It's been a predictable series of up days and down days since my mom moved into Delmar Gardens and all in all, it hasn't been as bad as it could have been. The caretakers there are definitely familiar and comfortable with the issues of dementia and it's clear that I won't be getting any more late night phone calls letting me know that she's crying again and could I please come over. It doesn't help with the fact that I know that the crying still happens and that she's still confused and frightened a lot of the time, but at least I know she's with people who won't freak out at the sign of a tear and who know how to redirect and distract her.
The biggest difficulty for me right now is that lately my visits, especially when I come with Nathan, seem to bring her more distress than comfort. I think that she does still enjoy seeing him, but her paranoia has become so acute over the past week, that all she can think about or talk about when we're there is that someone is going to try and hurt him or take him. When I try to assure her that he's safe and that I won't let anyone take him, she becomes very angry at me (she actually hit me quite hard today!) that I don't understand the dire nature of the situation. This had become an issue at Autumn View Gardens as well, so this is nothing brand new, but her distress over the matter seems even more intense now.
Now while I feel like I'm quite sane and reasonable in thinking that there's no way any of the frail little old ladies at Delmar G. are capable of stealing Nathan away from me, Jack has pointed out that if you step back for a moment and look at things with complete objectivity, my mom's concerns don't seem quite so irrational.
- You walk into the place with Nathan on your hip and the event immediately triggers a chorus of, "Baby...baby! Look, look! There's a baby! Oh, isn't s/he precious, look at the baby!" This continues at intervals as the audience forgets and then realizes anew that there's a baby in the room.
- In an attempt to connect with her, the staff frequently asks about Nathan...how's Nathan, how's your grandson, have you seen that little grandbaby of yours, oh, your grandbaby is so cute, I could just take him home with me, etc. It doesn't help matters.
- A few of the ladies insist on trying to pick him up and get very agitated when I intervene. They will continue following him around, calling and reaching for him and grasping at his clothes. Even when I tell them that I'd like some private time to visit with my mother, they still follow us from room to room. Not shockingly, Nathan isn't a big fan of this attention either.
- Many of the women will talk to my mom quite urgently about their own sources of anxiety, most of which are quite firmly based in their personal past histories. Whether it's about a delinquent order of office paper, a sick cousin or the most usual complaint of wanting to go home, the message to my mother usually translates to Nathan being in danger.
But what else is there to do? Even if long-term care insurance covered home care, our house isn't big enough to make that solution workable. I'm still going to check out the new assisted living residence with the memory unit, but since that's a private pay option, we would still eventually need to move back to Delmar Gardens.
So, for now, this is what we're working with. And it's not like there aren't any good days...there were a couple of them last week. It's just that I only seem to manage a blog entry after the bad ones!
An example of the blood-pressure raising color scheme at Delmar Gardens.
The gratifyingly more subdued palette of my mom's room.