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 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!
We had a lovely time on my birthday: just the three of us. When I danced with Suzie to Stevie Wonder, as Maureen lay in bed she declared it was her birthday as well. Suzie either sits on a chest of drawers or the windowsill of our bedroom. She is really special to us as she belonged to Maureen’s late daughter. There is a lovely picture just behind Suzie (pictured below) of Maureen and Denise’s daughter: Maeve played with her many times when she was younger.
This morning Maureen has been troubled by hallucinations. Very early on, she was concerned that we were going to be eaten by animals. However, she assured me that if they came for me she would chase them off. Later on, she woke up worried that her mother was ill and she needed to get to her urgently. On both occasions, I did my best to reassure my dear wife- not easy when you have been woken from a deep sleep!
I often wonder where Maureen’s troublesome thoughts (hallucinations?) come from. It is possible that her dreams become reality when she wakes up in the night: every couple of hours at the moment. The dangerous animals were in the Arboretum in Nottingham; somewhere that Maureen passed through daily on her way to High School. Her mother was suffering from a sore throat something which Maureen had been troubled with earlier in the week.
Maureen is going into Ashgrove Care Home for a couple of weeks on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to getting some much-needed rest and catching up with lots of people.
When I returned home from my Buddhist Meditation Class last night Maureen gave me short shrift. If looks could kill I would not be Blogging this morning. How fortunate that Neil had been teaching on the delusion of anger and the importance of patience: he couldn’t have chosen a more relevant topic!
There is no point in getting angry that dementia is a constant in our lives: nothing good ever comes from such a delusion. The Buddhist message from last night is to accept what comes your way as karmic seeds ripening and then decide if there is anything you can do about it. I eventually decided that there was little I could do about Maureen’s focus last night: nothing seemed to shift her from my shortcomings. In the end, I made sure she was safe, went to bed and left her to rant.
This morning Maureen has been obsessed with looking for her friend to accompany her to the cinema. It took ages to shift her reality with music once again opening the door to a change in focus. Once I called up one or two of her favourites on YouTube her presentation temporarily became a little more favourable. Unfortunately, she is currently struggling to know who I am and wants to go home.
Girl Thursday will be here in a couple of hours and that will give me a chance to progress some things I can do something about. I need to urgently sort out my next Respite Break: patience is not easily accessible when you are worn out!
Footnote: As much as we loved having a baby in the house yesterday we have decided we don’t want any more additions to our family. As I’m 72 tomorrow we have decided it is sensible to call it a day on that front!
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!
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.’
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.
It is always good when you have placed a loved one in a Care Home to hear that they have settled. During my time at Madhyamaka, I phoned up Alderlea Care Home several times to hear such reassuring words. However, once I got my first stint of dental treatment out of the way yesterday I decided to ‘pop’ to see my ‘settled wife’.
I telephoned before my early afternoon visit to check that my presence wouldn’t upset the apple cart. I got the green light along with a request to bring in some additional clothing as she was currently clad in her dressing gown and Pj’s. What they didn’t add was that her top was back to front and her pants inside out. She also had socks on and one slipper that didn’t belong to her.
Maureen seemed very settled when I saw her singing Christmas Carols as she stood trying to adjust her attire. She didn’t seem particularly interested that I had turned up as she sang along to one carol after another. I eventually joined her on a sofa and held her hand for a while – she told me ‘we didn’t need permission’ for such behaviour. I only stayed for an hour as I had to return for further dental treatment.
Maureen was far from settled when I returned to Alderlea around 8 pm. She was very distressed that she would need to ‘sleep on the floor because there were no beds available at her hotel’. She was very pleased to see me and introduced me to a couple who had been looking after her. Maureen mistakenly believed they were deaf and dumb. She continued to make hand signals to them for a while but eventually joined in with the gentleman when he burst into song.
Maureen told me that she was exhausted as she had been walking around all day. However, when I eventually found her room she couldn’t get out of there fast enough. At ten ‘o’ clock I was encouraged to go home so that staff could get on with their night time routines.
I have only had a glimpse of what it is like to be ‘settled’ in Alderlea Care Home. My initial impression is that staff are constantly under pressure to meet the complex needs of their residents. Last night a resident had fallen and staff had to focus on keeping her comfortable until the paramedic arrived. They would have missed some of the things that I saw going on and they would have been unaware that Maureen received more than her fair share of vitriol from another resident whose ‘tiredness’ had apparently taken its toll on her presentation.
My Admiral Nurse told me some time ago that ‘she wouldn’t leave her cat with someone she didn’t know’. Hearing your wife is settled can be reassuring when you are away from home – seeing what that means is another matter. To use the local lingo you can guess where I will be ‘popping’ or even ‘nipping’ to in the next few days. I have to check if they are ‘kitten’ me!
I’m counting the nights of sleep until Wednesday; rather than looking forward to the arrival of Santa. Following little sleep, in the last few days, Maureen will be going to Alderlea Care Home on Wednesday morning, for a slightly earlier than scheduled Respite Break. If I’m sensible I will be able to hold the fort until then after a very difficult few days and nights.
Yesterday evening, things became very challenging shortly after ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ when Maureen became convinced that a baby was in danger of hypothermia. It took me a long time to convince her that the poor little mite was safely wrapped in a blanket.
During the night she woke several times; initially convinced we were about to go into battle. Then she was searching for a missing teenage grandchild. Later on, she was shouting for her mum because she thought she had swallowed a marble. She then returned to the missing baby theme as I was making her an early morning cuppa.
I always try to go with Maureen’s reality and resist arguing with her concerns. However, on a couple of occasions, I have found it difficult to provide the reassurance that she is obviously seeking. When I told her that her granddaughter was probably tucked safely up in bed in Coventry she called me a liar. Obviously, I got that one wrong but when you are woken in the middle of the night it’s not easy.
Today’s carer will be here at noon and I’ll be heading off to the Sauna and Spa at Cleethorpes Leisure Centre!