The Buddy System

 

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Since I’ve been back from vacation, Herself has taking to cuddling more than ever with me.

While she was grooming me and patting my hair before I left, now she’s cuddling up with me and laying her paws along my neck, which turns out to be a very comforting gesture for both of us.

 

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My very good friend and former boss, F, lost her mind in the 3 weeks or so that we were out of contact.  I came home from vacation to find her phone disconnected, and a variety of packing boxes and kitty litter boxes on the patio when I stopped by to see what was happening.  Very disturbing.

Since then, I’ve found that she was conserved against her will and for her own safety due to increased dementia or Alzheimers issues.

While this is good in many ways, ending the whole, “How do you know?” debate over when to act and when someone is safe to leave alone, I’m really struggling with the fact that F, my former boss and mentor and friend since 1988 is being disrespected as part of being conserved.

Having tried unsuccessfully to get Las Vegas Auntie the help she needs while working through the system, I can’t say what’s being done to aid F is the best way to handle things, but I can also say that she does need assistance (and supervision, when she’s hit a dead zone in her brain and is speaking nonsense), but that I’m frustrated on her behalf because she’s not being included (no matter how frustrating it may be) on things which will impact her quality of life.

In my oh-so-humble opinion.

F picked the Memory Care / Senior Assisted Living Center where she’s been moved.  The problem is that she picked it across the street from her senior center so that she could continue to go to classes and events there, and she is now no longer able to go without company or supervision.  She’s been artificially restrained to the grounds of her care home unless someone signs her out, and that seems too harsh to me.

Don’t get me wrong – her private, 1 bedroom apartment is very spacious, and sunny, and they permitted her to bring her 3 cats, so her personal comfort has been given a great deal of thought:

 

 

So, things are not as dire as they could be, and she seems relatively happy.

F has always been a walker and a biker, and at 82 was still driving well despite her memory issues.

Now, all of that is gone.

So, I stopped by again yesterday to take her to breakfast – we were walking the .08 miles each way – both to give her an outlet, as well as give me some much needed exercise.

The day went well, and she asked me if I’d drive her to Costco to pick up her contact lenses after breakfast (she hasn’t had any in almost 2 weeks, making it hard for her to see in detail), and also asked if I’d stop by her home to see what’s happening since P, the friend who is handling most details, isn’t keeping her informed.

Not a problem, as long as my energy lasts.  NOTE:  I live in the boonies, so every day in life now involves counting my spoons of energy, and making sure that I stop before I’m tired so that I have enough energy left to make the 45 minutes (or longer) drive home.

Second side note:  F was an incredible boss and mentor.  Always polished.  Always organized.  We used to have an ongoing joke among her direct reports that we’d get “frantic-grams” during any involved project that wasn‘t moving fast enough for her sense of necessary timing for accomplishing or completing a task.

F was worried about her stuff – (even though she’d agreed that the stuff left behind was to be sold to help her raise some much needed money) – and she was frustrated about how slowly the workers were moving, dragging out the time involved in getting her home ready for sale.

So, I agreed to take her on both errands, knowing that I had signed her out until Noon and had to have her checked back in by that time, or I’d be getting a call.

Upon arrival, F was concerned her patio gate wasn’t locked.  She was upset that she found a box of Fenton  glass collectible shoes outside.  Ditto her doll chairs, where her teddy bears used to reside.

 

 

[P, the person stepping up to handle F’s affairs, is excluding Fran from progress updates, leading to F’s level of upset from not being kept in the loop].

So, we went through the house and she found all of her dirty laundry had been left behind, along with a few family pictures that would be of interest to no one else.

We also found 12 pair of contact lenses left behind, so that eliminated our need to go to Costco, as my energy was running down.

After packing F, the laundry and the family pictures up, we left her condo and returned to the care home.  No fuss.  No arguing.  Just very matter of fact.

Yes, F was using the wrong words to describe things (I’m in trouble and kept locked up because I “wander”, not because she is a champion “walker”).  Similar words, but with very different impact when used improperly.

Also:  Her doctor is an evil man who ordered her confined to her new care home.

Plus:  The police won’t let her leave her care home.

There is nothing keeping F in her new care home beyond the prison of her own mind, and her law-abiding personality for trusting those in authority.  She has a natural respect of those in charge.

F is confused, which is normal for people with dementia, but she’s also cowed (not her original personality), and not at all combative.

IMHO, F should be involved more in having her questions answered and her mind put at ease, but P does not appear to feel that’s reasonable to do.  P does not see the disrespect with which she’s treating F, making her frustration with the process worse.

I have no answers, as I know what happens when one can barely function (like Las Vegas Auntie), and is left alone to play in traffic without consistent adult supervision.

For now, I’m just concentrating on the buddy system for ensuring F gets out and about to enjoy life while leaving the heavier burdens in others hands to address.

Hopefully, things will level out given time.

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Buddy System

  1. From the sidelines (as obviously I don’t know the players and am not involved, nor is it any of my business really). I think perhaps restraints are a bit too harsh, but what does one do with a person who literally couldn’t find their way back home nor tell someone they were lost and needed assistance? I don’t think it is particularly humane, but I’m sure that in CA, just like across our nation, people who are put into care face the reality of lack of adequate and caring staff in those places. Most staff probably do look out for the patient, and are compassionate and caring, but it’s those ‘others’ that worry me. Those others are often sadists who enjoy torturing and abusing people who can’t fight back or can’t tell anyone about the abuse, because they may have verbal problems or are non-communicative because of dementia etc. Your description of your former boss as ‘cowed’ tells me that she’s probably encountered at least one of the ‘bad’ ones. Good on you for being willing to step up and take F on excursions and for watching out for her as much as you can. I have an acquaintance here who, when I moved up, was a great source of support and was a very active and gregarious soul. Toward the end of 2017 though, she experienced a series of what is called ‘mini strokes’. Now she has put on a considerable amount of weight (she’s small framed so 20 lbs looks more like 50 on her), her verbal and cogitive skills are failing and recently one of her daughters moved into her home with her, because the woman needs supervision. She’s wealthy too, and has confided to me that she gets frustrated because her daughter has taken over the finances and my friend only gets an allowance. She is also monitored because she forgets where she is and becomes lost, even within Brigham City, which she knows well. It’s terrifying to watch. And then I know two 83 year olds who are sharp in the mind, but whose bodies are failing. Which is the worse state I have to wonder.

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  2. F is safe and the place is a good, caring home. The problem is that Alzheimers can kick up hallucinations (she’s had some), and anxiety (part of her being cowed).

    F was always able to speak up for herself, and she can refuse any so called “help”. The problem is that she no longer understands that she has the right of refusal. She’s probably at teenager level in her thinking, so that she’s likely to stay out of trouble and ask for help, but no longer has the determination to do things for herself or rock the boat, if that makes sense.

    F was always in charge, and now she’s like a beta, seeking an alpha dog to follow vs. charting a path for herself.

    I’m sorry you’re going through much the same with some of your friends. It’s heartbreaking, even when you know it’s for the best. Hugs to you.

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