Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 21 May, 2024

Tuesday

“Hello Mum! It’s Nicholas.”

“Oh good. I’m glad you’ve come to see me. Here! What are you sitting down for?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re supposed to be pushing me down the road!”

“Do you mind if I get my breath back first?”

She turned to the Other People and asked them if she should tell me off.

It went downhill from there. There were loads of Other People in the room with us. Other People are normally children and my guess is that they are characters from when Mum was primary school age. Any adults she sees are certainly from that era. They are often relatives. I listened to Mum talk to her Other People for a while but I couldn’t work out who or even what they were at all. I made the mistake of asking her. She looked confused by the question.

“Have they been keeping you company all afternoon though?”

“Nope”

“They didn’t arrive with me did they?”

“Nope”

That was all too much of a challenge to her reality. After that she ignored me almost completely.

The hallucinations were really strong today. She didn’t stop talking the entire time I was there. It was all very calm and measured with pauses for thought before everything she said. Most of it was unintelligible with little random snippets of clear speech thrown in to tantalise.

She told her Other People a really long anecdote and I couldn’t understand a word but she finished with the words

“… I’ve never seen anyone look so disappointed in all my life.”

She also spoke, I think, about going to work.

There was another tale, as unintelligible as all the others, where I was able to make out that someone had done something wrong and she’d got the blame for it. She’s told tales like that several times over the months she’s been at The Home. They seem to have been different events but what’s very clear and common to all of them is the sense of injustice, her distress at being in trouble and her powerlessness to do anything about it.

Occasionally, Mum would ask one of the Other People where they were going.

“Don’t worry about it Mum. They won’t be going far and I’m pretty sure they’ll be back soon.”

“Yeah. They’ll be going to see the others downstairs.”

Talking about other rooms being ‘downstairs’ isn’t unusual for Mum. She knows she’s in a bedroom and bedrooms are always upstairs like at home even though this one isn’t. It stands to reason that there must be rooms downstairs. Mum having an awareness of Other People being in other rooms was a new development though.

Sometimes, I can understand enough of her conversations with Other People to be able to join in and feel part of them. If not, I can at least understand enough to make the appropriate reaction of interest, agreement, surprise or even amusement. I couldn’t even manage that much today.

While Mum barely said a word to me during the whole visit, she did tell me to leave her companions a note telling them where she’d gone when she leaves.

“It’s not going to be for a little while yet Mum. Your new room’s not quite ready yet.”

“Oh”

And then seconds later…

“Come on then!”

However, Mum was reasonably cheerful and the Other People were making her smile. She was comfortable – more or less – and was warming up again after I’d remade the bed.

Brother got a mention but I wasn’t able to tell if that’s who she thought that I was or whether he just got talked about in passing.

Mum was still talking when her evening meds arrived. Glenys almost missed Mum’s mouth a couple of times. The meds are now already dissolved in water as Mum’s been spitting then out again. The carers had reported finding tablets in Mum’s bed after Glenys had administered them three nights on the trot apparently.

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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