Tuesday, January 22, 2013

At Last, A Good Day For Mom

I'm getting ready to go back home to Jonah.  I canceled my flight and am renting a truck from Penske instead.  Not exactly what I wanted to do, but Mom and I co-purchased an elliptical exercise machine, and it's clear she won't be using it, so I'm taking it back home along with some other stuff.  Most of the stuff I'm taking is Mom's personal papers (journals, genealogy, school and childhood mementos, love letters my dad sent her when he was in the Navy (what a treasure to have those - who knew Dad could be so flowery and conversational?  I certainly didn't see much of that growing up.  lol), letters from her mom to her, etc.

I'm also planning on taking our old reel-to-reel home movies and my grandfather's slides.  I just want to preserve my mom and dad's histories.  I hope to scan Mom's journals and other papers and put them on disc so my siblings can have them.  I'm sure I'll discover some interesting things.

It looks like I'll be leaving Thursday - Friday at the latest - It looks like the weather might turn during the weekend, and I certainly don't want to be caught in anything in a huge truck.  Besides, I have a job interview on Tuesday, and Jonah is lonely, and I miss him.

I've been on the phone quite a bit today trying to deal with legal matters and Medicaid stuff.  A family advocate referred us to a lawyer who feels he can save some of Mom's assets from being taken by Medicaid.  I'm not quite sure how it works, but it might be worth looking into.

I did some more cleaning today.  No matter how much I do, it looks like I haven't made much of a dent.  Still, each thing I do is one less thing another family member has to do. 

I also want some of the photos.  My sister is currently scanning them but said I could have the originals nobody else claims.  Just what I need, more stuff.  lol

I wish I was happy with just a digital image, but actually having a tangible photo is important to me.  It makes me feel more like I'm touching the history of it.

My sister and I took some boxes to a local charity organization.  We had some nice alone time, too, so that was nice.

I had hoped to visit Mom earlier in the day, but my nephew had Mom's car.  My sister offered to let me borrow hers, but I passed.

My brother and sister-in-law invited me over for dinner.  I visited Mom first.  She was actually doing very well today, which was nice to see.  When I came in, the residents were just finishing dinner.  Mom wasn't around.  One of the aides saw me and told me Mom had been sitting in the empty seat, ate her dinner, and quickly skedaddled. 

I said, "Yeah, she'll probably be like that, at least for a while."

The aide and the nurse (I think) told me the ladies Mom had been sitting with liked her and that they and Mom had been social and that they would try to put Mom with them more often.  I thought that was nice of them to look out for Mom like that.

When I entered Mom's room, she was standing up and actually seemed almost her normal self.  She was quite coherent and "with it" today.  Almost felt like old times. 

I had brought a set of pictures of Jonah and me in a large frame.  I had given it to her just this past Christmas and wanted her to enjoy it more than just the short time she had.  She asked me who the baby Jonah and I were holding was.  I said it was my nephew.  She said, "Oh, yes."

I put the frame up and she helped me.  I also brought her a journal.  She used to be really good at keeping a journal, and I have even found journal entries as recent as last year, so I told her it might be good therapy to write about how much she hates the place and how horrible it is. 

She said, "Oh, don't worry, I will."  I suppressed a smirk.

If she does write in it, I think it will be good for both expressing her thoughts and keeping her mind active.  And it might be an interesting read once she passes.

I try to keep her mind busy when I'm there.  We played Trivial Pursuit yesterday.  She used to be really good at it.  It used to be one of our favorite games to play together.  She kind of sucks at it now.  Can't remember anything.  I thought for sure she'd remember that Gary Cooper was the star of High Noon, but nada.

But while she can't remember a lot of answers, her mind is active when she's reading the questions, which she does quite well.  And it does keep her mind working somewhat when she's trying to remember an answer.  I often let her cheat.  I'll give her clues or first names or relate the answer to something she may remember, and if she gets it, I let her have a wedge.  I always win, though.  But she has fun.

After I gave Mom the journal, I went to sit on her chair.  Her coat and purse and some folded clothes were there.  I moved the coat and purse to her bed and the clothes to the dresser. 

