from the facility administrator yesterday, Saturday, saying Aug. 12 will be Mom’s official move date. He recommends moving her to the nursing home and THEN emptying her assisted living apartment. He thinks not letting Mom see the disassembly of her current living environment will be best for her. I appreciate his advice.

I returned to Mom’s place today for another visit after her lunch. As is her habit, she started walking toward the glass door as I was walking up the sidewalk to the lobby entrance. She had on the brown jacket I had put on her Friday. And then she had her right arm through the sleeves of two additional jackets, one on top of the other, with the rest of these jackets hanging off of her arm as if she forgot to complete the act of putting the jackets on. She also had dramatically rosy cheeks, I assume because she used some lipstick to add some color to her face. She looked a little bit…crazy, I must admit. I sat with her for a little while in the lobby. An aide passing by remarked on her rosy cheeks. She started picking her chin, and it reminded me that I had told her I’d pluck her chin hairs for her. I suggested we go to her apartment to do that rather than grooming in the lobby. I said, “Do you want to go to your apartment so I can pull out those hairs for you?” And she said, “Can I come with you?”

When we got to her apartment, I noticed once again some disarray. Clothes on the bed, two or three pairs of disposable underwear scattered about. I wonder if she is restless or bored. For weeks, she hasn’t been messing up her surroundings like this. I was hanging up some clothes and picking out an outfit when she picked up a pair of clean disposable underwear and said she thought she should put a new pair on. I thought this was a great idea and I was happy it interested her to change. I helped her out of her pants and her current underwear, which didn’t look too good. I put the new pair on her. And when I took the dirties into the bathroom to throw them away, I actually nearly gagged from the smell in there. Her toilet was full of pee and poop and toilet paper. With fewer staff visits to take out trash and check towels on weekends, there is less back-up to make up for Mom’s complete lack of awareness of the toilet’s need to be flushed. Even after flushing it and with the exhaust fan running, the smell didn’t go away. I spritzed a room spray around the bathroom, which helped a little.

Then Mom sat on her couch and I tweezed her chin. Between the poor lighting and the fact Mom doesn’t follow the instruction to tilt her head back because she doesn’t really know what that means, I had some trouble and caught her skin from time to time. She took bites of a candy bar in between my plucks. She had asked me for some candy – something she has never done before. Her appetite must be healthy. When I had first arrived, she was eating a banana in the lobby after lunch. And then minutes later, in her apartment, she said, “Can you give me a piece of candy?” I told her I didn’t have any, but that I was aware that she had a stash of candy in her refrigerator. I gave her a Nestle crunch bar, which she dug into right away. She had put on an extra necklace since I saw her on Friday. I remarked on that when we were sitting in the lobby. She said she didn’t know where it came from. I told her I thought she probably found it in her apartment and just put it on. I had assumed I would send her to the nursing home with virtually no jewelry, thinking she wouldn’t need it there. But maybe she is enjoying playing dress-up, so I should reconsider this plan.

After sitting in the lobby for a little while, I told Mom I had to leave to do grocery shopping and finish my laundry. She agreed to walk me to my car. The ladies in the lobby said they’d watch to be sure she came back in. That has never been an issue before. But I watch her from my car, too, to make sure she heads straight back to the lobby. Today, when we were at my car and after we hugged, she asked how to get back to where her friends were. I told her to walk straight down the sidewalk and go through the doors, and they would be there. “Right there?” she said. Right there, I told her, walking her to the sidewalk. And she did as I instructed, and I watched her until she went through the doors.

%d bloggers like this: