Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ma's "School"

My mother attends adult day care. She relates to it as school. Even with her dementia she still loves learning, so the learning/memory games they play at her school pique her interest and keeps her brain sharp. Ma is a born missionary so now her school includes Bible Study too. One of the things that she is not so good with is being pushed around. Ma is from that group of folks who promote the "don't start nothing and there won't be nothing" philosophy. So she was booted out of her school because she was fighting. We were not surprised just aggravated. She weighs about 98 pounds, she is about 4 feet tall and you could push her over with one finger. However, she becomes Muhammad Ali when she feels pushed around so she strikes the boxer's pose and has a mean left hook. Alas, she punched a health worker in the eye and was asked to leave the program unless we drug her. We refused because drugging her would not help her…just them. They are the professionals and we believe that they should have handled her better.

Ma has dementia. She is 94 years old. When she is lucid she is smart as a whip (that's really the problem) and takes no crap off of anyone including me. She can be childlike with imaginary friends and invented additional family members, as if we need more. We have prevented her from cooking because she forgets what she is doing and abandons it, plus her vision is bad. She runs away from home believe me that can scare the heck out of the care giver. My nephew Pete still has not forgiven her for running away on his watch. She ran away on my watch thee times once successfully. Ma ran away from my sister's house but returned on her brother-in-law was impressed. Having a secure, safe place for her during the day with a caring staff is imperative for our peace of mind.

Last week she had her geriatric psych screening and Ma being Ma charmed them. Her geriatric doctor said that nothing was wrong with was the caregivers. Of course being a caregiver I knew it included me too and rightly so. I have found that I have inherited her stubborn streak and do really individualize care...I see a mission and move towards it regardless of what others want or need because it is efficient. I am trying hard to change that. Ma loves drama. I do not. So, we are working our way through that little detail. Mean while the goal is to get Ma to use other non-violent means to let people know when she is displeased.

Now, as we venture to enroll Ma into a new "school" I hope that they keep in mind that we are entrusting them with our family jewel even if she does have a good right hook too. She deserves to be treated with dignity and care and not abandoned her when her illness causes "trouble." That would be the professional thing to do.

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