After a very busy weekend which included a visit with Mom, I’m confronted with another holiday season. I do love this time of year. I don’t mind the cold; I enjoy brisk walks and I love the lights and holiday decorations. I’m filled with anticipation and excitement at seeing friends, having some laughs, finding the right gifts for people I love, it’s my kind of season.
This time last year, Mom had her first major psychotic break. I won’t dwell upon the particulars; they were adequately documented in my post “Welcome to Stage VI.” But what a year it’s been.
Now that Mom is ensconced at Potomac in Ramsey, I have the luxury of being able to think about other things. I visit her once a week, and I usually leave with a list of things she needs and thoughts about what I can do to keep her as comfortable as possible. It gets trickier, because so much of what she experiences these days is in her head.
Mom thinks she has a job at the home. It mostly involves keeping the other residents in line. She complained that they kept her up until after three in the morning that Saturday evening with all those poor people stranded and unable to get on their boat back home. (Yes the boats are back). The noise from the street, the railroad (there is a train that runs through Ramsey; that’s real) and the toots of the boat whistles (no water in Ramsey except for a few ponds and small lakes) make it difficult for her to sleep. I offered to buy her ear plugs (her hearing is eerily acute for someone her age), but she declined.
She wants a phone. The staff isn’t responsive enough. She feels the need to be able to call me at will. I told her it would cost about $60 a month for a phone in her room. In the past that would stop her; this time she wasn’t bothered by that expense. What about a cell phone? She thought she might try it. Again.
Now, of course, I’ve been down this road with her before. She couldn’t work the simplest cell phone when she was more lucid. Now, she’d lose it before it even got charged up. And if she COULD manage to use the phone, what would she do with it? Call me at all hours to complain about the crowds of people in her room waiting for the boat ride home?
I researched walkie-talkies, but those would require the procurement of a license to traverse more than 2 miles (we’re about 8 miles apart as the crow flies). I even researched a converter that would allow her to use a cell line like a land line.
The further I dug, the closer I came to the realization that I was wasting time trying to answer a rhetorical question. Mom doesn’t need a phone any more than she needs a passport. She travels great distances in her imagination all the time with no documentation. She often tells me she tried to call me and couldn’t reach me. What she needs is what she has: a comfortable, safe place to live where she’s given attention, affection and regular visits from her family.
Happy Holidays folks, and a HEALTHY New Year. Without your health, nothing else matters.