[Sidenote: when I was there yesterday, I saw that she had a laundry basket of nicely-folded clothes.  I said, "Oh, it looks like someone did your laundry."  She replied, "No, those are the clothes I'm taking with me when I get out of here."  I noticed today that they had been put away...either by her or somebody else.]

We talked about her dresser.  My younger sister has put little labels on her stuff so she'll know where things are.  Each drawer of Mom's dresser is labeled with what is in it.  She seemed to think that was helpful, although she was confused by why one drawer looked like it said "SODA" (it really said "SOCKS").  I said that my younger sister's writing just made the "c" and "k" look like a "d." 

"But wouldn't it be funny if that's what was in the drawer - soda?"

Mom seemed to think that was funny.

She also told me in great detail about a photo taken of her and a friend we used to work with together who has since become a locally-renowned pianist.  She said she had been at my sister-in-law's school, and the friend had been performing there and was surprised to see Mom there as she was the only one he knew.  He excitedly had his picture taken with her.

When I later repeated Mom's story to my sister-in-law, she confirmed that it pretty much happened that way except that it was at a church, not a school.  But Mom was very coherent and clear when she was telling the story, and I was happy she was able to recall so much.

Mom was very pleasant and cheerful and talked about how she and some of the other residents had gone outside today and that she had talked with one of the ladies, whose name she couldn't remember.  She also talked about my younger sister and her children visiting today, which they had (and I later found out from my younger sister that Mom had participated in a bowling game the residents played this morning and was laughing and having fun.  I had asked Mom if she had bowled today; she did not remember doing so).

We talked for a bit, and I said I had to go eat dinner.  Mom said she had already eaten, and I said, "Well, I haven't, so I should go."

Mom said, "Well, thanks for bringing the clothes."  (These are the ones I just removed from her chair and put on her dresser.) 

"No problem, " I said.  "Anything I can do to make you more comfortable."

Mom gave me a hug and a kiss and said she loved me.  No sullenness.  No guilt trip.  No pleading for me to take her home.  No asking why she had to stay there.  Yes, she had briefly mentioned hoping I would take her home before I distracted her by asking if her TV volume needed to be turned up, but when I left, she seemed relatively content and said she'd see me tomorrow.

She knows I'm going back home.  At least she did when I left.  I will miss her a lot.  I wish I could be here more while she transitions, but I know my siblings will take good care of her.

I was glad to see Mom finally have a pleasant day after a week of somewhat unpleasant ones.

I went to my brother and sister-in-law's house.  My brother and I discussed some of the Medicaid stuff.  He is stressed beyond belief.  I think he would enjoy it if I took over Mom's trust, which he currently oversees.  I am willing to if it gets to be too much.

My brother wonders if Mom will get well enough to come back home.  I think she could stabilize, but dementia, by its very nature, just gets worse.  I also think if she went back home, she would regress again.  Here in assisted living, she is being regularly monitored, taking her medications consistently, and being fed nutritious, regular meals.  If she went back home, she just couldn't receive the kind of care she is getting now and would likely deteriorate faster.

And today may have just been an exceptionally good day.  I've seen it happen before: one day she's great, the very next day she's problematic.

My older sister said she won't recognize her home as being her own anyway.  I think today she might have, but I think it's better for her health if she remains where she is.  And who knows, she may grow to love it.

The fact is, her dementia will get worse.  It just will.  She can be better taken care of where she is than we are currently able to do elsewhere.  I do want to get her room changed, if possible.  That kitchen is very noisy, and I think the noise agitates Mom.

1 comment:

Dean Scott said...

I am glad your mom had a good day. Here is wishing safe travels as you drive home. Best wishes to all of your family. It sounds like you, your sibs, and extended family are making the best of a difficult situation.

You are wise to not take your mom back to visit her home. I made a mistake by taking some photos of mom's home and showing them to her in assisted living. She suddenly decided that she could move back home. It is best to let your mom's belongings in her assisted living apartment be her remiders of home.