Conference and Christmas party

I saw Mom twice last week – on Wednesday, before a care conference, and on Friday, for the annual Christmas party at the Alz center. I’ve been carrying the notes around from the conference for almost a week but at the moment can’t find them. I do recall that Mom had gained another 4 pounds in the last quarter, so she’s up to about 180. They consider her weight to be just fine. She eats ice cream at every meal, which was started while she was losing weight, and which is being continued because it’s a sure source of calories – Mom never skips ice cream. She eats 75-100 percent of her meals, so she’s doing pretty well with eating. The dietary director told me that just that morning, she had had trouble convincing Mom to sit down to eat breakfast. So that can still be a problem. Every time I’m around for a meal, Mom seems to enjoy the chance to eat.

Her health is as good as it has been for awhile. No cold, no stitches, no foot problems, no skin infections. She most recently had treatment for a rash on her thighs. I was told recently that it is cleared up. She has a short attention span and isn’t super responsive to cues during activities. But she remains very social, especially enjoying one-on-one contact. She still hangs out with Mr. R, and also sometimes spends time with Mr. Beard. One of the staff members said her waning interest in Mr. R might be related to her shortening attention span. Makes sense.

I went to see Mom before the conference, and I noticed that her hair was a little greasy. I just sat with her briefly until it was time to attend the conference. I also noticed her breath was very bad. During the conference, I mentioned that I am worried that she never gets her teeth brushed. I feel fairly certain she fights any attempts to brush her teeth. I asked if I should give it a try, but the staff members said it is the duty of the aides to get that done every day, or to at least make a concerted effort to clean Mom’s mouth. But I am welcome to try if I want to. I worry that she will end up having her teeth pulled – I see signs of that in other residents sometimes, and I know Mom’s teeth were starting to decay near the gum line in the early days of her illness. Her last visit to her regular dentist was to get some fillings. The social worker told me there is a new contract with a new dentist, and that this dentist is less inclined than the last to resort to extractions. I imagine I’ll get an update on her teeth at the next conference. I was also told Mom was on the beautician’s list that day – lots of residents were being spruced up for the party.

On Friday, I left my office after our holiday potluck to attend the party at the center – my third Alz center Christmas party. Sure enough, Mom’s hair was clean and I could tell it had been trimmed, too. The party was in full swing when I arrived, with Elvis singing in the program area and residents seated in a circle all around him. Staffers dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus sat me down right away to take a picture of me with Mom, part of the tradition. I’ll get that picture in the mail. An activities staffer handed me a painted plastic ornament made for family members during an art class. And shortly after I arrived, it was time for the door prize drawing. I won the first prize – a basket planter with white flowers. Very nice – I never win that stuff. Mom was sitting next to Mr. R, and on her other side was a longtime resident. I asked her if she could move over but I’m not sure she understood. So I wedged a folding chair in between her and Mom, and I sat facing Mom much of the time. My favorite Elvis impersonator started with Elvis tunes and eventually moved on to Christmas music.

This version of Elvis was a little less flashy. Still a great performer for this venue.

For one song, Mom and I got up to dance. She didn’t move from the spot in front of her chair, and she waved her arms around as if she were conducting. I faced her and danced, sometimes holding one of her hands. She had a beanie baby toy that she enjoyed holding onto – a sloth named “Slowpoke.” I assume those were distributed to residents before I arrived. Either that or Mom had stolen it from someone else… Mr. R and I also danced to one Elvis number. He was in a pretty good mood – good, not great. I ignored him for the most part and focused on Mom. She was in very good spirits, which was a relief because sometimes crowds and loud noise can be difficult for her to endure for a long time. I got her a few snacks early on, and about an hour later, an activities staffer handed Mr. R a plate with a ham salad sandwich and some cookies on it. Without pause, he handed it to Mom. And she began to eat. In the short video I shot, you can see the sloth toy on her lap next to the plate. And this also shows that she retains enthusiasm for eating – especially sweets. She’s got one in each hand. At the very end, the plate slipped off her lap. But no food was lost.

As the party was winding down, I could see signs of restlessness in Mom. She stood up and seemed to want to start walking toward the lobby. I think she had probably had enough of the noise and hubbub. Mr. R made some comment about her being with another man, and he stayed seated. Which was fine with me. I assured him Mom had been with me the whole time. And that I am not a man, but her daughter. He stood, and he and Mom began walking away, toward a couch instead of toward the lobby. And I thought that was a good time to make my own escape. I thanked the staff on the way out, and picked up my flower prize at the front desk.

2 comments so far

  1. patwhite67 on

    I could see a little smile on your mom’s face in the video. The short attention span brings back memories for me about my mom. I remember wanting to play the piano for her at the nursing home, and her interest would be so very short.

    So glad to know of the good time with her at the Christmas party.

    There is nothing like a caregiver’s physical presence, noticing little things that may have the potential for causing problems later, such as your mom’s oral hygiene. I hope your siblings realize the significance of your impromptu visits, making sure your mom is receiving the care she needs.

  2. momsbrain on

    Hi, Pat-It’s funny, because I often think I should probably be doing more… like maybe I should just brush Mom’s teeth. And my visits are sporadic. I try to be supportive of the staff, but I do hope serious effort is made to preserve teeth. Having just had a minor dental emergency myself, I would hate to think of Mom having any pain in her mouth.

    Happy new year!

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