Sunday, July 24, 2011

Losing Ground on Bathing and Changing Clothes OR Moving Mom into a nursing home doesn’t mean my caregiving days are over…

It’s amazing how quickly good habits gained can be lost in the move to a home – or even a different room in a home.

Mom and I had settled into an excellent working schedule when she lived here with me.  Monday was laundry day, Thursday she had a bath and clean clothes and I washed towels, Friday I changed the sheets on the beds and washed them and on Sunday she put on clean clothes again.  On a daily basis, I cared for her feet and took care of changing her Depends with no issue.  She dressed herself and made her bed each morning and changed to her nightgown on her own each night.
Unfortunately, we lost a lot of ground in the move to the assisted living facility.  Initially she was in the area that was assisted living but for those in far better mental shape than Mom.  She can fool people though and even with our normal schedule written out hour by hour, I think they thought she could handle more herself than she actually could.  I commented multiple times on her dirty hair – Mom has such beautiful white hair when it is washed once a week – but was assured that she was bathing.  Turns out that wasn’t the case, she was just fooling them.

When they finally stepped in, suddenly Mom had someone else trying to bathe her and she was back in the “I’ve been doing this all my life!  I can do it myself!” mode.  Arrrggghhhh!  She yelled at the aides and they backed off.  The person in charge of the aides, Gloria, finally began doing the bath herself and Mom was clean again.
Recently, Mom moved into the area of the home for those in the later stages.  At the same time, Gloria was on vacation.  For two weeks, Mom’s hair was dirty.  I asked and they would check the schedule and say that Mom would be bathed on this day or that.  In the last discussion, I finally learned about the fits Mom was throwing when they tried to do it.  Gloria was back from vacation that day and happened in on the conversation.  I offered to give Mom a bath but she assured me she would see to it that day.  As promised, Mom was bathed head to toe and I let Gloria know she was awesome!
Mom in her new room
Just as when Mom first moved into the home, Mom is not happy right now.  Yes, she was thrilled to have her room moved back there but with the move came other changes to her routine.  For example, the aides check on her during the night – not to wake her but just to see that she is okay.  Also, I had to remove her clothes from her room because she was changing them several times a day and mixing clean and dirty clothes together.  To think that just a year ago I was fighting with her to put on clean clothes!! 
Thankfully, I know that in spite of her grumpiness now, in a couple more weeks she will adjust to the change and won’t remember anything different.  At that point she will be happy again.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned that while Mom may not be living with me any longer, my caregiving days are not over.  I visit two to three times a week and work closely with the management and staff of the home to ensure everything is working well between Mom and her caregivers.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who feels that watching over Mom is important!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Noodle Ball, Toilet Paper Holders and Cookies!

You just never know what you’ll find when you walk in to see Mom!

Last week Mom was able to move to a room in Clare Bridge, the area of the home that is for the more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s/dementia.  Good for Mom but sad because that meant that another resident had finished her journey and passed on.

I wasn’t there when they moved her but evidently she saw her things passing by and immediately jumped in to help.  She’s so happy to have her room there where she can go to it whenever she wants!

I visited the morning of the move and must have arrived shortly after she had settled in.  I had my granddaughter and our little Hurricane with me and when we walked through the door, the residents, including Mom, were playing noodle ball.  What’s noodle ball?  Well, you blow up a balloon and use those foam noodles that you take to the pool to bat the balloon around.  It’s great for stimulating eye/hand coordination and working the minds of the folks there.  You can imagine Hurricane’s reaction…  It was his first visit and it took a few minutes for him to warm up but he was soon playing noodle ball right along with them!

After the noodle ball was over, Mom took us the few steps down the hall to her room.  She was so proud of it!  Just pleased as punch!

Yesterday I visited again and, as is my habit, I went through her drawers to see if there was anything of concern.  I found a half full snack bag she had hidden away and gave it to her to munch on while I continued to look through the drawers.  At first glance, things looked okay but as I looked deeper, I found her purse was full of pretzels and a great big cookie!  The RNA and I had a good laugh about that as she took the purse out to empty it.

I also noticed that Mom had tucked various pieces of clothing in the drawers.  My nose doesn’t work too well but I suddenly got a whiff of something and as I worked my way through the clothing, I found an obviously soiled shirt – good thing my husband wasn’t there because the smell wasn’t pleasant.

Once my foray into Mom’s dresser was finished, we headed out to the hall to do some walking.  Mom wanted to go outside but I had to tell her no because of the extreme heat we’re experiencing.  So, we just kept walking around the hall.

As we were walking, one of the gentlemen came out of his room carrying a toilet paper holder – the little springy thing that you put the roll of toilet paper on.  He was telling me something about it with a big smile on his face.  It’s so much fun to interact with the residents!  I alerted one of the staff and she checked in his room to see if he had taken it from there.  No, so into the next room to check.  Sure enough, he stole it from someone else’s room.  It must have been the day for it because I also learned that one of the other gentlemen had just pulled his entire toilet paper holder off the wall leaving a big hole in the drywall!

What fun!  Never a dull moment, that’s for sure!