18 minutes

I visited Mom on Tuesday – a habit now after a haircut, because the Alz center isn’t too far from my hair salon. I found her sitting on a couch alone in the hallway leading to the program area. I like this spot – there are a few couches and a glider at this halfway point in the hall, where there are extra windows so lots of sun shines in. I sat next to her, and she didn’t really move to make room for me at first, so I squished her a little. And it became clear to me that she was somewhat out of it. Her eyes were sort of droopy. She was moving very little, but in slow motion, almost. She talked a little bit, but was fairly quiet and spoke softly. I put my arm around her and gently rubbed her head. Her hair was clean and looked nice. I hoped in a way that she would just fall asleep. My interpretation was that she was exhausted. But she said, “Where should we go?” And then I was sort of sad that I had disrupted whatever this part of her day was going to be because in my opinion, she needed to rest.

Her feet were bare. A nurse came by and said, “You took your socks off, I see.” Mom does that routinely. I looked at her leg, where the cellulitis infection had been. There were still signs of it, but the circle of redness was smaller and the center lesion was less intense. The swelling was down. I was relieved about that.

Mom expressed interest in taking a walk. I noticed the flooring is being changed – the carpet had been pulled up and faux-wood flooring was in its place, except for in one unfinished area. This is a good change, I think – not necessarily good for Mom’s feet, but very good at reducing the smells associated with the inevitable bathroom accidents on the carpet. Mom and I started walking, and when she got to the unfinished part, where the floor was concrete, she stepped very carefully. She was walking slowly, as if her feet might be sore. We got to a couch in a far corner, and I encouraged Mom to put her feet up, which she did. I pulled up a chair. I was trying to talk her into lying down so she could rest. In fact, I told her I had to go back to work – I was working from home on this day, because we had had a plumber in for repairs. I leaned down to hug her. And she got up with me as I started to walk away. So we walked some more, and held hands. We stopped again at the couch in the hallway. Mom sat, and I pulled her legs around to put them up. And she protested. I also tried to lift her foot so I could look at her calluses, and she complained that I was hurting her. So that is good, in a way, that she can tell me that. But it wasn’t good that I was being so bossy with her.

The activities director passed by during our walk through the hall and I said I thought Mom seemed exhausted, and she said that the heat has posed a problem for some residents. The staff tries to keep the center cool, but apparently the AC isn’t necessarily powerful enough to handle this Ohio heatwave. I also think they don’t want to keep it too cool since I imagine many residents can chill easily. She asked Mom who I was, and Mom said, “I don’t know,” with a laugh. And the activities director said, “Oh, yes you do, it’s Emily.” And she said to me that she and Mom had been chatting the other day, and Mom said, out of the blue, “You’ll have to talk to Emily.”

We went to the lobby and Mom sat on a couch there. I encouraged her to get some rest and told her I had to go to work. I leaned down and hugged her and gave her a kiss, and she went, “Mmmm.” She still likes a kiss. She said, “Thanks.” I told her I’d see her in a few days. I noticed when I signed out that I had been there for only 18 minutes. It just wasn’t a good day for a visit. There was a time when I could walk Mom to her room and put her in bed when I thought she was tired, and she’d just lie down and go to sleep. But she doesn’t respond now to that kind of encouragement, and I am no longer necessarily someone she is going to look to for guidance. That’s just how this is going to go. But I did find myself feeling discouraged after this visit. I am going to have to be prepared to find Mom like this more often, I fear. Not just tired, but more out of it. That is also just how this is going to go.

2 comments so far

  1. Meg on

    I hear you. I’m also in the discouraged, helpless phase.

    Interesting that after you wrote this post, the accident happened and you COULD be quite helpful.

    So I guess we never know. It’s all so unpredictable.

    Take Care,

  2. momsbrain on

    Hi, Meg – Yes, the one thing we can always expect is the unexpected. Frustrating. I was heartened by how well Mom did with everything. She’s not as out of it as she sometimes appears.

    I’m sorry to hear you are discouraged. But I know how hard it is not to be.
    Thanks for commenting.

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