• Lisa

keep, um, going

The past week has flown by, even though some parts of it felt like they were years long.

First assisted living visit was last Wednesday. The facility is very nice, smells clean, with some renovating being done in parts. The front desk had a little sign greeting me by name. The receptionist was welcoming, offered to get me coffee, and when I left gave me a tiny pecan pie wrapped up.

The marketers who toured me around were friendly and answered all my questions. There were a lot of things I liked about the place. Direct care staff came right up and said hi, introduced themselves, told me how long they had worked there. You can tell a LOT about a place by those front line peeps.

An activity director was rounding up some little ladies in the memory care unit (aka dementia) to do flower arranging. The other folk were sitting in the common area listening to music, some dozing in their wheelchairs, while lunch was being readied. It was a scene not unlike ones I’ve seen in facilities where I’ve worked. It’s hard to get everybody hyped for an activity right before a meal.

I asked about therapy, and they have a contract office on site with all three. The DON (director of nursing) stopped by; he was knowledgeable and I liked him right off. When I asked about speech and swallowing specifically (well, of course I was going to, DUH) I was told the chef has a master list in the kitchen with everybody’s dietary and swallowing needs, coded with photos of each resident. That sounds great.

No place is perfect, though. They have a cage of birds in there. The sound freaked ME out; I can only imagine what it might do to a confused person (assuming they could hear it—bird tweets are really high pitched, and that’s the first part of hearing that goes with age, so, maybe not? it bugged me though) When I asked about hydration, they proudly pointed to big jugs of infused water sitting out. Um, yah, that’s nice, but y’all do know it’s hard to get folks with dementia to initiate activity, right? You pretty much have to offer it regularly. Oh yes, the guy said, especially when they are having outdoor activities. That’s nice too, but you do know hydration is needed even more in the winter because heat dries out the indoor air, yes?

Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Hehe.

Anyway, after the initial rush of finally getting visits started wore off, I started looking at dollars and cents. Holy cow. By the time they add on $X a day for changing diapers, and $X for giving meds (only up to 6, more is extra) et cetera et cetera, the monthly cost is insane. I need to sit down with somebody to explain the whole financial thing like I’m five, I think. lol. Of course, I also need to make a will for myself, and set up a trust so if something happens to me mom will be taken care of. I’ve found a lawyer nearby who specializes in such, so now I have to make an appointment with her.

Next visit coming up tomorrow! I’ve been asking friends, former co-workers, for feedback on the places on my list, and get good reports. So that is good.

In other news, several days ago mom suddenly decided her blood pressure pills are not actually her blood pressure pills. This despite the fact that she has been taking them out of the same bottle since late November. They haven’t changed, nothing has. No idea what triggered this little fixation. I even bundled her into the car Saturday in the pouring rain and drove her to the drugstore, where a kind pharmacist dumped them out, compared them studiously to the written description on the label, and reassured her they are indeed the right pill. Problem is, of course, that she doesn’t remember all that.

Last night she had a meltdown of the ‘I need to go to the neighbors, or out to the street and flag down a car’ type. I literally wrestled her for two hours to keep her in. The last time that happened, she had a UTI, so I took her to the doctor today to check. No such luck. The doctor says it’s just the dementia getting worse.

Her mood swings are mad. Today at lunch she was saying how she loves me and appreciates me, and twenty minutes later I was a sorry SOB again. (seriously, could she at least think of another cuss word? LOL) Gives ya whiplash.

One funny thing, though. A friend on facebook found this cute metal bracelets with slightly off-color saying on them. I was immediately drawn to the one that said Keep F--king Going. (I don’t mind saying it, but not sure if wix will let me! Hehe) Didn’t want to spend $25 though. So instead, I went to Wal-Mart & bought $3.95 worth of sparkly acrylic alphabet beads, and made my own. (better not post that pic, though)

I also made one with the name of the caregiver group I belong to on facebook. SISU. It’s Finnish, and means grit, fortitude, stick-to-it-ive-ness; pretty much Keep F—king Going.

I wore them both to the doctor with mom today, and when he asked how things are, I told him a bit (carefully since mom was sitting right there, and her mind may be going but ain’t nothing wrong with her hearing) and then took off the bracelets and showed him. The KFG made him cackle, and he liked SISU when I explained it.

Along with ‘be the duck’ my new motto is KFG!

#dementia #caregiver

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