Archive for January 4th, 2011|Daily archive page

Care conference, with Jeff

I guess it’s clear by now I have taken a little break from blogging. That coincides with a little break from seeing Mom. But that is mostly because I have been sick since the Monday after Christmas – the day we returned from a visit with Patrick’s family in Michigan. I had wanted to take our dog Bambino to the Alz center to see Mom during the holiday week, which I took off. But each day my minor cold symptoms got a little worse, and by Thursday I was thinking I probably had an infection that would require antibiotics. I’m thinking now, five days later, that I am going to clear up without those drugs. So that is helpful. I hope to see Mom tomorrow night before support group.

But almost two weeks ago, it was time for a quarterly care conference, and my brother Jeff was in town so he came along. We met with the staff members in charge of dietary, activities and social work, as well as a nurse. Mom has lost a few pounds – if memory serves, I think she is down about seven pounds since the previous care conference. She eats pretty well – sometimes it’s hard to keep her on the task of eating. She uses utensils off and on, so my concern that she had permanently turned to eating with her fingers was premature. Not that I am concerned about appearances. I just want her to maintain the eating function on her own for as long as possible. She is social and friendly and affectionate. She had drifted away from Mr. R a bit, but now seems to be very absorbed with him again. Sometimes when she can’t find him, she walks around, and staff members think she might be looking for him. She does a lot of walking in general. Her words seem to be fairly stable – the social worker said that when Mom was described as talking in “word salad,” she might have been sick or something, because her conversation has improved a little bit. She is down to just the basics for medicine: her thyroid replacement meds, one antidepressant, and vitamins and calcium. No more antipsychotic. And she’s doing just fine. I’m so glad, as I have said before, that her “default” setting is to be so content and at peace.

After the care conference, Jeff and I visited Mom briefly. She was sitting with Mr. R on a couch. Jeff and I pulled up chairs to be close to them. Jeff was to Mom’s side, and she turned her head and just looked at him – studied his face a bit. I sensed that she might be recalling something about him that she recognized. She was interested in him. Jeff had visited her the day before alone, and she had held his hand and led him around on a walk. I thought that also was a sign that she trusted him and felt familiarity of some kind. She doesn’t know he is her child or that she was ever a mother. But something good seemed to be happening. Apparently she talks about me when I’m not around – she says my name and that I am coming sometime soon. I was interested to hear that, because when I’m there, she also talks about me in the third person. I didn’t know she could still think of me in the abstract when I’m not around. Of course, I like the idea of being on her mind, whatever that might mean.

Jeff also accompanied me to support group that same night. It was a very small group, and we got off to an unusual start, talking about some political issues that typically are left at the door. But we moved on to discuss our loved ones. One fellow who has started to attend is struggling with his wife’s unhappiness in the center. He knows it is the right place for her and for him, but he asks for advice. We all try to offer something, but I sense he feels a little hopeless that anything will convince her that everything is going to be OK. She hasn’t been there long, so I’m hoping that as the weeks pass, she will start to feel more comfortable. She is blind, and isn’t likely to initiate social contact. She had friends in a previous center. I think that means she will find her friends at this center, too, with some help.

I did not see Mom on Christmas day. I gave her no gifts, and neither did my sister or brother, on my advice. I thought about her on the drive up to Michigan and I talked about her to my in-laws. I did not really feel guilty about not seeing her. As a nurse once told me, every day is Christmas day at the Alz center.

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