Over and over and over, night after night.
“Do you have enough money to pay the people?”
“Ah…. what people?”
“The people who own this house, if we are going to stay here all night.” or, “I don’t know if we can stay here all night. The people might come back and they might be angry.”
To this basic conversation, I have experimented with a variety of responses.
“We own this house, it is paid for. Everything is all right.”
or, “Yes, I talked to them and it’s ok.”
or, “Well, I think it’s ok for tonight.”
In all cases, the response is apparently unsatisfactory and the record repeats several times, until there is a break, an astonished pause and a look around the room, and with a smile, sheepishly, “Oh this IS our house, there’s my chair.”
This conversation has lately had me musing that perhaps Dementia Care would be a good alternative to Chinese water torture if the State wanted to broaden its repertoire.
On a more serious note, it may be that these kinds of conversations, which make it blindingly obvious that Don no longer knows where he is, have made it easier for me to accept the “respite” that the system has offered. The word in caregivers’ circles is that caregivers are “entitled” to four weeks respite a year. The system keeps a few beds open for the purpose of trying to save the caregivers, by giving them some safe time off.
I have never tried to take a long respite until now. I just couldn’t figure out how to get Don to go, but, desperate times (and high blood pressure) lead to creative thinking. I also noticed last year how very comfortable Don was in my father’s retirement residence. The Lodge is of a similar atmosphere — although with a little less luxury and a lot more staff.
This morning, we got up, ate breakfast, and as I helped him dress, I explained that he had to go to “The Lodge” for a week. Blithely, I lathered on the therapeutic fibbing – I was going away to a meeting in Calgary, and The Doctor wanted him to go into The Lodge for observation to make sure his pills were right. All this seemed to make sense to him, and his only caveat was that we not go to “that place I hate.” We had tried to send him to the Adult Day Programme at another Lodge with dismal results, although he allowed the other “old men” in the group were ok.
So, somewhat surprised at how easily this was going, I whisked him and his bag into the car, and we headed off.
As he contemplated his fate, he cautioned me, with great love, not to let the people take advantage of me. I kissed him and reassured him, and then, we were in!
The nursing staff took over, and Don bravely responded, sometimes with little jokes, and lots of patience. An hour or so later, I left him, hopefully making new friends as they all waited for lunch.
The nurse hugged me as we walked out, and I got back to the car, and burst into tears.