Care conference as…therapy?

There has been a significant leadership turnover at the Alz center. When I arrived last week for my quarterly care conference, the coordinators didn’t expect me because I hadn’t RSVP’d that I would be there. I never do that. I let them know only when I cannot be there. So they weren’t prepared. The director of nursing just met with me privately instead.

And we just talked. Mom’s meds haven’t changed. Her weight is stable. She’s a good eater. I noticed she was sitting on some kind of blue pad during my previous visit. He told me that’s a sticky substance to keep her from slumping down in her chair. If she does slump, she appears to have no inclination and/or no ability to hoist herself back into a more upright position. She also will not stand up unassisted anymore, and it takes two people to lift her. Once she is up, she will walk OK. But she doesn’t seem to have much interest in standing.

I don’t know this nurse manager well at all, so we were getting to know each other. I told him I had really reduced my visitation for awhile, but that now my intention is to feed Mom lunch on Sundays. He said any visit at any time is good for Mom and helpful to the staff. He actually made a bowing-down motion toward me and said, “Bless you for coming in to feed your mom.” Sometimes, he is the one who feeds her. And sometimes, she’ll say a few understandable words. He described Mom as “sweet as pie.”

I told him a little bit about my past with Mom, that being her caregiver was not initially easy for me, that I held a grudge against her for a long time for being a rather absent mother and an alcoholic, that over time, though, I had come to forgive her and even think she had done well as a single mother working full-time. That now, she and I are pals, and that this has been a very meaningful period of my life and always will be. She hasn’t known who I am for a long time, but she seems to detect my interest in and affection for her. He thinks she knows I am family. There is no reason for me to argue. No one can know anything for sure about her.

He talked about his own parents. He helps with their care now. Many kids experience the role reversal, taking care of their parents. That fact is not lost on me. I see and hear evidence of it almost every day.

I went to look in on Mom after the talk, and she was slumping in a chair. Two aides stood her up and then sat her down with her butt against the back of the chair so she would stay upright. There is a shortage of the blue sticky stuff, they said. I just said hello and gave her a kiss. It was a weekday and I couldn’t stick around.

I fed her this past Sunday. She barely opened her eyes during the meal, but she would open her mouth if I touched her lip with the fork and spoon. In past weeks, she was willing to eat the cooked spinach, but this time she seemed a little startled by it. I took that as a sign she didn’t like it. It’s always hard to help her take a drink of water or juice without a little spill. She had a hand up against her chest under her bib, and I pushed on it to get it out of the way while I was giving her a drink. Her eyes opened wide when I did that. I must have hurt her a little. But she didn’t yell. She really didn’t say much at all.

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2 comments so far

  1. joolzmac on

    Thank you so much for your blog. It is very interesting reading about your mother’s progression with AD. So many of the things she does, my mum is doing too. My mum is 85 years old and has been in a beautiful aged care facility since June 2013. Oh, the ups and downs we have had! It really helps to know that her behaviour is so ‘the norm’. Your writing is so truthful and is a wonderful resource for others who have loved ones with AD. Thank you again…

    Joolz xx (in Australia)

  2. momsbrain on

    Hello, Joolz – thank you so much for your kind words. That is really why I blog – to tell it like it is, without shame or embarrassment. I’m glad your mom is in a nice facility – I feel so lucky to have found the Alzheimer center here in my city, too. Take care!
    -Emily


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