The Transition and an Addendum
Updated: Aug 27, 2018
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new."
Like Socrates before her, Mom has been building on the new quite nicely during this transition. While I've been tripped up fighting to let go of the old life, she has accepted and adapted to her new home and companions with minimal amounts of anxiety and sadness.
For me, the first two weeks of memory care life has been two steps forward, one step back. Some days I'm a pathetic mess of "Well, geez, if I'm no longer Mom's care giver then who the hell am I?" But the emotional rollercoaster is beginning to slow down and smooth out as I figure out how to remain Mom's care partner in crime, even at a reduced sentenced.
And what crimes we have been committing! Mostly the crime of having a little too much fun in Dementialand. The $40 Craig's List wheelchair (with no footrests, hence the cheap price) has been put to excellent use in mowing down aggressive mall kiosk workers. They don't know what to do with their proffered free sample when you're running your dementia mother straight at 'em, grinning like a village idiot, her legs held off the floor like mounted machine guns (yet, we'll stop on a dime to coo at babies similarly bound in wheeled apparatuses).
We've also committed the social crime of passing unfavorable judgement on our lunch host's macaroni salad. (Actually, that was just Mom. The mac salad was quite yummy, but Mom, no longer capable of any social graces, could not hide her distaste.)
And we've taken to hassling the memory care admin staff to get wifi in Mom's room, which Mom could care less about but "Gawdamnit! I need my streaming!"
I've spent three full days this week with her - and our adventures, in and out of her new home, have been just as enjoyable as pre-memory care, with my care giving skills energized and ready to rock her world (and the worlds of any of the other residents who happen to be around).
Her new roommate Barbara thought I was a god when I miraculously made her "broken" TV work. The problem? The "remote" she was unsuccessfully employing was actually her phone. Unfortunately, once the TV was on she turned the volume up so damn loud I quickly regretted my deification.
Adapting to shared care with the staff has also been a learning experience. I'm training myself to let go of how things HAVE TO BE DONE! And accept that other's means of accomplishing the same goal are also valid (rather difficult for a gal who often thinks her way is the only way). We are thrilled with the respect, gentleness, and genuine affection the staff exhibits for the residents, and the extreme kindness they show us. We're less thrilled that they can't seem to remember that Mom needs to wear her compression socks, and a bra EVERYDAY!
"For gawd sakes she's not a hippy!" was my gentle reminder to a care giver that bras are a required undergarment for Mom.
The Other Girl and I have also had the occasional disappointment in the staff's engagement with the residents, not in the quality when they do, but the quantity throughout the day. We passed our concerns onto the administration, but this is one of those things that might be the compromise of choosing memory care; unlike us caring for Mom, the staff has other duties besides resident engagement. We may have to adjust our expectations, and pick up the entertainment slack because that's a biggie, if Mom's left to just meander around the grounds, with no activity to engage her, her anxiety blossoms like a mushroom cloud of anguish. Given that it's just the first two weeks, we're waiting to see if the staff can up their game in this area.
Oh, and the food is crap. As The Other Girl pointed out, after her third dinner at Mom's place, the delectable dishes displayed on the Monterey Court website...
...have yet to be served at the actual dinner table. The night I stayed for dinner it was chicken noodle soup (pretty sure Campbell's), and a bland green salad with chunks of tasteless chicken. So, we're gonna have to figure something else out there. But I'll tackle that problem another day.
I have spent these two weeks of massive change slowly catching up to Mom; her ability to adapt has inspired me to focus my own energy, let go of the fight, and add my own blocks to the foundation of our new memory care world that thankfully, for us, is turning out a better place to be.
Well, all is not quite as rosy as it seems. The Other Girl is having a different experience on her days, finding Mom despondent, resistant to activities, and even refusing to enter the memory care facility when they returned from their outing yesterday. We're not sure if The Other Girl is unluckily getting Mom on her bad days, or if there's some difference between the earlier days of the week versus the end of the week that we have not yet identified. We'll see what the next week brings.