Friday, May 27, 2011

A problem with beds

Sometimes I think I really shouldn't take her on holiday ever again.

Back in her room she's scribbled nasty notes all over the instruction booklet of her new TV claiming that men keep coming into her room and taking things. If ever I have to sell the TV it will be embarrassing handing over the booklet and with modern appliances you can't even use them without that booklet. I keep removing pens from her but someone gives her pens. I have taken away everything I possibly could to keep it safe from her scribbling and I've hidden the TV booklet.

She keeps taking the pictures off the walls. I wish someone would go into her room when she's in the act of doing these things and tell her to stop. I put the pictures back, she takes them down. Now she's scribbled on the back of the pictures as well. I can see a time coming when the pictures will have to go.

She also keeps packing things. I take away any bags, then she manages to get a grocery bag off someone. I wish the other residents would not give her grocery bags and pens!

When I told the head nurse I was taking her on the plane to Adelaide and then to Kangaroo Island and so on, she was alarmed. She said Mum would revert to the packing behaviour and wanting to get out of there. I was annoyed that she said that but it's true to some extent. So what are you supposed to do, leave your elderly relative in the nursing home and never take them anywhere? Mum loves to travel and I promised her we'd keep travelling when she moved into Five Islands Court, but it's getting too hard.

When we were staying with my daughter she was in the middle of moving house. She was moving into Defence Housing, which is cheaper rental, while her fiance is serving overseas, so there was no-one to help except me.

Defence Housing were to move her in one day, but they misjudged and weren't able to do it. As a result they had to put her up in a motel for the night.

During the travelling back and forth between the two houses, Mum was extremely disorientated. She thought the first house belonged to me and she kept asking me why all my furniture was being taken away. She didn't like the new house at all and said she wouldn't stay there. She wanted to be taken back to the first house. We had to keep telling her over and over what was going on and it's hard on the nerves. I don't know how many times I said, "Loretta is moving house Mum, she's going into Defence Housing."

So Loretta had a motel room with 2 beds. We paid extra to have a portable bed taken in. It was a bed suitable for children. I am quite heavy and if I'd tried to sleep on it I might have broken it, so Mum had to have the portable bed.

She didn't like it. She said she 'always' had the bed by the window in motels. This is not true. She told my daughter she had to give me the queen-sized bed because that's the bed that I always had. I told Mum I was happy with the single bed and as it was Loretta's room and she'd in effect paid for it she should have the big bed. We explained it over and over but it wasn't sinking in. Sometimes she can form new memories if she's told something often enough, but this bed thing was too much for her to take in.

We tried to get her to have a shower. She swore blind she'd had one this morning. We both pointed out we'd been with her all day, every second, and we hadn't seen her have a shower. She was furious - as she always is when showers are mentioned. She was quite clever how she shifted the focus from "I had a shower this morning" which she must have then realized wasn't true, to "You think I'm dirty. You think I never shower. Well, I'm NOT having a shower. You can't make me." By this time, her hair was greasy and dirty from not being washed for several days. My daughter pointed out that she needed to wash her hair. She said she never washed her hair at night, she always had morning showers. The truth is, she's never had morning showers in her life. We did try the positive "You'll feel nice and squeaky clean and sleep better after a shower" line but nothing was going to work so we gave up.

Her focus then shifted back to beds. We managed to get her into the portable bed, where she continued to complain. We went to bed ourselves and turned out the lights, but soon after, she was up, turning on the lights and demanding that I get out of the single bed by the window and let her have it and that my daughter get into the portable bed and let me have the queen-sized bed. She kept repeating that she had paid for the room and therefore she should get the bed she wanted. We couldn't convince her that it was Loretta's room.

You may think we should have just let her sleep where she wanted. But she'd have soon noticed that I was on the queen-sized bed with my daughter, as neither of us could sleep on the portable bed, and that would also have made her angry.

This went on all night. She'd get into bed, then get up again and start tormenting us about beds and whose motel room it was. She said my daughter was awful not to give me the big bed.

Poor Loretta. She had to go to university at 8.30 a.m. the next day. But none of us had had any sleep. At 5 a.m. she sat up in her bed and started to cry very loudly, saying, "I can't stand it any more, I can't stand it!" She was crying so loudly I told her to please be quiet as she'd have been waking up the people in the rooms on either side of us. Mum went to comfort her and put her arms around her and she shouted "Get away! It's all your fault!"

I told Mum it was time to go down to the dining room for breakfast. I wanted to get her out of there so my daughter could get a little bit of sleep before going to university. I asked her to get dressed. She just got angry and said "I'm not leaving Loretta here in this state! We have to stay and look after her!" I kept repeating that Loretta needed to be left alone to sleep. I gave Mum her clothes and told her to put them on. She wouldn't. It went on for at least 30 minutes while Loretta continued to cry. Finally Mum put on her clothes, doing so infuriatingly slowly and deliberately as I've seen her fully dressed in less than three minutes. I took Mum down to the dining room and we stayed there for three hours.

