JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Disconcerting Things that I've Seen at Mom's Facility

I'm bringing this list to the facility or having my dad do it with me. I had a really bad night last night and am very frustrated with the care that Mom's getting. I went to a support group at the Alzheimer's Association and several made it clear that this is not okay, especially for the most expensive place in town.

  1. In the last two weeks that I’ve been in town, my mother has been in her room by herself every time except for once. I have rarely seen her doing an activity during this time unless I organize it myself.
  2. When I arrive between 7-8pm, there is generally not an activity going on, nor is one started again. Most residents are in their rooms, often coming out in their pajamas or standing in their doorways looking out to see if anything is going on. This is too early to be asleep.
  3. Last night (8-1-06) the activity for the night was “movie night”. This was the third movie night this week. It was the second movie night featuring the movie “Walk the Line” since Sunday. Sunday, the care managers told me that Paula had given them this movie to show, but that the residents clearly were not interested in it – it is too long and too plot focused for them to follow.
  4. Many of the “activities” for the residents of the third floor take little staff effort and provide little stimulation for the residents – movie nights, “socials” which just involve sitting while eating where staff don’t help residents converse with one another so residents basically just sit and eat, etc.
  5. It is common for scheduled activities to just not happen. I have seen residents sitting around asking to do activities, but staff to busy to put them on. I have also seen scheduled events taking place where 3rd floor residents are supposed to come, but staff don’t get around to getting them there. Also, often when activities do take place, only the residents who are there take place; no one goes to get residents from their rooms.
  6. Some of the activities are outdated and especially not relevant for someone the age of my mother: trivia book with questions from the 1930s and 1940s, song book for the unit. Trivia and songs could be put together that everyone would be familiar with, but no one has bothered to do this. I even brought in a set of trivia questions that are more relevant, but it is not used. I thought about putting together a song book with songs that everyone would know, but what’s the point if it won’t be used? Besides, making the activities relevant for your residents is something that Sunrise should be able to do.
  7. Only one activity goes on at the floor at one time, which worked when there were fewer residents, but this causes several issues with the larger occupancy. People like my mom who are shy are less likely to participate. Since there is often one staff person putting on the activity, residents get very little attention. Some people who are louder about their needs tend to take up all of the attention/focus while people like my mom who are very quiet, get little-no attention. Some activities, like cookie baking, involve watching one or two people doings something, but not actually having anything to do for most residents. I suggested an alternative of cookie cake making (decorating cookies with icing and sprinkles) so that more residents could participate. I organized doing this activity on my own several times, and it has gone over very well, but despite my recommendations to both care managers and Paula, watching a care manager make cookies (which involves a lot of effort on the part of the care manager to find ingredients which often aren’t on the floor and watch the toaster over). I and other family members of residents have brought in games, music, and videos to try to counter this, but little to no effort has been made to utilize these. (There could be more than one movie shown at a time; often televisions are off. There is music residents could listen to and sing a long to, but there is no where to listen to it. There are games and puzzles, but these are put away in order to have space for other things.)
  8. I spoke with care managers about washing my mom’s face at night before she goes to bed and was told that they would do so, but when I returned after 1 month, the products were untouched.
  9. Since there are so many activities, especially on Sundays, based around being Christian, I organized on my own for someone from the Jewish community to organize something for my mother. I was told that Paula was impossible to get a hold of and did not return phone calls. Having the only option for stimulation be Christian praying and no opportunities for her to connect to anything Jewish makes my mom feel alienated.
  10. Calendars of activities are either not put up in my mom’s room or put up (weeks) after the beginning of the month. This is disorienting.
  11. Neither her towels or sheets would have been washed this week if I hadn’t pointed it out to staff.

SUMMARY: My mother appears to be largely ignored by staff in the evenings. She is under-stimulated and bored which leads to behavior issues (putting soap on her face causing a bad rash, changing her clothes multiple times during the day and putting on dirty clothes from her hamper and shoes on the wrong feet, turning off the air conditioning which causes the temperature in her room to be well over 80 degrees, and who knows what else, taking items out of her trash can and reusing them). There seems to be little attention to making activities that fit for my mom (both in terms of interest and level). These issues appear to be caused in part due to not having enough trained staff during the afternoon/evening shifts.

*There are numerous other incidents where there have unsafe situations caused by not enough staff (taking 10 minutes to respond when “emergency” cord pulled, people getting on elevator and no staff around to help, staff not being able to find a resident, etc.). One night, I found my mom in bed in her pajamas around 7pm trying to convince a male resident to leave her room. The door in her room was shut, and there were no staff to be found.


Anonymous Peg Lee said...

Sounds like they need help, maybe hiring a few people and or volunteers in the evenings for activities and just keeping an eye on residents. I will tell you thats why i promised my Momma, that i would always be there for her and make sure she was taken care of. I hate the thought of ever putting Mom in a home, but sometimes there is no choice in the matter. So we willl take care of her at home until, we nolonger can. are so strong, Im very proud of your accomplishments. You will get these issues solved. Your not one to talk about them and then sit back and do nothing. Im happy to hear that you have been going to Ad support groups.
Wishing you well,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 8:34:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Thanks Peg. That's all they really do need is a little help, and some more supervision. Being in the home is generally actually good for my mom, still I think, as long as they're actually taking care of her. Its such a frustrating thing, but she can socialize and there isn't fear about her wandering off or burning the house down. Yeah, I need to keep pushing myself to going to groups. I appreciate your support.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 4:58:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Dad dropped a tweaked version of this to the floor coordinator today. I haven't heard from her, but we'll see how she responds.

Friday, August 04, 2006 4:49:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

I haven't even heard back from the facility even though they received this days ago from me. What's the next step?

Sunday, August 06, 2006 9:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely they need some time for this well-written list to process, make sure it filters up to the higher ups to read it. Change is not going to happen overnite (I know you know this). Give it a little more time, then go to who's in charge and ask how they plan on addressing your concerns, *remind* them that you are waiting to receive their help and that you will not back down. This can't possibly be the first complaints they've gotten. Something is going to change, I'm sure it's because you and your father have gotten the ball rolling and you won't back down. My only hope is that the change is gradual, because the effort to make long term change is a sign things will continually improve, not just to please one family, but families to come in the future. Sending good vibes your way, S.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:35:00 AM  
Blogger Karma said...

Well, I spoke with the son of another resident who told me that his family has similar concerns, but it never occurred to them that they can change anything or that whatever is going on is systematic and not just to them. I will have to probably wait until I come back from the upcoming conference this weekend and then make an appointment with the floor coordinator and probably the facility director. Oy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:42:00 PM  

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