Saturday, 2 January 2016

Mum says she's happy where she is

I was talking with mum up in the park next door to the nursing home yesterday when I went up to see her and the conversation got around to the subject of her accommodation. She said she was happy living in the nursing home, but worried that there was not enough money to pay for it. I assured her that there was. But assuming that talking about something - even in a way that has a positive spin - is a way to open up a conversation about it, and possibly introduce negative elements later on, I said that it was impossible to continue living in Queensland as we had done prior to a year previously. I said that it had been too worrisome for me, and that I had had a bad year in 2014 worrying about mum living alone in an apartment.

"There's locking the doors, there's turning off the stove, there are falls to worry about," I said. There are also unsolicited phone calls from charities who will do anything to get a new donor regardless of their mental capacities; we had had many of them get mum's credit card details and put her on a monthly donation rotation, despite the fact that within a few minutes she would have completely forgotten about the telephone call that drew her to give money in the first place.

There was even the case of the opportunistic burglar who had quickly scaled the eight-foot wall surrounding mum's ground-floor garden and had sat on the wall looking down into the apartment. Mum just happened to be at the front window opening the curtain at that precise point in time. She had shooed away the young man with her hand, but it had clearly given her a scare. What if someone got into the apartment?

There are so many things to worry about when it comes to caring for people living with dementia.

Mum apologised for the difficulties I had experienced while looking after her in Queensland. I then talked with her about dad. We had put dad into care in a nursing home in Queensland in March 2009 when his dementia was further advanced than mum's was when she went into the nursing home in December last year. "He never acclimatised," I said. "No," agreed mum. "You remember going up there to see him and he would ask you every time when he was going home?" I asked mum. "Yes," she said. I told her I thought that it was cruel to ask a person with dementia to live under those conditions, and so I had moved sooner in mum's case to put her in care because I didn't want the same thing to happen to her.

I brought her attention around to how it had been the last time she was in hospital in Sydney. This was back in November. "You don't remember," I told her. I told her about how she had been very fretful and restless in the ward once the antibiotics had brought her back to something like normalcy vis-a-vis her general health. "They had to put you on risperdal, an anti-psychotic," I said to mum. "You didn't know where you were, you had no idea," I went on. "But as soon as you came back to the nursing home you settled down. You felt comfortable," I told her. "Yes," she agreed.

Now mum feels at home in the nursing home. She feels safe and looked-after. She has staff bringing her the newspapers, dressing her legs (they weep because of her heart failure), showering her in the mornings, helping her into her clothes, cleaning her room, making her bed, calling her to come to lunch and dinner, bringing her breakfast in her room, doing her laundry and putting her clothes away in the cupboard, giving her her medication. I feel safe too knowing that there are many people looking after mum. I told her that now that we were living in Sydney another benefit was that I could meet with my friends. She agreed that things were well organised. I felt content because of this conversation, even though she completely forgot we had it, within an hour. 

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