Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The saga of the wheelchair and hospice continues…

As you can imagine, Mom did not understand that she needed to stay in the wheelchair even after I told her it was hers and it would be better for her feet to be elevated.  A couple other things happened along the way too.

In my last update, I mentioned that my husband adjusted the leg supports of the wheelchair.  They went up and down and he had adjusted them for the length of her leg.  It was great!  That didn’t last long…
At my next visit, the chair was in Mom’s room and the legs supports had been removed.  Mom was sitting in the living room in her normal chair with her feet propped up on her stool.  Evidently communication was not what it should have been among the various shifts and the word had not been spread that Mom should be in her wheelchair as much as possible per the doctor’s orders.
In addition, when I went to get the chair and put the leg supports back on, someone had over extended them and they would no longer adjust up and down.  Back to the drawing board!
Tina, Mom’s former caregiver, happened to be there to visit and we spent a long time talking about the recent diagnosis and the issues with the wheelchair.  The director happened to stop back and Tina, the director and I spent some time talking about next steps.
So, I brought the issue to the attention of all the right people and they sent it up the flagpole to supposedly the right hospice people but two more visits and the leg supports were not fixed and Mom was not yet spending enough time in the wheelchair.  This time the director sent word up the flagpole herself and a new wheelchair arrived that day.
There was still the issue of communication among the shifts.  Mom was being handled differently by the various caregivers and I soon found that her normal caregiver, Melissa, was getting mixed messages.  On my next visit, Mom was not in the chair and could barely stand.  I got the wheelchair, installed the leg supports (that had again been removed) and with the help of the hospice aide, got Mom set up in it properly.  When I took Mom into lunch, I asked if she could stay in the chair to eat and Melissa was sooo happy!  She had really been concerned about Mom’s difficulty transferring from chair to chair and wanted to keep her in the wheelchair but wasn’t sure it was okay.
You may wonder why I would want to keep her in the wheelchair if she wants to walk.  My friend, an RN, explained that in Mom’s condition, the goal is to keep her in the wheelchair enough that she forgets walking.  I was already concerned that at Mom’s age, dealing with cancer and dementia, the last thing we need is to add the complication of a broken bone.  We’ve been lucky so far but we can’t guarantee that Mom will continue to bounce.
Have I solved the issues?  No.  Melissa told me that she puts the wheelchair in front of Mom and sometimes Mom accepts it because she knows she is in pain.  Other times, Melissa turns to find Mom walking down the hall.
The lesson in all of Mom’s time at the assisted living facility is that the caregivers there will follow the path of least resistance.  It’s important to be involved and keep a close eye on your loved one in any facility.
When she first arrived, it was bathing.  They would suggest but wouldn’t ensure that it happened.  I had to step in and do the bathing myself before they took it seriously and made it through Mom’s objections to her acceptance.  There were more bumps with a change of caregiver but again I stepped in and it smoothed out.  Mom has experienced another change with hospice.  A hospice aide now comes in to bathe her and although Mom has complained, Arlene has gently moved her through the process each time and eventually Mom will complain less.
There have been other things Mom has railed at but they were less important.  You have to pick your battles.  Who will win the wheelchair battle?  Only time will tell…
Mom holds the baby as Arlene dries her hair after her shower.
Nice and clean!  Mom felt the baby's toes and said she was nice and warm in her blanket.