On Wednesday, April 25th, I woke up very excited that mom was going to be moved today. She was not only getting a new roommate, but she is moving back to the first floor. Although the layouts of each floor are somewhat similar, mom’s comfort level is much higher on the first floor. Mom feels the first floor is more like a home because she knows a lot of the residents on this floor. The Community* has entertainment every week; their performance is held in the first floor dining area. Also on Sunday morning Sam*, a good friend of mom’s, has mass in this space also. He brings donuts and other bakery goods for the residents to enjoy. In addition, the ice cream parlor and the outdoor garden are also on the first floor.
The ice cream parlor is manned everyday by a volunteer, Henry*, from 1:30PM-2:30PM. Henry* is extremely friendly and is a good friend to staff and residents alike. If we don’t find him talking and joking with someone in the ice cream parlor, he is there reading a good book. He kindly tells us all about the books when we get there. He likes to spend time at The Community*because his wife lives there. She needs the extra attention the residents receive on the second floor.
I arrived on time for mom and proceeded to go to her present room on the second floor neither mom nor her roommate were in their room. As I approached the nurses’ station at the end of the hall, I glanced at the dining room where I saw mom who was waving me to come in. There was no question that she was waiting for me.
In talking with mom, she informed me that she was scared. She said, “I am happy to be going to the first floor, but I am nervous thinking about my new roommate and my new room.” I assured her that I would make her room look nice and that we would both go and meet her roommate together. So we headed off to talk with her case worker down the hall, she escorted us to mom’s new room.
Some of mom’s pictures were already hanging in her new room. Dave*, who had worked on mom’s last room, took and hung her pictures exactly how we had them upstairs. Mom’s beautiful pink, white, and mint green quilt was on her bed. She told me to remove it because she wanted the same bedspread that her roommate had that The Community* provides to the residents who don’t bring in their own. When I told her that she used to love that quilt, mom said, “Julienne, listen to me! I want the beds to look similar.” Remembering what the therapist told me about how to handle mom’s dementia, I removed the quilt, folded it, and placed it on the top of mom’s closet, in case she changed her mind.
Mom’s new roommate, Karen*, wheeled herself in the room. Mom told me that she and Karen ate at the same table for lunch before when she was on this floor the last time. Karen said, “Your mom is confused about her name.” I did not initially understand what she meant. But then I remembered that when my mom first came here five years ago with a broken hip, mom used to go by her nickname, Jill. Now mom likes to be called by her given name which is Gilda. Some of the staff that knew her before, still calls her Jill, but she doesn’t answer to it anymore.
Karen has lived here for several months; Karen used to live at The Community’s* Supportive Living before here, too. We all talked for a little while. Karen told us that her last roommate lived in Chicago Heights most of her life also. Karen said her past roommate was in her 70’s and passed away.
Then mom suggested for me to take the covers off the bed so she could see each layer to make sure they had set up her bed correctly. When I said that I am sure they had, mom said, “Julienne, why aren’t you listening to me.” The bell rang in my head and the therapist words were once again loud and clear, “If you want to make your mom comfortable, do not argue or disagree with her. People with dementia only see things their way. You must learn to put your feelings aside.”
As I started to remove the sheets, mom’s alarm went off. Mom has an alarm on her bed so that if she tries to get up the staff is alerted. Some patients require this because they either need help walking or they get disoriented of their surroundings. Both of these situations apply to mom right now. Fortunately, her alarm going off has happened in her other rooms; I am fully able to turn it off. I am usually the person who sets it off when I am present. I forget about the alarm; I go to lean or sit on mom’s bed and the alarms sounds. Mom is used to the alarm and knows I can turn it off. However, it scared mom’s roommate who doesn’t have an alarm on her bed. She screamed, “Oh, my God.” I reassured her that everything was OK.
I proceeded to take the sheets down so mom could inspect each layer. Mom told me that her bed was missing a blue pad. This pad is used to prevent getting the mattress wet in case there is any episode of bed wetting. I went to talk to her aide, Diane*. She told me that she would make sure mom’s bed would be right before she went to sleep tonight. I explained how important it was for mom to feel comfortable with her new room right now. She understood.
When Diane* came in with mom’s pad, I helped her make the bed. Mom knew Diane* from before and likes her very much. Diane* mentioned that she was happy to make the bed by herself, but I knew mom wanted me to assist. When mom’s bed was exactly the way she wanted, mom shook her head like she was finally satisfied.
My mom then wondered why her bed was so far away from the wall. I explained that Dave* had gone to get the rest of her things and that she needed the extra room for her lift chair. Just then he was back with the lift truck on his hand truck. He put the chair in the proper spot, but it appeared to have room in back of the chair. Mom wanted the chair to be moved all the way back. I told her that her oxygen and her floor lamp would go back there. She said, “Where are they?” Dave* and I smiled. I mentioned that he was working as fast as he can.
I realized then that I should have waited to take mom to her room until everything was in place like the last time she moved. All the movement going on in her room made her confused and frustrated.
When Dave* came back with the oxygen and the floor lamp, mom said, “Julienne, why did you bring my floor lamp here?” (I guess she had already forgotten that I put it in her other room.) I told her that we needed a place to hang her ‘Jesus’ sign that her girlfriend, Julie, had stitched for her before she passed.
Mom’s room was perfect. The aides were starting to take some of the residents into the dining room for lunch. It was only 11:15AM, but mom wanted me to walk with her to the dining room. She wanted to make sure she was situated before I left. As we were walking, the attendant told mom that she would be sitting at the table she sat before. Mom was glad to hear it; I think it gave her a little familiarity. She knew the people already there.
Before I left mom wanted two huge hugs, mom said, “Julienne, I wish you could just stay here all day with me for a week until I get comfortable. I am worried.” I told her, “Mom, you are doing great. Take one day at a time. You are in good hands. I am going to be back on Friday to take you to get your hair done.” We exchanged, “I love you with my whole heart and blew each other kisses.”
I walked away knowing that I did everything I could for her. I just hoped she would be happy.