Tuesday, October 11, 2011


hmmmm...sounds like a title for a comedy? drama? not quite a horror flick but definitely disturbing and definitely comical at times.
There is a well known "time of the day" for dementia patients that is called "sundowners syndrome". Medically, it is a mystery still but it causes people to become more disoriented, agitated, etc...in the evenings. Imagine yourself having to care for and get dozens of people ready for bed (who may not stay in bed) who are angry, agitated, and scared? And in different states of disability?
I often get asked why my sister and I stay so long at the nursing home. Well, we both believe that the nursing home is helping us with our responsibility, not the other way around. We help and feel like our time is volunteering in this time of our life. We usually share the week. Chris is there with mom from lunch time to getting ready for bed time, 3 and a half days and I am there three and a half days. Since we live about 20 minutes from the nursing home instead of breaking up the day we just stay there. (gas costs and all.) We may leave for a bit and do errands in town while mom is napping etc...but we have learned how to just provide that company for her as well as supervise her care. It helps us because now at least we have a more predictable schedule and we can get away for a time if needed for our own appointments etc...And we have a regular sleep routine.
Last night was a typical scenario that is a case in point. Two newer younger gals were on our hall caring for residents. They were way behind in their tasks after the dinner hour. ( We really do like this nursing home. It has workers who really care and do a great job, however like everything else these days, cuts of staff and services are the norm! They do their best under adverse conditions. ) Usually the worst cases get put in bed first. If I am out and about with mom just walking her around we end up having to rescue patients about to get up with buzzers blazing or who are just generally agitated and looking for things to do. Its rather comical in a tragic way. Most are just getting over tired and need to be attended to but have to wait until their turn.
Well, this is getting overly long but I think you get the idea why being there at bedtime is most important and setting a tone for mom with prayer and memory verses. I came back to this post to delete it but it does give others an idea of just how challenging a nursing home can be and how it is important to us to make sure mom feels safe. She is lucid but not able to do anything with her feet or arms so it is doubly frustrating for her waiting for help. So we are there. Some of the dementia patients are quite adept at standing, rummaging through things and running around with their wheelchairs. Mom isn't. So thank God that we can be there for her and yet they are there for us as well. I have felt so frustrated with this choice that we have made and sometimes remember that God provided for us. It was out of our hands. I am trying to find a way to feel grateful for this time that we have, unique as it is, and not worry about the future.


At October 21, 2011 at 4:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so awesome! Love, Helen


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