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.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mom's ALF is Inept

I called Dad while walking on the beach with my dog. He told me that he had been over to Mom's to take her out to dinner, like he does every Saturday. When he arrived at 4:30pm, Mom was in her room (staff are supposed to keep the door locked until bedtime) in her pajamas sleeping in her bed.

Dad got her up and dressed, which was supposedly not an easy task because since she was sleeping, she was very disoriented. He struggled so much that he decided that it wouldn't work to take her out to dinner and that he'd come back the next day to try again. It is especially sad, he noted, since due to bad weather, he wasn't able to take her then either.

Dad said that he called the director of the facility after not having any luck finding the staff supervisor at the facility. The director told Dad that this only happens 8/9 times, so Dad shouldn't complain. I mean, let's be honest, if Dad hadn't arrived, Mom would have missed dinner and been left to sleep until the middle of the night, when there's no staff. I've seen lots of cases of people missing dinner in the past, and there's no food around if they're hungry later, with the exception of perhaps a peanut butter sandwich on white bread or a grilled cheese (with American processed cheese food) IF there's still any around.

It is the weekend, so my sister is supposed to go put her to bed instead of the woman that I hired. I tried to call my sister, but she didn't answer her cell or at home.

I called Mom, and the person working at the front desk couldn't get any staff from Mom's floor to answer the phone. She was nice enough (a rarity) to go up there herself and find my Mom. She asked what Mom's room number is, and I explained that Mom shouldn't be in her room. Mom had a hard time talking on the phone she was so disoriented. She told me that she was looking at a card, and I didn't recognize the names she said. I think that she has someone else's mail, which is not uncommon for the staff to just leave it out somewhere instead of making sure it gets to residents' rooms. Clearly, there was nothing going on - I couldn't hear anything. I REALLY hope that Mom wasn't put again in her room. I asked the front desk person to put on one of Mom's videos. Mom could barely repeat "Streisand" when I suggested it. Augh, I'm so mad. At least, Dad said that he'll speak with the director's boss after we move Mom out.

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Blogger Patty McNally Doherty said...

Hi Karma,

The sad fact is ALFs are set up to help functional adults cope with the gradual loss of independence that accompanies aging. Cooking, shopping, running errands, going out for entertainment. They make the work of daily living easier. They remind their residents if they've taken their meds or not.

When it comes to Alzheimer's patients, I wonder how in the world they can offer their services in good conscience, knowing perfectly well they're dealing with a situation they aren't equipped to handle. Constant monitoring is required. It is no different than keeping an eye on a small child, except an adult is TOTALLY different than a small child. You NEVER know what's going to happen but when it does, and it always does, a competent adult's presence is required. There isn't an ALF on the planet that has enough staff in place to accomplish the monitoring required for room after room after room of active, mobile Alzheimer's patients.

Let's not even talk about care or best practices for a minute, let's just talk about safely issues. Can your mom tell you if something is wrong? No. So you must trust the staff. Do you trust the staff? No. There in lies the crux of the problem. But what's the alternative? Trust me, I completely understand the impossible choices this disease presents. I just don't understand how after two decades of being offered unacceptable choices of care, we can act the least bit surprised when it's OUR parents we find in trouble. If things continue for two more decades - and why would they have to change - it will be our kids blogging on the internet about us!

That thought keeps me awake at night. Maybe it's supposed to.

My heart goes out to you Karma. Did you have any luck with that Kansas group that supposedly is changing the nursing home culture? I'd love to know if they really exist or if it's just another PR story.


Sunday, December 03, 2006 7:10:00 PM  
Blogger April_optimist said...

So much that's so difficult to deal with! I'm glad your father went over there even if he didn't get to take her out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger April_optimist said...

Glad your father went to see your mother even if he couldn't take her out. Much sympathy on all that you have to deal wtih.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 8:26:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

I believe that ALFs can work for people with Alzheimer's if they are honest about their limitations and they are well run. We're moving Mom in a few weeks to a newer and better ALF. They'll have double the staff (aka 2 people) whose job it is to plan and run activities - and if they keep Mom occupied, then we're good. She's not supposed to be in her room at all after she gets ready - I think its a bad policy altogether to leave people with Alzheimer's alone in a room with no supervison personally.

But yes, the system is bad. There aren't great options out there, and the good options are limited.

Thanks to both of you for your support and comments.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

I feel for you. I went to visit my granny once and she was in the wrong room. Once she got a wake enough to sort of talk she was so afraid that she had done something wrong. I'll be thinking of you and your family.

Monday, December 04, 2006 6:13:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Monday, December 04, 2006 6:34:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Thanks for the support.

Monday, December 04, 2006 6:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gail Rae said...

When will your mom be moving out? Good riddance to this facility.

Sunday, December 10, 2006 8:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gail Rae said...

And, by the way, good for you for posting the problems. Everyone needs to be aware of these. Hopefully, one of these days, The Industry will begin to respond.

Sunday, December 10, 2006 8:04:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Mom moves out on Monday, Dec. 18.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 5:53:00 AM  

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