Well. There’s Always Hope…

March 7, 2018 at 12:53 am | Posted in Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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It’s late, I know, but I have to write this down to get it out of my head so I can sleep. Lavender Oil is NOT working tonight…

This year marks the third year since my Mom was first put into a Nursing Home.  Mom, who is suffering from advanced Dementia, used to be a fabulous cook, a great Grandmother (and a Great-Grandmother too), and was someone who fiercely loved her family.  She was many other things too that would take a whole other column to write down.  Now she’s a shell of her former self.

She didn’t plan on living her golden years in a place where she’s lost her freedom and her memories too quickly.  I honestly think that there’s an epidemic among our seniors where they fall into frailty soon after leaving their homes.  I don’t think they wouldn’t be as far gone as they are if they could just stay at home.  The decline in her mental health, so rapidly, is alarming.

There is this one resident who keeps trying to get into my Mom’s room, thinking either that it’s her own, or that it’s ok to go in.  My Mom hates her.  I was standing in the hallway, waiting for my Mom to roll out this past weekend, and this resident approached me.  I was blocking the entrance to my Mom’s room so she couldn’t go in.  I said ‘hello’ and she gave me a big smile.  She told me how much I had grown and would I like to go home now?  I could go in the car with her if I really wanted because I was a good girl.  This woman that my Mom hates is really very nice.  She obviously confused me for someone else, possibly one of her own kids.  She seemed lonely.

When my Sister first brought my Mom to her new home, my Dad was already there and only had months left to live.  They had been married for almost 56 years, and she couldn’t stand to be apart from him.  She was depressed when she was lucid.  When she was having an off day, it didn’t really matter.  The main concern was her safety.  She forgot how to use the stove, and couldn’t remember how to make toast.  Food in the fridge was still good, according to her, even though it may have been long past it’s prime.

Soon after moving into the Nursing home, she forgot how to use the phone.  Whenever she would call me, if I wasn’t home to answer and the call went to voicemail, the recordings were just like those annoying overseas telemarketers… ‘hello?  hello?  Hello!?’.  Now she doesn’t know how to call anyone.  I remember at first it was a combination of funny and frustrating.  ‘Ugh Mom, it’s voicemail, leave a message’.  She would wonder why I’d be so upset.  She didn’t understand.  Most of the time she doesn’t know who I am when I call.  She doesn’t understand the concept of ‘daughter’.  She knows I’m close to her and she loves me, but sometimes I think she just sees me as a nice person who calls.

When she first moved in, she was able to walk, and would do daily laps around the circular corridors inside.  She wouldn’t go outside unless my Brother or I were with her. She didn’t feel safe.  I think she knew she would get lost.  She’s in a wheelchair now.  She no longer has the strength in her legs to hold herself up for more than a few seconds, her muscles have weakened through lack of use.  She falls every couple of weeks.  The last time left a bruise on her cheek from her face colliding with the floor.  ‘Oh it’s nothing’, she says, wondering what all the fuss is about.

Before my Dad passed away, she was very protective of him. She had to know what everyone wanted, and he had to sit next to her all the time.  ‘So I can keep my eye on him’, she’d tell me, quite seriously, paranoia already creeping in.  Every morning, she’d pull his wheelchair into her section of their joined rooms, whether or not he felt like sitting there.  She was the boss.  They would watch TV.

After my Dad passed, she mourned him and to me, she seemed so small and vulnerable. She was alone now.  Stuck in that place forever.

After a while she moved into a private room and seemed to enjoy it.  Flowers were growing on her windowsill.  Her TV sat on a very old Telephone Stand that my Dad restored years and years ago.  Pictures of her family, mostly my kids, were hung everywhere.  If there was a blank wall, she’d fill it with pictures.  She no longer recognizes herself, or most others for that matter, in pictures.  ‘Who’s that?  Do I know him/her?’  Now she either overwaters her plants to the point where a litre or more pours out when I empty them in the sink, or they dry out and wither because she forgot to water them.  She used to have a green thumb.  We always gave her our plants to nurse them back to health.

It saddens me the most that she’s nearly completely forgotten my Dad.  She just glances at the pictures, no longer showing the same interest in pouring over every detail of my kids’ faces, or remembering the time my Dad got his foot caught in the snowbank in one of my favourite pictures of him.  Or the birds that would come to visit on their balcony outside the house they loved deeply for 30 years.

When she first moved in, she was comfortable in her new room and would love to go on outings organized by the home to local restaurants or fall fairs.  We used to find her in her room on our days that we visited.  Sometimes she would be watching TV, sometimes she would be napping.  Now she waits.  The TV hasn’t been turned on in months.  The digital photoframe I got her for her first Christmas there hasn’t been turned on in over a year.  Now she sits in the entrance of her doorway, her neck is always craned in the direction of our approach, but I don’t think it’s us she’s waiting for. She’s waiting for something, maybe it’s hope.  Hope that soon she’ll be able to leave, whether through a transfer to a home closer to her kids, or in the same manner my Dad left…

When she first moved in, although she repeated herself often, her sentences were coherent.  She remembered a lot more.  She could hold a short conversation.  Now she mostly speaks in gibberish, frustrated with her lack of communication.  When she can get the words out, it’s usually in German, a language she hasn’t really spoken since she was a young lady.  She still has good days though.  Those are the ones I cherish the most.  She tells me over and over again how much she loves me, and is so thankful when I call her.  I don’t want to end up that way.  It terrifying hoping you don’t share her fate.  When I forget details, I worry – is this the start?  My body aches and I see myself turning into my Sister who was crippled by arthritis, and that scares me because I once vowed I’d never turn into the miserable hag my Sister was; yet I see the signs.

I too need hope.  Hope that there’s a brighter future in store.  Hope that someday soon she can transfer to a closer facility before she completely forgets us.  Hope that one day it will be better.  I cling to that hope.  It gets me through the day.

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