I wanted to return to ‘my roots’ of why I started this blog. I believed (and still do) that there is a real honest place in caregiving for laughter. There’s no way you can do this day in and day out and not see the humor in all the craziness around you.
Today is an homage to my dear mother-in-law. She was known for her subtle sense of humor. She would laugh at whatever you tossed out there as funny and she could come up with a zinger or two herself when necessary. So I feel quite certain that given the time and the retrospective, she too, would see.
So once my 94 year-old mother-in-law moved into her assisted living facility, she was quite content. She adjusted quickly and enjoyed her feisty bingo games, where the winner got a quarter for each victory(I too became a little over zealous with “BINGO!” when helping her play…to WIN)She seemed to enjoy her table companions at breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well. The facility tried to keep the table companions constant so that they could get acquainted and hopefully, enjoy some conversation at mealtime.
Things were going swimmingly. But as time rolled on and Mom became more comfortable with her surroundings, she actually began to backslide into more childlike behavior. Eventually, she needed more help dressing, reminders to go to meals, and assistance to get ready for and go to bed. Otherwise she would never change her clothes, forget to go to meals, and stay up all night watching TV and dozing in her favorite chair. (This became such a pastime for her over the last 20 years, that I was tempted to put her in that chair for her viewing….most of us would have said “Oh she looks so natural.”)
Then her time clock began to get out of whack. She would put her pajamas on after breakfast, she would refuse to go to meals because she just ate, and she would wonder why no one was coming to get her for a meal, when she had just returned to her room from lunch.
One day I went to see her and she was sound asleep in her bed at 11 o’clock in the morning. This was extremely unusual for Mom. She has been an early riser since the dawn of time, and she NEVER would go back to bed for a nap or if she was sick. She would just get dressed, take to her beloved chair, and snore away the day resting comfortably…but NEVER napping. (I think that’s reserved for lazy people like me who try to nap every day, if possible).
I go to the nurse’s office to see if they know why Mom is in bed.
“Hey, ladies! Do you happen to know why my Mom is in bed at 11:00 in the morning?”
“Ummm, not really, maybe her aide knows?”
I hunt down her aide, and this is the story:
“She got up around 1:00 AM. I saw that she was out of her pj’s and completely dressed for the day. So I said, ‘Hey M, where are you off to?’
“I’m going down for breakfast.”
“No, darlin’ it’s not time yet, let me help you back in bed. It won’t be for awhile, so you need to get some rest.”
“Ok,” she said.
The aide took her back to her room, put her back in her nightgown and tucked her in bed.
At 3:00 AM, the aide sees my mother-in-law down in the dining room.
“Hey M, what’s going on?”
“I’m here for my breakfast.”
“No, sweetie, it’s not time yet, let’s go rest for a bit and then we will come get you for breakfast.”
Back they go to her room, get her back in her pj’s and tuck her in.
At 5:00 AM, my mother-in-law enters the dining room, perfectly coiffed and ready for breakfast. It’s dark in there and no one is at her table.
“Good Morning, M. you’re down here a bit early,” says the aide.
“I’m here for breakfast.”
“Well, that ‘s not until 8 o’clock, how about I take you back to your room to watch TV until we come get you?”
At a quarter to 8, the aide goes into Marie’s room. She has now changed herself BACK into her nightgown and is asleep in her bed, as the morning sun streams brightly into her room.
“C’mon, M, it’s time to get up and go to breakfast!” says the aide.
“Oh forget it,” says my mother-in-law, and turns over and goes back to sleep.
You just have to Laugh……