We joined mom for her community’s family Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon. On our way to mom’s apartment, we dropped her new walker off to the wellness office. Her PT will adjust it for her during their next appointment.
This is the second time I’ve had to use my key to open mom’s apartment door upon arrival. She was reading on her bed. It would have taken her some time to answer our knock, and as it turned out, she asked me to hand her the walker within a few steps of heading in its direction. Her mobility is very, very limited.
We decided to head right down to dinner. She told us a few times that she can’t walk as fast as she used to. I told her set the pace, and we’d keep up with her. Using the walker is not coming naturally. Her gait was very slow, and then would suddenly speed up. I’m guessing she doesn’t know to keep the back legs just a hair off the floor, and use the front wheels to Go. Or isn’t remembering to.
The meal was incredible. The community has settled into the right chef. We were all impressed!
Things we observed:
- Once off the elevator, mom ran the front wheel of the walker into every chair leg available. It wasn’t like a car wreck, but more like a stream of bumps, which she would course correct for after the impact.
- She worried about the style of dinner service, twice, saying if it was buffet, she would need help. I thought she would want one of us to hold her plate as we went through the line (it was a buffet). She didn’t feel up to standing through the line. She stayed at the table while my DH wielded his and mom’s plates so smoothly that a few guest commented on his skill!
- Mom asked about ‘real’ Thanksgiving. I told her we were going to Daughter #2’s and her fiancé’s for dinner. After offering her reassurance that we’d be her chariot to dinner, she asked what my MIL was doing for Thanksgiving. My MIL always goes to visit friends, one of whom mom has known for over 60-years, a couple of hours to the North. Mom asked me what we were doing for Thanksgiving 6 more times. Sometimes she asked if the three of us were heading North, and I had to say, “My MIL is heading North for Thanksgiving. We’re going to Daughter #2’s and her fiancé’s.” This was very different from days of old. I’m able to roll with it more, and she’s not struggling as much. She’s not angry about asking again and again. It’s easier.
- Mom has a tremor that wasn’t there when I saw her on Sunday. I don’t think she’s aware of it. It was very noticeable when she took a sip of her (faux) Champaign, wielded her utensils, or used her napkin during dinner, and when she handed me magazine inserts to toss in the trash. It seemed to increase during our time together, or it could be that we noticed it more as time went on. After we left mom, we went to the wellness office, and let the nurse know what we observed. She’ll check in on mom.
- The edema in mom’s forearms, wrists, and hands seems like it’s gone down a little since Sunday.
- Our conversation didn’t flow like a river… Mom asked what our weekend looked like, and we were able to share with her and expand the conversation. I shared pictures, the cat’s hunting conquests (which mom kinda dug!), my business trip late this week etc. We were quiet for a few minutes. I know mom was studying my face. She turned to my DH and asked, “Do you think we look alike?” He assured her we did, right down to which features we strongly shared. Mom was very pleased with his reply.
- At one point we were talking about hand injuries (anything to keep the conversation going!). I mentioned one I’d managed to acquire on the Island at a kid. As the words left my mouth, I knew I’d slipped. I kept talking for two minutes, and at the end of my tale, mom was examining my thumb without any visible distress over being where she is instead of where she’d rather be.
- On our way out of the dining room, my DH, who was walking behind mom as she piloted her walker, noticed that she was repeatedly veering to the left, and had to course-correct every 2-3 steps. She again bonked into every available chair leg in the room.
- Mom’s bathroom was a sign of further decline. A washcloth was left sopping wet in the sink. When brushing her teeth, mom’s spitting her rinse water onto the sink faucet, and not noticing. I cleaned it up. She has three bottles of the same lotion on her bathroom counter.
Also in her apartment, I scooped Elvis’ box, and left a roll of plastic bags for poop management, plus an 11-gallon bag for a future complete litter change. I wrote our Thanksgiving pickup plan on her calendar. After love, hugs, and kisses, I told mom, “Behave yourself!” This was met with a playful sad face. My follow up was, “OK then, Don’t get caught!!” This got a thumbs up! While physical symptoms are increasing, and memory decreasing, her humor is delightfully intact!