I spoke to Aunt this afternoon. She sounded well, cheerful, very together. We talked about the weather, the gradually lengthening days, hyacinth bulbs, the promise of spring. We wished each other a happy new year.

We didn’t talk about the fall she had a couple of days ago and the bruise on her head. We didn’t talk about the phone calls she made to my mobile and my landline from half past four this morning until the noise of the ringing phone finally woke me up to listen to a series of scared and disorientated messages. I’m glad I heard the messages before she called me again, as disturbing though they were, they gave me some insight into what was going on in her mind.

I know she knows about the fall, because she talked about it with Linda this morning. I am less convinced she remembers the ‘phone calls and her fear that she ‘had spoiled everything’, that she had lost me and could not find me, however much she searched.

I wonder if her belief that I had been with her and then had unaccountably disappeared was triggered by yesterday’s conversation when I said I should be visiting just as soon as I get three days off together. So today I said nothing about looking at the possibility of coming up by coach one evening and going home the next.

Linda and I talked for a long time tonight. Aunt called Linda when she fell and Linda, still in her pyjamas, raced to be by her side, to dial 111 and get paramedics out to see her, staying with her from midnight until four in the morning. Aunt doesn’t want me, or anyone to know she fell, but the bruise on her head is apparently very obvious, so I will notice. She told Linda it was to be their secret. This makes me very uncomfortable. I am glad Linda tells me, because these ‘secrets’ help no one, and I could almost be cross with Aunt for leaning on Linda in this way. It’s not fair. Continue reading

Care Home Quest

Heading East in the morning to spend time with Mother at the hospital, and to view nursing homes.

Sorry, I mean care homes with nursing that specialise in looking after residents with dementia.

It pays to get the vocabulary right, or too late you find you have had an entire conversation at cross purposes.

You also learn to watch for the loaded phrase, such as ‘best interests’ and understand how that is defined by the Mental Capacity Act.

Since the notes for guidance to this act has been my bedtime reading for about eighteen months, I’ve become quite good at spotting these which some professionals use as conversational landmines.

The specialising in dementia part is important too. When it was understood that Mother’s house is not worth a fortune, and that social services will not be recouping from a bottomless pot when it is sold, it was suggested that Mother’s needs could be met in a home without the dementia specialism.
This on the grounds that her dementia leads her to call everyone darling and say she loves them, rather than chucking jugs of cold water over them. So she would be easy to manage. Nothing about the need for staff to understand where she is coming from. Continue reading

Not a Good Place to Be

Hospital is not a good place to die. It’s great when you are very unwell, and not bad for short stays either. But for the elderly and confused, it’s a disorientating and bewildering experience that does little to encourage recovery and peace of mind.

You’ll realise that I’m not talking generalities here. Mother was supposed to be discharged last Tuesday. Every day I ‘phoned from Skye, staff told me she was ‘fine’, or ‘alright’. Closer questioning revealed that she was not doing what she was told; the physios signed her off because she would not mobilise when they asked her to, but the nurses said she was managing going backwards and forwards to the loo, and pottering about.
Continue reading