Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 25 Mar, 2024

Monday

I was still suffering from a Mental Energy Deficit after Saturday so I didn’t really get my backside into gear to go and visit Mum until the senior nurse on duty at The Home phoned to say that there was a form that needed signing.

To be frank, I wasn’t expecting much from the visit because Eldest Sister’s description of Mum sounded like she was at Peak Active Mum yesterday. That meant that today should be the first day of her Sleepy phase and she’d totally unresponsive all day.

The form in question was a consent form for Mum’s COVID booster. Juliette wasn’t in her office when I got there and I was directed towards the rooms to the rear of the home. Juliette wasn’t there either and when I went back to the office I was told she’d just gone upstairs. I didn’t feel as if I was being given the run-around though. I know how busy she is towards the end of the shift getting all the admin done and loose ends tied up before the shift changes. And to be fair, the rest of her day isn’t that much less frantic than that either.

Fortunately, Al was aware of the situation and showed me where the form was. It was a proper NHS form for members of a nursing home resident’s family to give consent to procedures when the resident isn’t able to do that for themselves. Interesting. No mention of Power of Attorney or anything. Obviously, I signed it.

As I come out of the office, I’m greeted by Eleanor.

“Hello!” she says brightly as she’s heading for the rear lounge. I walk, slowly, up the corridor with her. She complains that her walking frame is difficult to move and it makes her slow. I explain that if the frame had wheels on all four legs rather than just the front two then it would be easier to move but it would move away when she leant on it and she’d end up flat on her face. She sees the logic in that.

As I approach Mum’s room I can hear The Archers. I have an Alexa routine set up to run BBC Radio4 so she gets the evening news at 6pm. Not so much for her to keep up with current events. It’s more for her to hear people talking. What I don’t hear is her talking so she must be asleep on schedule.

But she isn’t asleep. She very much isn’t. And when I stop Alexa, she starts talking. Most of what she said was unintelligible. A good proportion of what she said was directed at the Other People in the room with us.

I asked if she’d enjoyed seeing Eldest Sister and her kids yesterday. She couldn’t remember them being there but when I mentioned my nephew she smiled and said “He’s my mate”.

We’d been contacted by a member of the congregation at Mum’s church at home who was asking how she was. She said she remembered him but not very convincingly. I asked if she would mind if he said he wanted to come and visit. I didn’t really expect a sensible answer but thought I might as well ask on the off-chance. She wasn’t sure. She asked all the Other People in the room and they weren’t sure either. I said I’d see what he says and we’ll play it by ear if he wants to visit. She was content with that and we left it there.

Unlike Eldest Sister, nearly all my childhood memories are of doing Boy Things with my Dad so I ran out of reminiscences months ago. It’s why I read to her. When Mum’s in this state, if you let her run the conversation it gets very surreal very quickly and that was the case today. I struggled to keep up with her.

From what little I could make out I gathered that she was going out with the Other People as soon as she was able and she gave the name of the road that she lived on when she was primary school age. She also, apparently, has to go to a police station to be interviewed.

“What have you lot been up to then Mum!?”

“NOTHING! We’ve been very good Haven’t we?” she said as she looked for confirmation from the Other People.

I asked her if it was the police station where Dad worked but she didn’t seem to understand the question. Then she said something about a prison officer. Was this something she’d heard on The News?

Things got weirder when she was talking to someone standing behind me. Or possibly in front of me. One of the Other People had suddenly left in a bit of a huff and she demanded to know what I’d said to upset them. I denied saying anything but she was quite insistent.

“Come on! Tell me what you said! Hurry up!”

This sort of phrase and the impatience with which it’s delivered is a signature trope of Peak Active Mum and happens just before the crash to Sleepy Mum.

However, the conversation continued and cousin Sue was mentioned. Mum said how much she liked her.

“Yeah, Sue’s really nice. She sent me a photo of her dog asleep on the rug in front of the telly yesterday evening. Here. Look. Can you see that?”

“What? She sent you that? She’s as bloody daft as I am!”

It was all very strange.

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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