ALZYISMS PART 7
Nine months. It’s been nine months since we placed Mom in an assisted living facility. Lord, time flies. She has made the adjustment easily. Her “go with the flow” personality that she has exhibited for 78 years hasn’t changed. I am ever so grateful to my father who scrimped and saved a nest egg that has allowed Mom to be in a comfortable, modern facility. It is not cheap, around $3,250 a month, but considering it is all inclusive of a very tasty, healthy, menu, room, laundry, personal care services, and many daily activities designed to keep the residents engaged, it is reasonable There is a significant level of caring staff on hand. If this sounds like a promotion for assisted living, it is not. On the other hand, when the time arrived to place her, I was wary. No longer.
I visit her weekly. To put that in perspective, it is 50 times more a year than I would have visited had she remained in Michigan on her own. That of course, is cooking the books. In actuality she had moved in with us, and stayed with us five years. So it's an apples and oranges compariason.
Still, my trepidation has been eased. Each time I visit she is actively engaged with friends, and not holed up in her nicely furnished room. She claims to be the spark in the room that generates conversation and amusement. She insists that the staff seeks her assistance to help other residents. There is probably a grain of truth to this, but I also know before she was placed at the facility, she visited a “day care” senior center a couple of times per week here and when she stayed with my brother in San Jose. Same story, but even much less likely there.
I think she lost a lot of self purpose when Dad died and now, somehow perceives common communication with her neighbors as her way of making a difference and being useful. I’m sure it is, and even if not, who am I to dispute a noble belief.
She also is concerned about people taking her things, which they don’t. (I know her inventory). Unfortunately, theft accusation is a very common symptom of Alzheimer’s.
We brought her home for Thanksgiving dinner, and she had a fine time with me, Eileen, and Eileen’s Dad, stepmom, brother, and his wife who mom had never met. Still social with family and strangers but like most Alzheimer’s victims is very cagy about answering questions that she can’t possibly answer because her memory has failed. Her survival instincts are strong.
Even so, as I picked her up, she asked me, “how long have I been here?”
“Been where Mom?” I replied.
“Here”, she said.
“If you mean the facility, it’s nine months. If you mean California, it’s five years. Don’t you remember spending eight weeks at Mike’s and then eight weeks here?”
“No. Oh, I just can’t get over those mountains”
This is a five year black hole. She has said that every time she sees those hills.
Then she said, “you know, I just don’t give a shit anymore. No, let me rephrase that. I’m not unhappy you know, what will be, will be. I just don’t give a shit.”
I know she means it. I also believe her when she says she is not truly unhappy. And as I watch her slowly lose herself as the disease marches forward and claims more of her past, I am grateful that she still recognizes me, and that her personality remains positive and kind.
“All she really wants,” she has told me, “Is to be with Dad.”
Copyright 2010 Patrick Granfors