Over the past week, my Mom has been glued to the bird house outside her roommate’s window. She can sit in her chair, look to her right and watch all the excitement that goes on all day long. Today, there has been a lot of action.
Today, we spent an hour watching the crazy behavior of the bunnies, the birds and a very smart squirrel trying to chase one another and get at the bird feeder. This literally over took my Mom and her enjoyment was contagious. She then asked me the same question she has been asking me for one solid week. “You know I made that bird house”. Every time I’m here, as of late, she tells me about the bird house and how proud she is of it.
At first, I went along with her statement. She was matter of fact, bold and very direct. You are taught as a nurse, to go alone with a person with memory loss, unless is it an issue that their statement will hurt them. You try and reduce their anxiety and I have heard so many stories over the years. An eighty year old woman stating her mother was here with her or lately a man told me that we had just been on a cruise together. You know that their comment is untrue but if I said to the woman, “Your Mom died fifty years ago” or “You and I have never been on a cruise together”, you will add to their confusion, make them feel unworthy and add to their anxiety. Sometimes it depends on the situation, but I normally just go with the flow and listen to them.
At first, I asked the nursing staff if maybe she really did make the bird house. I didn’t want to assume that she hadn’t. She did not. Mom even told Steve on Father’s Day, that she had made this wonderful bird house. When she asked me again and I said that I had heard about it, she said, “You don’t think I made it”. It was the look she gave me. Sad, quiet and disappointed. My tone with her must have alerted her that I didn’t believe her. She looked away and was very quiet. I told her, “Mom, if you tell me that you made it, I believe you.” The lie comes out of my mouth. I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t come across better towards her and I know she must have felt that.
A few months ago, she asked me how much was her rent. In the last few years, she has not asked me one question about bills, her checkbook, rent, hair, medication expense or even how I pay for her things. She has forgotten that piece of her life. Again, I was not as truthful and I should have been. I know that if she knew what the cost was, it would upset her greatly. I kept it in the ballpark, but a few thousands less. Does she really need to know the cost? Yes, if I was being honest. Would it add to her anxiety and worry? Yes, for sure. Would I lie again so she would not worry? Sorry to say, yes.
I’m looking at the bird house and thinking to myself, I have spent the last hour watching this with Mom. My own bills to pay, girls activities to think about, work always on my mind and things I have put off. This time with her is important. Yes…she did make that bird house, just so we are clear. 😉