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Good News Re: MC!
My mother has been in MC for a little over two weeks. Due to my mother's anger/accusations toward me caused by the dementia-induced delusions/paranoia, I want to wait a month to allow the medications to get into her system before I visit. Regardless, I've spent many hours in grief and tears wondering "Is she scared; does she think her worst fears have materialized & my step-father & I truly did want to put her "in a nursing home" (her reason for fighting us when we brought her meds to her and the last thing we wanted), "Does she feel "trapped" going from an approx. 3500 sq. foot house to a studio apartment?" and on and on.
Last week while I was at their home to select some clothes, skin care, make-up, jewelry, etc. for her the Manager of the MC portion of the AL facility called. Step-father (SF) placed her on speaker phone so I could hear/speak with her (Toni). This was my first contact with anyone from the facility as SF has been busy with all the paperwork, financial arrangements, co-ordinating medical appointments, and discussing what type of "extras" are permitted such as Mother's favorite reclining chair, refrigerator, etc. Once the dust settled a bit I'd planned to make an appointment to speak with Toni so I could make her aware of who I am plus ask questions from a daughter's perspective. I was able to begin this process during the phone call. After my introduction and a few question I asked how Mother was getting along "over all." In an enthusiastic voice, Toni said, "OH! She is SUCH a delight!! She's currently with other residents listening to music." I literally felt a weight lift off my shoulders.
Having some familiarity with this facility and the fact that it is primarily a Seniors Apartment facility in that one does not have to be impaired nor need medical assistance to live there "listening to music" is likely not the image I've seen in movies of pitiful-looking elderly people in an equally pitiful-looking common area with a radio playing but, rather, a scheduled event. I know this facility provides a myriad of social interactions including classes and entertainment. Given their property adjoins that of my apartment complex, separated by a chain fence and a line of trees, I've often heard a band playing on their patio in the evening for holidays. It made me feel good that Mother is out in common areas and socializing.
My step-sister (SS) visited her on Tuesday. She first visited with her in the common area then did go to her room. (I'll post a separate thread re: the visiting protocol.) SS told Mother that my SF will be having a small refrigerator delivered soon. Mother said she didn't need one. SS said it would be a good place to keep her sparkling water. Mother said "Oh, they bring that to me." SS then suggested at least she could keep ice in it so the water would be cold. "They bring that to me as well." When my SF relayed this to me on the phone, we were both chuckling because Mother had gone from one who would immediately jump up to get anything we mentioned - if I was visiting and said I was going to get a glass of water, Mother would say, "I'll get it!" and I would have to encourage her to relax and I'd get it - to wanting to be waited on the last six months she was at home, which we did.
The account from Toni is very similar to reports from the nurses when Mother was in the hospital: "She is so sweet and nice; enjoys spending time in the common area." The only time they had an issue at the hospital is when another person was put in her room; Mother closed her eyes tightly and refused to respond to the nurses so it's very evident Mother was not pleased to "share" the attention she was getting from the nurses and is totally enjoying people doing things for her. Her lifetime was spent putting everyone else in her life first so I'm so happy she is now on the receiving end.
SS also told Mother that SF had her on the waiting list for an apartment that would include a patio. Mother's response to that was that she didn't want to move because she enjoyed the location; her window overlooks the busy street and she enjoys that. So many times during her life Mother mentioned to me that she would have enjoyed living in a city area. Until I was 13 we lived in a very nice suburban neighborhood in the late 50's-early 60's - but during a time that suburbs were in the middle of nowhere and one had to drive quite a distance to get to stores. We did live in a city when we moved to North Miami Beach in 1967; Mother still says that was the happiest time of her life. After remarrying, she was back to living in various suburbs and felt "isolated." Now she can watch the "life" going on outside her window.
If anyone had told me that my mother who, although felt isolated in the suburbs, DID enjoy having a large home and many items (furnishings, clothes, jewelry, anything!) that she enjoyed, would be content, and apparently happy, in a studio apartment, I wouldn't have believed it. Something that has come to mind the last few days is that with the loss of memory possibly comes different perceptions. As an example: After my grandfather (Mother's father) had been in MC for quite awhile, some family members thought he would enjoy celebrating his birthday at home. Mother said that most of the time he looked confused and frightened and she realized this was not a positive experience for him; he was now more comfortable in his familiar, smaller surroundings. I think that is likely how my mother is feeling and, again, that particular weight (which was a HUGE one) is off my mind! My hope is this will help those of you who may be considering AL or MC.
