Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Well, let's see if I can make this post a little less drama filled...but no promises!!  I imagine some of you have read some of my last couple of posts and are thinking, oh my Lord, just move your mom into the nursing home already!!!  A valid point indeed!  However, since I've managed to detail most of our journey thus far, I want to continue to capture all of my mom's reactions and my feelings along the way.  After all, it was a big change for us.
     As I ended my last post my brother was literally wheeling my mom into the new skilled nursing community.  This is where I was afraid it could get awkward...  The picture below is what my brother texted to me once he had set up my mom's things and tv.  The room is so small that this is literally my mom's portion of it -- except for the chair which my brother literally put in the middle of the room (but we'll get back to that).

Praying mom would not notice she went from
a two bedroom/two bath apartment to this...  Didn't seem possible.
     I couldn't really explain the way the room is configured, so I drew this "very complex" (ha!) blue print of the room as shown below. 

      Most of the rooms seemed bigger and equally divided in half.  I had looked at this room before we moved in, but the truth is you get what you get and I would have taken almost anything that wasn't dirty or unsafe!  I don't know why this particular room was configured this way.  She was put on the second floor right off the elevator and close to the nurses station.  The floor is fairly busy with residents and staff and looks a bit like a hospital.  We showed her the room briefly and she was a bit confused, but nothing major.  My brother wheeled her around a bit while I tinkered with some things in her room and talked briefly to the staff to let them know she had "arrived".  I had also typed a list of all my mom's favorite things and a brief history cheat sheet which I left with the head nurse.  I will say, I was not overly impressed with their reaction to my mom's arrival.  Everyone seemed preoccupied and a bit underwhelmed by it.  I suspected that her 2 pm Thursday arrival the day before the Fourth of July holiday weekend played a role in this.  Nonetheless, I reminded myself there were plenty of staff all around and surely my mom was in a safer place.
     For the record, there are three floors.  The first floor is rehabilitation, the second floor is long term care, and the third floor is memory care.  Right outside of her door and just down the hall a tad there are some birds to watch.  That was one of our first stops.  Not sure if you can see the birds, but they are in there and fun to watch.  There are also fish aquariums around, too.

     After a bit of time passed, it was getting a little awkward and we were running out of things to show her.  Interestingly, she did not ask too many questions.  When she did ask, we would say she is just going to stay here awhile to do some physical therapy and regain her strength so she could walk better.  We showed her the room again, but there really wasn't the space for the four of us to hang out there.  I have to say I was very bothered that her beloved chair only fit smack in the middle of the room.  I didn't have the heart to tell my brother that I didn't think they were going to allow it there.  We tried to ask some staff but they were kind of dismissive and said, I think it's ok.  I knew Muffin, my mom's chair and the tv were normally a pretty important part of her normal routine. 
     Finally, my brother said I think something is about to happen in the dining room, people are gathering.  We checked the calendar and low and behold "Happy Hour" was supposed to be taking place soon.  So, we found a table and it wasn't long before my mom was enjoying some snacks.  It appeared someone was going to be coming to sing soon!   As an added bonus, my niece's aunt works as an RN in the assisted living building attached to my mom's new nursing community.  She kindly came down to see my niece and my mom.  She is a long time family friend and has known my mom awhile (although she had not seen her recently).  She also was instrumental in helping us get my mom into this senior community and for that we are forever grateful!

Mom, Nicole (granddaughter) and Tanya the RN

Snacks always work wonders...
     Before long, this guy appeared with his red, white and blue on and was singing away!  I remember one of his songs was "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and my mom was singing away.  I glanced at my brother and right then I knew we had pulled it off.  Although not what anyone hopes for, her confusion had worked in our favor and allowed us to move her to a safer place.  She was content in the moment.  After a bit more singing, I let the staff know I would be leaving.  I was pretty drained after spending the last five hours together.  I actually snuck out before my brother did as I didn't want all of us to leave at once.  It was hard, but I like leaving while she is in a fun social situation.  Before I even got home, the community called to tell me my mom's chair could not stay where it was and that they would hold it for me in storage.  This bothered me a bit because I did not like the idea of my mom sitting in a wheelchair all day and not having "her chair".  For the moment, I pretty much had to let it go as my family was also waiting for me so we could travel up north for the long weekend. 

Happy Hour Continues...blurry picture
     Below is a quick glance at her new place.  I will probably share more pictures in the future.  It is a pretty little campus setting with a senior apartment complex, a church chapel, an assisted living community and my mom's skilled nursing community all in one area.  The employees are not contracted employees -- they all work directly for the community.

     Good news -- I did not receive any emergency phone calls while I was up north.  As you may recall, there have been a few Fourth of July weekends where my mom has been injured (you could read about one here).  What a relief to go accident free!  It also gave me some piece of mind to receive a few pictures from my brother who went back for a visit while I was gone.  It looked like she was doing ok!!

There's a gazebo and lake at the back of the community...
     When I returned from the holiday weekend, I visited her again. I had to fill out an inventory of all of my mom's personal possessions.  I was relieved that the staff seemed more attentive and seemed to be getting my mom's paperwork more in order.
As I began to unwind over the next several days, I realized that after all I had been through these last months and weeks it had, in the end, taken a much bigger physical and emotional toll on me than it had on my mom.  She was not particularly agitated and seemed content and only mildly confused.  The drama I feared thankfully never happened.  There are titles associated with Alzheimer's Disease such as "The 36 Hour Day" or "The Long Goodbye".  I definitely see why those are fitting -- it continues to be quite a journey.

I call this one -- The Sun Will Come Out - Tomorrow!!!!


Julia said...

Cindi, it's a relief to have your mom in a nursing home where she will be looked after and I'm glad that she has been accident free lately.

It's never easy putting a beloved parent in a nursing home but in a case like this, there's no other choice.

I hope that you can relax more now knowing that your mom is well taken care of.

Decor To Adore said...

Oh Cindy I kept nodding my head yes to everything you were saying. Please remember that it is harder on you than on her so give yourself some extra TLC.

Kim said...

Moms room was tiny too. It was harder on us than it was for her. Seems like a very nice place and your mom is receiving the care she needs to stay safe. You did good!

yaya said...

Good job and I do hope it continues to run smooth so your Mom can be safe and enjoy her time as much as it's possible for her. I can't imagine how hard this is for you, but knowing she's doing better and is safer has to be a bit of a relief. Take care!