I visited Mom at the nursing home during lunch today. The spacious dining room is bright and airy, and looks out on the bird-filled courtyard. Still, there is much sadness in the air. The residents vary in degrees of sickness, and the ones with mental issues are mixed in with the ones with physical issues. Today at Mom’s table, there was a man that appeared to be in his 60′s. He had white hair, and appeared to be quite tall, though he was hunched over in his wheelchair. He had on a t-shirt that said something about grandpas.
He had pushed himself a few feet away from the table, and was gnawing with great intensity on the piece of fried chicken served with lunch. The entire time we were at the table, he continued to eat that way, as if he were obsessed with it.
When Mom and I ventured out into the courtyard after lunch for some fresh air, Mom said the man reminded her of Dad. She ate with Dad a few times while he was in the nursing home. He had a great appetite, but would eat in a rushed manner, like the man my mom now dines with.
There’s a woman with dementia in Mom’s wing. She rolls herself up and down the hallways in a special walker that is connected on all sides, I guess to prevent falls. The confusion in her eyes is the same look I saw so many times in Dad’s eyes. Today she was looking for the bathroom. The nurse was a bit short with her (I’m sure it was probably the 50th time she had told the resident where the bathroom was that day). “Your bathroom is in your room. 107!”
The woman mumbled 107 as she took off down the hallway again. Mom was slowly rolling herself in the wheelchair back to her room. We encountered the wide-eyed woman again.
She looked at me, pleading. “Where is the bathroom?”
I repeated what the nurse had said just a minute before. She looked relieved and made it into the bathroom in her room. Later, as I was leaving, she was trying desperately to get into a locked room.
I hope Mom doesn’t have to live here permanently, but I know that it may be a valid option.