Assisted living · Behavior · Caregiver · Grief

In transit / January 14, 2007

My mother in into her third week at Garden Manor, and I can see that she’s settling in. She has a couple of friends she often sits with and she’s gone on a couple of outings. Last week she had her hair cut and permed.

Visiting remains difficult, for both of us, I think. When she sees Liz or me, she begins her lament: she’s anxious, she cries, she has nothing to do, the food is awful, she wishes God would take her, and Why are you being so mean to me? The past few times she’s had her belongings–pictures and clothes–all ready to be packed up. She commands and then she pleads to be taken home.

I’m still working on the timing. I’d been going everyday until last Thursday, when I had the much-anticipated post-traumatic migraine, and apparently she got very agitated when no one showed up. Liz had called to let the staff know that we weren’t coming, but the message got lost in the shift change. When we arrived the following day she demanded to know why we’d deserted her “for days.” We’ve talked to several of the CNA’s and they’ve suggested we come every other day, and at different times of the day, if possible, so my mother doesn’t get stuck in the routine of expecting us at 4 PM. They say the rest of the time she does well.

All I can say is that the caregiving books are right, as far as I’m concerned. I expected the relief to counterbalance the grief/guilt, but not yet. I still go over the situation again and again, wondering if I did the right thing. Worrying if she’s getting her medicine, feeling lonely. I do have moments when I pinch myself because I can run an errand without worrying about her. But all in all, it’s still very odd for me–I can’t settle into my own home until she accepts hers.

We had one visit last weekend that was different. I arrived earlier than usual–about 1 PM–and found her door closed. She was in bed, and I’m not sure whether she was confused about the time of day, or whether she had actually decided to take a nap. I got her up and then sat with her awhile. She was a bit more disoriented than usual, but was also calmer. She never complained or asked to go home. She seemed relaxed and happy to see me, and I stayed for an hour and a half. We talked about her day, and then she finally suggested that I go.

I wondered afterwards if her disorientation had helped her to relocate, if only for that one day. I don’t know what to wish for, at this point. I want her to feel comfortable and secure, but does that mean moving deeper into the dementia?

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