“I just want to go home.”
It is a common phrase for many people but most often it is a phrase that is heard in nursing homes and care centers.
This has been what I have heard all week during my visit with my mom. I get it. A nursing home is not the idea of home to very many people. Unfortunately it is the reality at the moment for many and coming to terms with this fact is so very difficult.
My mom has been recovering from a bout of congestive heart failure in August. It has been a slow and difficult process and she is finally to the point where therapy is no longer helping and she is pretty much as good as she is going to get. The difficulty comes in when she wants to “prove” that she can do it.
Independence is a huge thing to anyone but to someone who has prided themselves for years of living independently it is a huge challenge to be confined to a chair that has an alarm on it that goes off every time she attempts to get up. While we all try to reinforce that it is for her safety she just can not wrap her head around that and instead gets mad like a child . It is kind of like dealing with a toddler at this point.
This past week she kept telling me that she just wants to go home. I understand.
Home is not a room where people are coming and going constantly.
Home is not a busy hallway with nursing staff, walkie talkies and other residents making noise constantly.
Home is not being taken to meals and then being left sitting in the centrum until someone can take you back to your room.
Home is not an uncomfortable hospital bed.
So I asked her what home was. My mom’s idea of home now is kind of a jumble of a lot of things -none of which are actually home. She supposedly lives close to one of her sons. That has never been the case. Home also is a place where there are others who are like her and there are people that take care of her and get her meals, do her laundry, etc. That is something that actually was true in her previous Memory Care unit. Home has an outside space and a garden.
The decision was made by the staff that she can no longer go back to her most recent memory care unit. The good news is that there is a room available in the Memory Lane unit that houses residents who are at her level. So this past week we made the tough decision to make another move to that unit. I truly believe it is going to be a good fit.
Will it be home? Well, probably not. We have tried to put items in the room that will make her feel comfortable. Things that have meaning to her and that she might recognize. But at this point every day is different. Dementia is like that.
What have I learned during this journey?
That there are so many other families out there who are going through very similar things.
There are wonderful trained staff who truly care about their residents and who work tirelessly to make each resident feel like they are “home” wherever that is.
I have learned that I can’t beat myself up about not being present for her 24/7. It is not possible nor is it a healthy thing for either of us.
The journey continues and I continue to learn. Moving day for my mom is scheduled for today. I won’t be there but I know it will be handled by the staff and that I can trust them to make it as easy for her as it can possibly be.
Home. A word that means a lot of things but to my mom today it hopefully will be her new room in Memory Lane at Copeland Oaks.