Transitioning Back Home

Miss D is calming down. She was more engaged with her aide this morning – she showered and dressed for a stroll in the park and a King Cone. The aide is finding positive ways to ease the difficult questions Miss D is asking. Yesterday Miss D’s nephew and granddaughter came for a visit. I will continue to hope the two will return into Miss D’s life and embrace this new ma and abuela. Miss D raised both, they are her family.

This afternoon Miss D was sitting on her little stool by the window looking down on the street. The aide told me last night she woke up and searched the apartment for Miss D. Alarmed, the aide called out for her. She heard Miss D’s voice, but couldn’t find her.

I’m talking to my plants and looking outside at the people.

There she was hidden behind her jungle of plants and sitting on that favorite stool. It’s funny, that was the last thing my husband fixed for Miss D’s return. He lovingly scraped, cleaned and painted that window sill knowing she would sit there everyday and look out.

Somehow I know Miss D’s going to be okay at home now.

Miss D's Aides Room

Miss D’s Aides Room

I’d like to thank a fellow blogger, Joy Johnston from The Memories Project for welcoming Miss D home with a gift of the book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias. Joy has a written piece in this collection called “French Toast” about her father. Miss D loves humor and Joy’s story has a nice touch of humor in it.



The Distress Calls

I was told by my agency to call 911 and send Miss D back to the hospital if she doesn’t settle down. I told the aide, I’ll be right down. Please don’t call 911.

I was expecting Miss D to forget she returned home that day after spending the year away. For her, she’d never left her apartment and there was a strange woman in her home. I just didn’t expect to see her so angry.

Who are you? No one told me someone was going to live with me. Don’t get me wrong, she’s very nice, but someone should have told me.

I could hear in the aide’s voice, she did not have the patience for dementia like you hope an aide will have for a loved one. She was using the phrase, “I told you”  when Miss D asked her questions. It only got her more upset. With Miss D’s dementia, she’s not going to remember they’d already had that conversation. It was almost midnight and the aide wanted to go to bed. I took Miss D to her bedroom to calm her down and distract her from this situation, at least for the night. When Miss D was tired, she said I could go. I told Miss D I will let myself out, I have keys. Miss D preferred to walk me to the door and she locked the door behind me.

The next morning I get a call from Miss D’s guardian group, the aide is threatening to call 911 again because Miss D will not eat breakfast or take her pills. They asked me to go down, get some food and the pills in Miss D and smooth things over. After all we’ve done to prepare for Miss D’s return home, it seemed strange how calling 911 would be so quickly an answer for the aide instead of knowing how to handle a situation. I was concerned this was not the proper aide for Miss D. The aides at her secured location this past year, loved her dearly and they got along . . .

. . . but, Miss D was feeling more in charge at home.

Miss D is Home . . . For Now

Leaving the secured location was very emotional for Miss D. She was gracious to the staff, the parting of Miss D and her friend, Miss T made all of us cry. As Miss D waited with her new home aide for the transfer van, the guardian and I left in a separate car with her belongings. Anticipation built as the van turned the corner on our street. Fireworks exploded when Miss D stepped out of the van at her apartment entrance – she kissed the building. Too nervous to use her keys, she asked me to open the doors. She checked her mailbox, we entered the elevator and exited on her floor. A girlish joy overwhelmed Miss D when she saw the Welcome Home balloon hanging on her door knob. She inspected every room of her apartment with over 50 years of memories, happy to be back home.

There was a lot of activity with deliveries of home care supplies, the nurse setting up the meds, the guardian signing papers and the nephew came for a few hours. By late afternoon, it was just Miss D, her new aide and me sitting in her living room. Miss D was back in her apartment with no memory she was removed after a 911 call by Adult Protective Services over 15 months ago. I left happy and ready for Miss D and her live-in aide to get to know each other.

I returned in the evening with a few breakfast items to find Miss D had unplugged all TV electronics, the cable wasn’t working. She was rearranging everything – which was her pattern when she was home. I sat with Miss D so the aide could take her shower and returned home around 9PM.

Preparing for Miss D’s return home had taken over a month with my husband and me clearing a “junk room” for the aides room , deep cleaning and monitoring landlord repairs. I was exhausted and ready to have Miss D’s life move forward and mine become mine again.

The distress call came around 11PM – the honeymoon was over.