So Friday I went out to see Mom, who was sitting and eating lunch. I noticed that her private duty aide was trying to make the DVD player work. This player is attached to the TV in the common living room of the memory care area. I thought, optimistically, that perhaps the aide had an animal video of some sort to play for Mom, who enjoys such film, especially when dogs are involved. After a great deal of fiddling, and three people working on the effort, the DVD worked! And the aide put on…..RED RIDING HOOD, a horror film of some years ago. In memory care, with fragile elderly people in the room, without asking anyone, Aide put on this incredibly inappropriate movie and plopped down to watch it.
Um…’scuse me? I was so shocked I didn’t say anything–I’m such a polite person!–but Strike One, honey. I told Mom, after she’d finished eating, that we could sit outside in the courtyard. I asked Aide if Mom needed the bathroom. “No….we did that about 20 minutes ago,” she said, watching her movie. Hmmmm. I had already been there for 20 minutes. I asked if she’d taken Mom to the bathroom after chair exercise, which had ended about an hour before. She said no, and looked at her watch. Huh. It had been closer to two HOURS ago, so she trundled Mom into the bathroom. That’s Strike Two, my dear, thought I.
Now, one of the things that was stopping me from telling her to GET BUSY (besides being SUPER POLITE), was that Aide certainly deserved a break for lunch while I was there. When Mom and I came back in from the courtyard, I made a point of telling Aide that she needed to stay in the room with Mom when she was sleeping. This was one of the main reasons we were paying MANY MANY dollars for private duty care: to be there when Mom got up from her bed and moved around without her walker. We were trying to head off more falls by having someone’s eye on Mom most of the time. “Well,” Aide told me, “sometimes I get so [sleepy] that I sit right outside her door and listen for her.” She was apparently VERY attuned to Mom’s movements, but Aide assured me that she told the new aide who’d been in for training (great, another change!) that she must be with Mom at all times. My eyes narrowed and I thought, Strike Three.
There has been an aide from the home health care that we liked, Mom liked, and whom I’d requested. Unfortunately, we kept getting Little Red Riding Hood. I decided that Red Riding Hood Aide was done, and that I would push for the aide we liked. A last straw: right before I left Bickford, I brought Mom to her room to lie down and found Aide on the phone, trying to arrange for her dog to be bred. Strike Four, babycakes. My blood was boiling, and I headed out the door to call the home health agency. I asked the supervisor if she would expect the various strikes I described. No she wouldn’t, and she’d talk to Aide. I asked for the aide we liked. Sorry, unavailable. I hung up, very unhappy. This is the kind of situation that makes caring for Mom so hard. There’s no good answer anywhere, except for a magical cure of the dementia, haha. Just then, a friend called. I told her what had happened, and she suggested I call home health and say that when the aide we liked was available, to give me a call. Otherwise, you’re fired. Yes! That was what to do. I called back and fired the service, leaving the the possibility of hiring them again if the aide we liked were ever available. I felt relieved and that I’d done the right thing until I realized……I forgot to ask my sister! I was being high-handed! Rushing to action impulsively without consulting! I left a chagrined message on my sister’s answering machine, apologizing, and was greatly relieved later in the day when she sent me an email to say that she was disappointed in the home health and agreed with what I did. Whew. Working well with my sister is important to me and to Mom and Dad’s well-being, and I know it.
So for the time being, Mom is only having private duty three days a week, with the Dear Companion I’ve mentioned before, and all is going well. There are only four residents in memory care right now, and with the addition of a bed alarm–who knew there was such a thing?–to alert the aide in charge of the area when Mom iss up and moving, I’m satisfied that Mom is as safe as we can make her. When I visited Mom the other day, I found her napping with a warm blanket over her, and I saw that she did fit in with the other residents. We made the right decision to move Mom to memory care, and though I am grieved to know that Mom is “one of them,” my insides settled peacefully at last. We’re doing the best we can, all of us.