Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 25 May, 2024

Saturday

Mum was on her way out of the least sleepy Sleepy phase yet. She was Calm & Lucid today.

Calm & Lucid is good because you can at least have a reasonable conversation with her. But, on the other hand, being lucid isn’t so good because she’s acutely aware of the state she’s in when she’s with-it and that makes her, understandably, miserable.

I started off by telling her about my day. A nice, quiet one because we always need an easy day after a day with Lesley’s dad. It was a trip into Audiology in Reading yesterday. The Audiology department at his local community hospital has been shut down and there’s no parking near the annexe where he needs to be in Reading so it means we all have to go. I drive, drop him and Lesley off and then circle until they’re ready to be picked up.

The problem with his hearing aids is that they’re all gunked up. He can’t/won’t keep his ears clean and since micro-suction is no longer available on the NHS it means a private appointment somewhere else and then a probable return trip to Reading to get his hearing aids recalibrated.

When we got him back home there was also a lengthy discussion about the changes to his home to keep him safe that have been recommended by any number of social workers and occupational therapists. He won’t have any of them. He says he’s managed alright so far and doesn’t see why he won’t continue to. He can’t/won’t see how much weaker and wobblier he’s got or how far and how fast he’s going to deteriorate.

I’m not allowed to pass comment here so I’ll leave it to Mum

“He’s a daft old sod.”

The Golden Rule with sufferers of dementia is not to challenge their reality because you won’t win and it just upsets them. But there is an exception: You can’t let them put themselves in danger or at risk of personal harm. I think this is what he’s doing here. But he’s adamant. His principle, over-riding aim is not to go into a home but every decision he makes increases the likelihood of that.

I don’t like much of what Ayn Rand said but when she said: “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” I think she was right.

On the plus side, I did get to spend some time in the garden today in an attempt to make the place look a little less like a successful urban rewilding project and I got some wood turning done too. The only output for the day was a big pile of weeds and a smaller pile of sawdust but Mum was pleased for me.

Other signs of her improvement were accepting a drink – she was gasping – and no restlessness or fidgeting. Oh, and she’s had a haircut. I told her she seemed much better today than she’s been for a few days. She appreciated that and said she felt better too.

Then Miserable Mum returned for a bit.

“Why is it you always comes to see me? Why don’t the others come?”

“Because they’re all working Mum.”

I told her Eldest Sister had been there with the kids and Plus Ones at the weekend. I explained that Brother has got his hands full with Mother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law.

“You’re in this place because it’s just round the corner from me and I’m the only one who could see you every day. And I do. I’m here every single day, rain or shine. I’m here more often than any of the staff!”

“Good” she said

I suggested that we try and do a video call with Brother some time over the weekend if she was to it.

“Ooh! Yes!”

“And Sue’s been talking about coming to see you again. She’s Up North seeing some friends this weekend so it’ll probably be a few days away though.”

I’d messaged Lesley as I usually do to let her know how Mum was so she can gauge how long I’ll be out.

“And Lesley’s just sent me a message to tell me to send you her love. She’s thinking of coming soon too. Perhaps she can borrow next door’s dog and bring Margo in with her”

“Please thank Lesley for her message and tell her I’d be pleased to see her”

“I will. Shall I read to you for a bit?”

“Yeah.”

Al was doing a night shift today. He stopped by to see how Mum was. She waved back and talked to him briefly although neither of us could understand what she said.

After he’d gone, Mum held my hand and I carried on reading. A chapter and a half later she’d drifted back off to sleep.

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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