Be afraid… Be very afraid.
Last Monday we ended our memory care battle with Monterey Court by beating a hasty retreat and taking our mismatched curtains with us. Oh, and Mom. We took her too.
It actually wasn't that much of a battle; they were sincerely trying to make Mom's residency work, but there just wasn't enough staff and resident engagement to pull it off. Mom vacillated between wretched and despondent, with a touch of aggression thrown in for good measure. The Other Girl and I could no longer justify buying ourselves some freedom at the expense of her all-encompassing misery.
So, she's back home. And while I wouldn't exactly say she's happy (that's a very tall order for dementia) she is back to her normal dementia anguish with a chaser of contentment cocktail. Her first night home The Other Girl whipped up a batch of blueberry pancakes for dinner, Mom's favorite, and received this beautiful face in thanks.
(In case you can't tell, that is a smile. Although... now that I look at it closely, it could also double as a "I'm gonna blow your brains out!" face too. I guess we should put a loaded gun next to her sometime and put our smile hypothesis to the test. Screw that! We're not that brave.)
My biggest fear in moving her home was that she'd trot on back into our lives 24/7 with the aggressive behaviors she had grown so fond of in memory care. But that has not been the case. Well, sort of not the case.
We are seeing some holdover. For instance she is quite smitten with the word "NO!" and hurls it at our heads every chance she gets, but after two and a half years of care giving "NO!" is a pretty flimsy attack, easily batted away as we maneuver her through her world.
Also, showering now offers a lot more theatrics. Oh, how the maiden swoons! Oh, how the tears flow! Oh, how the protestations protest too much! Mom's even thrown a little horror-movie acting into her repertoire. To get out of taking a shower the other day she bared her teeth at me, morphed her hands into claws, and growled wildly! My first response was shock, then amusement; I chuckled her on into the shower anyway and I've been wondering ever since how I can turn her new performance skills into some sort of Halloween party parlor trick.
We originally decided to put Mom into memory care because her progression was getting beyond us, and for me especially; I was losing my kindness, my patience, my temper in the exasperation of it all. But after having a very expensive five week vacation, I've realized that the stress of Mom being at home is much less then the stress of Mom being some place that was ill-equipped to keep her engaged and content. While I'm still in a mighty struggle to keep my cool, I sleep better at night knowing she is peacefully snoring away in the comfort and familiarity of her own home.
So, she's back. It ain't ideal, but we've made the right move...