Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 10 Mar, 2024

Sunday

I categorised the visit as a clear ‘All The Other People In The Room Are More Entertaining Than You Are’ afternoon. There were loads of them. They’ve been there all day apparently. Reggie told me that when he took her meds in this morning he greeted her loudly with a cheery “Good morning Iris!”.  Mum put one finger to her lips, lifted the duvet with the other hand and said in a stage whisper

“Shush! You’ll wake them up!” 

Mum’s speech was a lot less unintelligible than it had been so far in this cycle but when you can only make out every other word at the beginning of a sentence and one in every three or four words at the end, it’s still not easy. 

Lots of fidgeting and fussing. The bed got remade twice while I was there. She was picking bits up off the duvet and at one point said. 

“Here you are. Give this to Nicholas.” 

“You don’t mean me do you Mum? You mean the other one”

 “I mean my Nicholas!”

 “Oh. OK”

While I was working out what I could ask in order to determine who she thought I was without making her feel awkward a cup of tea was delivered.

“Try this tea Mum. Only take a small sip because it might still be a bit hot”

“Urgh! That’s coffee!”

“Nope. Definitely smells like tea to me”

“It’s not! I’m not daft you know!”

“Are you sure?”

At least she laughed at that.

It took an eternity but she did drink almost all of it and she coped with holding the cup herself too. She was getting quite distracted by what Other People were doing and saying. The process involved taking two sips and passing the cup back to me. At one point, someone was saying something to her that needed her full attention. She passed the cup back saying

“Here John. Take hold of this”

So that’s who she thought I was today. Mentions of my Dad are still rare.

A little later…

“Here you go Mum. Have a bit more of this tea.”

Her response was unintelligible but unmistakeably indignant. She started trying to drink from a cup that she thought she was holding.

“No Mum. Give that one to me and try this cup instead”

“Oh, alright then”

Overall though she was quite bright and cheerful. Especially when talking to the Other People. There was some frustration when they would fail to respond to her questions and instructions or when they would just disappear without her approval. Reggie says that on the days when she’s awake she’s actually pretty good and will speak clearly in response to questions and there’s no doubt she understands what’s being said to her. She was quite aware of what was going on around her too and it was busy this afternoon. Madeline was going round distributing roses and the cards that had been sent by post, there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing at the laundry and rooms were being deep cleaned while residents were in the lounge.

I had thought I was going to get away with not being collared by Shirley as she was in bed – her own this time – and was snoring loudly when I arrived. About an hour into the visit I was alerted to the fact she was awake by shouts of “No Shirley! Wait! Don’t go that way!” coming from the lounge.

On my way out I passed through the lounge and only Audrey reacted.

“You’re not going already are you?”

“Why Audrey? Am I about to miss something exciting?”

I carried on walking before she could think of an answer and walked straight into Shirley.

“Can I come with you?

“No Shirley. You’d be much better off heading that way to the lounge”

She said “Oh, alright then” but her disappointment was obvious.

Bloody hell.

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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