Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm Not Playing BINGO ... There's Too Much to Do!

In the course of  seven days or so, we went from "I am so tired of looking at these four walls" to "There is simply too much to do here... I can't do it all!"  Every day, my grandmother calls with something... one day it was her lamp - "It's broke - it won't come on at all."  I asked about the little remote device my husband had fixed for her.  "No, that's not it.  I had that maintenance man come, and he put in a new light bulb - one of those energy efficient ones - and it still don't work.  He didn't know what was wrong."  I reminded her that she had a box of light bulbs in her closet... the ALF charges a few dollars per bulb if they replace one and I had told her NOT to ask for a light bulb.  "Well, I'll find him and give this one back." (She didn't - I brought it home and I'm sure it will appear on our monthly bill.) 

Greg and I met my sister and her husband at my grandmother's house one afternoon, so that they could pick up a bed and mattress set they are keeping.  The security alarm rep was able to meet me at that same time and retrieve his "life alert" equipment, so it was a good trip.  Afterward, we went by Southridge to see Mam-ma and check on the lamp.  Someone had turned it off at the lamp switch, so the remote didn't work.  That was all that was wrong.  Mam-ma didn't like the energy efficient bulb - she said it was not bright enough for her to see... so I handed Greg an incandescent bulb, and he swapped them.  Someday, she will be forced to use those others when we can no longer buy incandescents... but hopefully not for awhile.

When we arrived, Mam-ma had just laid down for a nap.  Her local newspaper and other mail came while we were there, and she said she was going to lie down and rest and read her newspaper.  I cautioned her to keep her apartment door locked, even when she was inside, so that other residents could not enter unannounced.  All of the nurses/aides have a master key - and they knock first.  Other residents just walk right on in... and I reminded Mam-ma she could be dressing - or undressed - or even asleep.  She promised to keep the door locked.

We said goodbye and left the apartment, and I stopped at the nurses' station to leave some medicine for Mam-ma.  The nurse said something about the daily aspirin, and I said, "Oh... she has aspirin in her room."  The nurse said, "That can't be there... we're giving her an aspirin daily with her meds... if she takes extra, that can thin the blood too much."  I told her I would go get the bottle in Mam-ma's apartment and take it home with me, and she said that would be great. 

So I went back to Mam-ma's apartment and knocked on the door.  "Come in!" she shouted.  "The door is locked," I said, knowing we locked it as we left.  "No, it's not!" she answered.  I opened the door and there she stood - straight and tall - and I said, "Mam-ma, we just talked about keeping your door locked!"  "I know," she replied, "but that girl came by and said come play BINGO, so I'm a goin' to play BINGO!"  In the course of 5 minutes, she had gone from very tired and ready to lie down to up and at 'em and ready to play BINGO!

Later in the evening, Mam-ma phoned me - she needed return address labels... could I make her some?  I told her I would.  "How was BINGO?" I asked.  "Well, Honey," she retorted... "I can't see that card... the numbers are blurry.  I won't be goin' again."  She went on to say that one of the other residents - a lifelong friend - told her, "Just relax and enjoy being with us and forget about that card!"  But she continued, "I'm not a goin' back!"

Friday, my sister and my niece took Timothy to visit Mam-ma... she was in the dining hall - playing BINGO!

We're slowly settling in and adjusting, I think. Mam-ma's friend Ruby has been to visit... and she supposedly told Mam-ma her room was pretty, but she didn't think my grandmother needed a  small coffee table that is in her room.  That is where Mam-ma rests her feet when she sits in her little side chairs... and where she keeps her Bible, TV remote, and other things she needs readily accessible during the day.  Ruby also asked what happened to an enormous begonia that Mam-ma had on her sunporch.  I gave it to my friend whose thumb is as green as Mam-ma's.  Mam-ma said, "Well, I had asked the girls here if they would like to have it."  I assured Mam-ma those girls have plenty to do without repotting and tending to a begonia!

What have I learned or been reminded of this week?

  • no matter how good things are, I will never know about it
  • friends and relatives are going to say "helpful" things that really don't help
  • I can't believe everything Mam-ma tells me
  • Mam-ma is where she needs to be... and she is thriving already
As spring approaches and the weather improves, I'm hoping Mam-ma's attitude will soar.  I'm already feeling my attitude lighten along with my "load," and once the house is cleaned and everything is disposed of/dispersed, I know I will be able to focus on enjoying my grandmother more and spending time on other people and things I have neglected for the last few years.  The friend who tried to convince Mam-ma to stay for BINGO went to the ALF kicking and screaming.  Two weeks later, she wouldn't leave for all the tea in China.  I'm hoping that in another week, Mam-ma is firmly settled there, too... or well on her way.

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I would love to hear from those of you who are facing similar situations.  Are you sandwiched between the care of your elderly loved ones and younger family members?  Do you have questions and/or concerns we could try to address here?  What are your coping mechanisms... what are the triggers to your stress... how can we help?  Please contact me and let me know what you would like to see addressed in this space.  I want this to be a blog that helps us all to navigate the waters of the life of someone in the Sandwich Generation - and keep our sanity in the bargain!

1 comment:

Mark said...

Before he moved into an ALF, my grandfather was 90 and still living in his home of more than 50 years, and had watched all his friends pass from this world, not to mention his dear, loving, and only wife who had died 10 years prior. He was deeply sad and almost 500 miles from the nearest family. For the last year of his life he lived in a small, free-standing apartment (meaning merely that his front and back doors went to the outside, not to a hallway). He made friends quickly and thrived for at least part of the year he lived there, and got regular visits from his wonderful daughters, and a few from his grandkids and great-grandkids. I am so glad to hear that your Mam-ma is getting something good out of that environment.