When I walked into Bickford on Friday, an aide immediately came to me and said, “Have you been down there yet?” Since I was standing by Dad in the living room, I knew the aide meant Mom. In the last few months, she occasionally refuses to get up, and is even a touch cranky. “No, and I’ve been in there a number of times; the last time she shouted at me to GET OUT!” I handed Dad the letter from my son and headed down to Mom’s room. I was surprised to find her dressed, but under the covers. Coco greeted me with enthusiasm, and I stood by the bed. “Mom, it’s Kathy.” Mom’s eyes popped open, and she smiled. Lately she’s taken to kissing people’s hands when she’s feeling appreciative and loving, and she kissed my hand in welcome. I said it was time to go down for some breakfast, and could I help her with her shoes? Mom readily sat up, very cooperative, and was surprised to hear that she hadn’t eaten breakfast; in fact, she was sure she had. Her hair was standing straight up, so I got water, a comb and some hair spray, and soon she looked ready to face the world.
A couple of things here: it’s unlike Mom to yell and act mean–the aides were very surprised because she is usually cooperative–so I wonder if we are entering another phase. Mom’s mother got crankier as the years went by; I particularly remember once when the staff was insisting on bathing her when she didn’t WANT to be bathed. “You old CAT!” she spat at her caretakers. At the time, I rather liked Grandma’s spirit. This brings me to another question: how far do we push Mom to try to keep her reasonably strong? The long periods of time she spends in bed can lead to such weakness that she could easily end up in a wheelchair–anathema to her at one time. She now huffs and puffs to get down the hall to the dining room, stopping halfway for a breather. This is unbelievable to those who have known her all her life, who know she regularly climbed over the dunes at the cottage twice a day through her 70s.
After arriving in the dining room, Mom suddenly said, “That’s right, I haven’t eaten any breakfast,” and enjoyed her cereal and milk at 10:45. Then it was time for chair exercise, and I didn’t ask her if she wanted to participate. I seated her, hugged her goodbye, and headed out the door. I had a feeling that if we had gone back to her room, she might refuse to come out again. Would that be bad? Good? Does it make no difference? What’s best for her? I do not know.