Cautiously Optimistic

The last two times I’ve visited my mom, I’ve found her dressed (in different clothes each time) and sitting in her favorite chair. Last night she was reading her newspaper when I came in, and she seemed more lucid and “with it” than she has since her illness. She mentioned that she’s been listening to her “radio” (meaning the portable CD player) when it’s too quiet in the afternoons, adding that listening to music used to remind her of times she’d shared with Dad, music he liked, specific things he’d said about a piece of music… But not anymore. It’s been too long. That led us into a good conversation about loss and loneliness and how I keep pushing her to get out of her room and join activities because I don’t want her to be alone all the time. We also talked about the care levels available at her facility and how she can get assistance with daily grooming and dressing if/when she needs it. When I left last night, she hugged me tight and said “I love you very much. Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

I am cautiously optimistic that she’s doing better, but she’s still spending a lot of time in bed and not leaving her room except twice a day for meals. Monday I called her at 10:30 a.m. and she was still in bed. I reminded her that the lady who leads the dancing comes at 11:00 a.m. and that she’d enjoyed that the couple of times she attended. She said “Well, I’m not dressed, but I can get dressed in that amount of time and go down.” We talked for about ten minutes. As I hung up, I reminded her to get dressed and go down now because it was starting in 20 minutes. I know they also do at least one PA announcement a few minutes before each activity. But in spite of all that, after she hung up the phone she just got back in bed and went back to sleep. I think the only way I’m going to get her involved in activities is to have someone physically come to her room and take her to it. Now I just need to determine whether I can get the caregivers to do that (and what it will cost) or if I need to find outside help.

Another reason for optimism is that I had a long talk with my brother in Texas, who is a psychologist, about Mom’s mental/behavioral changes since her illness. He told me she’s exhibiting classic symptoms of depression and that her primary care doctor should be willing and able to prescribe an antidepressant. He told me what to say to the doctor and what drug to ask for, and when I called the doctor’s office they were responsive to the suggestion. I believe they should start her on the new medication by next week, and my brother says we should know within two weeks if it’s going to help. Antidepressants made a big difference for my dad in the last decade of his life, so I’m hopeful.

I arrived last night at the end of the dinner hour, just in time to catch Dominic as he left the dining room. I was bringing him a couple of things I’d promised him on my last visit (labels I printed with his name to put on his wheelchair and walker and a “regifted” box of chocolates from Christmas), and he had some news for me too.

“I’m moving,” he told me. Apparently there are some issues with his insurance or pension plan coverage for the current facility, so it’s costing him an increasing amount out of pocket. He’s found two others that will be completely covered by his plan and is going to look at them this week. “I hope I see you before I leave,” he said. I told him I’ll be back to visit on Thursday and will want to hear how his tours go – and then I heard myself promising that if he ends up in the one close by, I’ll come visit him from time to time. Dom said he would like to take me out to dinner sometime (“my treat!”) and play me some of his old jazz recordings of him playing the sax. I told him, with absolute sincerity and a genuine ear to ear grin, that I would like that a lot. I gave him a quick hug and he kissed my cheek before I left.

Looks like I’ve adopted him after all.


3 thoughts on “Cautiously Optimistic

  1. You capture everything so well–and put a smile on my face at the end. Sounds like things are a bit better with your mom. How fortunate to have a psychologist brother.

    Remember “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Your mom needs to walk–or at least her leg muscles do :). Another possibly helpful/confirming link:

    Do you have an email address for your blog (eg. so people could write you privately? (My blog email:

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