It was absolutely awful. I hope this gives people some insight into why some residents of nursing homes never get to go anywhere!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mum on holiday

We had a great holiday really. We went to the outback and lots of other places. Mum is only ever really happy while out driving in the car. I had to watch her every second of the day to make sure she didn't get into trouble, make things disappear or hurt herself. It's easier to watch her while she's in the car. She's strapped in and can't get into much mischief from there.

Here are some of our holiday photos.

Nearly going crazy

I woke up yesterday morning after coming back from a two week holiday with Mum to Adelaide feeling like I would have a nervous breakdown. I am having trouble coping with all kinds of things. My car needs repairs and I just CAN'T ring up and make a time to bring it in. Boxes of Mum's china and kitchen things are strewn throughout my house which looks like a Chinese brothel, as my grandmother would say, and I just CAN'T even tackle one of those boxes. I need to go to the optometrist. I made an appointment 3 weeks ago and missed it due to extreme stress and inability to focus on anything (with my brain, not my eyes). I need to take Mum to the skin clinic. I can't motivate myself to get an appointment for that either. I feel like I'm falling apart. I guess all carers feel like this at times but it's awful, and frightening. I avoid doing anything by playing Farmville. It calms my mind and makes all my troubles go away. It is absolute hell watching your mother in effect, go insane.

Picture: Farmville

Strange goings-on at the nursing home

When I got to the nursing home today, Mum had a green grocery bag packed with:

*a picture of her cousin Jack Luke in uniform, 1943
*someone else's crocheted rug
*a pair of pyjamas
*spare undies
*the nursing home's washer & hand towel
*the key to the china cabinet which I thought I had put out of sight very high up on a cupboard where she couldn't reach it.
Evidently she's stood on something to get the key. That's very dangerous: why didn't someone notice?

The bag was tied in a knot at the handles. She denied having done it. She said men had been in her room and had packed the bag.

Then she said she thought the china cabinet was cracked. It might be, but I can't find the crack. However I did find a trail of blood down the front of the china cabinet
so she's definitely cut herself during the day.

The china cabinet doors were tied up with a hanky. I asked her why and she said "That woman's boyfriend came in here and got into my china cabinet. He wants my things.
You have to take them all to your place." She also demanded I take two large ornaments and some smaller ones from the top of the kitchen cupboards. I refused to take them. I don't have the room. But I'm starting to understand why some residents' rooms are completely bare. It's not that their sons & daughters are too mean to bring things like books, pictures and ornaments - it's that these residents are causing huge problems with these things.

The lady who is Mum's friend does not have a 'boyfriend'. None of the men in the area have dementia and they certainly don't go into Mum's room.

In the bathroom, she'd put a box of photos next to the sink. In the box, on top of the photos, were:

*hair brush
*2 bottles of perfume, lids missing
*hand cream (2 - none with lids)

When she wasn't looking I put the bathroom things back in the bathroom cabinet & put the photo box inside the wardrobe.

All her family photos were taken down and piled up on top of the wooden bureau. They were very neatly piled up there. Very strange.

On the window sill were all the towels from the bathroom - four of them. They were tucked in around the glass. I asked why and she said there was a nasty wind coming into the
room from the glass which wasn't properly sealed.

I told her that her window was wide open and closed it, then put away all the towels.

When I got home a nurse rang. He told me Mum wants credit put on her phone. I explained to him that I keep delaying doing that, because $15 goes down the gurgler within 2 days
as she rings me incessantly, waiting for the call to go through to the message bank but never leaving a message. Calls are free but the message bank isn't and this is what drains
the phone credit very fast. I said there is no signal for mobile phones in Port Kembla so it's no use her trying to ring me here. That's why the phone is always turned off when I'm home.
The nurse said he'd explain that to her. I will put the $15 on her phone, but it's such a terrible waste of money. I tried to give him the hint that I don't WANT 50 calls every day. That's one of the main reasons I decided she had to go to Five Islands Court - her persistent calls and demands which were slowly but surely driving me to the brink.

Ah well. I wonder what I'll find tomorrow.

I think she'll have a terrible accident in that room. I've taken away the china cabinet key, but she'll forget and try to climb up on the cupboard again. I think due to her craziness in imagining people after her things and packing bags, she'll do something really stupid like climb up there, fall and break something.

I'm surprised that the only damage she did to herself today was to cut herself given the mischief that she's been up to. Everyone went on a bus trip which she refused to go on, so she was probably left to her own devices with only one nurse on duty. No doubt she planned it that way.

Here she is on a recent visit to her grandchildren in Adelaide, 1400 kms away. On the farm where they live is this gorgeous old house.