Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     I know I keep saying it, but things sure are busy around my house lately!!  Our German exchange student has been with us two and a half weeks so far and on Friday the group will be heading back to Germany.  Having four teenagers has kept me busy, but I am grateful to be able to focus some of my time on them.  Having my mom settled into her new home has allowed me the freedom to do this, although it is still bittersweet.
     I am hoping this is my last "catch up" post, so it is a bit "picture heavy" as I wanted to include all of the visiting I have done since my mom was moved onto her "memory care" floor as I wrote about here.
     The quality of visits is much better now that there is actually more room to sit and visit with my mom.  She is rarely in her room as the staff seems to make certain that the residents are engaged and in the common areas of the floor where they can participate in activities, watch TV, sit with the cats, watch the birds or fish aquarium, or socialize with each  other. 

     On one visit I found my mom sitting here and watching TV in the commons area.  She also seems to like the table of "community" blankets that are there for the residents to use at will.  I often find some of them in her room.

On another recent visit I was surprised to find the residents gathered to learn and talk about baseball.  The area was decorated in a Detroit Tigers theme and there was actually an umpire standing there with the activity director and discussing various things about baseball...  They passed around equipment, discussed different baseball terms and then the umpire demonstrated some of the signals that go along with those calls.

It is this next part of the story that I should probably leave out -- but I will not because then I wouldn't be "keeping it real" as I try to do.  I should also mention that all three of my kids happened to be with me on this visit.  We quietly stood back and listened as we did not want to distract the residents from their activity -- and then it happened.  The umpire demonstrated his signal for "YOU'RE OUT" by raising his thumb and motioning back.  He then asked if anyone knew another hand signal for "YOU'RE OUT"!!??  It was then that my dear mother raised her middle finger and waved it in the air..............  Thankfully, it appeared only me, my kids, and the umpire noticed what she was doing.  The truth is, me and the kids were doubled over laughing and trying not to laugh at the same time.  That is my mom's sense of humor.  I was not one bit surprised and yet I was still mortified!!  Another moment me and the kids will probably never forget!!
On another evening, I was near my mom's place and I decided to make a nighttime stop to see what goes on at night.  I was wondering if my mom would be in bed and thinking she would be, but I just wanted to peek in and see if and when she sleeps.  I know it was after 8 pm when I got there, and I was surprised to find a group of the residents all gathered around the TV watching the Tigers game...  They did have their pajamas on, but there they were having their own little PJ party gathered around the TV.  It was pretty cute!!

I sat with my mom for awhile and we talked about the Tigers and she seemed glad I was there.  At one point, the staff also brought her a bedtime snack -- these cute little mini Teddy Grahams.  She was a happy camper, and I felt pretty good about what goes on there at night.  My mom has always been a "night owl" and she still is.
 On another visit I think we tried to watch Days of Our Lives together,
but there was a lot of this going on.....

They always post the activities in the residents rooms, and I keep a photo of the calendar on my cell phone for reference.  They do a great job from all that I have seen.

     Occasionally, my brother Mike sends me photos like this.  He took my mom out by the lake in the back of the senior community.  That way, my mom gets to visit with her "granddog" Steve.  I will have to do the same sometime soon with her other granddog "Lucky". 

I started hanging up the cards my mom has received, as I know how much she
has liked her cards over the years and I still hope seeing them makes her 
realize people are thinking of her.

When Kristin's busy schedule allows a visit, she still has a way with her Grandma and I know Grandma appreciates seeing her smiley face!!

All my kids also love the cats -- this one is "Sugar"!

More often than not when I arrive I find my mom sitting in an activity such as the one below.  I almost feel like I am interfering in her fun, and I definitely don't want to distract the others from their activities.  Linda, the activity director, always welcomes me and asks me to join in.  I usually do grab a chair and sit with my mom.  By joining in, I have learned that many of the residents are still very good with trivia, and nursery rhymes, and song lyrics, and naming state capitals, and completing old sayings!!!  On several visits, I have been pleasantly surprised at my mom shouting out correct answers as Linda soooo kindly, lovingly, patiently and enthusiastically leads the residents and helps them make those connections that are oh so important in keeping their minds going...

On another visit, I brought a family newsletter from my mom's cousin.  At this point, I think she mostly enjoys the photos, but she does try to read a bit of it, too.  She lives vicariously through their adventures and world travels!

Recently, I arrived to find the residents again gathered around this nice man who sang and played the accordion for the residents.  He would start playing some music and then wait to see if any of the residents recognized the tune.  Very often someone does, and then they join in and sing along.  Other times, he gave clues and more often than not several of the residents would know the songs as they tend to be from the "good ol' days".  While I was there, he told me my mom liked this song...and he played a song using my mom's name  "Mary" in it just for her.  I have learned to join in and help "prompt" my mom when I arrive during these activities, after all it's the least I can do.  If I can help my mom or one resident make a connection then all is well!!

What a relief to see that my mom engaging in the activities, and I know Linda, the activities director, has personally assured me that she makes sure my mom participates in everything she can.  I no longer have images of my mom sitting alone in her apartment with nothing to do and nobody to talk to.  This is all I can hope for and gives me some peace of mind.



Julia said...

Cindy, I'm so pleased by how smooth things are going with your mom. She looks so happy and that's all so very important. It looks like there is not much time to feel depressed or lonely.

I'm also glad that your mind is finally at ease about your mom getting the proper care that she deserves. You did a lot to get her to that stage and you should be proud of your accomplishments.

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

Your mom looks great! How nice that they keep the residents engaged. Looks like you found the ideal place for your Mom's needs and can finally have a little peace of mind.

Shirley said...

Cindy, It is as god has answered some of our prayers with your mom's move. The ones in the nursing home that work that part are the most caring that I have met. I know how hard it has been on you and what you went through. She really looks as though she likes it. It is hard to get people to listen to you, but keep being insistent. She is your love one and you want the best for her. It probably feels as though some of the stress has been lifted from your shoulders. Many hugs and prayers from Your Missouri friend.

RockinMom said...

What a wonderful update.With my love for baseball, you probably know that I just LOVED the baseball umpire story.:) Ha.

Jennifer said...

This place sounds great! They seem to really have it together and care greatly for the residents! I love that they all had a pj party for the Tigers game!

Nancy said...

Thanks for the update. Glad to see she is in a good place and some peace of mind for you.

yaya said...

This new home sounds so perfect for your Mom... so many therapeutic activities. I think you can rest assured she's getting the best care. She looks happy and healthy and busy! I hope you've enjoyed your exchange students and I hope they've enjoyed their visit. Have a good week and I hope your weather is good too!