‘Here I go’

Mom might be going through a new phase, and it’s sort of a tough one for me. She seems inclined to get away from me when I visit. Now, I will say that two of the last several visits occurred during or after busy events that were probably overstimulating. And Patrick has been with me for three recent visits, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s different. And two of us are undoubtedly more stimulating than just one of us.

I missed the Christmas party this year at the Alz center because I had a meeting at work, and it ran long, of course. By the time I got to the center, the Elvis impersonator was just closing up his act for the day. Mom was sitting next to a resident’s family member, still in the circle that had been set up to enjoy the performance. Patrick met me there, and he, Mom and I escaped to a quieter corner of the big program area. Mom sat in a chair and we pulled up chairs next to her. I talked to her about the party and how I was sorry I had missed it. I wondered if anyone had gotten Mom some snacks. As we all sat there, Mom said, “Here I go,” and she stood up and walked over to a couch. There, she immediately stretched out and closed her eyes. I wasn’t surprised that she was pooped after a two-hour-long party. The only sensible thing we could do was leave and let her get some sleep.

Mom wasted no time getting to this spot so she could lie down and rest.

Mom wasted no time getting to this spot so she could lie down and rest.

Patrick and I visited on Christmas day, in the afternoon. Mom appeared to be conversing with someone on a distant couch when we arrived, and then she stood and started walking around. She had on a pretty red shirt, and Patrick and I admired how festive she looked. We walked around with her, letting her lead the way. We ended up at a different couch. Patrick sat in a nearby chair and I pulled up a chair so I could face Mom. She sat up for awhile, and then reclined. I rubbed her arms and legs a little bit. An aide came over and said she had been changed recently, which explained how clean her shirt was after lunch. I asked if she had protested. He chuckled. “I hate you. I’ll kill you.” These are the things she says when she is being changed. His reply: “I love you, Bonnie.” After a few exchanges, he says, “I love you,” and she says, “OK.” He went on his way, and then a resident came over and observed, “She likes to sleep there,” pointing to Mom. “And she can really sleep.” Yep, that’s my mom.

After a short while, Mom sat upright and started to chatter. And then she said, “I’ve gotta go,” and stood up and walked away. She was restless, or wanted to get away from us. Or both. Or maybe neither. As I signed out at the front desk, I told the receptionist, “Mom doesn’t seem to like me anymore.” And she said, “She doesn’t really like anyone. But she’s happy.” And I thought that was an interesting observation. Mom does pursue social interaction sometimes, so I don’t think it’s that she doesn’t like people. But the interaction goes most smoothly if it is on her terms.

Her behavior could be something more than just stimulation when a visitor arrives. The morning after Christmas, an occupational therapist called asking for permission to help Mom with her evening meal. She seems to be stable in the morning and at lunch, eating as she typically does, but by evening, she sometimes doesn’t sit for her meal or she is not as able to get the food into her mouth. The therapist said she wanted to help the aides and nurses by seeing if the tricks she has learned will work with Mom. My immediate inclination is to want to get involved, to see if maybe I should help at dinnertime. But given Mom’s possible aversion to my company, that could be exactly the wrong thing to do. We have a care conference in early January, where I’ll try to sort out what might be best.

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5 comments so far

  1. Megan on

    Hi Emily,

    Never easy answers…

    You sound wise to sit a while with the uncertainty.

    Hope the care conference offers some creative ideas that are workable for you.

  2. Mary Jane Metz on

    Hi Emily, Eve and I visited your mom recently. She seemed fine at first but soon became agitated and left us to go sit on a chair away from us. I got the impression that we must seem like strangers who are threatening her usual, and mostly happy, routine. I’m glad she’s in a place where the aides can make her smile and she has the care she needs.

  3. momsbrain on

    Hi, Megan. Never easy answers. Never. That’s very true. I watched her eat dinner the next night, on Thursday, with my brother, and she did fine. So I guess there is some inconsistency to her inconsistency. Also not so uncommon…

    Mary Jane, thanks so much to you and Eve for visiting Mom. Not long ago, she seemed to enjoy anyone who came along. Between what you describe and what I am seeing, too, I guess that’s not the case, at least at this time. Her behavior could change at any moment, and I sometimes forget that. She definitely gets good care and does seem very responsive to the aides. Even when she’s been getting away from me, her mood has appeared to stay even – I hope she doesn’t feel threatened, but is just interested in a change. That has always been my biggest concern – that she is content.

  4. Gemma McLuckie on

    I wonder if she might be responding to the holiday. I’m sure there is an unusual amount of bustle, environmental changes (all those glittery decorations), strangers (choirs, Elvis, etc), unanticipated changes in routine. Not to mention the undercurrent of excitement that even I can sense this time of year. Maybe this is her own version of taking a deep breath.

  5. momsbrain on

    Hi, Gemma. That certainly could be a factor. She seems to show signs of stress when there are a lot of extra people around or when it’s noisy, which are both associated with the holiday season, for sure. Heck, I know I’m at my best when I am staying well within my usual routine – the same could be true for her. I guess I feel a little guilty that I am not part of her daily routine – I’m more like a weekly presence, and that might not be enough to feel like routine to her.


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