Just a short article today. I wish I had more time, but today is a all-you-can-eat buffet of busy. (Kids…before the pandemic came, we all used to line up at one of these buffet lines and stuff our faces, elbow-to-elbow. I know…we would never get to do THAT these days…). My quick little topic: The reducing of nursing home restrictions.
It appears that Missouri nursing homes will have the ability to take patients outside now to meet family as long as they stay 6 feet apart. They will also be able to do open-window visits with the same distance restriction. This is a step in the right direction, but it also, to a patient with dementia, may make it worse. I will see today when I go see mom (not that she represents all patients with dementia, but she is my test subject today. 🙁 )
How can this play out? Remember that DAY One, when you had your heart ripped out saying bye and leaving him or her? Go back to the first couple of entries in the site. It was very, very hard. Mom has advanced much further down this road and her ability to understand is severely hampered. She does understand, however, a hug or holding her hand. It will be extraordinarily hard to hang out with mom without these symbols of affection. I do wonder if it will just make it worse.
There are other versions of the same story, but it reminds me a little of the Brady Bunch episode called “Katchoo“. Jan develops an allergy to something. At first they think it is Mike, the dad, who is her sneeze cause. Turns out it is the beloved dog, Tiger. They bathed the poor dog over and over and did their best to try to remedy the problem. It was funny how hard they tried… In the end, however, after recognizing that Jan was more important than the dog and running out of options, they arranged a new home for their pooch. Shortly after, when all seems well, Jan starts sneezing again and they discover that it was Tiger’s flea powder that was to blame. They recover said dog…and he isn’t seen again in an episode. Some fan sites say it was because he was ran over by a delivery driver.
Why does the new guidance remind me of this episode. Emotions. The kids all reacted differently to not getting to keep their dog…a dog they had had since it was a pup. One of the kids scolds him for not paying attention to them as they say goodbye and separate from him. Subtext: “Go away…we don’t want you any more. (You are germy!)”. He looks up and doesn’t understand. This is a common trope and a common defense mechanism when trying to distance yourself from someone/something you love. We would face it often in our childhood when we rescued some duck or rabbit (both happened) and it became time to turn it loose. However, today, this is not a situation mom will easily understand with her impaired judgement. When I tell her I can’t hug her or hold her hand, I am telling her in her mind that she isn’t worthy of it or she is infected. Bottom line: She won’t understand. She already clamors for us to come in when we meet her outside her window in those arranged visits. I hope and pray this goes well, but I am skeptical and sad thinking about it.
I am, however, thrilled for the rest of the folks there…the ones without dementia. I hop everyone follows guidelines and we don’t dump COVID-19 in there because we all know how that turns out.
Am I reading too much into this? Should I even go? Will she be ok? Sigh…maybe the dementia is just the flea powder anyway and we can just move on? 🙁 I pray the neither the not hugging/holding hands part nor the departing part doesn’t require advanced measures like the Brady kids used… Stinkin’ disease!