Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 30 Apr, 2024

Tuesday

Lesley had a full day with her dad today. Various healthcare professionals were going to be popping in and out. Judging by the expletive-laden call to say she was on her way home, it had been a difficult day.

He’s not coping with new equipment. He is also totally unable or unwilling to understand that he is going to get much, much frailer. He’s always managed with what he’s got now, he said, and doesn’t see he won’t always manage. He’d never suffered serious injury in any previous fall and has deduced that he never will. Suffering a bad break was something that happened to other people apparently. He’d often said that the staff at day centre call him Mr Speedy when he walks with a four-wheel frame. He thinks that’s a compliment. What they mean is that he’s like a toddler struggling to keep up with a baby-walker that’s on the brink of running away with him.

But he’s frailer already. Lots of people are telling us, and him, how much weight he’s lost.

So, consequently, I’m far later than I thought I’d be getting to The Home. All seemed peaceful as I walked through to Mum. Juliette was hard at work in the office. Hunched over a laptop as usual. Some residents were being helped with their drinks.

But the peace and quiet was restricted to the front lounge. As I got closer to the rear of The Home the noise got louder. Staff were busy going in all directions, residents were all laughing and someone was screaming and crying. At one stage the victim accused her assailant of trying to kill her. The noise was coming from the bathroom.

Reggie let me know what was going on. It had been decided that Lily was overdue a shower.

┬áHe walked with me to Mum’s room. His first question was about how Lesley was doing.

“Another day with her Dad. She’s at her wits’ end with him. You’d be shocked at the language she used when she told me what had happened today. I’m worn out with him and I wasn’t even there!”

He said how sorry he was to hear that.

“You’ve got all that to cope with as well as your Mum.” he added.

“Oh no, Mum’s not a worry at all. I’ve got total confidence that she’s being well looked after. He, on the other hand, is a constant worry. Morning, noon and night. While he sits at home pretending he’s independent, Lesley is constantly on the phone managing his contacts with the hospital, his GP, adult social care, his pharmacist/dentist/optician/audiologist, the day centre, the bank, his neighbours… The list goes on. All she gets is “What have you done with my keys?”. I’ve always said he’s the stupidest person I’ve ever met and that was before the dementia.”

Mum was aware that there were people having a conversation in the doorway of her room. I think. She nodded when I told her it was me. She nodded again when I asked if she was very sleepy. She didn’t respond at all when I said I’d leave her to sleep and would come back “later”.

She may not have been in this sleepy phase that long as she wasn’t yet totally unresponsive. So she may have been more physically active than she’d been yesterday when I saw her. If not, this had been a very low-key Peak Active Mum this time around.

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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