Thursday, April 27, 2017

One Month at Home Again

We sorted out the apartment yesterday; 12 hours, and more time to put away everything today. We found enough silverware to set all the tables in memory care once again; and half enough napkins.

We did not find the TV remote (suspect it has been taken to the common area) and two seed starting plugs (just found them when I got into the bathroom cabinet this morning).

My electric toothbrush was missing last night. I found it in less than three minutes in the keepsake shelf. We are about set up here as we were in South Hampton Place where important stuff was locked up and the rest could be found in less than five minutes.

Three of the large clear plastic tubs that fit under the bed will be in storage. Our two worlds can again exist in the same space.

Three days ago I woke up feeling great. This happens a couple of times a year. It gave me the energy to get my wife’s keepsakes organized enough that she can play with them again. It is no fun to play dominoes if there are one or two dominoes in very container, of all sizes, in the apartment.

I also ended working on investing the money credited to our account because of the December flood at Provision Living at Columbia. I hate to be forced into making decisions when I do not have all the available facts. I don’t mind the unavailable facts as they can be easily created as needed.

One noticeable change in the whole memory care group this past month is that they seem to be calming down; perhaps even slowing down. Our two travelers, who spent hours discussing walking, driving, hitch hiking, sharing a ride with their car, truck or motorcycle (which neither had) during our two months at South Hampton Place, rarely even mention these plans now.

Falling is still our number one enemy. One resident fell, broke her hip, hospital, rehab, and back while we were refugees. She has been moved to the apartment closest to the activity area, is under continuous watch, and restricted to a wheelchair. She is just unsteady. We now have three or four caregivers watching (working with) about 16 residents during the daytime and two all night.

The fitness classes emphasize getting up and sitting down and balance (fall prevention). For these classes to be effective, residents must practice a number of skills repeatedly until they are part of “muscle memory”. I discovered this happening to me after one or two classes a day, five days a week, for the past month.

The down side of summer coming on is the tobacco smoke (an unresolved issue in the entire residential “health” care industry in Columbia). With the patio doors open to the north and the windows open to the south, the smoke comes in strong enough that the caretakers on duty quickly close the patio doors.

Only twice in 16 months has this been strong enough to trigger one of my allergy reactions that is specific to second hand smoke; that can be a “stop in your tracks” spasm in the lower abdominal area on the following day. My nose becomes congested from being too close to smokers who return too soon after a break. Dust from the continuing repair of the building is also a problem; some four months after the flood, that should never have happened.

It is now 10:30 am. My wife has finally started putting things into “her” under-the bed plastic tub. 

The wastebasket is under my desk out of her way with me sitting here. Otherwise she will redistribute the contents or, as at the hotel, pack it full of anything that remotely fits.

For most of the time we have been in residential care, if the day turned sour it stayed that way for the rest of the day; the exception was a ride in the car. Now she can switch from one to the other in a matter of minutes for no observable reason, any time of day.

The missing sheet returned
She can also find things. Not at the moment, but 20 minutes to two days later. This delayed response also shows with her cloths. No! And a few minutes later, after the caregiver has left or I turn to working on this desk, she does the very thing that needed doing.

I printed out two sheets of paper; went to the bathroom for something; returned to find the top page missing. A 5-minute search failed. We talked about this for a while. The next time I returned to the apartment, the top page was back.

She had a blouse over her nightgown. “Lets take the blouse and nightgown off” “We will put the blouse back on.” “OK?” NO! [Time for several variations of this.] It hit me, get a third blouse. “Lets put this on.” She immediately removed the blouse and nightgown, and put on the third blouse. [3:00 pm and we have the same situation except now she still has the nightgown on.]

She is ready to fight her way out of memory care at times that do not seem related to finding me. We ended up near the door as I was going to a fitness class. I sat in a chair. We talked. Several people entered and invited my wife to go with them back to the activity areas. Then one came from the activity area and asked, “Would you like a treat?” The puzzled, belabored expression on her face vanished. She took off faster than the caregiver. We just need to find the key that unlocks the “worry’s” grip on her.

Pills are now routinely offered in the normal fashion with several variations, including me. Next in ice cream or chocolate pudding. Next the caregivers check to see who is on duty, at the top of the peck order in successful attempts.

A short term calming pill is very rarely used (less than once a week). Most often, we change her environment after two hours randomizing our apartment or after shorter times elsewhere.

I found her the other day seated with her family-tree book and the mechanical cat in the activity area. She was calmly waiting for me to return from a meeting. This had been arranged to resolve a confrontation at the door.

Time to find a Monarch butterfly feeder for our window. Seems they like Gatorade and Juicy Juice.

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