Yes, it’s Tuesday, and I’ve been home since last Wednesday afternoon, and I meant to write a post immediately, but my “I’m home!” visit to Bickford was less than heartening. My husband and I arrived home about 4:15; I left him to empty the car, and took the other car to Bickford. I brought some flowers to each of my parents, since I couldn’t think of anything else to bring from the trip. Mom was thrilled to see me; we hugged and kissed for quite awhile. This was a relief considering that I had worried that she might not know who I was when I got home. Kristi and I had arranged for extra care for Mom while I was gone. Mom’s private aide for the day, Heidi, was there, and though friendly and kind, didn’t really appear to know what was up; it was her first day there, and anything I said about Mom appeared to be news to her. Mom told Heidi she could leave, so I suggested H. go out for 10-15 min. so Mom and I could visit, which we did, and Mom seemed pretty good. Then I went to the dining room where Dad was at the table. He, too, gave me a warm welcome; I then asked for his key so I could put flowers in his room. I stopped back in Mom’s room, and discovered that she was waiting for me to take her to the dining room (she was also hoping I was going to move into Bickford. Maybe I will…..). Heidi and I got her to the dining room, and then I gave Coco some chewies while I fixed flowers for Dad’s room and put them on his windowsill. When I got back to Mom’s hall, she was going into her room again because the dog had been barking, and Mom was not going to the dining room. Fine. I went back to the dining room to ask the Bickford staff to bring Mom some food on a tray.
This is where things came apart. My sister had been reporting that, though things weren’t so good for awhile–meaning Mom’s reaction to the aides–they had improved, and now things were going smoothly. Amy, one of the aides she called “a treasure.” But when A., the cook, saw me, she grabbed me and hugged and hugged me. Things had been terrible! Mom was very upset and more confused than ever! All the aides were useless, and Amy was awful! The sensation in my legs, which had been numb as I returned to Bickford–reacting to this place where things are hard?–changed to a bit quivery, and my stomach clenched. Had we made a mistake getting private duty help? Heidi did not fill me with confidence. I got Mom’s food, and headed home, feeling discouraged. I’d only been home 45 minutes.
It’s been a rocky week for me since then. I met Amy, and if we could have Amy seven days a week, no vacation, we’d be fine, but Saturday’s aide wasn’t taking Mom to the bathroom, and she had soaked through her absorbent undergarment. Mom needed fresh slacks as well as a dry brief, the very sort of thing I wanted a private aide to prevent. I did call the agency to complain, which I do not enjoy doing, but I have a feeling that if we let things go, we may find similar problems regularly. Since then, my sister wrote up a list of Things to Know About Betsy:
INFORMATION FOR BETSY’S CARETAKERS:
Betsy needs to be taken to the bathroom every hour.
Please make sure there is a garbage bag in the bathroom waste basket before putting in a brief.
She likes 2 shirts, a turtleneck with a sweater or sweatshirt over it when it is cool outside.
She has yellow heel cups to protect her feet. Please make sure these are in the shoes she is wearing.
The dog cannot have any people food at all. We are trying to prolong her life and need to keep her weight under control.
Betsy likes to tease. It is one of the few forms of communication she has left. If she pokes or squeezes you, please feel free to gently poke her back. She usually will laugh and stop. Be careful in the shower as she has turned the water on others in the past.
She likes to look through the dog picture books. You can take her to a couch and just leaf through a book together as she cannot do it alone.
She has poor vision and bright light hurts her eyes. The shade both pulls up from the bottom and down from the top so the light can be controlled better. She does not like to have the overhead lights on and prefers the lamp light.
She can get grumpy and say she wants you to leave. Please don’t take rude remarks personally, unpleasant as it may be. You can step out of the room with the baby monitor and return when you hear her moving about
When family visits, please feel free to take a break. She likes to be alone with us.
She needs to drink to prevent dehydration. Please remind her to take a drink occasionally.
She likes to be outdoors and likes to sit in the shade in the courtyard with dog.
She may also like a wheelchair walk outside when the weather is good. She may need a cap on to protect her eyes.
At mealtime, escort Betsy to the table, and then take your meal break. She can feed herself and eats well.
Encourage Betsy to go to chair exercise (check the schedule board), and work to keep her focused while there.
The blue book contains others’ experiences with Betsy. Please read through it to find out more.
We hope this will help as we continue to adjust to additional care for Mom.
Meanwhile, I’ve been a bit low in spirit, and finding it hard to write anything. The lovely sunshine and warmer temperature today, along with some birds singing, gives me a needed motivation to get moving and stay hopeful. Hope the sun is shining wherever you are.