I took an unintended vacation from the blog this week. I’ve been feeling a little paralyzed by the routine. Wake. Work. Home. Sleep. I can’t seem to get enough sleep. Wake. Work. Home. Movie with the kids because that is all I have energy for. Sleep. It doesn’t leave much to blog about.
Except work. Work seems to flip-flop from the funny to the sad. This week was a sad one.
Situation A: When only one mate in a couple has memory loss that requires more assistance than you can give, choices have to made. Would you live with your mate in the facility? Or, would you choose to live at home and visit frequently? After seeing both scenarios, I can honestly say that I don’t know what I’d do. Since I’ve started work I’ve closely watched one of the couples who live together – mostly because I have to make sure the Mrs. doesn’t wander out the front door. But also, the dynamic is telling. The Mr. bosses the Mrs. repeatedly. His voice is loud and commanding. Sometimes he swears at her. The Mrs. is tiny. Her mouth needs to be against your ear if you want to have any hope of hearing her. Mostly she mumbles gibberish anyway. I have to make sure to greet her first when they pass through the lobby; otherwise she’ll get jealous that I’m talking to the Mr. The Mr. is losing sleep at night because the Mrs. is prone to wandering, or maybe he just fears it. I’m not sure. Yesterday, the Mr. was yelling at the Mrs. to follow him back to their suite. She didn’t want to go, but couldn’t express where she wanted to go. I tried to explain to the Mr. that he should go on back to the room while we did an activity with the Mrs. He couldn’t let go of his responsibility to her and kept demanding that she follow him. The facility director intervened and finally encouraged the Mr. to go take a break, nap if he wanted to. When he finally gave in, and the Mrs. was distracted, you could see the relief in him. He thanked the director effusively and then said, “She’s really going downhill. I’m losing her.”
Situation B: A new resident moved in. This is the first new person to move in since I’ve started working. Apparently it’s typical for a new resident to be extraordinarily needy. I didn’t realize this. This woman refuses to stay in her room alone. Her sister spent the night with her the first night. The sister lives in the Independent Living side of the building and is known for being a hermit. Many had never seen her until the day her sister had moved in to the Assisted Living building. Now I see more of the sister and the new resident than anyone else in the building. The sister is clearly exhausted. We have been trying to get her to go on home and rest while encouraging both of them that the new resident will okay without her sister. When the sister finally does go home for a bit, the new resident sits by my desk and tells me how she misses home. I try to steer the conversation away from that and when I think she’s distracted from missing home, I encourage her to let me wheel her back to her room. She says, “I’ll only go if you stay with me.” I like this woman. She’s spunky and lonely and frightened. We stay together at my desk until meal time or until the sister comes back. I finally spoke to the care managers about her. This is when they informed me that the transitions are usually pretty rough. But then they told me that this woman’s doctor had given her about 6 months to live. “The reason she doesn’t want to be alone in her room is because all she thinks about is dying.”
I think that all this should make me appreciate youth. And sisters. And husbands. And earning enough money to, if needed, some day afford a facility that has the amenities ours does. But I’m not sure it does make me appreciate all that. I really don’t mean to be morose or short-sighted, but I think it just makes me sad for these people. Somehow assigning meaning to the sadness or trying to learn from it just feels dumb.