SonShine Lady, I'm so glad your mom's move had such a wonderful result. My mom's didn't. Tomorrow it'll be 4 weeks that she moved to MC. As we were still under lock-down, it was extremely stressful to me not to be able to go in and confirm that she was comfortable and her room was appropriately set-up. I was also very anxious about how she would feel in this strange environment. Moreover, she had to be quarantined the first 10 days, keeping her mostly isolated in her room and going through several covid tests in the meantime.
In an effort to provide her with a way to keep in contact with the family, I installed a phone in her room. Boy, did she use it! She used it to complain 24/7 about everything. For 2 weeks straight I heard nothing but complaints until I couldn't handle it anymore and stopped answering her calls and listening to her voicemails. So she started calling other family members, and then calls to 911 started. After the 2nd call to 911 and a threat to call a 3rd time, the MCC removed the phone from her room.
Before they removed the phone from her room I was able to visit her as Essential Caregiver. I went to her room to check on all her complaints. There was nothing to complain about. The TV, the computer, the refrigerator, the bathroom, the bed, the cables... no problem with any of it. The food... don't get me started. But it's been years that she dislikes food of all kinds because she has lost her taste, so we already knew she would complain about that.
Following advice received here I contacted the head nurse and explained the situation to her. They devised a care plan that included more activities for her and lots of dr. checkups. The nurse sent me a couple of days ago a video of my mom having fun participating in activities at the MCC. I'm sure that when I visit her I will only hear complains about everything again and she will never mention she is actually having a good time.
In hindsight, it might have been a mistake to install a phone in her room as it allowed her a means to delay adapting to her new surroundings, but I was very concerned about her feeling abandoned and scared while in quarantine.
Also, other more experienced members told me it could take up to a couple of months for a new resident to adapt to the new living situation. My mom says I've locked her in a madhouse, that she is trapped, that nobody helps her with anything, that I want to keep her drugged and behaving like a stupid person, that she is in danger, that they are stealing her clothes, that they are taking "everything" away from her, etc. Not everyone adapts so easily. You've been blessed with the results of the transition.
@End-of-Rope: I'm so sorry you've had a difficult time with MC transition. Everyone is different and in different stages of the illness. It was a battle to get my mother to even take her thyroid med, never mind the memory med, two+ years ago when she was first diagnosed with "mild cognitive disorder" because of her fear "we were trying to place her in a nursing home." We heard this excuse for not taking her medication at least twice a day for a solid two years so we are surprised and pleased she has taken so well to her new surroundings. However, while two years ago she was yelling and vigorously fighting against taking the meds, more recently, especially with her BP spiking and her feeling awful, she was weaker and just mildly protested. SF said at home she just wandered through the house - back and forth - or sat in her chair staring straight ahead for hours so her physical condition was changing. Now at MC her BP has stabilized. SF is wondering if their daily battles over meds was affecting her BP.
She was quarantined for a week. I don't know if your mother uses a smart phone but my mother, at 87, doesn't even like PC's much less smart phones, so she's never used one and doesn't have a phone in her room. I asked my SF recently if we could have the type of phone she's used to ie. regular cordless phone that is connected through the cable provider like she had at home & like the one I use. (I don't use a smart phone either!) I do want her to be able to call me if she would like. Before she went to MC she had also stopped using the phone. At present calls are received by an employee on her floor & the phone taken to her.
It sounds like you're the sole caregiver, which would definitely be extremely stressful and, iirc from previous posts, you're also working (please forgive me if I have mistaken you for someone else) so juggling those two full-time jobs is extremely difficult. My stepfather (89), as mother's healthcare surrogate, PoA, etc. made all the initial arrangements but it was frustrating not to be able to go inside the three facilities we considered and had to rely on feedback from resident families we found online, SF noted inconsistencies with one of the facilities when comparing it with a second and discovered it was not including all the "extra fees." We did the best we could "flying blind" but thus far are very satisfied.
I personally have chosen not to visit my mother for a minimum of a month due to the state of her delusions regarding me, wanting her to get familiar with her new home, and have the meds more stable in her system. SF was thinking of going next week but he's in the same situation as I re: her delusions and doesn't want to upset her until some time has gone by. Based on my step-sister's visit, we both are assured she's fine. I, too, was filled with grief and anxiety when she was initially admitted; concerned she'd be frightened, feel abandoned, etc. Now I know she's in a safe place where she won't be going outside and be found sitting in the middle of the road and that she is taking her much-needed meds regularly. I pray your mother will become more acclimated soon or (others have more experience in this than I) - maybe a different facility would work better for her - or others in your situation may have other suggestions. Hang in there!!!