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A frightful trip to the nursing home

Hello peeps.  Thinking about what to write and decided on my recent trip to the nursing home to see my demented aunt.  My Aunt's room is situated on the first floor with other residents who are not quite with it.  She remembers who I am, which is good, but is prone to making statements that are not based in my reality.  A conversation can go something like this:

Auntie incredulous, "Your sister thinks she is 38, impossible."

Me, "Yes she is.  I'm 40."

Auntie, "No!  You can't be."  She becomes conspiratorial, leaning over to whisper loudly in my ear, "I tell you what, take your passport and go to the bank and they will tell you how old you are."  She sits back with a satisfied smile.  At least it's better than when she tells me I, and my children, are all going to become popes or sometimes it's queens, depending on the day.

Anyway I love going to see her, she still resembles the person I love enough that it's not too painful, yet.  The frightening thing about my visit this time was when I was trying to leave.  I walked the gauntlet of afflicted elderly people who were wandering the halls.  I had almost reached the elevator when I happened upon three dementees loitering outside their bedroom.  As I tried to walk past one grabbed my arm and, with a grin which I was sure conveyed evil intentions, ushered me into the room.

I was trying to be polite and understanding, so I smiled back and said hello.  The lady just kept smiling her vapid smile and started nodding.  Why was she nodding, oh my, I think I've had enough, I need to get out of here.  The other two were now blocking the door and I had to politely, but firmly push through them to get out.  I retained composure, and as much as I wanted to run the final few metres to the elevator, I walked, albeit quickly.

I reached the elevator without further incident,  however there is a key pad which requires four numbers in a correct sequence to call the lift, this is to stop the detainees from leaving.  I could sense something and looked over my shoulder to see they were shuffling towards me.  Were they zombies, OMG!  I punched in the code and willed the elevator to hurry up.  Phew, it came and they hadn't reached me yet.  I stepped in and pushed the button, but the doors were slow in closing.  I repeatedly punched the button with an agitated finger whilst watching the zombies shuffle closer, they were almost at the door.  Ahhhh!

The doors slid shut.  Thank God I survived and none escaped.  Well, my heart is certainly beating faster after recounting my experience but unlike the spider story, no people, no matter how zombie-like, were harmed during this encounter.  Next time you visit a nursing home, beware!

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What if it's Mom?

Dionne, I have a good friend just about your age. It is her mother who is in an institution because of dementia. My friend has 2 children--7 and 9. They never visit Granny anymore. I'm not sure how my friend explains that to them.

The problem is that they would never understand. Their grandma thinks her daughter--their mother-- is a witch, a good witch. Granny used to have ugly, frightening delusions. Now (with the help of new medication) her delusions are kindly; they no longer frighten her. The grandma attributes the pleasant change to her daughter's occult powers and regularly expresses her gratefulness.

No, the children would never understand.

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I've been lucky, my aunt is

I've been lucky, my aunt is still ok to have visitors and my children have been able to see her a couple of times.  I just hope I don't go down that road but you never know what's around the corner.

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Looking Back

I worked for about 5 years as the director of housekeeping & laundry services for 3 affiliated nursing homes in Connecticut. Reading this was a trip down Memory Lane: some of them a little frightening, some tragic, but most of them uplifting and downright funny.  I guess I was lucky.

I've never written much about those years.  Reading your piece encourages me to do so.

You captured the moment perfectly, I think.  well done.

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Thanks Ron, you should write

Thanks Ron, you should write about it.  I really respect those people who work there, they are patient and caring.