Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 26 Dec, 2023

Tuesday

Mum was at the optimum point on the transition out of her hypoactive delirium today. Comfortable, calm and lucid and not yet at the stage where she’s determined she’s ready to leave and getting distressed that no-one will help her.

We had a good long chat about Boxing Days Past and her memories were nice and strong. All the way from when the whole family gathered together when dad was still alive through when we’d just moved to Maidstone and we were due to meet at Aunt Elsie’s but were turned back by the police at the bottom of Wrotham Hill because the snow was so bad and then even further back to when we were still at school and went to Grandma’s to play the Who Can Make a Chocolate Finger Last The Longest game with dad and Bill.

I read a bit as well. We were in the bit of All Quiet on the Western Front where Paul has just got home from the Front on leave. So not too gruesome and easy to relate to. It was actually a pleasure to be there and it’s not often I’ve been able to say that.

It was especially nice to be there after having spent the day with Lesley’s dad. He’s really struggling with the change to his routine over Christmas. While I’d been with mum yesterday his neighbour had called Lesley in a state of great concern. Les was at home on his own and had no idea if his lunch was coming. He’d arranged to spend Christmas Day at home alone last month and had been told that his lunch would be with him after 1 instead of the usual 12:15 precisely.

We got there today to make him lunch as it was the only day the local volunteers couldn’t cover. But he’d already eaten. He’d heated some soup in the microwave. He’d obviously been a bit over-enthusiastic with it going by the mess we found later. When Lesley suggested that he might not want a turkey sandwich as he’d already eaten he protested that he’d like one. He couldn’t eat it. Lesley topped up his dosset box with his regular meds. He’s coming to the end of his antibiotics for his chest infection and should have had three tablets left. There’s only two.

“Which day did you take two antibiotics?”

“Pardon?”

“WHICH DAY DID YOU TAKE TWO ANTIBIOTICS?”

“I didn’t”

“Fucking hell. AND WHY HAVEN’T YOU TAKEN TODAY’S?”

“It isn’t time yet. I take it mid afternoon when I get back from the day centre”

“NO! THAT’S THE LAST LOT! THIS ONE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO TAKE WITH YOUR MAIN MEAL AND WITH PLENTY OF WATER!”

“Nobody said”

He’s been told that every single day of the course.

We also had a battle with…

  • his hearing aids. He’s been wearing them for decades but now can’t put them in properly
  • his Christmas presents. Nobody told him he could open them and then he couldn’t tell the difference between a fleece jacket and a duvet cover
  • just words generally. He can’t tell that he’s used the wrong one, can’t say what he means, doesn’t mean what he says

The biggest challenge, of course, is getting Lesley to adjust to talking with someone who has quite advanced dementia. His losing the plot when a routine is disturbed, not coping with meds, not eating properly, not caring for himself properly, not understanding money, loss of linguistic ability are all classic signs. I don’t profess to be an expert but meeting a lot of sufferers every single day for the past 6 months and having plenty of deep conversations with expert professionals on what the signs are and how to handle patients does give me a bit of a clue.

There are definitely more able people than him at Mum’s Home and their doctors have judged that they don’t have capacity to be safe at home.

But he insists he’s fine.

Author’s Note

My Mum is in a nursing home in a small village in the Thames Valley. The photo is not of the home. I used an AI image generator to give the reader some idea of the home she’s in.

All, some or maybe even none (you’ll never know!) of the names have been changed to protect privacy and hide real identities. If you think you recognise someone then let me know and I’ll edit the post or remove it entirely

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