Life Guidance (the real name of the memory unit) was on lock-down for about a week due to people having the flu. Residents were asked to stay in their rooms, they ate their meals in their rooms. And, of course no visitors.
There were 17 residents (out of about 50), in all, who had the flu, one of them my mother. And you can't call her because she doesn't really understand the phone and wouldn't have clue why you were calling.
Yesterday there was a meeting scheduled at 4 p.m. to meet the new director of Life Guidance, so I went to Atria at 3 so I'd have an hour to be with my mother before the meeting. She was asleep when I got there an slept for half an hour while I sat and watched her.
When she finally woke up, she was, as always, disoriented and though we sort of had a conversation, it was mostly me agreeing with what unintelligible question she was asking me. As is her new thing, she got up and left after awhile and went to the bathroom, but never came back.
She finally did and was absorbed in making her bed several times. I finally told her I was going to the meeting, but would return.
When I finally found the meeting, the group was just getting ready to move back to Life Guidance where it would be more quiet.
Jennifer, the new director, seems to be great. She has lots of experience with dementia patients and her ideas for Life Guidance seem kind of exciting. She wants to get the people away from the TV (where they seem to spend most of their time) and either out in the patio, or on short walks outside the building, or on a one-on-one basis maybe taking someone with her when she goes to pick up mail...anything to get them out of the rut they have been in.
She also hopes to do short bus tours around Davis. They had tours like that in the early years she was at Atria but she was afraid to get on a bus unless I went with her -- which was not my idea of her participating in the activity!
I mentioned that at the place in Santa Barbara where Walt's mother lived, they occasionally had young mothers' groups come with their babies and just let the kids play for awhile while the residents watched. She had never heard of that but agreed it sounded like a good idea and will check on it. (That's the answer I always got before and nothing ever got done, but this woman seems more on the ball and more looking for things to do with the residents to give their brains and bodies a bit more exercise.)
The biggest surprise of all happened in the middle of the meeting. We were on one side of the room and the big TV, where they show movies, videos and sing-alongs, was on the other side, with couches and chairs for the viewers. The TV off.
Suddenly I saw my mother shuffling in and she sat down on one of the couches and I realized she was sitting next to Tony, the guy they have told me is her special friend. I was kind of smiling looking at the two of them when my mother cozied up to him and rested her head on his shoulder.
My mouth dropped open and everyone in the meeting turned to see what had shocked me. The three staff members smiled and said that the couple had become very lovey-dovey.
She sat with him for awhile, her hand on his knee, then she got up and shuffled out to the patio. A few minutes later he followed her and sat down. She went to where he was and they were talking (I have never heard Tony "talk" and don't know if he makes sense or not), then she walked away again and I didn't see her, though Tony came back in and sat down again.
When we left, the residents were at dinner, my mother and Tony sitting to different tables.
Well...it will be interesting to see how this "relationship" progresses.