I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

22 September 2011

What Was That Jay?

Mom at Mann's Apple Orchard
September 2011
People love stories; something about hearing a story, true or not, will create a belief.  Story telling has been how we've communicated as a race since the beginning of time.  Everyone has a story, some of us are better at it than others.

I notice when I'm at the nursing home that the residents listen to EVERYTHING that is being said.  It doesn't matter who you are, if you are talking in their home, they will listen.  Eavesdropping is all these folks who live in a home have going on for themselves, it's how they gather information.

Earlier in the week, I was talking to one of my mom's nurses that I like very much.  She is good to my mom.; I appreciate her; I don't tell her enough.  We were chatting at the nurses station before I was leaving.  Mom and a few of her friends were gathered around in a semi-circle, listening.

I was telling a story about one of my adventures with my mom before she became ill.  I noticed some of Mom's friends laughing, they were interested in hearing what I was saying.  Then one of the nurses asked if we had seen the news about the baby who was left in a school van accidentally and died.  All my mom heard was a baby was dead; immediately she began asking questions.  Her friends also began to have a concerned look on their faces, "what happened to the baby?"  Mom asked.

"It's OK.  The baby is with it's mother."  I answered.  Gazing at mom's nurse, raising my eyebrows, I tried to give her a look to tell her to stop talking about the dead baby.  She didn't read my face, she continued talking about the news story.   I abruptly changed the subject.  I worried that the talk of the dead baby would stay with my mom and cause her to go searching for it at a later time.

What I've discovered with seniors is that they all love to eavesdrop.  It seems to be how the folks entertain themselves at the home, listening to folks talking and gathering information that is later filtered through a demented mind.  Rarely is the remembered story true to the original.

Who knows if mom's sleep disturbances are related to what she over hears?  I hear lots of unhappy talk going on.  I'd have a hard time staying positive too if I had to work in a place where I was not respected or valued for a job that I was doing.

Care Giving is one of the hardest jobs on the planet.  

Unwanted behaviors become apparent with my mom when she's heard something unpleasant; often she will hallucinate and search for whatever is on her mind.  Typically, she's looking for a baby that needs help.

Unfortunately, one of the residents cries like a baby and Mom wants to help her.  It's why she frequently goes into the woman's room, she hears her cry and her mother instinct jumps into action.  Mom's entire adult life was devoted to her children and protecting us from harm.  No wonder she is frantic when she hears "the baby" cry.

"Where's the baby?"  

I wonder how the aides and nurses handle the situation when Mom goes in this residents room?  Do they answer her question and tell her the baby is going to be OK, that her mom is coming to help?    All my mom wants to know is that the child is being looked after, once this question is answered she is easily redirected.

If any of my mom's questions go unanswered and she feels bullied or pushed, she will turn into Josie the Super Bitch.  A side of my mom that is miserable for everyone.

My mom needs to feel like she's got control of her life, even if it's perceived control.  A successful caregiver for my mom will go with her questions.  They'll ask her when she is anxious in her seat, "Do you need the toilet?"  If the answer is no, ask her "Well, show me where you are trying to go."  Let her up and allow her to lead.  Ask her what she thinks would be a good way for you to proceed in order to help.  It's pretty easy once you leave logic out of any conversation or communication with my mom, she is demented, she doesn't have the ability to reason very well.

Mom doesn't often remember the initial cause of her upset but she seems to hang on to the emotion; emotions that seem to trigger not so good days and nights.

I wonder... is my mom having upsets because of what she overhears folks talking about around her?

Mom hears my name being spoken and it makes her nervous.  She manages to spit out a few words that tell me she's concerned for my safety.  She's worried that folks are attempting to hurt me.  It could be why she seemed frantic yesterday, wheeling herself in her wheelchair, crashing into people and being difficult.  "NO!" was the only word she could say yesterday, even when she meant YES.

Mom hears well, she knows everyone is upset.  She's a mom and wants folks to be happy.  She is one who always tried to solve everyone's problems.  Hearing folks complain, she searches for a solution; no wonder she's going mad some days.

It's hard to remember that we are in a nursing home with residents who are memory impaired.  It's scary for each of these people, they are in a strange world that no one really understands, not even themselves.

Yesterday, I was talking to one of the resident's daughter.  I was telling her a story about my mom and her brother.   I told her that Al passed in April from the same illness that mom's been diagnosed.  Suddenly, I hear the good Sister calling to me down the hall, "Jay?  Jay?  What was that Jay?  I'm so sorry, did your husband die?"

Sister heard me talking, she was eaves dropping while she waited in the hall to be brought to the activities room.  I explain to her that everything was fine, my husband is alive and well.  "He is not good with housework, that's all."  I offered as an off the wall answer in an attempt to change any potential fixation on death.  I don't know if it worked to change her mind.  She could have already gotten stuck on a disturbing thought that will surface at a later time.

The moral of this blog post... we have to ALL be careful what we say around the residents in nursing homes.  Even though they may not be able to speak, it does not mean that they are all deaf.  The residents hear what we say, every word is heard.

From my experience with my mom, I do know that anything upsetting, like TV news or stories that are unpleasant will morph into a hallucination or a belief.  It will become her reality and then all bets are off for keeping her in a happy place.  The main reason I stopped having my mom watch TV is because it triggers hallucinations and difficult behaviors.

"What was that Jay?"  A question that I will ask anyone who starts speaking words that could frighten my mom and her friends.  A friendly reminder is all it will be.  We all need to be reminded, even me.   The next time I forget and I start dishing out negativity, ask me the question... "What was that Jay?"


  1. I agree. Some of our family do not understand. I give Mom whatever answer will comfort her, whether it makes sense or not. She got an answer, she wasn't ignored and she is happy.
    It frustrates me to death when Mom says or asks a jibberish question and people start asking her what she said etc. She doesn't know what she said 15 seconds ago and it made no sense anyway. Stop stressing her with questions she can't answer. Arrrgh

  2. People who are not "in the know" like we are about this illness seem to look for the logic in things that come out of our loved ones.

    There is no logic. Go with whatever and make stuff up that will make the person feel good. It's not rocket science but for some reason, most folks make things harder than they have to be.