Mellow Mom

I seem to be on a two-visits-per-week plan at the moment. And that’s just fine. I am actually considering skipping a visit this weekend and then visiting Mom Monday around lunchtime. And then my sister is visiting later in the week and we will spend much of the day Thursday with Mom. This is nice for me, to be developing a routine, and it seems to be working for Mom, who was as calm today as I have seen her in months.

I arrived around 11:30 a.m. and found Mom sitting in a chair that was part of a big circle in the program area. The activities calendar said there had been a Halloween bash at 10:30, so I assumed this had just ended. Music was playing rather loudly, and most people were still sitting in the circle. One staff member was dressed as a princess. Another was a hippie. I learned later that the kids from the daycare had come over in their costumes to mingle with the residents. I’m sure it was adorable. Mom had no memory of it. I noticed Mom had on her light blue Crocs today instead of her pink ones, and I pointed it out to her. She also had on blue socks. She didn’t recall that she had a pink pair of shoes. I told her it is nice to change things up every now and then.

I sat next to Mom for a little while. She didn’t make any significant show of emotion upon seeing me. Though she eventually says, at some point while I’m visiting her, that she likes having me around. Or that I am her best person. Today she said she’s lucky to have me. I said I’m lucky to have her. And she said, “Well, thank you.” I suggested taking a walk around the place but she said she had to pee first. So I took her to her bathroom. And I looked into her room, just to see how everything looked, and there was a male resident, who I didn’t really recognize, sleeping in her bed. I looked in her closet to see if I could find the pink Crocs. I didn’t see them there, or anywhere else in the room. I decided not to be worried about it, especially since she has the blue pair to wear. Mom did a good job with her hygiene this time, and her diaper looked good. I was pleased with that. And then we took a little walk down the hall, through the lobby and to the other side of the building. I looked into her old room, where her former roommate was sleeping as her husband talked with an aide, from hospice, I assume. I heard him say he had been associated with General Eisenhower.

We went back to the program area and sat at a table to wait for lunch to arrive. Mom said at one point, “I need a … container.” And she held her hands in front of her. “A purse?” I said. Somehow, I knew that’s what she meant. And she said yes. I happened to have noticed her purse under her bed when I had been in her room before. I told her I’d get it and come right back. When I went to her room, the napper was gone, but he had left behind a giant pee spot. I got Mom’s purse and brought it back to her. She pulled out a little white stuffed dog toy and said, “This is my pal.” She put him in the middle of the table. I went over to Penny, the nurse, and told her about the strange napper’s pee. I asked her if I should tell an aide, or if I should just know it will eventually be seen and leave it be. She said she’d let an aide know. “And then your mom will leave a puddle in the same spot later,” she said. Possibly true. Probable. She wasn’t giving me a hard time. Just sort of telling it like it is around the place. Lots of pee, everywhere and all the time.

At the table next to us, a woman gently rubbed the feet of a male resident who I assumed was her husband. She looked kind of young to have a husband with Alzheimer’s, but I have seen people of a range of ages at this facility. Later I saw her stroking his face. He put his hand out to her, and she kissed his palm. I don’t think he ever spoke a word. But she talked to him for quite awhile. That can be how it is for quite a few family members who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s – talking, but not being spoken to.

Mom said, from time to time, “I’m trying to think of something to say.” I urged her not to worry about that. She wasn’t fretful, though. Just interested in trying to converse. I took that as a cue, and I just started telling her little stories. I had seen a video on Facebook earlier in the day of a beagle that can play dead. I demonstrated that to her, and she laughed. I asked her about the kids and the Halloween party. She didn’t remember it, so then I told her a little bit about what I had heard. She asked how my family is. I said fine. And I told her she is a big part of my family. That puffed her up a little bit.

Eventually, lunch arrived. An aide handed me Mom’s tray, knowing now who I am. Today was fried fish day. Mom doesn’t like fish. They gave her meatballs instead. I am always glad when I see that the kitchen reads the questionnaires about what residents do and don’t like to eat. I got the tray belonging to the woman sitting at Mom’s table. I poured her milk and buttered her bread, just as I had done for Mom. I enjoy helping a little bit. And paying attention to other residents. I kind of assume other family members might do the same for Mom. It’s just that kind of place.

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6 comments so far

  1. Tom on

    It’s nice to hear that you are not only settling into a new visiting routine, but into a new, different, and very special relationship with your Mom. I imagine that this must have been and strange and difficult transition, but you’ve pulled it off. You are a class act.

  2. momsbrain on

    Oh, Tom, thank you. It is a huge relief to just enjoy her and not worry about her constantly. The visits are not stressful for the most part. They’re sort of fun. That is definitely a change.

  3. patwhite67 on

    Hi Emily, I’m glad your visits are fitting into a nice schedule for you. I cringed for you when you told about discovering the stain made by the visitor on your mom’s bed. The comment of the aide bothered me a lot as it probably bothered you. I do not want anyone else using my mom’s bed or things. I guess because your mom is mobile and so are many other residents at the Care Center, that this kind of thing is hard to control. Anyway I am glad your mom enjoyed your visit and told you so. That she said in her way you are very special, I know, must have meant so much for you. I’m leaving this afternoon for VA to be with my mom. Returning on Wed. late. Pat

  4. momsbrain on

    Hi, Pat-At the Alz center, it is not unusual for people to end up in other residents’ rooms. I imagine my mom has slept in another person’s bed before. It’s not ideal, but in that facility, families are pretty much told up front it can and will happen. I accept it – I think it’s one of the things that makes the place work. But it is not for everyone, to be sure. Have a safe trip to VA!

  5. Sherri on

    I think your Mom sounds so settled and at peace. I love that they had a Halloween party, and I’m glad you’re finally able to just enjoy your time with her now. So nice that she got meatballs on fish fry day :-)…. they must be paying attention, which is a big change, isn’t it?

  6. momsbrain on

    Sherri -she does seem at peace, and it is such a relief. And yes, they do pay attention to resident likes and dislikes, and I appreciate that!


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