Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 19 Jun, 2024

Wednesday

There was a change of plan today. Just like there is every day now.

Lesley’s dad can’t hear a thing. It’s only a couple of weeks since he had his ears cleaned and hearing aids adjusted and he’s already buggered them up. He swears blind it’s the batteries and is opening packet after packet. We know it won’t be the batteries but we have to go and see what he’s done before making another audiology appointment.

What’s most likely is he’s been pressing buttons that he shouldn’t. Sometimes, this is inadvertent. He simply doesn’t have the dexterity any more and doesn’t know he’s doing it. Often, pressing buttons is intentional. He had a pair of aids years ago which he knew how to use and he could adjust them himself. His current aids have buttons in the same positions but they have different functions. He cannot or will not understand this. I’m going to get pelters at home for saying this but an inability to accept anything that doesn’t match what is set in his mind already isn’t anything new. It’s not dementia. He’s been like that since I’ve known him. He’s always been immune to facts and logic. That and being untroubled by any doubt in the correctness of his opinions is what makes him so hard to deal with. He’s been a world-class gas-lighter all his life – he says what he says with such confidence – and he’s still getting away with it now with a surprising number of people.

He’s wrong so often now that it makes me feel like it’s deliberate. If you were to flip a coin on any decision or opinion you’d expect to be wrong 50% of the time so it stands to reason that being any wronger than that takes conscious effort.

And yet he still says “I know what I know.”

He’s wrong about that too.

So with plans re-jigged and about to be actioned, Lesley got WhatsApped by someone at his day centre. Her son has the same hearing aids and she’s fixed them for him. Well, he says he can hear now but that’s not always reliable.

Our trip to see him was abandoned. Time to change plans. Again.

The Plan became one where I would visit Mum early and Lesley would walk The Dog to The Home to meet me before it got too hot. There was still a chance to salvage something from the day.

I got through the lounge without being delayed as Audrey was still sleeping off her breakfast.

Mum too was sound asleep. I didn’t think it would be possible for her to be less responsive than she’d been yesterday but she was. I told her I was there three times – that’s the standard test to confirm an Unresponsive Mum situation – and she didn’t move.

On my way back out I saw that Audrey had woken up. She seemed not to know where she was or who I was. She wasn’t interested in talking to me. I took the hint and left her alone.

I passed Juliette in the corridor

“It seems so calm and quiet here today. Everyone’s so peaceful.”

“Yes, we’re having a good day. So far.”

“So far? Ah, OK. I won’t get in your way and ruin it then.”

I bothered The Manager in his office when I was signing out too. He looked frazzled. When I knocked on his door he answered in his first language, then another one and then in English.

“Would it be OK if I pinch some bits from the garden? I’m getting time in the workshop at long last and will need some props for staging the photos of what I’m making. My daily updates have had hundreds and hundreds of views and I thought I would get more stuff in the shop for them to see while they’re there.”

“Really!? That many? Good for you! I have to say you have a real talent. It helps that I know who you’re writing about but you write really well. I read a lot – I’ve always got a book in my hand – and I know good writing when I see it.”

I thanked him for being so kind but I felt almost as uncomfortable hearing him say it as I do writing it down now. The English inability to accept a compliment is such a handicap.

 

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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