Thursday, August 16, 2007

Visiting Mother in the Nursing Home in Tennessee

It's not so bad. My sister said the smell of urine was prevalent, but I did not find it so. Of course, one of the symptoms of dementia is a loss of sensual acuity, so perhaps when I left the facility the head woman should not have said, "Good by."

Maybe she should have said, "Rain check."

Mother didn't recognize me. I don't think she did. She clammed up after her initial observations:

* I'm so frightened

* I don't know what to do

* I'm going to kill myself by jumping out the window

* I'm going to use a knife to kill myself.

Thus, her silence was not entirely unwelcome, even though my sister said her silence was a first, so perhaps she did recognize me, and the recognition was not entirely happy. More tomorrow. I'm assuming this is the last time I'll see her alive. but you never know. The mind fails, and the pulse beats on.

7 comments:

Marianaria Sra. bibliotecaria said...

Hang in there. My mother spent her last two years in a series of hospitals/board&care/nursing homes, with dementia and other problems. Those were the hardest two years of my life.

My main advice: get some help. Eldercare Services in my area (it's not a chain, so not in yours; I think the online address is eldercareanswers.com) had wondereful nurses and other staff to help me: I work full time and couldn't attend famly meetings with the staff, etc. Yes, help costs money, but its worth it, provided, of course, there is some. I worried that my mother might outlive her money -- more stress at the time.

Talk to someone about how seriously your mother's feelings about suicide should be taken.


Good luck.

jini said...

this is a very hard thing to handle. my mom was in a nursing home with alzheimers for 7+ years and usually not aware of who was visiting or even who she was. there were these little windows that occasionally opened and she would be "there" for a bit of time. each episode surprised me and it was like a little gift. it didn't last of course, and in a way it was disconcerting, making me wonder for just a scary moment if she was always in there and unable to communicate.
it's a weird time in your life that's for sure! i agree about alerting the nurses about her suicidal thoughts. there is probably an alzheimers assn near you that has info and suggestions if you are interested in that.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Thanks for the kind thoughts and good advice. Mom has one thing going for her: my sister, who lives five minutes from the nursing home and is keeping a close eye on mother's welfare. The "depression expert" -- whatever that means -- is going to consult on mother's continuing case of the deep deep blues. They are trying different antidepressants. Also, my sis and I talked over mother's remarks with her nurse, Keith, who seems unusually kind, unusually caring. To be honest, at the moment I worry more about my sister than my mom. Mother is deep in the fog. My sister knows exactly what's going on, and even though she is psychologically solid -- very solid -- it wears on her. But again. How kind of others to share their experiences and concern. It helps. It helps.

Andrew said...

Here's a hard one to spit out, but if in doubt tell the truth, as someone once said. I eventually lost touch with a mother I'd been so close to all my life, as she stumbled into a fog of grief and confusion, following my sister's decision, at 35, to take what soccer pundits call early doors. My mum had less than one rotten year in a nursing home -- Dad, being the hardly tough guy he could be, when he wanted to, managed a three-year stint on what my sister called Death Row -- before slipping off in the night, unannounced. She was never one to make a fuss. Prior to that Mum did three years alone in a council house, sometimes venturing out only to walk several miles, even in the rain, to visit my Dad, who she hated. This is indeed Pythonesque in its grotesqueries, a joke that both mum and dad might have appreciated, mum being the quintessential harmless little old lady who suddenly spits out some comic savagery, some of it of the gallows humour genre. The point of this, apart from empathizing with Michael and his family, is to say, with all due respect and with compassion, that I feel quite strongly - from my own experiences, and quite frankly out of self-love for my possible future degenerated form -- that someone in these kinds of circumstances ought to be allowed to take early doors. I hope I am airing what many people feel, as we get older and look about us, and not speaking out of turn.

Andrew said...

Can I please be the first person to note the hard(l)y tough guy Freudian slip?

Anonymous said...

It makes the last couple of generations' fitness craze seem like folly. You'll have a sturdy body that will keep on long after the mind left the building. Tell me how this makes sense. Eat, drink and make merry for tomorrow you'll be demented.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I do not disagree with Andrew. Physician-assisted suicide should be an option, though the limits and controls must be carefully worked out. The devil really is in the details. But I don't think -- and I doubt Andrew does -- that euthanasia is the answer for those whose dementia shades into depression and then into despair. This is too complicated an issue to be dealt with in six sentences! I suppose I tend toward the application of the Olde Pussycat Principle, that is, as long as old Hairball eats, old Hairball lives. That's our implied contract with our cats. Same thing (very generally) with people. Mother has gained five pounds since moving into the home. That's her verdict on continuing on.