After Two Weeks In The ALF


After Two Weeks In The ALF

Saturday morning, 3 hours.

Sunday afternoon, 3 hours.

Monday morning, 45 minutes.

Wednesday afternoon, 4 hours.

Thursday morning, 3 hours.

Friday morning, 2 hours.

Yesterday morning I was there for 3 hours again and today I'll spend 3-4 hours in the afternoon. Is it too much? Is it enough? This is my "reduced visit" schedule. Of course, this past week I wanted to spend extra time as it was a holiday and fewer staff would be around. And the weekends don't seem to have a lot going on. I'm still learning how to do this, and still questioning whether I made the right decision daily. When I feel like I sacrificed her happiness for my freedom, I feel incredibly guilty. But maybe her happiness (and mine) will come back, at least for periods. It's just been two weeks. In many ways, I'm still providing care - I mean, beyond emotional care. I cleaned and clipped her nails yesterday, for instance. I make the bed when the staff doesn't do it. If she complains about anything or if I notice anything, I mention it to the staff - has she been able to brush her teeth? Can her room be any warmer? How do I get her an appointment with the visiting podiatrist? Etc. 

Whenever I arrive, she holds me and cries. Even though the time we spend together is good, I worry that it's not enough, that I could do more to make her happier. Today, I'm going to suggest a trip to Wendy's to get a (junior-size) frosty - her favorite treat. She is diabetic, but it's a small treat - hopefully won't hurt too much. I've been afraid to take her out, afraid that getting in the car will feel too much like going home. But I also want her to be able to have a sense of life beyond the walls of the place where she is living now. I want her to be able to see my son in the Christmas play at church next month.

On Friday, I had breakfast with Mom in the dining room, and I pulled up a chair to her regular table, which she shares with three other ladies. I loved them all. Very kind - none seemed to have any dementia, but Mom can still communicate quite well in the moment and about long past things. I did a little conversation facilitation, asking where they were from, what they had done for a career. One lady had worked for an insurance company, so I told her that my mom had also worked for an insurance company. Mom piped up then and asked what the other lady's job had consisted of. Her voice is weak post-stroke, and it was hard for the others to hear her, but they made an effort, and definitely some communication happened.

One lady commented that Mom seemed to be adapting a bit better and was more willing to stay at the table - in the first week, she would just ask to be taken back to her room right away. I mentioned how hard the transition had been, especially since Mom had not been able to participate in the decision making. The lady said it had been the same for her - she was in the hospital and then woke up in the ALF, wondering where she was and how she got there. But now, she said, she's glad to be there - near her daughter but not with her daughter. She said, with a smile, "I have lived my life, and now she needs to live hers." A really heartening, generous way to make meaning of her experience, I thought. I hope my mom will also be able to give a positive meaning to her new life.

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I sure hope your mom can say that for herself too, LilMagill. What a challenging spot to be in, if she is not in 100% of your care 24/7. It is hard to give that up, in spite of being so difficult to maintain. Bless your heart for visiting her so much and still carrying her in your heart everywhere you go.

Lillie Fuller

Thank you for sharing. I hope your mom finds comfort with others living there. Much love and prayers to you.