The Facility up the Road
I’m sitting in mum’s room on one of her two big cosy armchairs. ‘Mum’s room’ is no longer at my place. It’s at the facility across the road. I still find it difficult to say ‘Aged Care Home’. ‘Facility’ sounds gentler.
I’m resting. My eyes are closed for the moment. I’m soaking in the vibes around me. This place is full of old nut cases. This sounds blunt and cruel but today I’m finding it hard to be empathic. I’ve been listening to the goings on from my vantage point in the armchair. It’s like a scene straight from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I hear a lady screeching over and over again. Another one is scolding someone in a high pitched voice in a language I think is Greek. A man stands motionless, staring. And here comes the tall lady in the tartan PJs. I’m counting the times she’s wandered into mum’s room in the past half an hour - I think we’re up to six. The lady is peering at the blanket on mum’s bed, muttering to herself that she has one exactly the same on her own bed - how peculiar. I stifle a laugh. Mum’s probably pinched it from the lady’s room and now it’s sitting pretty on her bed.
Mum’s manic again. I freeze every time she jumps up to fuss over something. I’ve given up insisting that she uses her walker, as she ignores both it and me. Wasted words. She totters across the room trying to keep her balance. Even though my eyes are closed, my ears are alert for any wrong movement. It happens. There’s a crash next to me. I sneak a peak. The framed photo of her mother is in pieces on the ground. Mum looks unsteady and I jump up to catch her in the nick of time before she topples over.
I grab her tightly, and consciously raise my voice.
Go sit down now. You nearly fell over. If you fall you will hurt yourself and end up in hospital. I emphasise every syllable.
Guilty faced, she lets me pull her to her chair and sit her down.
Now sit down and don't move!
A minute passes, and she’s up again.
I wonder how long her elevated mood will last and whether this episode, like previous ones, has been triggered by yet another Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). A minute passes, and she’s up again. I try not to picture what I dread - her sprawled on the floor, hurt and in pain. The staff are not allowed to restrain her, even though the thought has crossed my mind, at the peak of my desperation, of tying us both down together. She’s still up and about. This time a glass of lemonade falls off the table. Luckily it’s plastic. She uses her foot to mop it up with a bib. I don’t move, still carefully monitoring her as I write this.
Mum heads out the room. She meets the wandering tall lady and politely asks her if she’s found her blanket. I chuckle again. Mum looks so determined with her head full of plans. These manic states bring out her old strong character; they remind me of how she used to be. I miss the old her.
I’m feeling the urge to go home. It’s stressful watching her and I can’t control her.
The main benefit of this facility is times like these. If mum was still at home with me I would be dreading the two sleepless nights ahead, the frustration of trying to reign her in. Now I can physically disconnect, say goodnight and go home.
I slink away with my heart in my shoes.
Mum, the blanket and the tall lady in the tartan PJs