Mom, 84 with mid-late Alz., has been living in a gorgeous AL “apartment” on a locked memory unit. There are ton of activities all the time and the staff is very creative, compassionate and kind. As a family, we are lucky because she is so close by and we personally know the owners, her floor director and a lot of the Care Assistants. They keep us up to date with all that Mom does both good and bad.
I’m putting this out there because I, personally, would love some suggestions on how to wrap my head around some of the things that she does. I’m her daughter in law but I know that her daughters feel the same way.
She is extremely clever. I mean extremely clever. We can actually tell when she’s “up” to something by her facial expressions and body language. She’ll look around to see if we or anyone else is looking before making her move.
Some of the things she’s done include: Stealing food from other residents. She’ll make an excuse (bathroom) to go down the hall to her apartment when they’re all in the ‘far’ common room watching tv, karaoke, etc. with the staff. She’ll detour into the other ‘apartments’ rummage in their fridges, cabinets, etc. and come out with potato chips on her face, or a bag in her hand or chocolate around her mouth. Aides will catch her coming out of the apartment, she’ll deny it and act indignant and then 15 min later try to do it again. Aides caught on. No more going to her apt alone. She caught on that the aides caught on and now only does this when the other residents are sleeping and she knows the only Aide on (after 8pm) is checking people at the other end of the unit. Clever. With that said, it’s the same thing with unplugging anything from any outlet she can get to. Lamps in the common rooms, popcorn machine, computers, dvd players, etc. As I understand it she has even tried to move an entertainment center from against the wall to get at the plugs. She is NOT a large woman. The AL had those bubble type cameras installed in the common areas a couple of months ago. It seems that one day an aide went to turn on the garbage disposal in the common kitchen and it wouldn’t work. They had to call maintenance to fix it. There was nothing wrong with it, Mom had climbed under the kitchen sink cabinet and fished around until she found the plug and unplugged it. They reviewed their tapes and sure enough there’s Mom’s butt sticking out of the cabinet. It is comical. She hasn’t been doing too much of that anymore because the director has taped signs above all outlets and appliances that specifically tell HER not to touch due to danger! They tell us that she still looks both ways looking for an aide and heads for the plugs but stops at the signs.
Just recently there has been one problem that isn’t funny anymore. Preface it to say that Mom has always been competitive and is not above ‘manipulating’ the cards when it comes to cards games and such (even before the Alzheimers). I’ve had my share of “love taps” on the arms that left little bruises and a little punch in the nose (my own fault) she said “I’m going to punch you in the nose” jokingly when I won a game, and I said, jokingly, “go right ahead” and she did! She’s thrown game marbles at me and cards when I win which I usually can dodge pretty well. Well what happened the other day wasn’t funny at all. I guess she was playing bingo with the other residents and she didn’t win. Another lady who lives in one of the ‘apartments’ with her husband, called Bingo and won. Mom didn’t like that one single bit so Mom waved the hard card at the woman and smacked her in the face with it. The husband is VERY protective of his wife so he slapped Mom in the face. The aides were there immediately and made sure that was that. Mom had no idea why he hit her. Well the next day Bingo again. I don’t know if Mom won, the couple won or what but we were told that Mom was waving her Bingo card at them. I don’t know if she was taunting them or what.
How can we help her? How can we help the Staff? We go to visit her. We do take her out to eat, to events, to our houses etc. but it’s a struggle. She must go to the bathroom between 4 and 7 times in an hour. She wears depends and does not have a UTI, we think she just forgets that she went or wants to explore. She’s taken off from me at the hairdressers (I took a call) and I found her with her hair all up in dye 2 storefronts down. At the pharmacy I was talking to staff about her meds and one minute she sitting all nice the next minute I look up and she’s gone. Found her 5 minutes later with a bag of candy part way up her shirt.
I just don’t know what to do, and neither do the other family members. I personally don’t baby her and neither does her daughter. The other daughter and daughters in law, I can’t say but I guess my question is what is the right thing to do without making her crazy or ourselves crazy?