Alzheimer's disease · Assisted living · Caregiver · Caregiving · Friendship

Pictures / February 6, 2007

I haven’t been wanting to write much lately. I’m feeling tired and uninspired, just trying to deal with the ups and downs of this spell.

A routine is starting to take shape: I visit my mother on Tuesdays and Thursdays right after work. I leave the library at 3:30 and get to Garden Manor by 4. I sit with my mother until dinner, which is served at 5. For the past two Sundays we’ve gone out to lunch and then for a short ride. This seems to be working well for her, although she has accused me of not visiting “for weeks” when I let two days elapse between visits.

We had a very nice visit today. I found my mother in the common room, watching TV with several others. She looked happy to see me and, although she did mention hoping to go home, she seemed calm and settled. We sat in the airy central area and were joined by a woman who is very sympatico with my mother–they react to each other the way I remember reacting to my best friend in grammar school. One day as I walked my mother to the dining area, this woman emerged from her room and they both lit up. “Have you met Mary?” my mother asked me as they held hands for a few moments. Today we discovered that my mother and Mary were born on the same day.

Today was what I hope will come to pass for my mother. Companionship, security, warmth and care. I hope visits like this one will become more frequent, that I’ll be able to relax when I’m not with her, that I’ll come to believe that she isn’t always sadly thinking about what was taken away from her.

The place isn’t perfect, but I can see that I can improve her care by being there frequently and getting to know the staff. There are a couple of CNAs on her wing that are exceptional. The place is very clean and my mother is always dressed in clean clothes, her hair brushed. She told me that the podiatrist visited the other day, and the local lab draws her blood for her there. There are pictures of residents at various activities posted everywhere–my mother has gone on a few outings. When I see the activities director he lets me know what she’s up to.

I’ll know she feels secure when the pictures stay up. I had brought several photographs for her room, and whenever I visit I find them stacked up on her bedside table. Each time I will put them back on the windowsill and the wall–where they belong–only to find them stacked on her bedside table the next time I visit. She claims she needs to have them packed up for her eventual move back home, and so they’ve become a symbol of this transition. As long as they are stacked on the table my mother is still making the journey. When she arrives, maybe the pictures will go up.

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