I’m convinced there are Black Holes in Care Homes. There is no other explanation for where some of Maureen’s gear goes whenever she is in Respite Care. Relentless searches by care staff at Ashgrove have so far failed to unearth her a pair of tights, trousers, and slippers. If she realises that her slippers are missing we are in real trouble as they are special to her as her sister bought them for her. The Black Hole in Ashgrove must suck in slippers as a pair went missing on a previous visit. Perhaps we have got off lightly this time as her watch went when she was in Alderlea. Thankfully she has forgotten that this special present from her son is missing. She wore it every day despite the fact that she can no longer tell the time.
Last night Maureen’s aunty came round to look at those old photographs I had found. It was so sad to see two people who used to be in fits of laughter in such a sober state. Even reminiscing with someone who had shared those times failed to cheer Maureen up for long. When I looked across at them Maureen looked years older than her aunt.
I’m struggling to find ways of lifting Maureen’s mood. This morning she ‘feels useless and wants to die’. I know that feeling well from my periods of depression. I’m also well aware this is not a chemical imbalance and antidepressants are not the solution. She doesn’t need to be taking tablets that don’t work and are likely to give side effects. Thank goodness my daily visits to the gym are helping my mood: Black Holes may be inevitable but I have to avoid the Black Dog, as Churchill labelled depression, at all costs!
There may have been times in our lives when we might have welcomed a loved one saying they couldn’t live without us. Maureen’s cry of helplessness when she woke up this morning had quite the opposite effect: it brought tears to my eyes. As I helped her to find her way to the bathroom I reassured her that it was only a matter of time until she regained her confidence and became her old self again.
There were some good moments yesterday. None better than returning from shopping and hearing Maureen and Our Little Gem singing this one:
The girls were in hysterics when I picked up a sweeping brush and danced around the Sun Room as they sang along. OLG is such a thoughtful carer she had bought us the Mary Poppins LP to add to our collection.
We are now down to four items that are missing from Maureen’s stay in Ashgrove. I called in there twice yesterday to reclaim more of the missing items. One of the carers is on a mission to find the rest of the gear. I hope she comes across Maureen’s favourite blanket and slippers.
Maureen continues to be very sleepy and more confused than I recall. I’m not sure if this is further progression of dementia or the result of a couple of weeks in a Care Home. I hope that a few more days of being back in the old routine will ease my concerns.
Maureen lived by herself for eight years following her divorce. During that time she slept with a hammer, very similar to the one below, beneath her bed:
After the events of last night, I’m wondering if I should retrieve it from the garage and put it in a place where it is accessible to her. Around 2.30 am I assisted her to find our downstairs toilet. It took her a while to find her shoes that had clearly been ‘stolen and worn by someone else’. After relieving herself she made her way upstairs declaring ‘she wouldn’t stay here much longer’. Then the hammer entered into her thinking.
As she slipped into bed she said ‘she was fed up with men messing with her against her will’. She wondered ‘why they didn’t mess with their own children or wives? Then she said ‘she would be ready for them the next time as she would hit them with a hammer!’
I think the events of early this morning add substance to the <ARTICLE> by Susan Macaulay on memories being far from linear when you have dementia.
Maureen woke several times during the night in distress. I spooked her after a toilet break when she let out a deafening scream fearing someone had come out of the cupboard to attack her. A little later, she was concerned about the whereabouts of her mum. A short while afterward she was complaining that they were wanting her to sleep with horses. Then she was crying for her dad so I sang her a song he used to sing for her:
On Friday I bit the bullet and cancelled our forthcoming trip to Thoresby Hall to celebrate my birthday. After a lot of consideration, I decided it would be unkind to subject her to a long car journey and three days in a strange place. Perhaps, the time has arrived to find a way of celebrating every day!
Maureen woke early this morning crying that she wanted to go home. She said that she felt useless here and could cope with anything when she lived at home with her parents. I’m going to see if following Bob DeMarco’s advice eases her distress:
There was a period of real concern yesterday when the Emergency Services were disagreeing over their powers under the Mental Capacity Act. Maureen was clearly vulnerable, cold and at risk of injury from passing traffic yet, the people on the ground felt powerless to direct her into the waiting ambulance. Fortunately, the staff at my Brother’s Nursing Home came to her rescue and helped her to get the assessment she needed.
This isn’t the first time I have come across problems with getting Maureen to a place of safety when she has been distressed. On our way to the hospital, our Paramedic outlined how the Emergency Services were often at odds with each other as they try to cope with inadequate resources.
Maureen is very confused this morning convinced that she has two young children to contend with. She is exhausted after the events of yesterday.
I was naive to think I could solve the problems over the lack of visits from her family by taking her to see them. She had a lovely time with two of her grandchildren yesterday evening Maureen but woke up crying this morning because ‘she never sees her family.’
Maureen never ceases to amaze me with her resilience in the face of adversity.
She awoke at 2.30am completely lost: terrified that she couldn’t remember anything.
Two hours later, with a cup of tea in hand, she is singing this one:
She is currently getting ready to travel to Coventry as she wants to cheer my mum up.
That wife of mine is simply AMAZING!
When the going gets tough I often sing silly songs to Maureen by changing the words to lift her mood. Very early this morning she was beside herself as she felt unable to build a boat. No matter what I said I couldn’t shift her from her focus on feeling ‘useless’; until I swapped Maureen for Michael in this one:
Once I got the song underway her despondency changed to hysteria and it took a while before I was able to coax her back to sleep.
Today’s Carer commented that Maureen looks tired at the moment. This isn’t surprising as she never made it to her upstairs bedroom while she was in Alderlea. She refused point blank to get into their lift – I’m not surprised as it reminds me of something from the Dark Ages.
It is vital that Maureen gets good rest when she is in a Care Home. Slumbering in an armchair or sleeping on a sofa is not recuperative when she spends a larger portion of the day on her feet. It is difficult enough to get someone who fears being attacked to sleep in a downstairs room: persuading them to go upstairs is never going to be a viable option.
Yesterday I made a late evening visit to see Maureen in Alderlea Care Home.
I was puzzled by the absence of staff from the Resident’s Lounges.
I had to summon staff after I intervened when a resident was being assaulted
I will raise my concerns with appropriate personnel this morning.
I need to bring this Respite Break to a premature end.