Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lack of communication by the Assisted Living Center - what a PAIN

For each week that Mom's in this assisted living facility (ALF) I find another reason that I want to move her. Some times it's based on Mom's comments or complaint, some time's it's because they just don't seem organized. Some times they do something that makes me wonder just how well they take care of my Mom.

Today it was a miss communication about a doctor's visit and now I'm ticked off. She had an appointment with the doctor at 2:45pm. The van was supposed to drive her there and my brother was all set to meet her. He planned to take her for coffee and pie afterward then return her to the ALF. So, I called the ALF about 1pm to remind them that she needs lots of notice to get ready, then I called Mom to remind her and she'd ALREADY BEEN THERE! She said the van driver took her in, waited and then drove around for about 30 minutes before taking her back. She was thrilled to get out and enjoy the sunshine. While I was happy that things went smoothly and that she enjoyed the ride, I was upset because my brother made arrangements to meet her there. He changed his schedule to be there and he also planned take her out. No one told us that the appointment was changed!

The doctor's office worked with the ALF to change the appointment from the afternoon to morning but the ALF didn't tell the family. The doctor's office left a reminder message on my NEPHEW's phone - he's not even on the contact list. He passed on the message but we didn't talk about the TIME. The ALF didn't call us even though they're supposed to tell us EACH time she has an appointment.

The bottom line for the ALF is that they just have WAY, WAY too many people to care for and not enough staff to tend to these details. It leaves me wondering about the other details that slip through the cracks. Or worse - WHO - slips through the cracks.

Feeling bad and Mom acts like "mom" to make me feel better

After my pity party yesterday, Mom did her motherly best and made me feel much better about everything. I did not tell her that I was frustrated, hurt, angry - all of that emotion I felt yesterday. I called her to discuss a doctor appointment and we chatted about some clothes that I sent last week. She thanked me and then got choked up and said, "I looked around yesterday and counted up all the things you've done to meet all my needs and make me comfortable. Have I said 'thank you?' You know I appreciate all of it and I hope you'll let me reimburse you."

That was all I needed to completely turn around my state of mind. Next week I might feel bad again, but her simple recognition today will last a long, long time. Of course, I won't take her money - unless it's for something big like a wheelchair or walker - those are beyond my budget. For a few clothes, some goodies, type writer ribbon - I can't take her money. I got some love today and that's enough!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Loss of logic and reason are hardest to handle

This morning I've hit a milestone. I'm fighting hot flashes, I have a migraine and I have not slept. I am so frustrated and upset that I'm ready to tell Mom to find someone else to handle her affairs. I feel that way right this second but it will pass. Stupidly, I never expected my logical, rational and sensible Mom to loose her ability to understand her situation. Here's what set this off:

Last night my cousin called to play a voice mail message that Mom left on his home phone more than a week ago. She requested his advice because she "doesn't like the way things are going here." Her voice sounded strong; there was her normal hint of stubborness she gets when she's feeling determined. My cousin understands that she's okay and her affairs are being handled well. He knows that I am not squandering her money. I, on the other hand, spent a sleepless night. Each time I began to drift off, I'd dream that I was arguing with Mom. I'd show her receipts, canceled checks for rent, prescriptions, shoes and such all to no effect.

Intellectually I know that she is dealing with a loss of control. Her body is failing, someone else is driving her routine, her funds are dwindling and she misses her own home. I guess I expect her to be at least a little grateful that I try to do so much for her. When I'm there with her and we talk about these things she gets it. She agrees that she can't be home, that her savings must be used for rent, that she needs things like new shoes. I leave feeling like things are okay then she makes a call to my brother, a friend or she gives me hell a week later.

I knew that dealing with my elderly Mom would be difficult but I just didn't expect to feel so drained by it all. I've always been a strong person, able to get a lot done and be practical and logical. There is no logic in her actions now and that's hard. I feel hurt - I know it's not Mom's intent, she can't help herself. The main reason my parents asked me to be their PoA and handle things is because I would NOT take such behavior personally and give up. But, the mom-child relationship is probably the MOST personal relationship we have - it's nearly impossible to separate the emotion from this relationship and respond to Mom's irrational thinking without hostile emotion. I need to respond with love and it's hard to do when she runs me down to others, when I have the same conversations about her needs and abilities over and over and over.

I remember my Mom sitting at the kitchen table crying in frustration and hurt after visits with her mother, Bertha. Bertha was in a nursing home, her short and mid- range memory long gone. She believed she was hospitalized after an appendectomy and expected to be released soon to go home to her husband and kids. She wondered to my Mom about the man that visited her.  She claimed he sold all of her nice glass ware and spent her money. The "man" was her eldest son; my favorite uncle and a good and honest man, who'd NEVER take advantage of her. For years she accused him of selling off her belongings -often things she never had at all. He finally stopped visiting. He was too hurt and felt that his mom was long gone. My Mom kept visiting out of a sense of duty, even after it was clear that Grandma didn't recognizer her as the daughter she longed to see at home.

I must admit to feeling better after venting here. I hoped to avoid venting on this blog but my feelings are honest and being honest is freeing. Things are coming full circle - I watched my Grandma help her elderly parents. I helped my Mom deal with Grandma, now I'm going through the same thing with her. I must remind myself that Mom is changed. Like my uncle, I feel my Mom is long gone. Because I love "that" woman, I will continue to help this one and hope that some portion of the logical and rational part of her comes through now and then.