Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 9 Jul, 2024

Tuesday

Cousin Sue and her husband came to see Mum today. They did the journey by train so I picked them up at the station here and drove them to The Home.

Reggie warned us before we went into her room that Mum was on good form. Very active. Legs over the bed rail and everything. She wasn’t that physically active while were with her but she did talk non-stop for well over an hour. Only some snippets were distinct enough to make out and they didn’t make a lot of sense. Mum seemed quite content and really appreciated having a larger audience to talk to. I was fairly certain she knew who we all were.

There weren’t any Other People with us but the visual hallucinations were just beginning in a small way. Mum’s hallucinations start with her picking up small items off the bed. These were handed to Sue with the instruction to

“Take this and cut it in half”

The balling up of sheets and blankets was just beginning too towards the end of the visit. She seemed to be well on the way to Peak Active Mum and if that’s right then that means this has been another compressed cycle.

We rounded the day off with a run over to Lesley’s dad. If anything important needs saying to him it has to be face to face. Even then it’s not a guarantee you’ll get through.

Today’s news was a challenge to something he’s believed for years. His response was to start worrying about something else that was a lot more trivial. Not that it matters that much. The truth is the truth whether he wants to believe it or not and there’s nothing he can do about it either way. I for one don’t intend spending any effort trying to change his mind. It’ll be hard work, there’s no guarantee of success and it’ll just cause upset. That’s Dementia Care 101.

Looking at it from his perspective, a turning attention away from the major issue was perfectly understandable. Choosing to worry about something else looked like a straightforward displacement activity. Like he knew he needed to worry about something but couldn’t process the news he’d just had so went for something he was able to handle.

Not that his worry of choice was that trivial. His Occupational Therapist had arranged delivery of equipment that he’ll need when he becomes more incapacitated and because lead times vary for different bits of kit he’s got some bits that won’t be needed until he’s in the very late stages. I think this kit has brought home the reality of his situation and he doesn’t want it in the house. He’s demanding that we return it.

It obviously can’t be returned because that would mean it won’t be available when he needs it. Lesley is fretting that he’ll just raise the subject and pressurise her every time she goes there. I came up with a suggestion.

“Why you just tell him that you’ve contacted the lady who had it delivered and asked for it to be collected. Tell him that she said she would arrange that but because their drivers are so busy dealing with people who are really ill that collection would have the lowest priority. It may mean that he’ll have to put up with it being there for several weeks. He’ll either forget that it’s still in the garage or get so bad that he needs to use it. There’s always the chance that something else will happen that he needs to focus his worries on and he’ll drop the subject.”

Lesley’s problem is that she’s not a natural liar.

I had also given my family a quick heads-up for anyone planning to visit in the next few weeks. Lesley’s Sister has brought her next visit forward in view of dad’s decline so that her eldest can see him before he gets too bad. She’ll be over from Several Time-zones Away early next month. This means Dad’s little bedroom needs to be cleared so the lad has somewhere to sleep.

That room is so full of crap that there is barely room to open the door and it’s been that way for the best part of 15 or 20 years. However, we’re only allowed to move stuff when he’s there to observe and he’s out most days during the week. It’ll mean that we’re tied up most weekends until the middle of August.

I told them by all means come and see Mum but I couldn’t guarantee that we’d be around to do the catering if/when they did come. We’d do our best to work round him but, well, you know.

Meanwhile, we’re going through the routine as follows:

Pick something up

“Ooh, that looks useful!”

“What is it Dad?”

“I don’t know.”

Or

Pick something up

“Oh great! I was wondering where that had gone. It’s just the job!”

“Just the job for what Dad?”

No answer.

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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