As a parent, a daughter, and as a friend or just as me, I worry. My biggest worries involve my daughters and my mother-guess that is to be expected.
Each day I call my mother (I have called her every day on the way home from work for years). But suddenly, she is never there. She has moved to a closed unit of an assisted living but disappears all the time. Isn’t that the point of a closed unit? For those of you who haven’t priced assisted living-it will be a shock. For the price of care, I would expect the unit to know where my mother is-but they don’t. I get calls from her caregivers, asking me where she is. I am in Texas. They are in Colorado. How would I know where she is? Her husband, Jim, was living in an apartment in the “non-assisted” side of the center. He would come and take her to his up to his room. They would drink Margaritas (which has been a ritual of his for years) and she would fall asleep in his room. Seriously? They are like teenagers with no parents to watch over them. She is supposed to wear an alert necklace which allows the center to track her but she decided it did not match her outfit and took it off. When the nursing staff told Jim he could not take her off the unit without telling them, Jim, a doctor, told them he could take care her. I don’t think the nurses telling the doctor set well with him even at age 95. He is the doctor and they are the nurses and he will do what he thinks is best.
My mom got angry when Jim decided to move out of the apartment in her building and into a house with his elderly sister. I understand why he would want to do that. It is so much less expensive and his sister enjoys his company. My mother took it as a personal affront. She has been angry and confused about his leaving her since her move to her new room in the new unit.
It is difficult to get her aligned with the program when Jim is constantly taking her somewhere else to do something else. She is not falling into a routine because there is no routine. You might remember, even when I went there to visit her, she was not there and didn’t remember I was coming.
She told me excitedly on Friday that she knew I would be so happy because she and Jim were getting back together!! They have been married 15 years. I didn’t know they were apart. It was like she was telling me the star of the football team asked her out. I was happy she was so happy. But I was confused as well. It’s like a soap opera keeping up with it all.
Yesterday, when I called-she whispered into the phone that bad things had happened that day and she couldn’t talk about it then. I immediately thought of death and dying. I asked if she was alright. No, she said it was really bad. She told me to call back after dinner. I was so worried.
When I called back she was carefree and happy. She said she thought Jim was cheating on her with another women there at the assisted living place-but thankfully, he wasn’t and she was so happy. Oh my goodness, this is nuts. I cannot keep up with daily drama. I don’t know if she has just entered an alternative universe where they are teenagers in high school or what.
I do have a couple of caregivers that go to her place and I get reality checks from them. They help me to understand what is really going on. The other day, I came into the house and there was a phone message from one of them that they couldn’t find my mother. Apparently, she had been gone a long time. She showed up shortly thereafter. I don’t know how to manage her disappearances from Houston.
I never know what (or who) I will face when I call my mom each day. I wish I was closer and I wish this was easier. I should be consoled that at least she still knows she is talking to me, her daughter.
Every day now, I wonder if she will answer the phone. If she does, what does she think is going on and what is really happening? Hopefully, she stays on the unit and doesn’t run off for more margaritas but we sure can’t count on it.
For some reason I feel compelled to comment on this; I have no answers or magic formulas. All I can offer is: just continue to lace the sneakers up tight every day and play hard you will get through it. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Thanks Dave. All I can do.
I know hard this must be for you. I have a story for you. Some time around 2002 my dad met Isobel a widow for 23yrs. She lived over by Shawnee Mission Hosital. They dated for awhile then my dad began spending 2or3 nights over there. Her health began to decline and Dementia set in. She was placed in assisted living and my dad moved into her home to be close to her,and as you can guess she had to be put in a locked unit. My dad visited twice a day taking snacks and pop to her. When my dad was hospitalized just before his death and she did not see him for days she quit eating on the day he died,she passed 5 days later, on the day of his funeral. A constant person in your moms life is essential to her, even when she no longer knows who her husband is, she will recognize him as the person she sees the most and will be comforted by this.
Liz, I would like to use this story in one of my future blogs if that is okay with you. Thanks for reading along. I knew you would remember the boat and Lake of Ozarks as well. Be well my friend!