Alzheimer's disease · Caregiver · Caregiving · Grief · Nursing homes · Role reversal

Transition, part 3 / October 15, 2006

My mother was transferred to the nursing home for rehab on Saturday. She was remarkably “with it” once we arrived. My sister and I were amazed. Of course there were spells of confused talk, but we stayed with her all afternoon, and then I returned for a couple of hours in the evening. I sat and knit, and we tried to talk over the blare of her roommate’s TV. At one point my mother actually said, “What a nice room!”

I, on the other hand, was blown away. I wanted to take her home with me again. I think I would probably have this reaction to any place I had to leave her, but it was accentuated by the contrast between the hospital and its attentive staff, and the slightly less-upscale nursing home with its overworked aides. We arrived, were taken to my mother’s room where a nurse did a quick intake checkup and then left us. She didn’t even have time to introduce us to the roommate, or to share any information about the daily routine. Luckily my mother’s roommate is a sweet woman who filled us in on the basics.

My mother’s room is as far from the nurses’ station as possible. When she had to go to the bathroom, we rang three times with no response, so Liz and I tried to get my mother up and over to the bathroom. But it was too late. My heart was sinking. And then across the hall is a particularly demented man who is verbally abusive to the staff, and especially to the African-American staff. All afternoon and evening he yelled the vilest profanities, all the while my mother’s lovely but hard-of-hearing roommate sat in her wheelchair and watched NFL football. She chatted with us at times, but after hearing her story of the 1938 hurricane for the third time, I needed to go home.

I returned this morning to find my mother “parked” with several other residents at the nurses’ station. She did not know where she was. I wheeled her back to her room and she seemed to calm down–I had brought muffins–and then I took her “walkering” up the hall and back. After this her mood darkened. Liz had arrived and all we sat together, my mother with her face in her hands. “I want to go home,” she said–I knew this would come but it’s got to be the hardest situation for me to face. When I left her (back at the nurses’ station–gloomy and sad) I wanted to cry. And I did cry, when I got home.

This is one of those days when it’s all just too much. Watching her decline, having to say No to her and knowing that she doesn’t understand, imagining her alone in that place. I just pray she will get decent physical therapy (I plan on visiting her everyday and making her walk, myself) so she can move to assisted living. But I know that I’m working through my grief at deciding to let her be taken care of by someone else, and it is hard.

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