Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 26 Feb, 2024

Monday

Mum’s run of days without Other People in the room ended today. And in a big way. There were loads of them including Uncles Tom and Tony. Someone called Willy got a couple of mentions too. He’s got a cheeky little face apparently.

She wasn’t talking to anyone when I walked in her room. She was just staring at something floating above her. In spite of the extra pillow she had somehow wriggled diagonally across the bed with her feet on the bed rail. At least she’d moved the duvet with her and hadn’t got cold.

I tried to get her to move into a more comfortable position but on the odd occasion when she moved at all it was always the opposite way to what I told her. In the end I just picked her up.

I couldn’t tell how much of her conversation was directed at me. It didn’t feel like very much was. From what I could make out she’d been out this morning and had got on the wrong bus. There were a lot of stories about her uncles including when one of them broke a cup.

“This lot sound like a right bunch of little sods Mum”

“Yeah. And you’re two of them!”

Mum didn’t really start talking to me until I stood up to leave. Then Virgil came round with her evening meds. This’ll be interesting I thought. He hasn’t ground them up. The first tablet went in followed by a drink of squash. I wasn’t sure she’d swallowed it. The second tablet went in and I was certain she hadn’t swallowed either of them.

“You haven’t swallowed them have you Mum”

“Hasn’t she!? Have some more squash Iris.”

“Nope. She still hasn’t swallowed them”

“Try some water Iris”

She has a good, big swig of water. And then she tries to spit the tablets out. Virgil catches her hand and gives her another swig of water. She swallows that and starts chewing. More water. Still chewing.

“Let’s try the last tablet Iris. Don’t chew this one. It will taste horrible”

The tablet goes in followed by two slugs of water. She starts chewing and screws her face up. More water. I’m fairly certain she’s swallowed them all now. All the time this has been going on she didn’t stop talking by the way.

Across the corridor, Quiet Callum is being put to bed. Dora and Jess spot me and wave like loons. Haven’t seen them for ages. With Callum safely tucked in, they leave his room and go back to the lounge for the next resident. As they walk back down the corridor they’re both shouting “NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!!!!!!!!!!!” and giggling.

I make another attempt to leave and Mum perks up. She grips an edge of the duvet and lifts it.

“Here. Take this. Come on! Quick!”

This is code for “Help me get up. I’m coming home with you”

Bloody hell.

Follow-up.

There’s a question from Andy in the family chat. He wonders if there’s any correlation between the “I’ve been on a bus” conversation and ending up with “Take this. I’m off!”

I’m not convinced there is. Her telling me that she’s been out “down the shops” doesn’t happen often but she says “Take this. I’m off!” happens every cycle. She’ll tell me of adventures outside when she’s moving up out of Calm & Lucid towards Peak Active Mum. I’ll get impatient instructions to help her leave The Home when she’s well into Peak Active Mum.

No two cycles are the same so the statistical significance of these two events happening during the same visit is hard to assess. We’re going to need a larger sample of data and, given her slow rate of decline, I think we’re going to end up getting one. 

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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