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 came into her own very early this morning after spending most of yesterday catching up on sleep. She loved looking at some old family photographs that her sister had sent us several years ago. The one above is my favourite of the big sister of the family with her siblings.
I often think I have turned into a One Trick Pony relying on music to fill our day. I’m hoping that sifting through these photographs, and many others that are tucked away, will provide hours of happy memories and even lead to some life story work.
If Maureen was in a Care Home now I would say ‘she is settling in’. She seems to think we have been on holiday together for the last two weeks and says it would be nice to visit Cleethorpes when the weather improves. Her recollection of happy family holidays here are one of the dominant memories of her childhood.
I’m picking up Maureen from Ashgrove Care Home in a couple of hours. I’m hoping that lots of TLC along with the right music will transform her from the little old lady who was asleep in a chair when I popped in to see her last night. I’m encouraged by the fact that once she warmed up – with the help of a blanket – that the old Maureen was still there: she even invited me to get under the blanket with her!
The Waking Times recently published an article, available <HERE>, outlining the risks associated with taking antidepressants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines. The infographics make sobering reading. Once again I count my blessings that we live in North East Lincolnshire where we staff within NAViGO always weigh up the risks associated with prescribing medication and listen to patients. Maureen and I were delighted when after three weeks assessment in the Konar Suite that the Consultant decided that medication was not needed at this moment in time!
Several people have questioned why I keep a close check on how Maureen is doing when she is in a Care Home. I suppose it all started a couple of years ago when I went to visit her in Ladysmith Road Care Home and found her bruised and battered – as you will see in the picture below. Once again I have erased her eyes to preserve her anonymity.
The Care Home said she fell out of bed: sustaining severe bruising to her face and head. They chose not to send her to the hospital or inform me of the incident, which I found bemusing. Unfortunately, this has not been the only occasion when I have had misgivings about Maureen’s welfare during Respite Breaks.
Imagine my concern a couple of years ago when I received a phone call from Ashgrove Care Home to inform me that the police had found Maureen in someone’s garden and they didn’t even know that she was missing. Then on another occasion, I found her in an unused part of the building in an unlit room struggling to open the door.
I bought my last Respite Break, when Maureen was in Alderlea Care Home, to a premature end. She had not slept in a bed for the duration of her stay and I didn’t warm to residents being unsupervised when I popped in one evening.
There have been times when Ashgrove has been in Special Measures. A new Mangement Team has recently worked closely with the Clinical Commissioning Group to raise standards. From what I’ve seen and heard Maureen is in safe hands. I need to let them get on with their job: they will get in touch with me if there is anything I need to know!
The news from Ashgrove Care Home yesterday was that Maureen is settling in. Apparently, she’s teamed up with an old friend from a previous visit and they were walking around hand in hand.
We seem to have escaped the worst of the Beat from the East at the moment with moderate snowfall. However, conditions underfoot are treacherous and I’m not going out unless it is essential as I can’t risk a fall. Maureen may well be in the best place during this cold snap rather than being stuck with someone who may be experiencing a touch of Cabin Fever!
I took a proverbial hammering on Monday night’/ Tuesday morning as I struggled to cope with Maureen’s presentation. She didn’t know who I was or why I was locking her in a strange house against her will. I hadn’t seen Maureen in this mode for some time and it took a long time before any of my attempts to calm her down had any impact.
Eventually, music led to a temporary break in hostilities. I chose my moment and called up ‘You Are My Sunshine‘ on YouTube. Maureen broke into song as she remembered sitting on her dad’s knee as he sang to her. I then chose music carefully to ease her into a sleeping on the sofa. However, my respite from hostilities was brief as when she awoke a short while afterward the attack resumed.
As dawn broke Roving Carers from our Care Agency arrived to give support in response to my call to Single Point of Access several hours earlier. Apparently, it was a busy night with their services in great demand. They stayed for a short while observing that Maureen was ‘very awake’ and left me to it. Their efforts to persuade her to go to bed had fallen on stony ground. She had left them in no doubt that she wanted to ‘go home’.
I didn’t surprise me that after the shenanigans of a long night that the lion went into Ashgrove Care Home like a lamb. Our Key Worker, as always played a blinder, led her by the hand and the Manager played her part met her part with a helpful greeting of ‘hello Maureen how nice to see you again.’ Within minutes she was being asked how she liked her tea and we left her to it: even lions like to be acknowledged and offered a cuppa!
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.